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Last updated: 20 May 2014
NEWS LETTER 20 May 2014......
CALEB STATEMENT - 17 May 2014
CALEB FOUNDATION URGES VOTERS TO PROBE LOCAL COUNCIL CANDIDATES ON SUNDAY EVENTS
"The Caleb Foundation is a lobby group which seeks to represent the views of Evangelical Christians across Northern Ireland.
As an organisation which promotes Biblical values in political life, we are becoming increasingly concerned about the steady erosion of respect for the Lord's Day across our society. Increasing numbers of social, sporting, cultural and community events are now held on Sundays, and our local councils are sometimes involved in promoting and funding a range of such events.
We would therefore invite candidates who are standing for the councils in the forthcoming election to make clear their position on the staging of public events on a Sunday. We also encourage voters to ask candidates about this matter during these closing days of the election campaign."
CALEB WELCOMES YET ANOTHER REJECTION OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BY NI ASSEMBLY
Sinn Fein seem determined to keep bringing the same sex marriage issue back to the Northern Ireland Assembly and it was debated again on 29 April. Although they secured the support of several nationalist MLAs (who clearly were determined to ignore the request from the Roman Catholic Church to oppose same-sex marriage) the motion was once again rejected - this time by 51 votes to 43. This is a good result. The last vote exactly a year ago (when the motion was more all-Ireland in its wording) was 53 against and 42 for. In October 2012 it was 50 against and 45 for. The full voting lists is as follows -
The Assembly divided: Ayes 43; Noes 51.
Mr Attwood, Mr Boylan, Ms Boyle, Mr D Bradley, Mr Brady, Mr Durkan, Mr Eastwood, Ms Fearon, Mr Flanagan, Mr Hazzard, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Mr Lynch, Mr McAleer, Ms J McCann, Mr McCartney, Ms McCorley, Dr McDonnell, Ms McGahan, Mr McGlone, Mr M McGuinness, Mr McKay, Mr McKinney, Ms Maeve McLaughlin, Mr Mitchel McLaughlin, Mr McMullan, Mr Maskey, Mr Milne, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr Ó hOisín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Ms Ruane, Mr Sheehan.
Mr Copeland, Mr Kinahan, Mr McCallister, Mr B McCrea.
Mr Agnew, Dr Farry, Mr Ford, Ms Lo, Mr Lyttle.
Tellers for the Ayes: Ms Fearon and Ms Ruane.
Mr Allister, Mr Anderson, Mr Beggs, Mr Bell, Ms P Bradley, Mr Buchanan, Mrs Cameron, Mr Campbell, Mr Clarke, Mr Craig, Mr Cree, Mrs Dobson, Mr Douglas, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mr Elliott, Mrs Foster, Mr Frew, Mr Gardiner, Mr Girvan, Mr Givan, Mrs Hale, Mr Hamilton, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Hussey, Mr Irwin, Mr Kennedy, Mr McCausland, Mr I McCrea, Mr D McIlveen, Miss M McIlveen, Mr McNarry, Mr McQuillan, Lord Morrow, Mr Moutray, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Mrs Overend, Mr Poots, Mr G Robinson, Mr P Robinson, Mr Ross, Mr Spratt, Mr Storey, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Mr Wells, Mr Wilson.
Mrs Cochrane, Mr Lunn.
Tellers for the Noes: Mr McQuillan and Mr G Robinson.
Question accordingly negatived (cross-community vote).
MR MERVYN STOREY MLA IS A MEMBER OF CALEB COUNCIL OF REFERENCE. THIS IS HIS SPEECH IN THE SAME SEX MARRIAGE DEBATE 29 APRIL 2014
Mr Storey: There are many pressing issues
Marriage has only one definition. It is the lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. That has been the accepted position since the dawn of creation. It is a creation institution. As the Evangelical Alliance in England has said: "Marriage is now a fluid, gender-neutral institution defined by consumer demands and political expediency and it is likely that pressure for further changes to it will follow."
The Archbishop of Canterbury stated: "Marriage is abolished, redefined and recreated, being different and unequal for different categories."
This is a reminder of the seriousness of the issue that faces us as a society. The traditional value of a family unit is the bedrock of any stable society. It has been undermined in many ways in the past number of years, and we all reap the consequences in our communities.
The redefinition of marriage would represent a change of monumental significance. It must not happen in Northern Ireland. I know that I speak for a large number of people across the community divide. When we come to the House, we are often challenged about being in the sectarian camp. On this issue, Members, many Protestants, Roman Catholics, people of other persuasions or of none want no change to the definition of marriage. Many in the Roman Catholic community feel let down and indeed betrayed by their political representatives. They are turning to this party as the only major party in this Assembly that takes a clear and unambiguous stand on the issue. This is not an issue for trivial dismissals. This is not an issue for political bantering. This is an issue of the utmost seriousness that this House needs to respect today.
As we have heard, Sinn Féin is always very keen to portray itself as the champion of equality and human rights, but today's motion has nothing to do with equality or human rights. The European Court and other legislators have ruled that same-sex marriage is not a human rights issue. That is a fact. I know that it is difficult for some to accept, but that is how it is. During the campaign for civil partnerships, we were told that those partnerships would ensure equal rights in law for same-sex couples and that there would never be any campaign for full marriage. Here we are today -
Mr Poots: Will the Member give way?
Mr Storey: I will give way.
Mr Poots: Does the Member agree that it causes people real concern that this is the thin end of the wedge? We see people who have already been tried in court in England and who have been sacked from jobs for expressing a viewpoint. It is an issue of major and real concern that people will be forced to do things against their will. No matter what goodwill parties may have, they have no control over how the courts interpret things thereafter. Consequently, this is a freedom of conscience issue.
Mr Speaker: The Member will have a minute added to his time.
Mr Storey: I concur with the comments of my colleague. They lead me onto the broader point that the LGB agenda is part of a much broader campaign to bring about a social revolution. Pressure for further change will undoubtedly come. This is the beginning of a process that will undoubtedly continue. If we follow the spurious argument that it is all about equality, human rights, love and so on, the logical outworking of that can go in many ways. If a man says that he loves his sister or brother and wants to marry them, surely that is his human right. If a group of people of whatever gender decide that they love each other and want to get married, why not? Those are just a few of the possible scenarios.
Mr Speaker: Will the Member bring his remarks to a close?
Mr Storey: In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I will quote what the apostle Paul said in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 15:
"speaking the truth in love" -
I want this quote to be placed on record so that we dispense the issue of homophobic -
Mr Speaker: The Member's time has gone.
Mr Storey: - actions.
"Loveless truth is brutal. Truthless love is hypocrisy. Love in truth is necessary."
Caleb delegation at Stormont Castle after meeting with Junior Minister Jonathan Bell. Left to right - Rev David Silversides, Mr Jonathan Bell, Pastor Eric McComb, Rev Philip Campbell.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION STRATEGY
The Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMdFM) have just published a consultation paper on how best to develop a sexual orientation strategy. We reject all homophobic acts and attitudes towards GLBT people but, in our view, there are safeguards in place in legislation and elsewhere which offer more than adequate protection for that community. We will therefore be suggesting that there is no need for a strategy at all. We encourage all Christians individuals, churches and organisations to consider the consultation paper and respond by the closing date of 6 June. The link is
If you need any help or advice regarding a response, please email us.
Statement on behalf of the Caleb Foundation 27 January 2014
REDUCED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY PERFORMANCE AT THEATRE AT THE MILL, NEWTOWNABBEY
The Caleb Foundation is a lobby group which seeks to represent the views of Evangelical Christians across Northern Ireland.
We welcomed the cancellation of the production 'The Bible: the Complete Word of God' by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, in response to concerns expressed by and to Councillors in Newtownabbey, and are greatly disappointed that this decision has now been reversed.
From reports in the press and information on the RSC's own website, it seems clear that much of the material in the play could very well cause offence to Christians, both in Newtownabbey and across Northern Ireland. We feel sure that other religions and their holy books would not be treated with ridicule in this way, nor indeed would other groups on grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability etc, but Christians and the Bible appear to be fair game in today's "tolerant" society.
Billed as a 'Celebration of the Bible', the play seems intended rather to make fun of the Bible and could have the effect of undermining the seriousness with which its message might be treated. Christians are certainly not without an appropriate sense of humour, for we can often smile at some of our own eccentricities or even those associated with churches. But poking fun at God, the Bible or Christ Himself is of an entirely different order, and should surely be avoided as a matter of simple respect.
Some saw the original decision of Newtownabbey Borough Council as censorship, but since in the world of cinema we have the rulings if the BBFC, and even the BBC has a 'watershed', why should it be thought strange that a line should also be drawn as far as productions in the theatre are concerned? Christians are not opposed to culture, but to treat the Christian faith with disrespect - as this production seems to do - would do the Arts inNorthern Irelandno credit whatsoever.
Philip Campbell (Rev)
CALEB FOUNDATION SUPPORTS EDWIN POOTS (27 Jan 2014)
There is no doubt that Health Minister, Edwin Poots, has come under sustained and sometimes vicious attack in recent times simply because he has the courage to stand by his religious and moral beliefs and not be dictated to by those who wish to advance a humanist agenda. We have therefore written to Mr Poots to commend him for his stance on blood donation and gay adoption, and to assure him of our support and ongoing prayers.
ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES TO CALEB
In order to ensure that we are better able to respond quickly to issues, and to ensure that we have access to expert advice from specialists in various moral and ethical fields, we have decided to slightly restructure our organisation. We have therefore established an executive committee which meets regularly and, though answerable to the Council of Reference, is mandated to act on the Council's behalf. The Committee is in the process of developing close working relationships with other, like-minded, organisations, and there are plans to set up a number of think-tanks. Council members are Wallace Thompson (chair), Rev Philip Campbell (Sec), Pastor Noel Somerville (Treas), Rev David Silversides, Rev Robert McEvoy, Pastor Eric McComb, Rev William Parke and Mr Robert Hamilton.
CALEB FORUM HAS BEEN CLOSED
The purpose and aim of the Caleb Forum is to stimulate constructive debate on a range of issues. However, some of those who post on the Forum and who are opposed to Caleb tend to be unwilling or unable to engage in anything other than vulgar and infantile bletherings and rants. The latest of these consist of personal comments and innuendo against Mr David McConaghie. Mr McConaghie has voluntarily stepped down from the Caleb Foundation and, in light of the ongoing police investigation, we do not intend to make any further comment at this time. Nor do we intend to provide a platform for others to make their comments, and the Forum has therefore been closed until further notice. On the same basis, the Guest Book has also been closed.
CALEB FOUNDATION CONDEMNS OPENING OF STOPES CLINIC
12 October 2012
Northern Ireland evangelical umbrella group, the Caleb Foundation, has issued the following statement in relation to the opening of the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast:
"Despite all the honeyed words and carefully choreographed statements emanating from those behind the new Marie Stopes clinic, we should be under no illusions. Far from offering "non-judgemental" advice, as Dawn Purvis, the centre's programme director, repeatedly tells us it will do, it is highly likely that this clinic will do all in its power to push the boundaries of the current law on abortion in Northern Ireland and, by so doing, will offer encouragement to others who share that sinister agenda. Ms Purvis herself has so far displayed very little evidence of a non-judgemental attitude in her criticism of those who have dared to challenge her views or the need for the new clinic.
We fully recognise that the issues surrounding abortion are highly sensitive and that pregnant women, in certain circumstances, can find themselves under immense psychological and emotional pressure. That aspect cannot be ignored, but the current legislative arrangements in Northern Ireland recognise and address those pressures while also, vitally, recognising the rights of the unborn child.
The majority in Northern Ireland, from across the community divide, are opposed to abortion on demand and this is reflected in the attitudes of our MLAs. There is no demand for a change in the law. It is therefore imperative that all of us who value the sanctity of life now act as a voice for the unborn. This new clinic is neither wanted nor needed. It will be a blight on our capital city. We hope that it will not be open for long and, meanwhile, we urge the law enforcement agencies to keep a very close eye on its activities".
CALEB FOUNDATION BROADLY CONTENT WITH CAUSEWAY REVIEW- 3 October 2012
Northern Ireland evangelical umbrella group, the Caleb Foundation, has issued the following statement in relation to the outcome of the National Trust's review of one of the exhibits at the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre:
"When the new Visitor Centre at the Giant's Causeway was opened in July 2012, Caleb congratulated the National Trust on the inclusion of an audio exhibit which acknowledged both the legitimacy of the creationist position on the origins of the unique Causeway stones and the ongoing debate around this.
We were disappointed when the Trust decided to review the previously agreed wording in that exhibit as a result of pressure. We are also disappointed that the outcome of the review has led to a revision of the wording, but we are very pleased that the exhibit has not been removed, as demanded by some. Although we do not accept that all the scientific evidence points to a 60 million year time span, we note that the revised exhibit still retains an acknowledgement of the existence of an alternative viewpoint. The National Trust has therefore set a precedent for others to follow".
MLAs VOTE AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE
THE NATIONAL TRUST GIANT'S CAUSEWAY REVIEW
Since the opening of the new Visitor Centre at the Giant's Causeway, there has been a tidal wave of misrepresentation from some quarters against both the National Trust and the Caleb Foundation. In a statement issued on 17 July, the Trust announced that, as a result of reaction to the exhibit dealing with the historical debate and "to ensure that no further misunderstanding or misrepresentation of this exhibit can occur" they have decided to review the interpretive materials in this section.
We have written to the Trust to ask if this review will include any public consultation, given that there is a significant amount of public money involved. We have no doubt that there would also be a significant public interest in such a review and any decisions flowing from it.
We will await the completion of this review and, depending on the outcome, we may then provide a much fuller and more detailed statement.
CALEB'S INITIAL STATEMENT ON THE OPENING OF THE CAUSEWAY CENTRE AND OTHER MEDIA COMMENTS ON THE ISSUES SURROUNDING THE DEBATE CAN BE FOUND IN THE "CREATIONIST ISSUES" SUB MENU ON THE LEFT.
CALEB FOUNDATION MEETS JUNIOR MINISTER
A delegation from the Caleb Foundation, the umbrella organisation which represents the interests of mainstream evangelical Christians inNorthern Ireland, had a useful and constructive meeting on 12 April with Junior First Minister, Jonathan Bell MLA.
Caleb Chairman, Wallace Thompson said,
"We discussed the importance of promoting and defending Biblical standards within Government and also explored possible funding options which would enable the Foundation to explain its message to the broader community.
We also raised the visit of leading Chinese politician, Madame Liu Yandong, (taking place at the time of our meeting) and, in particular, our great concern at the persecution of evangelical Christians in China. We urged Minister Bell and his colleagues to raise this matter with Madam Liu, and we were encouraged to note that both he and the First Minister subsequently did so".
Mr Bell has agreed to meet with the Caleb Foundation again.
The following "PLATFORM" article by Wallace Thompson, Chairman of the Caleb Foundation, appeared in the NEWS LETTER on 22 August 2011.
As the Executive considers its Programme for Government (PfG), there will be no shortage of advice and suggestions from the business sector, economists, trade unions and umpteen lobby groups. Much of it will be constructive and sensible, but it seems inevitable that it will focus on how to meet the challenges of economic recession, cuts to front-line services and financial austerity. These are indeed key issues affecting us all, and it is only right and proper that they are robustly tackled. However, there are other issues of even greater importance which must also be addressed in the PfG.
The Bible states that "Man shall not live by bread alone", but we have become a very selfish, materialistic and hedonistic society. It seems that as Northern Ireland moves forward, many are prepared to reject Biblical principles of morality and ethics in favour of a new secular mindset.
Our Province needs a clear moral framework, and during the Assembly Election, the Caleb Foundation, the Lord's Day Observance Society and the Evangelical Protestant Society issued a questionnaire to all candidates on moral and ethical issues which might come before the Assembly. The questions required a 'yes' or 'no' answer, but we received just 38 responses. Is this an indication of the priorities of modern Northern Ireland?
We believe that the Bible is the foundation of any stable society. We are pro-family because God instituted marriage and the family, pro-life because God is the giver of life, and pro-Sunday because God instituted a day in each week as His special day. The centrality and relevance of Biblical principles in society must be fully recognised in the PfG. We therefore urge all evangelical Christian MLAs, and especially those who serve as Ministers on the Executive, to do all within their power to ensure that this is the case. We also encourage them to take their stand against policies which are at variance with the Word of God.
A key target for reform must be the vast and ever-growing equality and human rights industry which has not only failed to deliver but has itself been the source of many of our concerns. We are fully committed to equality and rights for all, but public money is being squandered on, and by, a plethora of unelected quangos directed and driven largely by those who have displayed little or no sympathy with evangelical Christianity. These should be scrapped and replaced by a much smaller and more cost-effective regime with clear targets to ensure the delivery of genuine equality and real parity of esteem. Above all else, our Province and its leaders would do well to remember that"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD"(Psalm 33:12).
CALEB FOUNDATION DEMANDS ACTION ON OFFENSIVE PLACARDS
The Caleb Foundation has expressed its concern at the grotesquely offensive and totally unacceptable behaviour of some of the participants in Saturday's Gay Pride event in Belfast and has written to the Parades Commission requesting a follow-up meeting to one it had in June.
One participant carried a placard which stated "Jesus had two dads (and he turned out just fine)". Another placard stated "Jesus protect me from your followers".
Caleb Foundation chairman, Wallace Thompson, said, "When we met with the Commission a few weeks ago, we raised our concerns about offensive placards and other provocative aspects of the Gay Pride parade inBelfastcity centre in recent years. Despite being promoted as a family day out and a celebration of diversity, last Saturday's Gay Pride event was true to form. Once again,Belfastwas subjected to further garish displays ofprovocative, lewd and offensive behaviour which appeared to reach new depths as the parade passed a group of Christians who had been holding a service of witness at the City Hall. It is vital that both the Parades Commission and the PSNI take immediate steps to bring the organisers of the Gay Pride event to account".
CALEB MEET NEW PARADES COMMISSION
Following our meeting with the outgoing Parades Commission just before Christmas, we were invited to meet the new Commission and this meeting has now taken place. Once again, the Caleb delegation consisted of Mr Wallace Thompson, Rev Samuel Watson and Mr Callum Webster. The meeting centred around our concerns about the Gay Pride parade in Belfast and the need for the Commission to be transparently impartial in its determination and its public comments. The discussion was open, frank, constructive and friendly, and we hope to further pursue some of the issues with Commission officials between now and the Pride parade later in the summer.
DISAPPOINTING RESPONSE TO OUR QUESTIONNAIRE
The new NI Assembly is now up and running, and it is regrettable that only 18 out of 108 MLAs took the time to respond to our pre-Election questionnaire on moral and ethical issues which might come before the Assembly over the next four or so years. No candidate from the nationalist side responded. Normally nationalists are very keen to be supportive of minority groups, but perhaps such an attiude does not extend to evangelical Christians. We are also very disappointed that so few unionists responded. We suspect that some overlooked the questionnaire due to the pressures of the election campaign, and it is our intention to follow the matter up with all MLAs. We also plan to develop of lobbying strategy at Stormont. As Northern Ireland moves into a much more secular mindset, it is important to remind society that evangelicals have not gone away. Meanwhile, be sure to visit www.mlawatch.org to see how Assembly candidates in your constituency responded to the questionnaire.
PLEASE MAKE REGULAR USE OF OUR "POINTS FOR PRAYER" SECTION - See sub-menu on left.
CALEB FOUNDATION WELCOMES EVANGELICAL APPOINTMENT TO PILOT COMMUNITY FAITHS FORUM
When the Pilot Community Faiths Forum was established last year, the Caleb Foundation was concerned at the absence of any representation from the mainstream evangelical Protestant community, and a Caleb delegation met last autumn with Mr Alex Attwood, the Social Development Minister, to discuss the matter.
The absence of evangelical representation had been a recurring problem under direct rule when it seemed that officials simply appointed to statutory bodies from lists which included the "four main churches" (and organisations associated with them) and a variety of non-Christian groupings. As a result, evangelical Protestant denominations and organisations - which between them represent a very significant, substantial and influential community - were, to all intents and purposes, excluded.
We are therefore delighted that Rev Robert Beckett, Minister of Somerton and Croscollyer Evangelical Presbyterian congregations has now been appointed to serve on the Forum.
Dr Beckett will bring to the Forum a wealth of experience and knowledge. He is well-known and highly respected in the Tiger's Bay area of North Belfast, having been a minister on the peace-line for 29 years. He is chair of the Local Ministers Fraternal, founder of The Helping Hand (a support group for those suffering from addiction) and serves on several community police partnership bodies.
Dr Beckett's appointment represents a very considerable step forward in our efforts to foster and develop closer links between the evangelical Protestant community and the devolved institutions.
CALEB CHAIRMAN INTERVIEWED BY NEWS LETTER (4 Feb 2011)
IF you saw Wallace Thompson in the street it is unlikely that you would recognise him.
Yet the group which the unassuming 58-year-old heads up was viewed as so dangerous by a leading secularist organisation that it published an 11,000-word report which labelled it as peddling "Christian fascism".
The Caleb Foundation, which Thompson leads, began in 1998 as an evangelical Christian political lobbying group in Northern Ireland as a reaction against the influence of the 'big four' mainstream churches - the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist.
Thompson has an intriguing CV: a founding member of the DUP, Orangeman, NIO civil servant who drafted a key speech for the Queen, ministerial adviser to Nigel Dodds and now the chairman of Caleb.
The British Centre for Science Education savaged him in a report last year which contained the heading "Why everyone should fear the Caleb foundation".
It paints a fairly lurid picture of a fundamentalist Christian lobby group with "tentacles all over the place", aiming to make Northern Ireland a "fundamentalist Protestant theocracy".
Thompson is aware of the article and seems as bemused by the piece as its authors are angered by him. The Caleb foundation represents a limited number of Ulster Protestants, something which Thompson in fact volunteers. Indeed, it is because they are a small minority that they should be looked after, he argues.
Its membership stretches across many of the smaller Protestant denominations - Independent Methodist, Elim, Evangelical Presbyterian, Congregational, Reformed Presbyterian and some Baptist churches, but the largest single denomination it represents is the Free Presbyterian Church.
Despite its small numbers it has significant clout in sections of the DUP hierarchy. Asked how influential the group is, Thompson says: "Well, I suppose any organisation likes to think that it's fairly influential. I don't know ... how influential we are is for others to judge.
"We have to admit that society is becoming more and more secular and the task of holding to biblical standards in society is now regarded as on the margins and extreme. But we have a duty to be faithful to our own beliefs. The views that we would promote are not some sort of extreme, militant, fundamentalist things.
"We've been called the 'Caleban' - I'm not sure how that actually happened, whether some of our members used that as a joke or whether it came from some other source, I don't know. You can smile wryly at it, but it's a wee bit unfair that we're compared to the fundamentalists of the Taliban."
Given his own DUP membership and the presence of DUP figures Mervyn Storey and David McConaghie on its board, the group has been portrayed as an offshoot of the party, a perception reinforced by its lobbying of two DUP ministers to introduce creationism at the Giants Causeway visitor centre and Ulster Museum.
But Thompson insists that Caleb contains diverse political views and makes clear that it will not be a vehicle for uncritical support of the DUP.
Sitting in his east Belfast home, not far from Stormont's grand halls, he says that the increasing liberalisation of politics in Northern Ireland concerns many of Caleb's supporters.
"I think that the political life of our province is in many ways a reflection of the changing nature of society in Northern Ireland. We would have concerns that politics [should not] drift away too far from Ulster's historic Christian foundations, in fact we would like to return to those foundations, but we accept reality: we are where we are.
"There are times when we feel we have to lobby and that's what we seek to do and we will make our case known if we feel there is a slipping in that those who govern us have a responsibility to govern wisely under God."
The breakdown of family life "greatly concerns" the organisation: "There is something badly wrong with society: it is out of synch with itself.
"We're accused sometimes of being very hardline on family values but those things are the bedrock that create a stable society and as we move out of conflict into a more normal society, let's not throw out the baby with the bath water.
"People say 'Religion was the cause of the Troubles ... those hardline views of the Protestants and so on, they have to go as well now.' That's part of what we find - the views that we hold are regarded as a symptom of a problem which is now being solved and, therefore, we move on.
"None of us is perfect, but there are certain core values that you throw out at your peril, that society throws out at its peril. That's where Caleb sees itself as being the watchman."
In person, Thompson seems more humble and self-aware than the popular caricature of a Bible-thumping zealot.
He says: "No evangelical should ever adopt a Pharisaical attitude to life of saying 'Look at how great I am and how dreadful others are' - that is the road to pride and arrogance," but concedes: "Perhaps our perception as evangelical Christians, evangelical Protestants, has been that type of image which we have to look at as well ... mistakes have been made by Caleb, mistakes will be made by me personally and down through the years by church and state in Northern Ireland."
One of the group's campaigns was to get more representation by evangelical churches on BBC Northern Ireland, something he admits was partly due to the churches' "pietistic mindset, which can be part and parcel of evangelicalism".
He insists that the group is not "anti-culture, anti-the arts, anti-science", and points out that many of its positions on issues such as creationism or Sunday trading are historical, not new.
Thompson says that the group's opposition to a further relaxation of Sunday trading laws - as proposed by the social development minister Alex Attwood - is founded not just in its belief of the workless Sabbath, but also practical considerations, such as those of small businesses and families.
He then adds: "The other area is the rights of Christian shopworkers and the underlying pressure to work on a Sunday.
"It would also further erode what little family time there is if mum or dad has to go out to work in a shop."
Two years ago, his on-air comment in a radio interview that the Pope was the anti-Christ stirred controversy while he was an adviser to Nigel Dodds in 2008 at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
Asked whether he regrets using those words, he says: "That was said in the context of [Thompson being] the secretary of the Evangelical Protestant Society, it was in the context of a radio interview where I was asked on to talk about the sale of rosary beads in a Church of Ireland cathedral in Dublin and then I was probed on a number of other issues.
"I didn't go on the radio with a desire to offend anyone ... I was asked whether the Pope was the prince of darkness and I said 'No', going on to say what I believed him to be, quoting from the subordinate standards and so on.
"I don't regret the line that I took, but it's not a Caleb matter. Caleb does not campaign on those sorts of issues."
In an earlier life, while at the NIO he drafted the Queen's speech for the conferring of the George Cross on the RUC, something which he says was "a personal moment of some pride".
To this day, many unionists see the NIO as a hostile department. So what was it like for a founding member of the DUP in what the UUP peer Lord Laird has described as "a nest of vipers"?
"I think that's probably a perception that's been over-hyped," he says. "I found it fine. I made a lot of good friends, I was able to play to my strengths, I suppose, in policy development.
"In some ways there was the NIO core, which drove the political agenda and constitutional stuff, and then there was the old ministry of home affairs really which would have done criminal justice and policing issues, where I spent most of my time. I personally found no cause for any complaint and I enjoyed it."
CHRISTIAN RIGHTS FURTHER ERODED
The ruling in Bristol County Court that Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the Christian owners of a B&B in Cornwall, had breached the Equality Act by refusing to allow a homosexual couple to use a double room, is yet another reminder that, as the Daily Telegraph put it, "The right to hold religious beliefs, and to act in keeping with one's faith, is being set against the right not to be offended - and is losing". The Bulls, who were fined £3,600, have been running the guest house since 1986. They have a general policy, based on their Christian principles, that only married couples are allowed to share a double room in their guesthouse.
We have long asserted that the "equality" and human rights agendas are being driven by those whose core values are anti-Christian. Those who hold to Biblical beliefs are dismissed either as intolerant and narrow-minded bigots, or they are patronised as well-meaning but sadly deluded simpletons who are entitled to their beliefs but who shouldn't really, in their own interests or that of society, be allowed to practise them (even on their own premises).
A human rights "expert" has asserted that public opinion drives legislation and that people such as Mr and Mrs Bull are prisoners of their own "prejudices". Dictionaries define "prejudice" as, for example, "an adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts" or "Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion". And so, Christians are dismissed as irrational and lacking in knowledge.
As Mr and Mrs Bull said, the ruling against them is further evidence that Christianity is being marginalised in Britain. The judge admitted that they held perfectly legitimate views and left the door open for an appeal. We hope they will do just that.
CALEB MEETS WITH PARADES COMMISSION
A Caleb Foundation delegation led by chairman Wallace Thompson had a constructive and mutually helpful meeting with the outgoing Parades' Commission just before Christmas to discuss our concerns regarding the Commission's comments about the Gay Pride parades in Belfast in 2009 and 2010. The Commission had said the parade was a welcome addition to the city and a celebration of its various lifetyles. We pointed out that it was important that the Commission did not go beyond its remit. We suggested that if similar remarks had been made by the Commission in relation to an Orange parade, there would have been an outcry. We also stated that while we believed in civil and religious liberty, it was incumbent upon the Commission to remind the organisers of the Gay Pride parade that they had a responsibility to avoid causing offence. Caleb has been offered a meeting with the new Parades Commission and we hope that this will take place very soon.
ULSTER MUST SAY NO TO EXTENDED SUNDAY OPENING OF SHOPS
The Caleb Foundation is totally opposed to any extension to the Sunday opening hours of shops in NI. We will respond shortly to DSD Minister Alex Attwood's review, but we also urge everyone to make their views known - Email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 028 90829521 or write to the Social Policy Unit, Dept for Social Development, 4th Floor, Lighthouse Building 1 Cromac Place, Belfast BT7 2JB.
CALEB RESPONDS TO DUP PAPER ON FAITH GROUPS
The Caleb Foundation and the Evangelical Protestant Society have submitted a joint response to the Democratic Unionist Party consultation paper "Empowering Faith Groups to Benefit Communities". Our full response can be viewed by clicking on the sub menu on the left. The DUP paper can be viewed at www.dup.org.uk
MONK-EY BUSINESS IN
Sammy Wilson has, quite rightly, lambasted the Northern Health and Social Care Trust for wasting resources by holding staff 'happy and content' sessions with a Buddhist monk. Apart from the crucial financial issue, this bizarre decision gives rise to a number of other concerns. Why, for example, did the Trust choose to employ the services of a Buddhist? Surely this conflicts with equality legislation and protocols. If a Buddhist is to be involved, then, in the interests of equality and parity of esteem, similar sessions should be conducted by representatives of all the Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic Church, Hinduism, Islam, etc. Such an arrangement would, of course, be absurd, but it serves to illustrate the total unacceptability, on grounds both of principle and financial probity, of the Trust's decision in the first place. It is also interesting to note that in the obsession with creating and maintaining a politically correct "neutral working environment" in today's society, a Christian nurse (in England) can be disciplined for praying with her patients while, at the same time, the Northern Trust deem it appropriate to employ the services of a Buddhist monk.
CALEB FOUNDATION RESPONSE THE LICENSING AND REGISTRATION OF CLUBS (AMENDMENT) BILL
The Caleb Foundation has responded briefly, as follows, to the Committee of Social Development's request for view on this Bill.
"We remain concerned about the negative impact of alcohol on society and family life, but we are encouraged that, in general terms, the Bill seems to chart a more sensible way forward than that envisaged in the consultation exercise conducted in 2005.
We welcome the introduction of new powers for the PSNI and the courts (in clauses 1 and 5), a penalty points system (clauses 2 and 6) and the statutory proof of age scheme (clauses 3 and 7).
Although we feel that the main problem in relation to alcohol is its easy availability for purchase at a low price from various retailers, it is incumbent upon all to do whatever they can to control the sale of alcohol. We are therefore concerned about the proposals in clause 9 to increase the number of late licences for registered clubs from 52 to 120 per year. We further note that a number of occasions may be included on the one application. Would it therefore be possible for a club owner, in one application, to apply, say, to remain open until midnight on every Sunday in a particular year? We would favour tighter controls and greater clarity in this area.
We will watch the progress of this legislation through the Assembly, and its subsequent implementation and enforcement, with interest. We also note that it is part of a broader process of reform".
STRANGE VISITORS TO CALEB!
Our many friends and supporters might be interested to note the recent spate of attacks upon the Foundation in the bizarre postings which have appeared in our Caleb Forum. We certainly seem to have hit a few raw nerves in our campaign for equality. At least it shows that our opponents consider our site worthy of regular visits!
It also reminds just how intolerant, irrational and unreasonable those opponents can sometimes be. They appear to take umbrage at our totally reasonable desire to encourage rational scientific debate on the vital data on the origins of life and of the universe. Of course, this should not surprise us. After all, the revival of scientific debate and research which accompanied the Protestant Reformation also met with similar resistance from the Church of Rome, whose persecution of Galileo is a matter of historical record.
The Caleb Foundation has campaigned on these issues not for debate's sake but in order to highlight the need to broaden the scientific data that is made available to the public.
We want to assure all of our friends that we fully intend to concentrate on the promotion of our broader agenda and not allow ourselves to be distracted by the narrow-minded intransigence, philosophical prejudice and anti-science stance of others.
We also wish to make it clear that posts which use foul or abusive language WILL BE REMOVED.
ST GEORGE'S MARKET TO OPEN ON SUNDAY
Belfast City Council has voted by 28 votes to 13 to allow St George's market to open on a Sunday (for a trial period from June to September). This move, which has been warmly welcomed by those whose god is money and who have no respect for either the Word of God or the rights of workers, is a further step along the way towards the total rejection of Biblical values in our society. Our Province in fast losing its way. We face open rebellion against God and his Word, and widespread intolerance towards those who hold to Biblical principles.
STATEMENT FROM THE CALEB FOUNDATION ON THE ULSTER MUSEUM (26 May 2010)
The Caleb Foundation warmly welcomes Culture Minister, Nelson McCausland's request to museums to give more prominence to alternative views on the origins of the universe.
We fully accept that the theory of evolution is the view of the majority of scientists, but it is important to note that evolution is a theory and not a fact. A visit to the Ulster Museum would not give that impression. Indeed, the very clear assertion is made across the entire "Nature Zone", that evolution is a fact. This, presumably quite deliberate, error is further compounded by the complete absence of even the merest mention of any other theory of origins such as the Biblical account of creation, for which there is strong scientific evidence.
If Northern Ireland is to move towards a shared future on a genuine basis of equality and inclusivity, then it is only right that a publicly funded institution such as the Ulster Museum is fully and sensitively reflective of the various views of society as a whole - including those of evangelical Christians.
We wrote to Mr McCausland and Mr Tim Cooke, Chief Executive, National Museums Northern Ireland about this matter some weeks ago, and we are very pleased that Mr McCausland has responded in such a positive way. National Museums Northern Ireland must now respond to Mr McCausland's request in a similarly positive manner.
CALEB SPEARHEADS CAMPAIGN FOR EQUALITY IN ULSTER MUSEUM
Two recent fact-finding missions to the newly refurbished Ulster Museum by members of the Caleb Foundation Council of Reference confirmed our worst fears about the open promotion of evolution as a fact and the complete absence of any reference to Biblical creationism.
In light of this, and following a meeting with the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Mr Nelson McCausland MLA, the Foundation's Secretary wrote to him and also Mr Tim Cooke, Chief Executive of the National Museums of Northern Ireland, which runs the Ulster Museum. The letters are set out below.
The Foundation is also encouraging Christians across Northern Ireland to write to both Mr McCausland and NMNI, and we attach on a separate page on this site a list of our key findings from the time we spent in the Museum's 'Nature Zone'. You can deploy some of these in any letter you write.
The Museum is a publicly funded body, but it stands condemned as having failed to even make any effort to fulfil its equality obligations. Further, it is peddling theory as fact.
Please pray for us and support us in this ongoing campaign.
Letter to Nelson McCausland, Culture Minister:
When the Caleb Foundation met with you a few weeks ago, we undertook to provide you with our considered opinion about the way in which the newly re-furbished Ulster Museum has dealt, in its Nature Section, with the sensitive issue of the origins of the universe, the earth and human life.
We have taken the time to carefully assess the various exhibits and I have to say that we were absolutely appalled by what we witnessed.
We fully accept that the theory of evolution, in a variety of manifestations, is the view of the majority of scientists. However, there are differences of opinion even within that majority position, and it is important to note that evolution is a theory and not a fact. A visit to the Ulster Museum would not give that impression. Indeed, the very clear assertion is made across the entire "Nature Zone", that evolution is a fact. This gross and arrogant falsehood is further compounded by the complete absence of even the merest mention of any other theory of origins such as the Biblical account of creation.
By way of example, I would cite the following quotes in the exhibits -
"Evolution is a fact, based on changes seen in fossils and in living things today".
"Every living thing on earth owes its existence to the elements and compounds found in the original mixture of dust and ice from which the Solar System was formed"
"Most plants and animal species that ever lived on earth are extinct, thanks to evolution".
"By 380 million years ago, animals with jaws, lungs and four limbs had evolved. These early four-legged amphibians are the ancestors of many animals alive today, from newts to humans".
As a result of this wholly misleading propaganda- and there are numerous other similar examples - those who visit the Nature Zone, including impressionable children, will be seriously misled and misinformed. This is hardly a sound basis upon which any respectable museum should operate, and especially one which is publicly funded!
As tax payers and Christians, we are very concerned about this fundamental lack of balance and impartiality. We would therefore be interested to know to what extent, if any, the activities of National Museums Northern Ireland, and, in particular, the Ulster Museum, have been assessed against the statutory requirements of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
I would be grateful if you would give this matter your attention and we look forward to hearing from you.
We are also writing along similar lines to the National Museums Northern Ireland.
Letter to Tim Cooke, National Museums of NI:
Dear Mr Cooke
I am writing on behalf of the Council of Reference of the Caleb Foundation, an umbrella organisation which represents the views of thousands of evangelical Christians and Churches outside "the four main churches".
The re-opening of the Ulster Museum after its extensive modernisation and refurbishment was widely welcomed across Northern Ireland and beyond. As you state in your website, it has been the most talked about new experience in Northern Ireland. As well as housing many important treasures, the Ulster Museum in itself is a national treasure.
In that context, and as your site also says, it is important that the Museum has full public support. I am sure you will agree with me that such support cannot be taken for granted and that, as in any other area of public life, it has to be earned. It is, therefore, crucial that the Museum is transparently balanced and impartial in its approach.
This, however, is not the case in some sections of the new Museum. We have taken our time to assess the substantial Nature Zone, and I have to say that we were utterly appalled at the total absence of even a pretence of balance or impartiality in the handling of the sensitive issue of the origins of the universe, the earth and human life.
We fully accept that the theory of evolution, in a variety of manifestations, is the view of the majority of scientists. However, there are differences of opinion even within that majority position, and it is important to note that evolution is a theory and not a fact. A visit to the Ulster Museum would not give that impression. Indeed, the very clear statement is made that "evolution is a fact".
Visitors, including impressionable school-children, are subjected to a whole series of sweeping assumptions all presented as facts. For example, we are told that "Two billion years ago the only life on earth was microscopic bacteria and blue-green algae", that "the first mammals evolved around 230 million years ago" and that man is related to sponges, sea squid and bacteria, and newts.
Now, we fully accept that these are legitimately held views, but, unless they can be scientifically proven, they are not facts and should not be presented as such. In addition, space should be given within the Nature Zone to the proper presentation of other, equally legitimate, theories such as the Biblical account of creation.
As tax payers and Christians, we are very concerned about this fundamental lack of balance. It is highly presumptuous of your organisation to call for public support when it has singularly failed to act in a manner designed to maximise that support. Indeed, it has acted in a manner which has alienated a significant section of the community, and I trust you will agree that this is unacceptable.
We have written to the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Nelson McCausland MLA, to ascertain the extent to which, if any, the activities of National Museums Northern Ireland, and, in particular, the Ulster Museum, have been assessed against the statutory requirements of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
We would be interested in your response to our concerns and would be happy to meet with you if that would be helpful.
A copy of this letter goes to Mr McCausland.
CALEB DELEGATION MEETS BBC Belfast
Wednesday 25th November 2009
A Caleb delegation met with BBC Radio Ulster this morning to raise a number of issues of importance to the Evangelical Community. The delegation discussed the forthcoming anniversary of the AV, and the recent contributors to Thought for the day. We strongly expressed our disappointment at the attitude of Sunday Sequence in relation to presenting discussions with evangelical contributors, and a perceived pro-homosexual and anti-Creation bias.
CALEB DELEGATION MEETS MINISTER SAMMY WILSON
Thursday 12th November 2009.
A delegation from the Caleb Foundation, representing a number of churches, met with the Minister foir Finance and Personnel, Mr Sammy Wilson, MP, MLA, to discuss the Dormant Accounts Scheme. The delegation specifically discussed the plight of evangelical churches who were disadvantaged in obtaining funding, because the ethos of biblical Christianity excludes seeking money fron the National Lottery, - sourced from gambling. It was suggested to the minister that the Dormant Accounts Scheme might be way for the government to address this discrimination in funding.
Mr Wilson listened carefully to the point of view expressed by the delegation, and promised to give the matters raised some consideration.
CALEB "OPINION" PIECE IN THE NEWS LETTER Mon 12 October 2009
A Stormont motion calling on Culture Minister Nelson McCausland to withdraw his statement that he will not attend a service in a Roman Catholic Church is a sinister attack on Evangelical Christians, says DAVID McCONAGHIE from The Caleb Foundation.
IMAGINE if one of the parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive tabled a motion for debate where they claimed that some of the core, basic, tenets of the Jewish religion were toxic, injurious to good community relations, or detrimental to the good of society.
Imagine if they tabled a similar motion about Islam. Suppose they included in that motion a claim that those who held to such beliefs rendered themselves unfit for public office. What would be the reaction?
They would be pilloried right across society. The Community Relations Council would issue dire warnings about such intolerance. The Human Rights Commission would immediately denounce it. The Equality Commission would get into a state of extreme agitation at the suggestion a person's religion should disqualify them in that way. The BBC would go into meltdown - The Nolan Show would bang the table; Talkback would throb with indignation; Sunday Sequence would give those responsible a stern and public grilling, demanding that they justify their extreme prejudice.
But something dangerously similar will take place today at the Assembly. The following motion, tabled by three Sinn Fein MLAs, will be debated:
"That this Assembly calls on the Minister of Culture Arts and Leisure to withdraw his statement that he will 'not attend a service in a Catholic Church'; further calls on the minister to recognise that such a refusal to attend a Catholic Church service from an Executive Minister has no place in an inclusive society, and that as an Executive Minister he has a duty to serve, respect and engage with all sections of society regardless of their religious background."
The general implication and intent of this sinister motion could not be clearer. It is that if you are a mainstream Evangelical Christian - one who holds to traditional evangelical beliefs and core values - and in consequence you remain apart from the ecumenical movement, you are deemed unable, because of your faith, to serve, respect and engage with all sections of society, and thus unfit to hold certain jobs.
The motion's wording is explicit and clear. To Sinn Fein, evangelical beliefs and those who hold them have "no place in an inclusive society". To them, "inclusion", it seems, is for everyone except mainstream Evangelical Christians.
This raises many serious questions for many people.
Why can one community and one faith group be attacked like this with impunity? Why, after all these years and expending many millions of pounds of public money, has the Community Relations Council so signally failed to achieve any level of understanding of, or tolerance towards, the mainstream Evangelical Christian community, and how does it intend to address this glaring and dangerous gap? Why has there been not a single word of complaint from the Human Rights Commission defending the right to freedom of conscience and religion? Why the total silence from the Equality Commission instead of a robust defence of a person's right to hold to their faith without that turning them into undesirables?
Why is institutionalised intolerance unacceptable against every community with one exception? Why is it that every community can expect to be defended by the CRC, NIHRC and Equality Commission, etc with one exception?
Today at the Assembly, for the first time, an entire community, as represented by the Culture Minister, are to be the subject of political debate in which their adherence to their faith is regarded as the determining factor that makes them a poisonous people.
The time has come for the defenders of human rights in our Province to respond to such a sinister development. Why the silence?
Caleb Appoints New Chairman
The Council of Reference of the evangelical pressure group, the Caleb Foundation, has elected Mr Wallace Thompson as its new chairman. Since the untimely passing of Caleb's founding chairman, Mr George Dawson MLA, in May 2007, Rev William Park had fulfilled the role of acting chairman with the support of a steering group. Mr Thompson has been treasurer of Caleb since the organisation was founded in 1998.
A history graduate and former career civil servant, Mr Thompson was special adviser to DUP Minister, Mr Nigel Dodds MP MLA, from May 2007 until June 2009. Married with three grown up children, he is also secretary of the Evangelical Protestant Society and editor of its magazine, the Ulster Bulwark.
Mr Thompson has a wealth of experience in public administration, politics and media, and is well-respected as an articulate and able campaigner for the evangelical Protestant cause.
Speaking after his election, Mr Thompson said:
"I feel honoured and privileged to have been appointed chairman of the Caleb Foundation, and I wish to pay tribute to Rev William Park for all his work on behalf of Caleb since the untimely passing of our esteemed friend and colleague, George Dawson.
"There is much work for us to do. Even in the two years since George's passing, Ulster society has become increasingly secular, and opposition to the historic evangelical faith is more open, militant and vocal. In that sense, our cause is probably more marginalized than ever, but it is vital that we do not shrink from the challenge. As believers, we are called upon to earnestly contend for the faith, no matter what the prevailing circumstances are or how we will be regarded. That is what the Caleb Foundation was established to do, and, by the grace of God, we will now do with renewed vigour and determination.
"We intend to lobby government and media as intensively as we can in coming weeks on a range of issues, and we have already sought meetings with three Executive Ministers at Stormont.
"I am also keen to increase our profile among, and communication with, the various Protestant denominations, congregations and organizations that are associated with Caleb, and to offer encouragement to them in these days. I will be looking at ways in which this can be done".
The Caleb Foundation was established in October 1998 to bring together a range of evangelicals and to promote the fundamentals of the historic evangelical Protestant faith.
It encourages evangelical co-operation in order to promote a moral and social framework in our society based on Christian principles and ideals. Its methods include lobbying, education, and the promotion of debate and discussion across the community.
The Foundation's officers report to the Council of Reference which meets in plenary session several times a year.
Parades Commission Chariman Biased on Gay Pride.
Rena Shepherd has only been chair of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission for a few weeks and already she has openly displayed a bias which casts serious doubt over her suitability for this office. In announcing that the Commission would place no restrictions on the Gay Pride parade planned for Belfast city centre on 1 August, Ms Shepherd said that the Commission respected the views of those who are organising the Pride parade and those who wish to express their opposition. Fair enough. But, significantly, she went on to say that is was "very clear" that the Belfast Pride parade was a "welcome addition to the city and it is a colourful and positive celebration of all lifestyles which co-exist in Belfast". In other words, whilst she might say that she respects both sides, it is clear that she has greater respect for one viewpoint than the other. She is openly supporting a parade which many people regard as highly offensive. Imagine the outcry if Ms Shepherd or any other member of the Parades Commission were to make similar positive comments about a parade by the loyal orders. Ms Shepherd has failed to act in an impartial manner and, in one fell stroke, she has completely lost any confidence the evangelical community might have had in her. The Caleb Foundation calls upon her to unreservedly apologise for her subjective and offensive comments, and if she does not do so, then she must resign or be removed.
Statement by the Council of Reference on
Caleb and Stormont Power-Sharing
From time to time, the question of the stance of the Caleb Foundation towards the present power-sharing arrangements at Stormont has been raised, both enquiringly and critically.
While many individual members of the Council of Caleb Foundation have decided views on this subject (and these would vary one from another), Caleb as an organisation does not. The reason for this is that the purpose of Caleb is not to comment on who occupies positions of government and whether or not they should do so. Rather, its purpose is to lobby the powers that be, whoever they may be, on matters of policy which relate to Biblical doctrine and ethics and which are of concern to all evangelical Christians. It seeks to ensure that the convictions of the evangelical community are represented to the relevant political bodies.
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