Daily Archives: December 23, 2007

Britain has become a ‘Catholic country’

Girls from the Salisbury Cathedral Choir School rehearsing. While church-going declines, cathedrals fare better

Telegraph | Dec 23, 2007

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones

Roman Catholics have overtaken Anglicans as the country’s dominant religious group. More people attend Mass every Sunday than worship with the Church of England, figures seen by The Sunday Telegraph show.

This means that the established Church has lost its place as the nation’s most popular Christian denomination after more than four centuries of unrivalled influence following the Reformation.

Last night, leading figures gave warning that the Church of England could become a minority faith and that the findings should act as a wake-up call.

The statistics show that attendance at Anglican Sunday services has dropped by 20 per cent since 2000. A survey of 37,000 churches, to be published in the new year, shows the number of people going to Sunday Mass in England last year averaged 861,000, compared with 852,000 Anglicans ­worshipping.

The rise of Catholicism has been bolstered by an influx of immigrants from eastern Europe and Africa, who have packed the pews of Catholic parishes that had previously been dwindling.

It is part of the changing face of churchgoing across Britain in the 21st century which has also seen a boom in the growth of Pentecostal churches, which have surpassed the Methodist Church as the country’s third largest Christian denomination.

Worshipping habits have changed dramatically with a significant rise in attendance at mid-week services and at special occasions – the Church of England expects three million people to go to a parish church over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

In an attempt to combat the declining interest in traditional religion, the Anglican Church has launched radical new forms of evangelism that include nightclub chaplains, a floating church on a barge and internet congregations.

The Rev Alister McGrath, prof­essor of historical theology at Oxford University, said that the church attendance findings from the organisation Christian Research should act as a wake-up call to the Church of England.

“While it can rightly point to the weight of history, the importance of cultural memory, the largest number of church buildings and nominal church members in defence of its continued status as the established church, there is clearly a problem emerging,” said Prof McGrath, one of Anglicanism’s most respected figures.

“What happens if the established church becomes a minority church?”

The Catholic Church has also suffered a serious fall in the size of its congregations, but the expansion of the European Union in 2004 resulted in its numbers being bolstered by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Poles and Lithuanians.

Attendance at Mass in 1991 was recorded as 1.3 million, a drop of 40 per cent since 1963. But over the past six years it has fallen by only 13 per cent, with the rate of decline slowed by immigrants from Catholic countries.

The Rt Rev Crispian Hollis, the Bishop of Portsmouth, said that the Roman Church had been active in trying to win back lapsed worshippers, but conceded that mass immigration had been a significant factor in swelling its numbers.

“The number of Catholics attending church has been catching the Anglicans over a number of years,” he said.

“We don’t want to be seen to be scoring points over the Anglican Church as we are in no way jealous of its position as the national church, but of course these figures are encouraging. It shows that the Church is no longer seen as on the fringes of society, but in fact is now at the heart of British life.”

Danny Sriskandarajah, the head of migration, equalities and citizenship for the Institute for Public Policy Research, said that its research indicated that pews would not stay packed for long.

“We are already seeing numbers from eastern Europe dropping and many of them have already returned home,” he said. “It is an important phenomenon, but it is likely to be temporary. I doubt we’ll be seeing this level of attendance in another 10 years.”

Churchgoing in Anglican and Catholic parishes had stood at about a million each for the past 10 years, though the relative equality in their numbers over recent years is surprising considering that there are 25 million people who regard themselves as Anglicans, and only 4.2 million Catholics.

“It isn’t a competition. I’m delighted to see all Christian denominations flourishing,” said the Rt Rev Graham Cray, the chairman of the Church of England’s report on evangelism.

“Large numbers of eastern Europeans have come in to the country, which has certainly strengthened them as has happened with non-whites in central London churches.”

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Related

New wave of Poles bolsters ‘Catholic Britain’ 

Tony Blair takes final step on the road to Rome

Tony Blair turns Catholic in private ceremony

Tony Blair could become permanent president of EU Empire

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Hoover Planned to detain 12,000 Americans in military prisons

“We are a fact-gathering organization only. We don’t clear anybody. We don’t condemn anybody.”- J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover, a high Freemason of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order of the Mystic Shrine, was F.B.I. director for 48 years from 1924 to 1972

NY Times | Dec 23, 2007

By TIM WEINER

A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty.

Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days after the Korean War began. It envisioned putting suspect Americans in military prisons.

Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.” The F.B.I would “apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous” to national security, Hoover’s proposal said. The arrests would be carried out under “a master warrant attached to a list of names” provided by the bureau.

The names were part of an index that Hoover had been compiling for years. “The index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven per cent are citizens of the United States,” he wrote.

“In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus,” it said.

Habeas corpus, the right to seek relief from illegal detention, has been a fundamental principle of law for seven centuries. The Bush administration’s decision to hold suspects for years at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has made habeas corpus a contentious issue for Congress and the Supreme Court today.

The Constitution says habeas corpus shall not be suspended “unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” The plan proposed by Hoover, the head of the F.B.I. from 1924 to 1972, stretched that clause to include “threatened invasion” or “attack upon United States troops in legally occupied territory.”

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush issued an order that effectively allowed the United States to hold suspects indefinitely without a hearing, a lawyer, or formal charges. In September 2006, Congress passed a law suspending habeas corpus for anyone deemed an “unlawful enemy combatant.”

But the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of American citizens to seek a writ of habeas corpus. This month the court heard arguments on whether about 300 foreigners held at Guantánamo Bay had the same rights. It is expected to rule by next summer.

Hoover’s plan was declassified Friday as part of a collection of cold-war documents concerning intelligence issues from 1950 to 1955. The collection makes up a new volume of “The Foreign Relations of the United States,” a series that by law has been published continuously by the State Department since the Civil War.

Hoover’s plan called for “the permanent detention” of the roughly 12,000 suspects at military bases as well as in federal prisons. The F.B.I., he said, had found that the arrests it proposed in New York and California would cause the prisons there to overflow.

So the bureau had arranged for “detention in military facilities of the individuals apprehended” in those states, he wrote.

The prisoners eventually would have had a right to a hearing under the Hoover plan. The hearing board would have been a panel made up of one judge and two citizens. But the hearings “will not be bound by the rules of evidence,” his letter noted.

The only modern precedent for Hoover’s plan was the Palmer Raids of 1920, named after the attorney general at the time. The raids, executed in large part by Hoover’s intelligence division, swept up thousands of people suspected of being communists and radicals.

Previously declassified documents show that the F.B.I.’s “security index” of suspect Americans predated the cold war. In March 1946, Hoover sought the authority to detain Americans “who might be dangerous” if the United States went to war. In August 1948, Attorney General Tom Clark gave the F.B.I. the power to make a master list of such people.

Hoover’s July 1950 letter was addressed to Sidney W. Souers, who had served as the first director of central intelligence and was then a special national-security assistant to Truman. The plan also was sent to the executive secretary of the National Security Council, whose members were the president, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state and the military chiefs.

In September 1950, Congress passed and the president signed a law authorizing the detention of “dangerous radicals” if the president declared a national emergency. Truman did declare such an emergency in December 1950, after China entered the Korean War. But no known evidence suggests he or any other president approved any part of Hoover’s proposal.

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“I regret to say that we of the FBI are powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy, unless it has in some way obstructed interstate commerce.”

– J. Edgar Hoover

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Catalogue of Accusations Against J. Edgar Hoover
He apparently dreamed of being the head of a worldwide police agency

Police brutality cases on rise since 9/11

Information Liberation | Dec 20, 2007

By Kevin Johnson

WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors are targeting a rising number of law enforcement officers for alleged brutality, Justice Department statistics show. The heightened prosecutions come as the nation’s largest police union fears that agencies are dropping standards to fill thousands of vacancies and “scrimping” on training.

Cases in which police, prison guards and other law enforcement authorities have used excessive force or other tactics to violate victims’ civil rights have increased 25% (281 vs. 224) from fiscal years 2001 to 2007 over the previous seven years, the department says.

During the same period, the department says it won 53% more convictions (391 vs. 256). Some cases result in multiple convictions.

Federal records show the vast majority of police brutality cases referred by investigators are not prosecuted.

University of Toledo law professor David Harris, who analyzes police conduct issues, says it will take time to determine whether the cases represent a sustained period of more aggressive prosecutions or the beginnings of a surge in misconduct.

The cases involve only a fraction of the estimated 800,000 police in the USA, says James Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the nation’s largest police union.

Even so, he says, the FOP is concerned that reduced standards, training and promotion of less experienced officers into the higher police ranks could undermine more rigid supervision.

“These are things we are worried about,” Pasco says.

For the past few years, dozens of police departments across the country have scrambled to fill vacancies. The recruiting effort, which often features cash bonuses, has intensified since 9/11, because many police recruits have been drawn to military service.

In its post-Sept. 11 reorganization, the FBI listed police misconduct as one of its highest civil rights priorities to keep pace with an anticipated increase in police hiring through 2009.

The increasing Justice numbers generally correspond to a USA TODAY analysis of federal law enforcement prosecutions using data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Those data show 42 law enforcement prosecutions during the first 10 months of fiscal year 2007, a 66% increase from all of fiscal 2002 and a 61% rise from a decade ago.

David Burnham, the co-founder of the TRAC database, says prosecutions appear to be increasing, but “more important” are the numbers of cases prosecutors decline.

Last year, 96% of cases referred for prosecution by investigative agencies were declined.

In 2005, 98% were declined, a rate that has remained “extremely high” under every administration dating to President Carter, according to a TRAC report.

The high refusal rates, say Burnham and law enforcement analysts, result in part from the extraordinary difficulty in prosecuting abuse cases. Juries are conditioned to believe cops, and victims’ credibility is often challenged.

“When police are accused of wrongdoing, the world is turned upside down,” Harris says. “In some cases, it may be impossible for (juries) to make the adjustment.”

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Related 

Epidemic Of Police Brutality & Harassment Sweeps America & UK

America’s Police Brutality Pandemic