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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

As a fan of cultural diversity and the "Big Tent" approach, I see these guys less as Barnabas and more as Sisera

I read this report today from Islamophobia Watch and did a little research.

Maybe the Barnabas Fund has been deemed fit to be a charity, but any organisation which has registered "Institute of Dhimmitude (UK)" as a trademark would seem to be doing a little more than just promoting Christianity. Spreading the Christian message is one thing: attacking and smearing Muslims when they attempt to spread theirs, as one of the top stories on the Barnabas Fund's "Operation Nehemiah" page today has them doing, is another.

Operation Nehemiah is specifically anti-Muslim:

"We face an aggressive secular humanism that is hostile to all religious faith, and an increasingly political Islam that wants to make itself the main religion in the West. Recent legislation has threatened our basic freedoms of speech and religion. And the response of the Church to these perils has often been hesitant and confused."

Its web page contains a link to a petition calling to the British government to legislate to avoid the danger of non-Muslims accidentally eating halal food, though strangely it makes no call for similar warning labelling of kosher produce.

The Barnabas Fund claims to support Christians who face discrimination or persecution for their faith. So naturally it is in its commercial interests to manufactures such things where they are inconveniently absent. In Britain Christianity is the state religion, so the best they can manage is to attack "political correctnmess" (yes, they still refer to it). And where there are no real stories, they make them up, or borrow made-up ones from the Daily Telegraph (LOL). See this report.

The only problem with it is that almost every word is a lie. See comments on original report here. In particular, the response received to a concerned reader's enquiry to the production company.

14 October 2011

Dear Jason,
Thank you for your letter expressing your concern about the representation of Christmas within ‘Thomas & Friends’.

I am taking the time to respond to you, because I want to set the record straight, as I believe the recent press reports that you are referring contain inaccuracies.

First, contrary to the portrayal in the media, the episode that is being referenced is not a new Christmas “special” but rather a six year old episode that was part of a four episode DVD that was neither sold as a “Christmas” nor a “Winter Holiday” themed release.

Second, and more importantly, Thomas has a great deal of new Christmas-themed content. More, in fact, than ever before, including last year’s DVD titled ‘Thomas & Friends: Christmas Express’ and a new Thomas Christmas DVD we are currently working on entitled “Merry Christmas, Thomas!” So the assertion that Thomas is afraid to call Christmas "Christmas" seems unwarranted and, quite frankly, silly.

I am not sure exactly why the media so often reports stories in a manner that they know to be misleading, except to say that they believe controversies create readers so they look to create controversy. We take the legacy of The Rev. Awdry’s work very seriously in the creation of all of our new content and work closely with his family to best manage Thomas for future generations of children.

Thank you again for writing. We value the opinions of our customers and I hope that by writing to you today I have been able to set the record straight about the content of Thomas. Please be assured that Christmas was, and continues to be, celebrated on the Island of Sodor, the home of ‘Thomas & Friends’.

Yours Sincerely,
Jeffrey D. Dunn
President & CEO


And actually, even the Telegraph's report is a garbled and misleading version of a simlarly sensationalist report in the Daily Mail. See here, here and here.

The trouble with publishing sensational lies is that they are picked up by extremists to be used as "evidence" that "British culture" is under threat from "foreigners". The English Defence League ran the story on their blog, and even when some of their own commenters pointed out that the story was bogus they still had folk chiming in with new messages of xenophobic hatred.

So there we are. The Daily Mail prints a misleading attack on how "political correctness" is banning Christmas. The Daily Telegraph picks up the story, removes most of the facts and gets the Rev W Awdry's daughter response to this non-existent censorship. Then the Barnabas Group, ignoring all the evidence that it is total rubbish, not only reprints the story but adds its own characteristic spin:

Please Pray: Praise God that the Christ-honouring legacy of children’s author Rev. W Awdry continues today. Pray that future attempts to remove references to “Christ” from children’s television scripts will not succeed.

The Charities Commission may have decreed that the Barnabas Fund can keep its tax exemptions. But as far as I'm concerned, the Islamophobic Liars For Jesus have no place in a Christian, or any other decent, society. They can go fuck themselves.

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