Thursday, 26 July 2007

A Caste System for Christians

Good comment by NTW as always.

A Caste System for Christians

The Pope's reaffirmation is simply another statement of what has always been the RC position -- at least for the last century or more.

(In what follows, I speak, naturally, from the Anglican position.)

On the one hand, there have been striking ecumenical advances -- Pope John's giving of his ring to Archbishop Michael Ramsey being a highlight of deep symbolic import. But these haven't been matched, on the other hand, by any real advance in terms of official recognition of Anglican orders and hence of Anglican Eucharists. There is an inconsistency here in that RCs do recognize Anglican (and indeed Methodist, Baptist etc.) baptisms as valid providing they are trinitarian; so if our baptisms are valid, why not our Eucharists? Is that an Achilles heel in Rome's 'fixed' position?

This is all particularly ironic in England because every year or two some RC commentator (or indeed some secularist) will bang on about how wicked it is to have the Act of Succession (according to which the heir to the throne may not marry an RC, and may not become RC on pain of forfeiting the succession) still on the statute books 'in this day and age', etc etc -- while choosing not to notice that it is still mandatory for RCs in mixed marriages to bring up children as RCs. In other words, if (say) Prince WIlliam were to marry an RC, children (including his heir) would be brought up as RCs. I fully appreciate that this whole nest of questions must seem arcane and perhaps even ridiculous to cheerfully republican Americans, but it matters to a lot of English people.

More ironic in worldwide terms is the 'logic' (as in the document Dominus Jesus of four or five years ago) whereby the Eastern Orthodox churches are allowed the status of 'church' -- because, so Ratzinger claimed in that previous document, 'they objectively intend reunion with the See of Peter'. In other words, they don't 'subjectively' intend it -- ask any Orthodox theologian and you'll see! -- but the Romans somehow 'know' that, despite their subjective self-awareness, there is a reality -- rather like the 'substance' in 'transubstantiation' -- in which, though they are themselves unaware of the fact, they 'objectively' are always trying to reunite with Rome.

This is, I'm afraid, a classic case of an institution painting itself into a corner and being officially unable to find its way out. Happily, there are thousands, perhaps millions, of RCs who cheerfully ignore all this and establish excellent relationships at all levels -- including eucharistic hospitality -- with Anglicans and many other denominations. That's what we have to work on. No doubt there are 'in-house' reasons why Benedict has chosen this moment to remind us Anglicans and others that we remain second-class citizens. I don't think it makes any real difference to any of the real issues that actually face us right now.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Govt turns to Wiccan queen to save girls

Interesting news story from India. This is the first mention I have come across of a Wiccan "social activist", normally they tend to be apolitical. Maybe change is on the way, and we will see Wiccan Aid alongside Christian Aid?

Govt turns to Wiccan queen to save girls

By Bappa Majumdar

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - The government has enlisted the follower of a global pagan witchcraft movement to help curb the country's high female infanticide rate and end the neglect of the girl child, officials said on Monday.

Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, a Wiccan and social activist, has been nominated by the government's National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) to head a panel tasked with improving the status of young girls, they said.

Around 10 million girls have been killed by their parents over the last 20 years, the government says, as female infanticide and foeticide, although illegal, are still prevalent with boys preferred to girls as breadwinners.

"This is a triumph for Wicca as the establishment was against Wiccans for years," Chakraverti said.

Wicca is primarily a Western movement of nature worship based on pre-Christian traditions and is recognised as an official religion in the United States.

Like many pagan religions, Wicca practises magic. Wicca witches believe that the human mind has the power to cause change in ways that are not fully understood by science.

In their rituals, as well as honouring their deities, witches also perform spells for healing and help people with problems.


The Wiccan campaign has made inroads into several rural pockets across India and has helped raise awareness against victimising young women and girls as witches.

Authorities expect that this influence could be expanded to promote the overall well-being of young girls.

Chakraverti, who studied the faith in Canada, is planning to institutionalise Wicca in India. She has set up a "Wiccan Brigade" to stop the persecution and killing of young girls and women on the pretext of their being witches.

"Ipsita is the right person for the task as she is widely travelled, does a lot of social work and feels pain for the downtrodden," NCMEI chief M.S.A. Siddiqui said from New Delhi.

"We are still far away from improving the status of the girl child and this committee will help us reach this goal and will not make any discrimination on the basis of religion and caste," Siddiqui, a retired judge, said.

Domestic violence and sexual abuse involving young girls is reported frequently in the country and a 2006 government survey found that 45 percent of girls were married before the legal marriageable age of 18.

India's adult female literacy rate was 47.8 percent, compared to the adult male rate of 73.4 percent in 2004.

The sex ratio in the country is still one of the world's lowest, with an average of 933 females recorded for every 1,000 males in the 2001 census.

"Education of girls even in big cities was dismal and census figures show that the population of the girl child was dropping," said Chakraverti, adding that tough laws and education of parents were needed to force change."

"Most cannot complete primary education."

Monday, 23 July 2007

Jazz Is the Sound of God Laughing

Wonderful story for us Jazz lovers!
Jazz Is the Sound of God Laughing
 came to know jazz as a child, stretched out beneath my uncle's baby grand. I would lie there for hours drawing while Uncle Charlie practiced. I could feel the vibrations go right through me, filling me up with jazz. I felt happier in that room than anywhere on the planet. A lot of that had to do with being admitted to the inner sanctum of my favorite grown-up. But in retrospect, I realize it was also about the music.

I believe in the fundamental optimism of jazz. Consider the first four notes of "Rhapsody in Blue." Can you hear it? It's saying, "Something monumental is going to happen. Something that's never happened before. And you are alive to witness it."

Jazz is always like that. Even the songs that take you to despair lift you. That's because the music remembers where it came from, from people kidnapped and enslaved. It came from a humanity that was attacked a thousand different ways every day, but never defeated. It's the People's Music.

I remember my uncle's hands on the piano. His fingers always had tiny burns on them, a hazard of his job as a welder. He spent his days at the Brooklyn Navy Yard building the ships that won the Second World War. He spent his nights playing piano and sax for couples who glided and gyrated across the city's polished floors.

In jazz, anybody can sit in. It's dogma-free, which allows the music to take more than its share of detours. This forces you to have faith. Faith that if you keep moving forward, you'll get there.

As an adult, cancer tested my faith. I was not afraid of dying -- after all, that's only a key change -- but I was terrified of leaving my baby without a mother. Walking in the woods with my son, who by no coincidence bears my uncle's name, I was fighting back tears. Charlie noticed some honeybees and started imitating their sound. All of a sudden, he sang "Buzz, buzz buzz buzz. Buzz." Those are the opening notes of "Green Dolphin Street," a jazz standard that I'd wager few 3-year-olds know.

Thankfully, I lived. But even if I hadn't, I learned that day that I could never leave my Charlie, any more than Uncle Charlie had ever left me. The three of us shared a treasure passed through generations. My baby knew jazz, which is the same as knowing that the universe carries us all toward joyful reunions.

There are some ugly noises in the universe today. At any given moment, I can turn on my television and watch people trampling over each other to gain the moral high ground. Sometimes, I despair. But on good days, I turn off the television and put on some Oscar Peterson. And I whisper a prayer for America to remember that we are "Green Onions," "String of Pearls," "A Sunday Kind of Love" and "The Dirty Boogie." We are the people of Louis, George, Miles and Wynton. We are the jazz people.

We'll get there. I believe it.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

William Woods

A few snippets from him!
OECD - Progress Towards a Level Playing Field?

Over 130 representatives of 55 governments, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the European Commission met on 15-16 November 2005 in Melbourne, Australia to review progress towards the OECD's stated objective of transparency and effective exchange of information for tax purposes (the so called "level playing field based on high standards"). And what an extraordinary gathering it was, with tiny islands like Vanuatu and Niue sitting down at the same table as the US, the EU member states, and Canada!

The two day discussions, which were based upon the review of the legal and administrative frameworks on transparency and exchange of information in tax matters currently in place in over 80 countries, showed that a global level playing field in the areas of transparency and effective exchange of information in tax matters is gradually developing. However, the Forum's discussions identified a number of areas where further progress needs to be made. The Forum's review will be published as a formal report in 2006.

BVI Guide on EU Savings Tax Directive

With the European Union Savings Tax Directive ("EUSD") due to come into force across much of Europe on 1st July 2005, the government of the BVI has published a Guide outlining how the EUSD is to be implemented in that OFC.

BVI is not a member of the European Union but along with other overseas territories and dependencies of EU member states (such as the Cayman Islands and the Netherlands Antilles) and certain other third countries (in particular, Switzerland) the BVI has agreed to implement measures to comply with the substance of the EUSD.

The US and Bermuda, alone among the UK's Overseas Territories, have not so far agreed to implement the directive.

What is an "Offshore" Jurisdiction?

Technically the expression "offshore" means "moving or directed away from the shore" as in the term "an offshore wind". In finance the expression is used to describe an arrangement that is located or based in a foreign country and therefore not subject to the laws of the jurisdiction in which you or your business is domiciled. (E.g., offshore bank account; offshore investment).

The concept of an "offshore jurisdiction" is commonly used in connection with financial transactions to describe the use of jurisdictions which are predominantly financial centres and which have enacted special legislation and/or tax regimes in order to attract financial services from other, mainly larger, countries. Generally these offshore financial centres are characterized by low or zero taxes on international business, liberal laws for the incorporation of international business corporations or other legal structures, and a lighter burden of regulation and supervision.

Many offshore jurisdictions are small islands in the Atlantic, Indian or Pacific oceans. Given the extent of the British Empire in its hay day it is not surprising to find that many of these islands where once owned by the U.K.  Perhaps more surprising is the fact that most of the U.K.'s last remaining colonies - or "Overseas Territories" as we should now call them - are leading offshore financial centres, namely: Bermuda, BVI, Cayman Islands and Gibraltar.  Throw in the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, which are also all offshore financial centres, and we could claim that the City of London's finest export to the world is "Offshore Financial Centres". LOL

Another MSM article full of distortions about Tax Havens!

The Chrisitian Science Monitor has an posted an article entitled "Secretly, tiny nations hold much wealth" by David R. Francis from the April 25, 2005 edition.

Here's the BIG distortion:

"Corrupt officials in poor nations, illegally, and multinational corporations, mostly legally, siphon huge amounts of money into bank accounts and shell companies in 70 tax havens, such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Jersey."

What a load of rubbish.  OFCs like Bermuda, the Caymans and Jersey, now have "Know Your Customer" rules that far exceed those of London and New York and which specifically prevent "politically sensitive" persons (like corrupt thrid world dictators) from opening accounts in those centres.  Corrupt officials in poor nations do NOT and cannot salt away illegal monies in the OFCs that the article names.  The only exception to this rule is possibly Switzerland, but Bermuda, the Caymans and Jersey are definitely NOT in that business anymore......but that does not stop the MSM from trotting out this old canard! Why doesn't David Francis name even one such corrupt official who has been shown to have siphoned illegal monies to one of the three OFCs that he names? Because he cannot, that's why!

Other ridiculous assertions from the article:

"Although they have only 1 percent of the world's inhabitants, they hold a quarter of United States stocks and nearly a third of all the globe's assets.

They're tax havens: 70 mostly tiny nations that offer no-tax or low-tax status to the wealthy so they can stash their money. Usually, the process is so secret that it draws little attention. But the sums - and lost tax revenues - are growing so large that the havens are getting new and unaccustomed scrutiny.
For example: When London's Tax Justice Network (TJN) reported a month ago that rich individuals worldwide had stashed $11.5 trillion of their assets in tax havens, it caused a fuss in Europe. "Super-rich hide trillions offshore," blazed a British newspaper headline.

Although that report received little notice outside Europe, there are rumblings of concern in the United States. That's not surprising. Nations lose an estimated $255 billion in tax revenues a year because of the havens, according to TJN. The US alone probably loses $60 billion a year, a tax expert estimates."


"There are about 3 million shell companies (set up largely to duck taxes) in offshore tax havens, Komisar reckons. These tiny tax havens hold 31 percent of total world assets and 26 percent of the stock of US multinationals."

3 million, hey? Now lets see. The BVI has about 300,000 companies registered, Bermuda has less than 30,000, about the same as Cayman and Jersey. So where exactly are these 3 million companies incorporated that Komisar "reckons" exist for no other reason than "to duck taxes"???

The TJN, by the way is a very left wing, socialist organisation - which is curiuosly not mentioned in the article. Of course their real agenda is to introduce global taxation and remove any tax competition between nation states. This hidden agenda is alluded to by TJN:

"As our economies have globalized, our tax systems remain nationally based and measures that should have been put in place decades ago to improve international tax cooperation have not been put in place," says John Christensen, international coordinator in London of TJN."

According to the article, we are in for another big fight to defend OFCs!

""It's going to be the next major issue," forecasts Lucy Komisar, a New York journalist writing a book on offshore banking. She compares the drive against tax havens with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, in which she participated, and the feminist and environmental movements of more recent decades.

Ms. Komisar helped organize a meeting on Capitol Hill April 7 to get an American branch of the TJN going. Representatives of several members of Congress, the AFL-CIO and a few other unions, several prominent tax research groups, and the United Church of Christ attended. About a dozen well-known activist groups were also present, including Public Citizen, Greenpeace, and the National Council of La Raza."

And of course we know that all those great organizations are really looking out for us, right!

I am saddened, but no longer shocked, that the Christian Science Monitor would publish such a poor piece of journalism, in which bold assertions are made which have no basis in fact and which clearly have not been fact checked by any editor.

Update: To read more of Komisar's mis-guided criticisms of OFCs see her article entitled "Profit Laundering and Tax Evasion -The Dirty Little Secret of Financial Globalization" posted here.

Update 2: John Christensen, one of the co-founders of the TJN has denied reports that the organisation is linked to the Fabians (a socialist society) and espouses communist ideals - see story here. One source of the reports is this article in the Washington Times by Richard Rahn. Mr Christensen was a former assistant adviser to the States of Jersey but resigned from his post in 1998. He now lives in the UK and actively campaigns against OFCs.

The OECD versus the OFCs: A Score Card

Offshore jurisdictions have come under attack in the last few years from various quarters, but particularly from a group of multi-national organizations, such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF).

I recently penned an article for a publication called "The Square Mile", which steps back and tries to evaluate what has happened over the last 5 years. In this slightly revised version entitled "The OECD versus the OFCs: A Score Card" I attempt to provide an overview on the current state of the leading offshore financial centres, discuss some of the changes that have occurred in these jurisdictions over the last 5 years, and consider how they have weathered the storm.

I conclude that the changes implemented by the leading offshore jurisdictions as a result of the attacks have actually made them stronger and more relevant, not weaker. In particular, the leading offshore financial centres have:

1. established new or entrenched their existing zero/low tax regimes;
2. substantially enhanced their reputations with better regulations and strengthened regulators;
3. extracted benefits in return for imposing greater regulation (e.g. international recognition for their stock exchanges, acceptance of banking secrecy laws, and treaty exemptions); and
4. been given a seat at the table on global tax forums going forward - with equal negotiating status under the "level-playing field" concept.


Bob Bauman

A few choice snippets:


During the 1980 U.S. presidential debates in Cleveland, at one point President Jimmy Carter began to attack challenger Ronald Reagan on his record concerning Medicare. Reagan responding to Carter, rose to his full height, looked straight at the about to be ex-president of the United States and said, tilting his head to one side in his trademark gesture, "There you go again." Ronald Reagan corrected the president of the United States as if he were a stumbling school boy and it gave Reagan the debate, (and helped to give him the election).

Now I can say the same thing about the bogus Tax Justice Network (TJN), about which I have expounded before -- There they go again!

Their latest invented fiction against free enterprise, tax havens and global tax competition pretends to speak for the entire continent of Africa. TJN, a leading advocate for the high tax schemes of the EU, OECD and UN exists mostly in press releases. It issues phony reports full of fictional figures purporting to show that trillions in wealth are "hidden" in tax havens allegedly avoiding billions in taxes each year. TJN doesn't bother with proof, and the leftist media doesn't mind a bit.

TJN latest broadside charges, unproven, "more than $150 billion a year is looted from Africa through tax avoidance by giant corporations and capital flight using 'a pinstripe infrastructure' of western banks, lawyers and accountants." TJN also makes the astounding claim that "30% of sub-Saharan Africa's annual GDP has been moved to secretive tax havens." TJN has now set up its own African front group to expose what it calls "the full scale of the plundering, in which western companies and financial firms are complicit."

While Britain's government has been praised for putting poverty alleviation at the top of the agenda, TJN criticized it for what it claimed was a failure "to stamp out overseas tax abuses involving UK firms and for being the destination for money siphoned out of Africa by corrupt officials."

But the British Treasury would have none of it. Said they: "The government has effectively tackled both corporate and personal tax avoidance structures time and again. The UK is driving efforts to reach international consensus to overcome problems with capital flight and tax evasion."

Africa is indeed one of the most impoverished areas of the world, but much of that stems from the corruption and even madness of its leaders, such as Zimbabwe's Mugabe, whose policies have destroyed his country and its people.

Instead of creating fictional bogeymen for a compliant media, TJN should try dealing in a commodity it has so far avoided -- the truth.

Feral Beasts Continue Anti-Offshore Attacks

In one of his last public addresses, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has referred to the news media in general as a "feral beast"!

"The fear of missing out means today's media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack," he declared in a speech in London. "In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out." Blair also quoted a past U.K. prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, who berated the news media for having "power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot through the ages," a charge that borrowed from Kipling.

In case you were wondering, "feral" means "characteristic of wild animals; ferocious; brutal." In other words, Blair -- and I agree -- sees the press as a wild and brutal pack bent on making "news" regardless of the truth or the damage done.

No better example of this kind of media damage (as well as political demagoguery) is the completely phony attack on the Cayman Islands by Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont), chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. Baucus and some of his leftist Senate colleagues, Dorgan (D-ND) and Levin (D-Mich), have been practicing the Big Lie technique perfected by Hitler's Propaganda Minister, Josef Gobbels.

Without a shred of proof these worthies have spun out a tail about offshore tax havens as being responsible for what they call the "tax gap" – upwards of $100 billion annually by which US taxpayers are alleged to be underpaying their taxes and under reporting their income, much of this loot supposedly stashed in offshore tax havens. With what passes as a straight face, Baucus and others piously claim they suspect that Americans are using bank secrecy laws and the ability to channel income through tax-free offshore vehicles to evade reporting income to the Internal Revenue Service.

And like all good story tellers, Baucus has found what he thinks is a dandy illustration of these sinister offshore doings  -  a five-story office building in the Cayman Islands, Ugland House, a nondescript structure that is home to over 12,000 companies legally incorporated in the islands. At a recent Senate hearing Baucus dramatically held up a photograph of the building, demanding to know what the companies in it were doing. Now he has carried the charade further by ordering U.S. government inspectors to fly to the Caribbean to inspect "shady transactions" in the building.

Of course the disingenuous Senator knows very well that the building is an official registry for corporations, mutual funds, hedge funds, insurance companies, trusts and other legal entities, not just those owned by Americans, but by people from all over the world. The Cayman government said "substantially all" of the answers to questions the Senate committee was requesting were "fully in the public domain".

Many U.S. firms have subsidiaries registered in the Cayman Islands. Big energy companies such as El Paso Corp., Transocean Inc. and GlobalSantaFe Corp. have subsidiaries there. So do hotel chain Marriott International, aerospace giant Boeing and food producers Sara Lee and Coca-Cola.  Most U.S. companies have corporate units offshore for strategic, financial and tax reasons and they make no attempt to hide them.

And why should they? U.S. law allows corporations who register in the Caymans or in other tax havens to reduce their tax burden from the 35% the IRS taxes on domestic profits to zero offshore. (The U.S. 35% corporate tax is one of the highest in the world). Cayman collects neither personal nor business taxes. So why shouldn't U.S. companies reduce their tax expenses, allowing them to lower their prices, increase their profits and up their shareholder dividends.

Offshore financial centers such as the Caymans and British Virgin Islands have tightened up regulation of their financial sectors, partly as a result of prodding by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and International Monetary Fund. A recent report commissioned on behalf of the International Trade and Investment Organization, a group of small countries with international financial centers, pointed out that many offshore centers had better standards than larger onshore ones, including the United States.

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. put this demagoguery in perspective by suggesting Senate investigators also may want to travel to Wilmington, Delaware, where there are 120,000 companies registered at one building address and 200,000 companies at another building address.

As Mitchell says: "There is nothing wrong with lots of company registrations, of course, but politicians cannot resist going for cheap headlines".

Norwegians Plan Attack Against Tax Havens

The certified political liberal Garrison Keelor, who chats weekly about "Lake Woebegon" on his PBS radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, often comments about the dark and inverted nature of Norwegians he knows in his home state of Minnesota.

But now the United Kingdom-based Observer reports that Norway's socialist government is leading a new campaign against tax havens and low-tax jurisdictions of all kinds. The basis for this unreasonable attack include totally false premises, such as the wild claim that poorer nations are being robbed of tax revenues because of  the free movement of capital offshore. The fictional number of US$1 trillion supposedly is the annual figure lost to offshore tax evasion, according to these latest anti-tax haven warriors of the Left. This illicit campaign completely ignores the many benefits of global tax competition, including better tax policy, lower taxes and the protection of human rights, including the right to own and enjoy private property.

The Norwegian socialists claim London is a hub of offshore tax evasion led in large part by bankers, accountants and lawyers there. The Norwegian government says it wants to form a global coalition to "facilitate the recovery of assets illicitly stacked away in tax havens". Several left leaning countries are set to join, but Britain, recently classed as an "offshore financial center" by the International Monetary Fund, is not among them.

Meanwhile the World Bank, now headed by Robert Zoellick, is under pressure to establish its first study into what some leftists claim is the illicit cash flowing out of developing nations said to amount to ten times the US$100 billion spent on foreign aid and debt write-offs by rich countries that is siphoned out of developing and emerging countries.  Honing in on their targets, the Left claims that corporations are responsible for 60 per cent of that figure through a web of trusts, nominee accounts and the mispricing of goods to escape tax. Cracking down on tax havens and the evasion of taxes by some of the world's biggest companies is seen as the "missing link" in the poverty alleviation agenda. Investigators and lawyers at a conference on the "Movement of Illicit Funds" in Washington last week claimed it was corporations and not corrupt politicians in the developing world that accounted for most tax evasion.

The Norwegian anti-tax haven plan is just the latest version of the many demagogic attacks and phony blacklists aimed at tax havens that have stemmed from leftist groups such as the Organization for Economic and Community Development (OECD), the UN and the EU, all of them lovers of high taxes and limited economic freedom.

Maybe all this nonsense is just another manifestation of that dark, foreboding nature of Norwegians of which Keelor often speaks. But that's no excuse for foisting their economic doom, gloom and stupidity on the rest of the world.

Chinese Government Eyeing Offshore Tax Avoidance

Another example of healthy, global tax competition in action: the Communist Chinese government is reported to be examining the issue of offshore tax avoidance after new figures confirm once again that the bulk of investment by Chinese based companies is flowing to and from traditional low-tax or no tax offshore havens.

A crackdown on the offshore activities of Chinese companies may come after data released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce showed that between January and May 2007, Hong Kong topped the sources of capital investment list, followed by the British Virgin Islands, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the U.S.A., the Cayman Islands, Samoa, Taiwan and Mauritius. With the exception of Japan and South Korea, all of these countries are tax havens of some note. (The U.S. is a tax haven for foreign investors, but not U.S. citizens or residents). The report stated that the figures reflect the actual amount of foreign capital invested from the various jurisdictions, which accounts for 86.16% of China's total foreign capital. Direct foreign inmvestment in China during 2006 exceeded US$60 billion.

Under current law domestic Chinese firms pay a corporate tax at a rate of 33%, but foreign-owned firms can reduce their rate through various tax breaks down to as low as 13% in some cases and can also set up low tax operations in various Chinese Special Economic Zones. By "round tripping," in which Chinese citizens set up offshore international business companies in Hong Kong and elsewhere, domestic Chinese firms can use them as mainland investment vehicles in order to qualify for foreign rates of tax. This legal and low tax practice has inflated China's foreign direct investment figures for years.

As a first step towards the reform of its tax system, China will be introducing a sort of corporate "flat tax" rate of 25% on 1 January 2008 and this single rate will apply to both domestic firms and foreign-owned firms.

No Justice In This Network

The so-called 'Tax Justice Network," a leftist high tax group, is back in the news because one of its less than brave leaders refuses to debate our colleague, Dan Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation of Washington, D.C.

After bragging that a local lawmaker from the Channel Island tax haven of Jersey would not engage him in a public debate on international tax competition issues, Richard Murphy of the UK-based Tax Justice Network was hoisted on his own petard when he refused to debate Dan Mitchell, a leading tax expert who has spoken at our Sovereign Society meetings. Mitchell issued his debate challenge after being made aware that Murphy was trying to get media attention by complaining that the Jersey lawmaker was allegedly ducking a public discussion.

Our friends at the Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) called Murphy's debate cowardice "unfortunate," since a debate with Mitchell would have been more than informative. Murphy's ultra-leftist group, the Tax Justice Network, is a leading advocate for the anti-tax competition schemes of the EU, OECD and UN. Mitchell, by contrast, is a co-founder of CF&P and is one of the globe's foremost scholars and commentators on the benefits of tax competition, fiscal sovereignty, and financial privacy.

The Tax Justice Network, (TJN) is not to be confused with the Cartoon Network's Justice League. The TJN is based in England, where all good socialists come from, and they seem caught in a time warp. These global do-gooders are socialist, in the Leninist sense; they're in that intermediate stage between capitalism, which they appear to hate, and communism, which even they must admit has failed miserably.

Phony Reports

In 2005 the TJN issued one of several phony reports full of fictional figures purporting to show that trillions in wealth are 'hidden' in tax havens and thus avoids billions in taxes each year. Pure, unadulterated bilge; and the new media ate it up and ran with it without questioning. The left-wing UK Guardian rhapsodized about as 'the most authoritative study of the wealth held in offshore accounts ever conducted.' Imagine!

If there was ever a case to apply the old saying I've quoted before, this is it: "Figures don't lie, but liars do figure."

What delighted the anti-wealth, pro-tax spasms of idealism from The Guardian and associated big government do-gooders, has been a phony report issued in 2005 by this leftist British lobbying group of bleeding heart accountants, the TJN. The TJN had put out these bogus anti-wealth broadsides before, always well received and parroted by an unquestioning liberal news media. And TJN lards its deceptions with actual numbers, which as everyone knows, makes its fake claims "authoritative"! That most of these numbers are invented without a shred of proof seems to make little difference.

Here's the TJN's major argument, supported only by facts they conveniently invent to suit their needs:
1) the world's richest folks supposedly are 'hiding' $11.5 trillion of assets in offshore havens, mainly to avoid paying taxes.
2) these high-net-worth individuals are said to earn $860 billion each year from these 'hidden" assets.
ERGO, claims TJN: Tax collectors of the world are losing $255 billion of taxes each year -- enough to feed millions starving children, cure hoards of old sick folks and even protect and neuter stray animals (or left-wing accountants).

More Taxes

Of course these "startling" financial revelations are the Tax Justicers justification for more taxes and tougher tax collections; they even want a global United Nations tax collection agency -- just like the IRS! Or the DMV? And not content to attack tax havens on their merits, the TJN falsely claims tax havens are hotbeds of corruption clogged with cash from drug dealers, Enron-like corporate thieves and terrorists.

William Woods, a member of the Sovereign Society Council of Experts and former head of the Bermuda Stock Exchange, accuses the TJN of major distortions. He's especially incensed at their charge that "corrupt officials in poor nations, illegally siphon huge amounts of money into bank accounts and shell companies in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Jersey." Says Woods, who knows from first-hand experience: "What a load of rubbish. Tax havens have 'know your customer' rules
that far exceed those of London and New York."

Way down in the small print even the Justice Networkers admit that "most of money in off-shore accounts is probably legitimate" and that it is legal to place cash offshore. But even so, the TJN wants it all stopped. Now! How dare anyone with money be allowed legally to avoid taxes!

Offshore News

* WASHINGTON: As we predicted recently, Congressional Democrats have come up with big spending plans for all sorts of attractive purposes, including expanded government programs for children's' and veterans health coverage. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, proposes to pay for part of the billions this will cost by, among other things "improving taxpayer compliance, and eliminating offshore tax havens." Sen. Conrad is a sponsor of a radical bill that would severely restrict Americans rights to invest and bank offshore, on the apparent theory that all offshore activity is really tax evasion. Please, Senator! Get real!

* LONDON: As well as being favored by vacationers from the U.S. and U.K., Bermuda is home to a thriving insurance market that is threatening to eclipse Lloyd's of London. Several major insurance firms have left London and moved to Bermuda. Aside from the sun, sea and sand, Bermuda is a leading tax haven. A flood of insurers have been relocating there over the past few years to take advantage of zero per cent corporation tax, compared to 30% in London. Lloyd's insurer Kiln announced this week that it would be following Hiscox and Catlin, another U.K. insurer, and moving its HQ to Bermuda. Nothing beats tax competition.

* DUBLIN: Ireland is not being used as a Cayman Islands-style tax paradise by rich businessmen, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) insisted in the Dáil (parliament) this week. PM Bertie Ahern was responding to claims by a Socialist Party member of parliament who said low corporation tax rates in the Ireland were "utterly immoral". Mr Ahern said that other nations in Europe were envious of Ireland's low-tax economy and job creation success and said low taxes were a primary attraction for businesses and jobs. "All commercial companies are entitled to organize their tax affairs in an efficient and legal manner so as to minimize the amount of tax payable. That's the way companies operate across the world," Ahern said. No backing down by the PM, and Ireland is indeed a tax haven for global businesses.

* LONDON: The loony left's Tax Justice Network (TJN) is at it again. TJN claims the Big Four accounting firms have been "legitimizing" the use of offshore tax havens and are bad for not taking a strong enough lead in international tax compliance. A TJN report says that major international accountancy firms all have offices in nearly all the major offshore tax havens. Really? Apparently that's proof to TJN that the Big Four are aiding tax evasion. Then again, the Big Four might be aiding tax compliance in offshore tax havens, a much more likely activity under the strict laws that now apply in all such offshore jurisdictions.


Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Canon Nicholas France on ecumenism

Canon Nicholas France commented:

"One of the first principles of ecumenism I was taught, is that we should be
open to learn from other Churches. This has been my experience working in
Churches Together in both Southampton and Jersey . So, in the Catholic
Church, we still have much to learn from the Churches of the Reformation. We
waited four hundred years, not to lose face, before adopting a vernacular
liturgy, allowing the chalice to the laity, and promoting reading of the
scriptures, all valid demands of the Reformers. Perhaps we need to go
further and remove compulsory priestly celibacy, less valued today even by
our own people, who blame this for some of our recent self-inflicted wounds.
Such a reform might allow our clergy to adopt a healthier lifestyle and
ensure our people an easier access to the Eucharist and better pastoral
care. Is that our future? "

An Independent Report?

I've just been reading a presentation by David Kern on Jersey's economy; an "independent report".
What precisely does "independent" mean in the context of this report? It suggests that the removal of immigration controls, for example, are a "must" for "growth", but this is presented as an axiom, not a hypothesis. It seems that it means that it was not a report written to propose a JCC viewpoint, but that does not mean - as it clearly indends to convey - that it is unbiased, or presents a somehow objective viewpoint (what I call the "god's eye fallacy").
I'd love to know what the "operational difficulties" which he mentions in respect of GST are, no details at all given, and from the talk we had from the tax department, it is in fact running on schedule. The only difficulty which came up was Senator Ozouf's autocratic pigheadedness, against the advice of the tax officers, to say that GST had to be on the shelf, not at the till.
He speaks about population growth needed for economic growth, and says that loosening controls will "inevitably trigger hostile populist reaction"; in fact "populist" is a very popular word in his presentation, and invariable carries the meaning "wrong" or "mistaken", or "harmful". The public must, he suggests repeatedly, be educated out of their short-term populist failings towards "robust" and sensible long-term policies. This is an extremely arrogant and patronising idea! The impact on infrastructure (waste, traffic, education and health services, water, electricity) is not considered at all, which seems to me to show how blinkered and one-sided his presentation is. Long term considerations should also look at those; it is equally short-term not to.
He also completely fails to address the impact of budgetary restrictions on core services such as education and health; these are lost amist the general flannel on tightening budgetary controls, which thereby loses sight of the consequences for the general population which may occur.
A neutral assessment of Jersey economy would be useful, and it is here in part, but it does require straining through a sieve to remove all the areas in which rhetoric takes the place of argument, and assumptions are presented as axiomatic rather than debatable. Independent it may be. Unbiased it is not.

Friday, 13 July 2007

A Ugandan Christian Voice


What Is Anglicanism?

by Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi

Few would deny that the Anglican Communion is in crisis. The nature of that crisis, however, remains a question. Is it about sexuality? Is it a crisis of authority—who has it and who doesn't? Have Anglicans lost their commitment to the via media, epitomized by the Elizabethan Settlement, which somehow declared a truce between Puritan and Catholic sentiments in the Church of England? Is it a crisis of globalization? A crisis of identity?

I have the privilege of serving as archbishop of the Church of Uganda, providing spiritual leadership and oversight to more than nine million Anglicans. Uganda is second only to Nigeria as the largest Anglican province in the world, and most of our members are fiercely loyal to their global communion. But however we come to understand the current crisis in Anglicanism, this much is apparent: The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.

The preface to the Book of Common Prayer states, "It is a most invaluable part of that blessed 'liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,' that in his worship different forms and usages may without offense be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire; and that, in every Church, what cannot be clearly determined to belong to Doctrine must be referred to Discipline."

And yet, despite this clear distinction, contemporary Anglicans are in danger of confusing doctrine and discipline. For four hundred years Anglicanism represented both the theological convictions of the English Reformation and the culture of the Christian Church in Britain. The sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Anglican divines gave voice to both: English Reformation theology (doctrine) and British culture (discipline). The Anglican churches around the world, however, have ended the assumption that Anglican belief and practice must be clothed in historic British culture.

Take, for instance, the traditional Anglican characteristics of restraint and moderation. Are they part of doctrine, as Anglican theology, or discipline, as British culture? At the recent consecration of the fourth bishop of the Karamoja diocese, the preacher was the bishop of a neighboring diocese whose people have historically been at odds with the Karimajong (principally because of cattle rustling). At the end of his sermon, the preacher appealed for peace between the two tribes and began singing a song of peace. One by one, members of the congregation began singing. By the end of the song, the attending bishops, members of Parliament, and Karimajong warriors were all in the aisles dancing.

The vision of Christ breaking down the dividing walls of hostility between these historic rivals was so compelling that joy literally broke out in our midst. At that point in the service, I dare say, we were hardly restrained or moderate in our enthusiasm for the hope of peace given to us in Jesus Christ. Did we fail, then, in being Anglican in that moment? Was the spontaneity that overcame us a part of doctrine or of discipline? Surely, African joy in song and dance is an expression of discipline. Yet our confidence that the Word of God remains true, and our confidence that it transforms individuals and communities—all this is part of doctrine: the substance of the Faith that shall not change but shall be "kept entire."

In the Church of Uganda, Anglicanism has been built on three pillars: martyrs, revival, and the historic episcopate. Yet each of these refers back to the Word of God, the ground on which all is built: The faith of the martyrs was maintained by the Word of God, the East African revival brought to the people the Word of God, and the historic ordering of ministry was designed to advance the Word of God.

So let us think about how the Word of God works in the worldwide Anglican Communion. We in the Church of Uganda are convinced that Scripture must be reasserted as the central authority in our communion. The basis of our commitment to Anglicanism is that it provides a wider forum for holding each other accountable to Scripture, which is the seed of faith and the foundation of the Church in Uganda.

The Bible cannot appear to us a cadaver, merely to be dissected, analyzed, and critiqued, as has been the practice of much modern higher biblical criticism. Certainly we engage in biblical scholarship and criticism, but what is important to us is the power of the Word of God precisely as the Word of God—written to bring transformation in our lives, our families, our communities, and our culture. For us, the Bible is "living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword, it penetrates to dividing soul and spirits, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). The transforming effect of the Bible on Ugandans has generated so much conviction and confidence that believers were martyred in the defense of the message of salvation through Jesus Christ that it brought.

For the Ugandan church to compromise God's call of obedience to the Scriptures would be the undoing of more than 125 years of Christianity through which African life and society have been transformed. Traditional African society was solely an oral culture, which limited its ability to share ideas beyond the family level. We couldn't write our language, and there was nothing to read in our language. The first converts in Uganda were called "readers" because they could read the Bible, the first book available in our own languages. Because of the Bible, our languages have been enriched and recorded. For the first time, we heard God in our own languages. To this day, our people bring their Bibles to church and follow along with the readings.

In some traditional African societies, women were denied benefits because of various superstitions. For example, some societies believed that if women ate chicken they would grow beards. In that culture, women, then, never ate chicken. When the Bible came alive during the East African Revival of the 1930s, the Holy Spirit convicted men of such sins of oppression and began the progressive empowerment of women that is continuing today. So, for another example, the African tradition of polygamy and divorce at will left many women neglected and often destitute. The biblical teaching of marriage between one man and one woman in a loving, lifelong relationship liberated not only women but also the institution of marriage and family.

For many of our tribes, revenge was esteemed as a virtue. If a family had been violated, the first instinct was to gather the clan, arm them, and seek revenge on the family and clan of the offender. In such realms, the Bible has had a profoundly transforming effect, given the teaching of Jesus on forgiveness. Traditional Ugandan society was driven by family loyalties, with little basis for loving those beyond your blood ties. The Bible brought the teaching of Jesus to love our neighbors and even our enemies. And, while there remain remnants of the old culture, the Bible has given us a moral and spiritual basis for transforming culture.

Traditional African objects of worship were limited to families and clans. This created a context in which no central beliefs could be held or shared beyond the ethnic setting. Yet ancestral spirits and such natural phenomena as earthquakes, lakes, and mountains could not satisfy the Africans' quest for the living God. The Bible's revelation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit brought hope for deliverance from the fatalism that resulted from worshiping created things rather than the Creator and Redeemer.

The gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed to us through the Word of God enables warring tribes to begin to coexist and to embrace neighborliness. Indeed, the Word of God opened the way for the nation of Uganda to be forged. When evangelists from Buganda (in central Uganda) traveled to tribes in the east, west, and north, a new day dawned in our country. Instead of being armed with spears, they came armed only with the Word of God. Instead of a message of war and destruction, they delivered a message of Good News from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As the Bible came with the authority of Christ, it revealed a God that is greater than the evil spirits and the kingdom of darkness that controlled so many people's lives. In Uganda, the Bible has grown into a cherished source of authority that is central to Christian faith, practice, and mission. For all God's people, obedience to this Bible is the source of confidence, abundant life, and joy. It is an absolute treasure that no one can take away. Isaiah, later quoted by Peter, wrote, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isa. 40:8; 1 Pet. 1:24-25). The grass on which our cattle feed, the grass from which our roofs are thatched—all this withers. But the Word of God has withstood the test of time. The Bible is at the heart of our Anglican identity, and we Ugandan Anglicans joyfully submit to its life-giving and transforming authority.

With this knowledge of the centrality of the authority of Scripture in Anglicanism, therefore, we understand ourselves to be in the mainstream of Anglicanism—from Thomas Cranmer to John Stott. The evangelical tradition in the Church of England produced William Wilberforce, whose lifelong mission to eradicate slavery and the slave trade liberated our people. It produced Charles Simeon, who inspired the beginning of mission societies that shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with us and many others. It produced Bishop Tucker and other missionaries, who risked their lives to come to Uganda. These and many more Anglican evangelicals brought us the legacy of the Protestant Reformation in England. Their commitment to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture has continued among us to this day.

Such a commitment—to the authority of Scripture as a defining mark of Anglican identity—was why the vast majority of bishops from the Global South and I insisted that Lambeth Resolution 1.10, the 1998 decision on human sexuality, include the words "incompatible with Holy Scripture" when describing homosexual practice. This standard of Holy Scripture is why we continue to uphold Lambeth 1.10 each time we meet.

In the current Anglican crisis, we are at risk of losing our biblical foundation. As bishops, we are constrained, in the words of the 1662 Ordinal, "to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God's Word," and we are determined "out of the same Holy Scriptures to instruct the people committed to [our] charge and to teach or maintain nothing, as necessary to eternal salvation, but that which [we] shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the same."

From Thomas Cranmer to Richard Hooker, from the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Ordinal to the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the authority of Holy Scripture has always held a central and foundational role in Anglican identity. This is true for the Anglican church in Uganda; and, if it is not true for the entire Anglican Communion, then that communion will cease to be an authentic expression of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Tertullian's oft-quoted statement "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church" is the story of the faith in Uganda. On his first visit to Uganda in 1885, the Englishman and missionary bishop James Hannington was martyred as he tried to cross the river Nile into central Uganda. Bishop Hannington was coming to Uganda from Kenya and decided to approach the Buganda kingdom from the east. Unfortunately, unknown to him, there was a Baganda belief that its enemies would approach the kingdom from the eastern route. So the king, the Kabaka, sent warriors to meet this encroaching enemy. Before they killed Hannington, on October 29, 1885, he is reported to have said, "Tell the Kabaka that I die for Uganda."

Less than a year later, on June 3, 1886, the king of Buganda ordered the killing of twenty-six of his court pages because they refused his homosexual advances and would not recant their belief in King Jesus. They cut and carried the reeds that were then wrapped around them and set on fire in an execution pit. As the flames engulfed them, these young martyrs sang songs of praise. Far from eliminating Christianity, the martyrdoms had the opposite effect: If the faith of these martyrs was worth dying for, then it must also be something worth living for. Christianity began to spread like wildfire.

Martyrdom, however, is not a thing of the past. As recently as 1977, the archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Janani Luwum, was martyred at the hands of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Archbishop Luwum spoke out boldly against the injustices and atrocities of Amin. This, however, ushered in a swift and merciless reaction from Amin. The archbishop's home was plundered during a 1:30 a.m. raid on February 5, 1977. This brought a piercing censure of Amin from the Ugandan House of Bishops. Church leaders were summoned to Kampala and then ordered to leave, one by one. Luwum turned to Bishop Festo Kivengere and said: "They are going to kill me. I am not afraid."

On February 16, 1977, Amin had Archbishop Luwum arrested on trumped-up charges of treason. Thrown into a cell with several other political prisoners, the archbishop said, "Let us pray." Then they were taken to Amin himself, brutally beaten, and shot to death. "While the opportunity is there, I preach the Gospel with all my might, and my conscience is clear before God that I have not sided with the present government which is utterly self-seeking," Janani Luwum wrote. "I have been threatened many times. Whenever I have the opportunity I have told the president the things the churches disapprove of. God is my witness."

The influence of these martyrs on the faith of Anglican Christians in Uganda cannot be underestimated. The Church of Uganda has been built not only on the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone, but also on its martyrs. The faith and moral vision for which our martyrs died can never be denied by the Church of Uganda. Their courage and complete confidence in the God of the Bible and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has left an indelible mark on Christianity in Uganda.

The experience of martyrdom is not, however, unique to Uganda. The faith of the Ugandan martyrs is the same faith that took Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley to the stake. Latimer's dying words to Ridley were, "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." Yet, as the light of the gospel continues to dim in the Western world, are we not betraying our founding fathers and the Reformation Faith for which they died?

Do we not need a revival of the martyrs' confidence in the Word of God? A revival in the conviction that this Faith that was worth dying for is the same Faith worth living for today? The heroes of Anglicanism throughout the world are our martyrs.

In 1935, fifty-eight years after the first missionaries arrived in Uganda, a revival broke out in northeastern Rwanda and rapidly spread throughout Uganda, beginning in the western part of the country. At that time, much of Anglicanism in Uganda was nominal. The missionaries had emphasized liturgical and formal expressions of faith, grounded in the catechism. When the East African Revival broke out, the nominal African Christians realized that what they had learned from the missionaries through the catechism and liturgy actually made a difference in their lives.

The influence of the revival cannot be overemphasized. The Ugandan Anglican identity was forged through God's gift to us of the East African Revival. Genuine repentance, for instance—in which people turned from their old ways of believing and behaving and turned to embrace the God of the Bible and his moral vision—was a fruit of the revival in people's lives. The missionaries had challenged us to dispense with the fatalism of our traditional African religions. The result, though, was eliminating only the outward and superficial symbols, without touching the roots of those deep beliefs. Gone from our worship were our traditional drums, yet in our hearts people still invoked our ancestors and other spirits. When the East African Revival swept through our villages, it swept away the old roots; our people turned from its lies and replaced them with the truth of Jesus Christ in the gospel. There was true repentance and conversion, and the fruit of repentance was evident in people's lives. The revival established a new zeal for enthusiastic holiness in African Christianity.

In Uganda, a Christian is one who has a testimony—a story of what their life was like before a living relationship with Jesus Christ; how they heard the message of Jesus Christ and how their life has changed since surrendering their lives to him. The First Letter of John states: "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:5-9).

The East African Revival taught us about living transparently with one another and before God about our sin. To "walk in the light" is to be eager to confess our sin publicly, to receive forgiveness, and to be restored into the fellowship of the community. The revival spawned thousands of local lay-led fellowships in which Christians gathered weekly to pray and praise, to share testimonies, and to walk in the light with one another.

Initially, the revival was met by resistance from the missionaries and other church leaders because it challenged the status quo of nominal Anglicanism. Over time, however, the revival became part of mainstream Anglicanism in Uganda; today most of our bishops and other church leaders are products of the East African Revival.

Another notable effect of the East African Revival on Anglican identity in Uganda is a renewed passion for mission and evangelism. The goodness of the gospel cannot be hid under a bushel; it cannot be whispered but must be shouted from the rooftops. Even as archbishop, when I make a pastoral visit to a diocese,

I go as an evangelist. When I am invited to speak, I preach the gospel and invite people to come forward and give their lives to Christ. Every diocese in our church organizes regular evangelistic outreaches within the villages and markets in their communities. Ugandan Anglicans are not ashamed of the gospel, "because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:16).

Ugandan Anglicans are not unique in their experience of revival. The Great Awakenings in America, the revivals catalyzed by John Wesley in England, the Welsh revival, and countless others around the world have been a part of Anglican experience. Even the charismatic renewals in the late twentieth century are part of this revival stream within Anglicanism.

Theologically, Ugandan Anglicans share much in common with our evangelical brothers and sisters, yet we have retained the historic threefold order of ministry: bishops, priests, and deacons. This, of course, is reminiscent of the English Reformation, which theologically had much in common with the continental Reformers while retaining the historic episcopate.

And yet our commitment to the episcopate is not just about the good order of the Church. As bishops are successors to the apostles, so our focus through the historic episcopate is on apostolic faith and ministry. A bishop is ordained in apostolic succession to be the apostolic presence in the community. A bishop, therefore, is the ongoing presence and voice of the apostles. He is our link to the early Church, and this link between bishop and apostolicity gives Anglicans our transcultural identity. The implication, therefore, is that the essence of Anglican identity is to be apostolic. More than a simple unbroken line of consecrations, we are to be apostolic in nature: faithful to the apostolic message, submitted to apostolic authority in Scripture, committed to apostolic mission and ministry, and devoted to apostolic worship.

In short, an apostolic church is a missionary church. A bishop is the focus for the mission of the Church, following in the footsteps of Jesus, who commissioned his apostles to preach, to teach, and to heal. The bishop's apostolic ministry starts with evangelism, because transformation begins with the individual. The bishop himself must have a testimony and set a direction in his diocese for evangelism and church planting. When the early missionaries came in the late 1800s, their understanding of mission was not only preaching but also education and health ministry. So, combined with our churches, there are schools and health clinics, all under the apostolic oversight of the bishop, whose charge is to preach (evangelism), to teach (schools), and to heal (health clinics).

The incarnation of Jesus Christ has been described as the "scandal of particularity." The One who came, as Savior of all, was born as a particular man—Jesus of Nazareth—at a particular place, with a particular ethnicity, and at a particular time. Our particular experience of Anglicanism in Uganda, too, has some universal applicability. The pillars of Anglican identity in Uganda—the martyrs, revival, and the historic episcopate, all resting on the Word of God—suggest themes with historic precedent from the formative years of Anglicanism in Britain.

Consider, first, the centrality of the Word of God in faith and life. No honest reading of historic Anglican formularies and the English Reformers can deny the central place of Scripture in Anglicanism. Our worldwide communion is in danger today of confusing doctrine and discipline. The various disciplines of the autonomous provincial churches can be contextualized, but doctrine, based on Scripture, transcends all such cultural distinctions.

We would not be facing the crisis in the Anglican Communion if we had upheld the basic Reformation convictions about Holy Scripture: its primacy, clarity, sufficiency, and unity. Part of the genius of the Reformation was its insistence that the Word of God and the liturgy be in the language of the people—that the Bible could be read and understood by the simplest plowboy. The insistence from some Anglican circles (mostly in the Western world) on esoteric interpretations of Scripture borders on incipient Gnosticism that has no place in historic or global Anglicanism.

At the Anglican Communion's Global Conference on Dynamic Evangelism in Kanuga in 1995, delegates from most of the communion's provinces gathered to evaluate the "Decade of Evangelism" at its halfway point. The pattern that emerged from reports was that the growing churches, mostly in the Global South, possessed a confidence in God's presence and his ability to act and intervene in human affairs; the declining churches seemed to lack such confidence.

But the lesson of the martyrs is exactly this—that we must have confidence in God—and their universal appeal derives from their heroic example. The gospel exists to challenge the worldview of all—even Anglicans—who do not see the joy and beauty of a life lived with confidence in a great and dynamic God who can and does intervene in the affairs of human beings.

The legacy of the East African Revival is its strong emphasis on the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This emphasis is not unique to Uganda; it is a part of historic Anglicanism, especially in its Reformation heritage and the evangelical tradition. I long for the day when the global reputation of Anglicans is our insistence on a relationship with Jesus Christ that is characterized by personal experience and repentance, and shared through testimonies. "Oh, those Anglicans! How they always talk about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!"

Finally, a passion for evangelism and mission is at the heart of an apostolic and missionary church. The reason there is a global Anglicanism today is that Anglicans were compelled by the Word of God to share the gospel throughout the expanding British Empire and beyond. In the absence today of such a convenient infrastructure, the future of the Anglican Communion is found in embracing the key Reformation and evangelical principles that have had such an impact in Uganda.

Without a commitment to the authority of the Word of God, a confidence in a God who acts in the world, and a conviction of the necessity of repentance and of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be hard-pressed as a communion to revive and advance our apostolic and missionary calling as a church.

If, as I have suggested, the future of Anglicanism lies in a revival of the key Reformation and evangelical principles that shaped the Church of Uganda and our mother Church of England, then our instruments of communion need to find a way to serve that vision. I fear, however, that our conciliar instruments are in danger of losing their credibility and being rendered irrelevant. The resolutions of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops have always had a moral authority among the communion's autonomous but interdependent provinces, yet some of those resolutions are now flagrantly defied and even mocked.

We primates have worked hard in recent years to find consensus even in our present situation of broken or impaired communion. Through the grace of God, our communiqués have been consensus statements, unanimously agreed upon, and they are evidence of our commitment as primates to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). Yet some provinces have not taken our communiqués seriously, and the primates, as an instrument of communion, have been scorned.

The current crisis presents us with an opportunity to mature into a global communion that represents not just historic bonds of affection but also an advancing mission force for the Kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurated. For this to happen, our instruments of communion may also have to become instruments of discipline. As a member of the primates' standing committee, I was invited to come to the United States in September 2007 to attend the meeting of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops. But I recently wrote the archbishop of Canterbury and informed him that I could not participate.

Among my reasons is this: In February 2007, the primates of the Anglican Communion met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and made certain requests of the Episcopal church. It is my conviction that our Dar es Salaam communiqué did not envision interference in the American House of Bishops while they are considering our requests. For me to violate our hard-won agreement in Dar es Salaam would be another case of undermining our instruments of communion. My decision to uphold our Dar es Salaam communiqué is intended to strengthen our instruments of communion so we will be able to mature into an even more effective global communion of the Church of Jesus Christ than in the past.

In December 2006, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda unanimously adopted "The Road to Lambeth," a statement drafted for a council of African provinces. Among other things, it stated, "We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution [1.10] are also invited as participants or observers." Accordingly, if the present invitations to the Lambeth Conference stand, I do not expect the Ugandan bishops to attend.

It is important that this decision not be misunderstood as withdrawing from the instruments of communion. On the contrary, our decision reflects the critical importance of the Lambeth Conference: Its value as an instrument of communion is greatly diminished when the persistent violators of its resolutions are invited. If our resolutions as a council of bishops do not have moral authority among ourselves, how can we expect our statements on world affairs to carry weight in the world's forums? An instrument of communion must also be an instrument of discipline in order to effectively facilitate meaningful communion among its autonomous provinces.

The Church of Uganda takes its Anglican identity and the future prospects of the global Anglican Communion very seriously. Our thoughtfulness in how we participate in the instruments of communion reflects our fundamental loyalty to our Anglican heritage. Likewise, our devotion to the Word of God—expressed through our martyrs, revival, and the historic episcopate—reflects our commitment to the ongoing place of the Church of Uganda as a province of the Anglican Communion.

Henry Luke Orombi is the Anglican archbishop of Uganda

Recent document on church makes falsehoods

If it isn't Roman Catholic then it's not a proper Church, Pope tells Christians
The actual document is called
It says that the Eastern Churches are "deficient", mainly because they are not Catholic, and with Protestant churches is much worse:
"Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?"

"According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense"

This document comes with approval from the Pope:

"The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication."

This is despite all the talk of "claification" (a weasel word if ever there was one), a contradition with Vatican II, which clearly speaks of:

"Separated Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the West "

which are described as follows:

"In the great upheaval which began in the West toward the end of the Middle Ages, and in later times too, Churches and ecclesial Communities came to be separated from the Apostolic See of Rome."

"It must however be admitted that in these Churches and ecclesial Communities there exist important differences from the Catholic Church, not only of an historical, sociological, psychological and cultural character, but especially in the interpretation of revealed truth. "

If that is not a document which uses the word "churches" for Reformation churches, I don't know what is!






Thursday, 12 July 2007

The Doorkeeper

To keep God's door -
I am not fit.
I would not ask for more
than this-
To stand or sit
upon the threshold of God's house
out of the reach of sin,
to open wide His door
to those who come,
to welcome Home
his children and his poor:
to wait and watch
the gladness on the face of those
that are within:
sometimes to catch
a glimpse or trace of those
I love the best, and know
that all I failed to be
and all I failed to do,
has not sufficed
to bar them from the Tree
of Life, the Paradise of God
the Face of Christ.

- John V Taylor

The Angels

The Angels

Should you hear them singing among stars
or whispering secrets of a wiser world,
do not imagine ardent, fledgling children;
thy are intelligences old as sunrise
that never learnt right from left, before from after,
knowing but one direction, into God,
but one duration, now.

Their melody strides not from bar to bar,
but, like a painting, hangs there entire,
one chord of limitless communication.
You have heard it in the rhythms of the hills,
the spiralling turn of a dance, the fall of words,
the touch of fingers at the rare, right moment,
and these were holy, holy.

-- John V Taylor

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Tom Wright at Synod

Thanks to a wonderfully kind reader, we now have an UNOFFICIAL transcript of Bishop NT Wright's remarks.

Thank you Mr Chairman. Tom Wright Durham 004.

It's always worrying for a Bishop of Durham to find himself in York during a thunderstorm. (laughter then applause).

Once upon a time four college friends decided to share a house.  'Great idea'. 'We'll have a ball'. 'It'll be terrific'.  And for the first few weeks it was.  But gradually little niggles start to creep in.  Jim is forever playing loud jazz at 4 in the morning.  Jane keeps yelling at the others every time she has a work crisis.  John never washes the bath out and Judy leaves smouldering cigarette ends in the kitchen – and eventually they look each other in the eye and say you know we need some house rules.  'Rules, what do you mean rules – this isn't the army, we're free, we're friends'.

But no we do need some rules because we want to live together.  So they agree no loud music after midnight, no bad temper, no mess in the bath, no fag ends in the kitchen.

And then, the next week, there's the jazz at 4 in the morning, again, and Jane marches down the hall and yells at Jim, and then we're into it.  'You said you wouldn't yell at us any more' – 'well you said you wouldn't play loud music at night any more'.  Now what do we do?

The house, is the Anglican Communion.  We share a table.  We are not just friends living down the street.  We are not a loose federation.  Living in this house matters enormously to millions of Christians far more vulnerable than us.  We thought we had some kind of agreement, and four years ago it turned out we didn't.  The events of 2003 and since demonstrate conclusively that our present framework simply isn't working and so we have a process, designed to enable us to stay in the house together. 

This Synod voted massively in February '05 to go with the Windsor Report and in principle with that Covenant Process.  We shouldn't renege on it now.  We are not being asked to sign a blank cheque.  The Covenant isn't a list of rules or dogmas.  It's a commitment to a way of working together when we hit problems.  Particularly the problem of which differences make a difference and which differences don't make a difference.  Because Synod it simply won't do to say 'Oh we have to live with difference, some people like the smell of cigarettes when they are cooking and others don't so get used to it' or 'at least we're being 'open' about our different musical habits so that should increase our trust, shouldn't it.  Nor will it do to say 'we haven't done this sort of thing before.' Friends, we have never been this way before.  Lambeth, ACC, the primates and the Archbishop all said, 'please don't do that' and one province said, 'actually we are going to do it anyway'.  That hasn't happened before.

Anyway, remember the seven last words of the church 'we never did it this way before.' Come on guys.  Saying we have never had a covenant before, so we should be suspicious of it now, is like saying that if God had meant us to fly he'd never have given us the railways. (laughter) Yes, the bishop of London has a point on that* but we'll… (laughter and applause)…and do you know, the historical point yes, Hooker and Travis (refers to an earlier speaker's example), nice scenario.  What happened forty-five years later?  What happened sixty-five years later?  It didn't last.  They needed a larger framework.  The idea that classical Anglicans were into this tolerance and inclusivity of our contemporary sort, just think of Hooker and Jewell, just think of Laud and Cousin – they hammered out articles of belief, and liturgies and insisted on adherence to them.  Let's not indulge in romantic fantasy about our past.  Let's challenge it if you like but don't project.  And Synod don't please be fooled by the extraordinary idea that Archbishop Rowan has left us on our own so that we can show how good we are at decision making by rejecting this proposal.

As was said in the Guardian yesterday, read Archbishop Rowan's letter at the start of the paper.  Read his invitation to Lambeth, where he states that acceptance of that invitation carries a willingness to work with the Windsor Report and the Covenant proposals.  The Archbishop is leading the Communion in this way.  We should be so lucky as to have an Archbishop like we've got, and for us in Synod (applause) for us in Synod to vote (applause) for us in Synod to vote against it would be a vote not for autonomy but for anarchy. 

And don't pass it grudgingly.  Once there was a college principal who was ill in hospital and the vice-principal went to see him.  'Principal', he said, 'I've got good news and bad news.' 'The good news is that the governing body voted to wish you a speedy recovery and a swift return to your duties.  The bad news is that the motion was passed by 12 votes to 11 with 3 abstentions.' (laughter) Synod, let's not do that to Archbishop Rowan, Thank you.

[* the Bishop of London has said he will try not to fly in the next year as his contribution to the environment.]


Monday, 9 July 2007


Very good summary of NTW's sacramental theology at:


The official title of the talk I went to was called "Space, Time, and Sacraments" and was all about locating the sacraments (baptism, Eucharist) within the New Testament framework of already and not yet, of creation and New Creation. I came away even more convinced that baptism and the Eucharist are more important than I have imagined thus far. I might have a bit to say about it later.

One thing I love about Tom Wright is his ability to transcend the normal polarizing theological arguments and draw back the curtain on the larger issue. He did that yesterday with the sacraments. He said too often we think we have to choose between only two views, neither of which are true or helpful:

  1. The Sacraments are a kind of sympathetic magic we perform (idolatry)
  2. The Sacraments are "bare signs", devoid of any real transforming power (dualism, gnosticism)

Yikes! Many people feel those are their only options: choosing the lesser of two evils. But there is another approach (see there he goes transcending things again): that the Sacraments are places where the future and the past come together in the present, where we, like Jesus Christ himself, die and are raised to new life in baptism (Paul says it that bluntly: "You died" "You were raised"). Where we, like the people of Israel eating the grapes from the promised land, are eating the food of God's future, and find ourselves linked with the people of God all the way back to Abraham (Jesus said it that bluntly: "This is my body" "This is my blood" "My body is real food, and my blood real drink"). We feed on the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and his presence energizes us for mission in the world, to work toward New Creation in the midst of the old, because a bit of the New Creation has come to meet us in the bread and the wine. (Incidentally, no time to get into it here, but with this understanding, the old arguments about "transubstantiation" and "consubstantiation" and anythingelsestatiation don't make sense.)


Review of Ronald Hutton in Independent

The Druids: A History, by Ronald Hutton

White robes, mistletoe, and heroes from ancient times to the present day

Reviewed by David V Barrett

Published: 21 June 2007

With his relaxed style and his refreshing insights into the historical origins of modern pagan beliefs, Ronald Hutton is one of the most recognised historians on British television. He has also become something of an iconoclast, tearing up what we thought we knew, and emphasising that all history is interpretation: who is telling the story, when, and why, obviously affects the content: what we call "history".

So what do we know as fact about the Druids? Almost nothing, because the few Roman sources are very questionable. Recent scholarship on Tacitus reveals that his work "represents beliefs, rather than recording reality". The evidence for the Druids as early British heroes, or even for their existence in Britain at the time of the Roman conquest, "consists of a molehill of completely unreliable material. On this a mountain of literature was to be built."

In this detailed but readable and in places hugely entertaining study, Hutton explores the many perceptions of the Druids; as patriotic heroes, as men of wisdom, as people close to nature.

Popular belief is often out of step with scholarly opinion; the idea that the Druids built Stonehenge was dismissed by scholars from the mid-19th century, but books were still promulgating this myth in the 1950s. They were also repeating one of the strangest beliefs, "that Druids had been bearers of the true patriarchal religion of the ancient Hebrews". In contrast, Victorian poetry and 20th-century popular fiction portrayed Druids performing bloody sacrifices.

Hutton challenges both popular and scholarly beliefs. He argues that Lindow Man, found in a Cheshire peat bog in 1984, may not have been a human sacrifice as claimed; and that the 1945 find of metal objects and bones in Anglesey is evidence neither for "a cruel and bloody religion" nor even for Anglesey being a centre of Druid activity.

Today's Druids are very different from all the supposedly historical stereotypes. Some, dating from the 18th century, are fraternal societies. Others embrace a variety of spiritual ideals. Hutton charts the long and uneasy relationship between different groups of Druids and the authorities at Stonehenge. "Druidry as an expression of a counter-culture now has a continuous history in Britain of more than 200 years," he writes, ending his richly-illustrated book with the counter-cultural Druid and environmental activist King Arthur Pendragon.