Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous, Scriptures.

WELCOME TO THE OCCUPY FAITH WEBSITE

What Would Jesus Do?

Occupy Faith wishes to champion faith as something by the people, for the people. Taking ownership of the Self and entering a space in which the corruption of society has no power and no jurisdiction. We wish to facilitate community minded initiatives and actions motivated from this place. We all walk our own paths, and many of the paths carved from faith values are converging with the the global Occupy movement. We wish to provide a route that allows anarchists and Anglicans to walk together in solidarity. We also will raise a dissenting voice if religious institutions stray from the path.

 

Occupy Faith exists to swing the iron sword of justice across the collars of the corrupt, to shine a prophetic light on the collusion of establishment religious bodies with power and corrosive political influence. We catch ecclesial power with its pants down, we out the pretence of religion as mere ritualised hypocrisy at sub-zero temperatures, and a startled world finds itself in the headlights of truth-seeking and justice.  When the intercourse of church and state shudders to its toxic climax, our pen of truth-telling flashes out of its scabbard.  If you have been mis-sold a heavenly life insurance policy you could be entitled to compensation, or if you’ve been touched inappropriately by one of God’s alleged representatives, show us where.  Truth in tablet form.  Throw the moneychangers out of the temple, the only gems on our collection plate are your opinions.  We want to hear from you.

 

If you are involved in community building and would like our help organising events, if you are interested in our events, or if you would like us to talk to your parish about the shared values of faith and Occupy, we would love to hear from you. Unfortunately religious bodies are not above immorality or coercion from business and political interests. Funding bodies are more generous to some faiths than others, funding for faith events can be squandered or misappropriated, and the piety of the cloth can often veil violent or sexual abuse.

 

If you, or anyone you know, are aware of victimisation or abuse of, or by, a religious institution, and would like our legal, emotional, or ethical support, please write to us, via the e-mail address below.

 

Write to us at:  info [at] occupyfaith.org.uk (substituting an @ sign in place of the [at])

 

INITIAL STATEMENT

Occupy Faith UK is an autonomous organisation that has an affinity with the global Occupy movement. We engage with the values that faith communities and those with other spiritual and political faith share in order to raise awareness of issues of social, economic and environmental justice as they affect communities across the UK. We welcome collaboration and are proud that the Pilgrimage for Justice is also supported by many organisations, including faith organisations working on social and economic justice.

We are of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities, dis/abilities and faiths, standing together in engaged, transformative action for:

  • An open democracy, with fairness and justice in a balanced system, encouraging public conversations that respect every person’s voice in determining the quality and future of our lives.
  • Economic policies which create social equality and justice and through an equitable shared responsibility create a common public good.
  • A generous society that provides high quality education, affordable housing, adequate income, meaningful work, and universal access to health care and quality of life.
  • Fighting cuts in welfare services that are neither necessary nor inevitable, seeking an end to tax injustice and the undemocratic representation of corporations over people.
  • The safeguarding and well-being of our shared planet through strong environmental policies, sustainable energies and business regulation.
  • An end to oppression, and in standing in solidarity with the oppressed, call for the termination of all governments actions in causing this oppression.
  • Peace among people and nations based on human rights, compassion for all who suffer, religious liberty, mutual respect, and civil rights.
  • Socially fair policies based on hospitality, generosity and respect for the vast diversity of all human beings regardless of our social identity.
  • Solidarity with the Occupy movement, because our values have been betrayed by an economic and political elite who have proven indifferent to the common good and their moral obligations to the public welfare.
  • A faith in a better, more spiritually fulfilling future; and being active in bringing about this change, because we all have an obligation to continue to challenge this economic and political elite, until systemic, compassionate change is actively in place.

Disseminate our media channels:

 

https:www.facebook.com/occupyfaithuk

https://twitter.com/#!/OccupyFaith_UK

Write to us at:  info [at] occupyfaith.org.uk (substituting an @ sign in place of [at])

 

The Webmasters for this site are:  Alan Bolwell, Kit Klarenberg

 

Spread the word!  Peace.

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Activist groups campaigning around sexual misconduct and misuse of power in churches and religious institutions, have criticised the Church of England for allegedly attempting to bully and disrupt a public discussion about clergy abuse. Campaigners, including Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors and the Interfaith Alliance UK, have condemned the Diocese of London for what they see as an attempt to suppress free debate and exposure of abuse within the Church.

On Tuesday 18 November 2014 in the House of Commons, there took place a public panel discussion about issues to do with clergy ethical standards and abuse of children and vulnerable adults within the Church of England and other denominations and faiths. The panel brought together clergymen, academics, parliamentary peers, survivors and legal experts in the field of clergy abuse, all in the context of the current government inquiry into abuse, and parallel legislative developments at the Church of England Synod.

While the Catholic Church, Jewish and Muslim traditions were represented on the speaker panel, the two Anglican members of the Clergy Discipline Commission who had agreed to speak, subsequently withdrew. Certain Anglican clergy, bishops and archdeacons whose alleged behaviour in relation to matters of abuse were to be questioned and debated at the event, had repeatedly been invited to come along to the meeting in the interests of fair and free speech and of “the right to reply”, but instead they all avoided attending.

Instead of facing an open inquiry, on the day of the event, James Foster, of Luther Pendragon Limited, a private communications agency employed by the Diocese of London, contacted the MPs responsible for the room booking of the event in Parliament, in order to apply pressure on the event and its organisers. The pressure was not successful and the event proceeded to plan. On Wednesday 19 November, Foster, who said he was acting for the Church of England, again contacted organisers of the event in order to put pressure against the publishing of the full video record of the meeting which had been filmed by different attendees who had independently come to the event.

A spokesperson for the campaigners said, “Church of England leaders have attempted to disrupt the free and open discussion in the public interest about clergy abuse by, on the one hand, their avoidance and refusal to attend and face questioning from abuse survivors and the public, and on the other hand their employing a private communications agency to disrupt and censor free debate. This is a shocking betrayal of Archbishop Justin Welby’s stated commitment to a full and frank conversation about these extremely serious issues in an Anglican context.”

Luther Pendragon Limited were unwilling to comment about the costs which had been spent by the Church of England for their services.

Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

 

Dear IFN Co-Chairs, Executive Committee and IFN Member Bodies,

I am writing as Chair of the Interfaith Alliance UK, a member body of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN).
My colleague, Satish Sharma from the National Council of Hindu Temples (also an IFN Member Body) and I would like to invite all interested parties to attend an “Open Dialogue” in the first week of December 2014.

The goal of the Open Dialogue will be to put our heads together and collectively develop a plan to repair the breakdown in trust that has occurred between some IFN Member Bodies and the IFN leadership in connection with matters of governance and alleged conduct of IFN officials. These issues have been raised over an extended time by various different IFN Member Bodies and faith leaders, and were discussed again in the circular email sent by the Interfaith Alliance UK Board on the 23rd of September. I reattach links to the published concerns for your information:

http://www.interfaithalliance.org.uk/ifn

http://www.interfaithalliance.org.uk/inter_faith_network.pdf [*additional details supplied regarding criminal activity by Mehri Niknam, of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation]

This Dialogue will be held outside of office hours, so that interfaith volunteers in the IFN and other organisations can also be present. We would be delighted if members of the IFN Executive Committee could attend, and so in the first instance we are asking them to suggest a date in the first week of December that would be convenient for them to join us.

The principles of participatory democracy will be observed, which upholds principles of free speech and openness, but ensures that everyone will have their voice heard in an ambiance of calm, cooperation, and courtesy. There are complex questions to consider, and we must work together respectfully if we are to find a way to move forward in a manner acceptable to all present.

We further wish to clarify that the Anglican theologian, Dr Gareth Jones, referenced in our previous circular, is not to be confused with the Methodist Minister, Revd Gareth Jones. Both of these gentlemen undertake excellent interfaith work in different contexts, and we apologise to both for any confusion.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or suggestions, and we look forward to meeting you.

Yours sincerely

Danny Diskin, Interfaith Alliance UK
Satish Sharma, National Council of Hindu Temples
*additional details supplied regarding criminal activity by Mehri Niknam, of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation

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Harriet Crabtree

Dear Colleagues

We Call for an Immediate Independent Inquiry into Alleged Misconduct by Officials of the Inter Faith Network
We are writing to you as a Member Body of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN) in relation to matters of governance of the IFN which are of great concern to us and our colleagues from other faith and interfaith organisations.

The Director, Chairs and Executive Committee of the Inter Faith Network have presented us with a proposed “Code of Conduct” for IFN Member Bodies for passing at an AGM, which we and a number of our sister IFN Members see as potentially being used to restrict criticism of the IFN leadership – and in relation to which legal advice we have received indicates may in fact be unlawful.

We are particularly concerned that while the IFN Executive has created this Code of Conduct in relation to IFN Members who have made criticisms of the behaviour and activities of some IFN officers, the IFN Executive has to date been most unwilling to allow an independent investigation into alleged misconduct by the IFN Director and certain IFN Trustees.

We are therefore writing to request there now immediately takes place a wholly independent and impartial investigation into these allegations of wrongdoing by the IFN Director and certain IFN Trustees. We propose that the investigation be undertaken by:

1) An independent and neutral mediation body which is wholly unconnected to the Inter Faith Network, and is acceptable to the complainants as well as to the IFN.  There are a number of well-respected mediators, and we know of highly respected parliamentary peers and legal professionals who would be very willing to chair such an independent investigation into the IFN at minimal or no cost.  So no excuse about costs is applicable here.
2) The findings of the investigation are to be published in their entirety in the public domain
3) If wrongdoing is found to have taken place by any IFN official or Trustee, that appropriate sanctions are to be applied to those individuals, including removal from post …Read more

Download the full report “Independent Inquiry into Conduct by Officials of the Inter Faith Network”

Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

Margaret Thatcher

We as Occupy spent some shivering months on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral challenging the brutal and faithless legacy of the Thatcherite economy.  There is thus an irony in that same “People’s Cathedral” being the locus of the ceremonial for the Iron Lady.  Trustee of Occupy Faith UK, Kit Klarenberg, scholar and faith-based political commentator and raconteur extraordinaire, comments…

DOWNLOAD “MARGARET THATCHER” BY KIT KLARENBERG

 

“The Lady’s funeral wasn’t quite so vulvic. The Iron Cadaver’s final journey was phallic in its rectilinear rigidity – a lance shearing its way from the bowels of Parliament to St Paul’s, thunderously journeying in the manner of so many new acceded British monarchs, who are required by convention to meet the aldermen of the City of London, renewing its charter in the process. Thatcher mapped this route and authorized it herself before she died, making sure that her corpse would osmolotically absorb the posthumous mojo from the bronze bust of Churchill opposite Parliament, and the engorged stone spire of Nelson in Trafalgar Square, along the way. Upon reaching St. Paul’s, the casket containing this fallen Boudicca (another take no prisoners ginger ninja, who protected England from the deathless forces of blah blah blah) was transferred to another group of able-bodied belligerents. The assorted crowds were neither quite as emotive nor voluminous as those who witnessed Diana’s final descent, but they represented an even lower still proportion of Britons than the weeping of the media, and our political class, implied would be in attendance. Perhaps the rest of Britain thought it would be too crowded if literally every citizen of the United Kingdom was in attendance, and stayed home in an act of mutually assured lethargy. Perhaps they just didn’t care.” (Download the rest of the paper “Margaret Thatcher” by Kit Klarenberg)

Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

Vivian Wineman

In the light of recent media criticisms from within the Jewish community of Vivian Wineman, Jewish Vice-Chair of the Inter Faith Network,  Occupy Faith, wishes to echo these criticisms on an interfaith level.  Occupy Faith is a multifaith partnership of women and men, including Jews and people of many other faiths.  We are committed to fostering economic and social justice in the world, challenging extremist violence, and supporting the Middle East Peace Process through a Jewish state within safe and secure borders, with just self-determination for the Palestinians.

Our Jewish friends across various Occupier and non-Occupier organisations, and colleagues of other faiths, have drawn public attention to corruption in the “Interfaith Industry” – something about which commentators in the Jewish Chronicle such as Martin Bright and Geoffrey Alderman and also Douglas Murray have already written at length.

This corruption includes collusion by the “Interfaith Industry” with certain extremist groups to advance their own power and political influence – notably the collusion with Jamaat-e-Islami front organisations by the Joseph Interfaith Foundation which has widely been condemned.  In response, Jewish and Bangladeshi Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist groups published an Open Letter of concern on 10 May 2013 to the President of the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council about the guilt of these groups in genocide and supporting terrorism.  Wineman has totally failed to respond to any of these concerns expressed to him as President of the Board of Deputies.

 

http://hurryupharry.org/2013/05/10/open-letter-to-the-jewish-community-leadership-%E2%80%9Cis-the-jewish-community-talking-to-the-right-kind-of-muslims%E2%80%9D/

 

Our colleagues of different faiths similarly drew attention to the overt and unlawful religious discrimination by the Inter Faith Network of which Wineman is Vice Chair, against peaceful minority religious groups (eg. Druids, and also Mormons with whom the American Jewish community have excellent relations and extensive interfaith dialogue).

In response to these legitimate expressions of concern, Vivian Wineman has abused his role as Vice Chair of the Inter Faith Network and President of the Board of Deputies, and has responded to these criticisms of the “Interfaith Industry” by acting as an autocratic bully and putting political pressure and threatening the livelihoods, funding and work lives of clergy colleagues of different faiths, for simply expressing their opinion on these issues.

While Wineman’s future in Jewish communal roles is a sovereign matter for the Jewish community to decide, for us as a multifaith community of Jews and other faiths, we as Occupy Faith demand Wineman’s immediate removal from office as Jewish leader in the Inter Faith Network and other senior interfaith positions representing the Jewish community alongside other faiths, as his bullying and autocratic behaviour brings discredit both to the Jewish community and to the cause of fairness and free speech – many within the Jewish community have already strongly criticised his conduct.  We add as a footnote that there is an irony in the draft code of conduct by the Board of Deputies against bullying and harassment, since the behaviour of the Vivian Wineman breaks virtually all these principles.

 

The Board of Occupy Faith UK*

21 May 2013

**Occupy Faith UK (InterFaith Alliance UK) operates on egalitarian principles of the Occupy movement in which all ordinary members are equal and have an equal voice. The Board of Occupy Faith UK (InterFaith Alliance UK) consists of Alan Bolwell, George Barda, Steve Burak, Kit Klarenberg, Caroline Craig-Hallam, Cherry Paine

Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

Inter Faith Network Hypocrisy

Occupy Faith UK (Interfaith Alliance UK) in its Chair and Board of Trustees unanimously and officially opposes the illegal religious discrimination by the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN), against the Druid Community – speaking as we do, as diverse faiths working together to promote equality, justice and respect for all faiths without discrimination.

On 30 April 2012, the Director of the Inter Faith Network, Harriet Crabtree, rejected the application by the Chair of the Druid Network, Phil Ryder, for TDN to join the Inter Faith Network.

The top human rights law firm, Bindmans LLP and friend of Occupy, has published this Legal Document which establishes clearly how the IFN Director, Harriet Crabtree, IFN Co-Chairs and Executive Committee have unlawfully discriminated against the Druid community in contravention of the Equality Act 2010 and related law.  You can download this document from the Religious Freedom UK website.

The Times Newspaper published this article covering this question of the illegal discrimination by the IFN against Druids, and the BBC presenter and Church of England clergyman, the Revd Peter Owen-Jones spoke out saying:

“The Inter Faith Network is publicly funded. By refusing entry to the Druid Network, it raises huge questions about whether it can continue to operate as a publicly funded body.”

 

Letter by the Board of Occupy Faith UK to the Inter Faith Network – 16 May 2013


Dear Revd Bob Fyffe, Dr Manazir Ahsan, Dr Harriet Crabtree and the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Network

We hope you had a joyous Beltane.  

With a dual sense of ennui and nameless dread, Occupy Faith UK (we are an IFN member organization, and we are speaking here as an incorporated legal entity) finds itself compelled anew to counter your recent correspondence of 3rd May 2013. In it you called our open letter to you of 9th April ‘defamatory’ without any explanation or actual content to your reply whatsoever. We again attach our original letter below this email.

Suffice to say, your response was disappointing, but ultimately unsurprising, amounting as it did to little more than a predictably desperate downpour of bureaucratic argot, a steadfast refusal to resolve basic questions, and inexorable references to the status, advancement and, indeed, quality of the strategic review. Considered in its totality, your latest communiqué called to mind an apparatchik from the Ministry of Truth in an incantatory trance, endlessly reiterating the mantra that Eurasia has always been at war with Eastasia.

Nonetheless, we feel obliged to state our wholehearted agreement with the fundamental underpinning of your latest missive – namely, that it would be futile at this point for you to regurgitate the responses already given to our allegations (if not for the sake of brevity, then our collective sanity, at least). However, as the rejoinders you have offered to our contentions have not amounted to ‘answers’ by any objective definition of the term, we believe posing them again is a worthwhile (although, based on current trends, perhaps pointless) endeavour. We shall repeat them below, in the event they have slipped your minds.

1. You have repeatedly rebuffed the opportunity to enter into discussions with Bindmans LLP about the legality of your Membership Policy. Since the Strategic Review, of which you are quite so fond, is clearly not mandated by the AGM to address questions of legality – these issues can only be tackled by a full and frank dialogue with Bindmans. So as long as you remain intractably refused, rectification of the issues we have raised remain intangible. John Halford, Joint Head of Public Law and Human Rights at Bindmans, has made it clear that your representatives at Bates, Wells & Braithwate had requested your permission as their client to enter into such a dialogue with him to discuss the IFN’s illegal membership policy. Our colleagues are in close communication with Bindmans, and to date, we have not been advised that IFN has given permission to its lawyers to enter into any kind of on the record dialogue with Bindmans LLP on these legal questions – under any format or arrangement. Rather we have been informed to the contrary, and instead, what we do see is Harriet Crabtree and the IFN Co-Chairs manufacturing increasingly absurd, evasive and dishonest excuses about arrangements for such a dialogue. You demonstrate that the IFN is clearly too afraid to enter into such a dialogue on legal issues with Bindmans, because it knows it is legally in trouble.

2. Dr. Harriet Crabtree deceived the IFN’s AGM of 12th July 2012 and Dr. Crabtree as principal responsible officer for drafting AGM papers withheld documents, and thus the IFN falsely presented to the Meeting that only “two” members had raised concerns about the IFN’s illegal membership policy. As both Crabtree and the IFN as a whole well know, in fact a number of IFN Member Organisations had passed resolutions or issued formal statements through their officers expressing these concerns about the IFN’s membership policy.

3. The Chair of the Strategic Review has disgracefully refused to even hear, much less take on board, the substantive concerns held by a number of member bodies of the IFN as to the proper conduct of the Strategic Review. These concerns being, primarily, that the Review has been corrupted by threats barked by IFN attack dogs (or, ‘officers’) to damage the personal careers and livelihoods of clergy of different faiths, simply because they asked questions about the clear illegality of the IFN’s membership policy. In doing so, the IFN leadership has sought to stifle the freedom of expression of sovereign independent IFN member bodies, and their own members. In particular, we demand and will forcefully continue to demand a full and transparent investigation into the behaviour of one or two of the most senior officers of the Inter Faith Network whose shocking attacks on the livelihoods of our clergy friends of different faiths we have close knowledge of. We are quite ready to name and shame these IFN officers in public – we know who the culprits are, and that includes you, IFN Vice Chair, Vivian Wineman.

To distill the above points into easily digestible, query form, we provide you with the following quandaries:

  • Why did Harriet Crabtree mislead the AGM?
  • Why did Harriet Crabtree withhold documentation from the AGM?
  • Why hasn’t Harriet Crabtree resigned, as she has clearly lied repeatedly?
  • Why has the IFN repeatedly declined to speak to Bindmans LLP on the record, despite repeated prompting from Occupy Faith UK and other IFN Member Organisations?
  • When people are being intimidated for simply expressing an opinion and the Chair of that Strategic Review won’t even consider investigating these clear infractions into basic individual freedoms, what kind of Strategic Review is this?

If you are still in doubt as to our objectives in raising these issues afresh, let us make clear that we do not seek reaffirmations of the positive progress of the Strategic Review, nor referral to your Communications Policy. Only straight answers will do.

Finally, in response to the implicative threat contained in your assertion that our statement was ‘defamatory’ , we are reminded of the celebrated story of Squeaky the Mouse. One June morning, Squeaky was swimming backstroke down the Thames. As he approached Tower Bridge, this intrepid seafaring rodent was heard to squeak at the top of his pocket-sized lungs, ‘better raise it chaps, I have an erection!’…

For a statement to classify as defamatory, it must be slanderous. There is nothing libellous about our assertion that you are engaged in illegal religious discrimination toward the Druid community, nor our assertion that the Director of the Interfaith Network deliberately withheld vital documents from the group’s Annual General Meeting, nor our assertion that representatives of the IFN have made threats against clerical representatives of IFN member bodies.

If you truly believe any of those statements to be defamatory, we urge you to initiate legal proceedings – we, as the body legally incorporated in Occupy Faith UK (InterFaith Alliance UK), shall fight them, and we shall prevail. We are Occupy, and we are going to keep pressing our questions to you again and again and again and again until we get some honest answers out of the IFN leadership.

If instead you find yourselves beset by a miasma of Neronian dithering at our suggestion, then we urge you to set down your fiddles and prepare for us to challenge the illegal membership policy of the IFN by all lawful means at our disposal including, and not limited to vigorous lawful protest and legal redress. We as Occupy have taken on this issue of the Interfaith Network, and we intend to pursue it as energetically as with other hypocritical establishment religious institutions we have faced before.

Ever since the age of Enlightenment, liberty and democracy have been protected, not merely by the strenuous efforts of those of us who cherish it, but also – and perhaps most profoundly – by the illimitable stupidity of those who would ration these values and rights in an attempt to keep them a luxury for themselves, and themselves alone. They have thrived not in spite of institutions such as the Interfaith Network, but because of institutions such as the Interfaith Network. Whilst in the short-term you have invigorated feelings of dissent and protest within us, we are beginning to tire of you and your tactics, and, to quote Cromwell’s remarks to the Long Parliament, you have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, we say, and let us have done with you.

Go in the name of God, and in the name of God, please go.

Yours sincerely

The Board of InterFaith Alliance UK/Occupy Faith UK*

*Occupy Faith UK (InterFaith Alliance UK) operates on egalitarian principles of the Occupy movement in which all ordinary members are equal and have an equal voice. The Board of Occupy Faith UK (InterFaith Alliance UK) consists of Alan Bolwell, George Barda, Steve Burak, Kit Klarenberg, Caroline Craig-Hallam, Cherry Paine.

 

Letter by the Board of Occupy Faith UK to the Inter Faith Network – 9 April 2013

Dear IFN Director Dr Harriet Crabtree, and the IFN Executive Committee

 
Open Letter to the Director and Executive Committee of the Inter Faith Network
 
We are writing this open letter on behalf of Occupy Faith UK (Interfaith Alliance UK), a member body of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN).
 
Occupy Faith is an interfaith organisation working for the public benefit, which stands in solidarity with the global Occupy movement.  We are people of many different religions, spiritualities and beliefs speaking together for religious harmony, social and economic justice.  Most importantly, it is our explicit aim to speak truth to power – and, as people of many faiths together, to ethically challenge hypocrisy within establishment religious power.
 
We have been following with great concern the conduct by the IFN Director, Harriet Crabtree, IFN Chairs and Executive of the Inter Faith Network towards our sisters and brothers in the Druid community, and the treatment by IFN officers of our friends from Jewish, Muslim, Christian and other faiths who have spoken out in favour of equality and inclusion.
 
 
1.  ILLEGAL RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION BY THE INTER FAITH NETWORK
On 30th April 2012, the IFN Director, Harriet Crabtree, rejected an application by Phil Ryder, head of the Druid Network, for TDN to join the Inter Faith Network.  The top human rights law firm, and friend of Occupy, Bindmans LLP, published a legal document at the House of Lords on 26th November 2012, establishing why the IFN’s rejection which discriminates against the Druid community on grounds of religion is entirely unlawful and in breach of the Equality Act 2010.  The document is attached and you can also download the legal document from here:
 
 
The actions of the IFN were discussed in the media in both “The Times” newspaper and on “BBC Radio 4″.  The BBC Church of England clergyman and presenter, the Revd Peter Owen-Jones, spoke for many when he said,“The Inter Faith Network is publicly funded.  By refusing entry to the Druid Network, it raises huge questions about whether it can continue to operate as a publicly funded body” (The Times, 1st December 2012)
 
Given the strength of the legal assertions by Bindmans LLP and the confirmed view by barristers from another firm that there was a 70-80% likelihood of successful litigation against the IFN for illegal discrimination, clergy from mainstream world faiths and IFN Member Bodies encouraged the IFN and its legal advisors to enter into a dialogue with Bindmans LLP to address these legal difficulties.  Invitations to this open dialogue were repeatedly offered to the IFN from 10th December onwards.  Eventually, on 12th February 2013, a response was sent by the IFN refusing to enter into such dialogue – making excuses which Bindmans LLP, we and other IFN Member Bodies find highly evasive and dishonest.
 
The repeated evasion by Dr Crabtree, the IFN Co-Chairs and the IFN’s legal advisors of the requests to enter into an open and and transparent dialogue about the question of legality is for us ample evidence that the IFN is too afraid to enter into such dialogue, because it knows that it is legally in trouble.
 
Furthermore, despite repeated requests, Dr Crabtree and the IFN have also refused the release to IFN Member Bodies the full and unedited correspondence history with its legal advisors, which we and others have reason to believe is likely to show that the IFN’s legal advisors are aware that they are in legal difficulty.
 
We therefore now demand an open, transparent and public dialoguebetween Bindmans LLP and the legal advisors of the Inter Faith Network, Bates Wells and Braithwaite LLP, which must be open to all IFN Member Bodies, all other interested organisations, and all taxpaying members of British public whose money funds the IFN in hundreds of thousands of pounds every year.
 
Occupy Faith and our partners in the faith communities and Occupy movement will now set up such a public forum to discuss the questions of legality of the IFN’s actions, under the auspices of a mutually agreed neutral chair – and we will livestream the proceedings to the public.  As both an IFN Member Body and on behalf of the taxpaying British public we must insist that Dr Crabtree and the IFN Co-Chairs and Executive now demonstrate truthfulness, public transparency and public accountablity by no longer trying to evade participating in such a public discussion about legality – as a majority publicly-funded body.
 
 
2.  WITHHOLDING BY THE IFN DIRECTOR OF DOCUMENTS FROM THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
We attach a list of missing documents which the IFN Director, Dr Harriet Crabtree withheld from the IFN Annual General Meeting on 12th July 2012.  You can download these missing documents from here:
 
 
The AGM papers which Harriet Crabtree was a key responsible in preparing, untruthfully represent to the IFN Members receiving those AGM papers, that concerns about the discriminatory IFN Membership Policy arose merely from “two individuals”, namely our colleagues, Phil Ryder and Muhammad Al-Hussaini, and from no others (see IFN Annual General Meeting papers for 2012, Agenda Item 8.1.1 and Agenda Annex A 1.1).  This is of course false and deceitful, and when preparing these AGM papers, Dr Crabtree was at the time fully aware all along of the correspondence which she had been sent by a number of other IFN Member Bodies expressing the same concerns about IFN Membership Policy:
 
An e-mail to Dr Crabtree of 28th June 2012 from Jackie Lukes, Secretary of Hull and East Riding Interfaith, being a unanimous formal Resolution of that IFN Member Body:  “This group supports the Druid Network and Pagan Federation application to become a member of the IFN, in accordance with the principles of tolerance and understanding – the spirit in which this group works…It seemed puzzling and paradoxical to all who spoke that the organization set up to lead opinion in favour of learning about and valuing faith and belief groups, IFN, should be opposed particularly to so benign a movement devoted to nature and countryside”.
 
An e-mail to Dr Crabtree of 1st June 2012 from Dr David Capey, Honorary Executive Officer of Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource (SIFRE) and also East of England Faiths Agency (EEFA) stating:  “Dear Harriett, As you will be aware from our previous conversations first with Brian and subsequently with yourself, SIFRE and EEFA have both been concerned and mystified by the fact that IFN membership is restricted to organisations from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Zoroastrian traditions.  It will therefore not be a surprise to you that both the Boards of SIFRE and EEFA, both being members of IFN, have resolved that they support the application for the Druid Network to be admitted to membership of the IFN.”
 
E-mail correspondence from Cynthia Dickinson, Secretary of Leeds Concord Interfaith Fellowship dated 26th June 2012, being a formal Resolution of that IFN Member Body:  “In favour of overturning any prior bye-law which restricts or excludes TDN [The Druid Network] from eligibility to join and in favour of TDN’s application for membership of IFN-UK.
 
We consider it a very serious and deliberate and deceitful misrepresentation by the IFN Director in the 2012 AGM papers, through her withholding knowledge from the AGM of these resolutions by IFN Member Bodies and documents which she was in receipt of, and instead actively and falsely suggesting in the AGM papers that merely “two individuals” had raised concerns about IFN membership policy.  In any other charity such conduct would be a resignation issue, and other interfaith colleagues around the UK have voiced similar concerns.
 
 
3.  INTIMIDATION AND THREAT MADE BY IFN OFFICERS AGAINST CLERGY OF MAINSTREAM FAITH COMMUNITIES FROM IFN MEMBER BODIES
We are most seriously concerned about the personal testimonies we have received regarding the political pressure applied by IFN officers, and intimidation by them, and attempts by them to damage by the personal careers and livelihoods of clergy and faith leaders from mainstream world faiths who have spoken up in support of dialogue around the strong legal concerns that have been raised about the IFN’s actions.
 
We demand a full and public inquiry in open public forum into this history, and we demand the immediate removal from office of any IFN officer who has in any way, directly or indirectly, been involved in applying political pressure of any sort on IFN Member Bodies or faith leaders in this way.
 
We consider the IFN Strategic Review to be quite farcical while IFN officers have been involved in personally threatening and intimidating those who have expressed their views in support of inclusion, and attempted to intervene in the sovereign and independent policies of IFN Member Bodies.
 
We also wish to express our strong concern to the Chair of the Strategic Review Working Group about these matters which have led to certain IFN Member Bodies being too afraid to submit questionnaire returns to the IFN Strategic Review.  We also note with concern that the Strategic Review Working Group appointed by the IFN has not a single member on it from among the excluded faith communities, and not a single member on it from among those women and men who have been publicly critical of the IFN’s policies.
 
 
4.  OUR COMMITMENT TO REFORMATION OF THE INTER FAITH NETWORK
As an IFN Member Body, we are explicitly committed to a full-scale Reformation of the Inter Faith Network, in order to make it more truthful, transparent, democratic and accountable to the British public from which it has taken millions of pounds.
 
We find the conduct of the current leadership of the Inter Faith Network to be shockingly dishonest and that of religious politicians who have shown a respectable face in public, while behind the scenes quietly and ruthlessly damaging the personal lives of those who speak up to criticise IFN behaviours.  What we find most galling is the consistent double discourse from the IFN leadership and its supporters in the “Interfaith Industry” about “respectful language” – as the showing of a respectable mask of courtesy in public, while doing wicked political things to hurt people behind their back.
 
We reject this deceitful language about “respect”, of white lies and Janus-facedness, as a tactic of the IFN leadership to maintain political power and stifle truth from being spoken – and we as Occupy Faith UK, in accordance with the moral teachings of our faiths, refuse to speak this language.  We do not consider such interfaith politicians to be people of “respect” at all.  Rather, we consider them to be very good actors.
 
Occupy Faith UK and our partners in the Occupy movement  at all times reserve the right to lawful protest against illegal or immoral activities by the Inter Faith Network leadership.
 
Yours sincerely
 
The Board of Occupy Faith UK (Interfaith Alliance UK)*
 
 
 

* Occupy Faith UK (Interfaith Alliance UK) operates on egalitarian principles of the Occupy movement in which all ordinary members are equal and have an equal voice.  The Board of Occupy Faith UK (Interfaith Alliance UK) consists of Alan Bolwell, George Barda, Steve Burak, Kit Klarenberg, Cherry Paine.

Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

On Saturday 24 November 2012, as part of Inter Faith Week 2012, and in partnership St Paul’s Cathedral, and sister interfaith organisations, the Christian Muslim Council and Faith in Music, as well as St Michael and All Angels Church, Hackney, the Interfaith Alliance UK (Occupy Faith UK) launched a new interfaith body, “Faith in Hackney”, which aims to bring together people of different faiths in Hackney through music, culture and the arts and sport.

As part of this, in partnership with local people, we held a special service in the morning at St Paul’s Cathedral (St Dunstan’s Chapel) with the support of the Dean and Chapter, and then walked an Interfaith Pilgrimage through the significant faith and historical sites from the heart of the richest part of the country in the City of London to one of the poorest in North Hackney.

We shared an evening meal together at St Michael and All Angels Church at the kind hospitality of the vicar, Revd James Lawson, and our Occupy Faith Chaplain, Revd Kevin Snyman made this lovely film to mark the occasion:

 

Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

Occupy Faith UK were delighted to run the interfaith social action “Clean Up the City” on Thursday 7 March 2013 in the City of London, in collaboration with the William Wallace Campaign which aims to rename the “State-within-a-State” City of London as “Wallaceburgh” and transfer it to the ownership of Scotland.  Due payment for the Sassanachs butchering William “Braveheart” Wallace… ;-)

We promoted interfaith religious harmony for the public benefit, by our video of this event – which has since got a lot of people of different faiths heartily in harmony with each other in solidarity, and heartily out of harmony with the bankers and their corrupt bonuses, and even more out of harmony with the corrupt establishment politicians and religious leaders who are in the pockets of rich men (Jesus, temple, moneychangers, etc).

Occupy Faith is the voice of ordinary people of different beliefs and religions speaking together out of the moral teachings of their Scriptures for justice, and not just sitting on their fat behinds on interfaith committees (mentioning no names Inter Faith Network…).

Amazing thanks for our very own awesome Revd Kevin Snyman, Chaplain of Occupy Faith UK, for creating this hilarious film for us:

 

 

We are very proud to have introduced some wit and fun to the City of London Elections, and challenged on a multifaith basis the hypocrisy of self-serving religious politicians who lead the City Reform Group – which Occupy Faith UK, its Chair and all its Trustees officially and clearly oppose.  Campbell-Taylor, we forgive you for having no sense of humour and being a sad grass, and we recommend all power-hungry religious leaders to read this article on Wesley’s “Circumcision of the Heart” (from Deuteronomy 30:6 and Romans 2:29).

 

Kit Klarenberg on the Religious Hypocrisy of “New Labour” and “Blue Labour”

Blue Labour

Occupy Faith UK opposes the religious hypocrisy of both Glasman’s EDL-sympathising “Blue Labour” and Tony Blair’s “faith”-based right-wing New Labourite politics.  Trustee of Occupy Faith UK, Kit Klarenberg, scholar and faith-based political commentator and raconteur extraordinaire, writes on the selling out of moral values in “Cruel Britannia”…

DOWNLOAD “CRUEL BRITANNIA” BY KIT KLARENBERG

 

“For students of British politics, the established account of New Labour’s rise to power in 1997 has probably been repeated with such frequency that the mere mention of the words ‘rise of New Labour’ induces groans. It summons a kinetic collage of scenes, both real and imagined – Black Wednesday destroying the Conservatives’ reputation for economic competence, the shining, smiling Blair hiring the spin-guru extraordinaire Alistair Campbell and the Prince of Darkness himself (Peter Mandelson), Blair and Brown hammering out a deal in a restaurant in Islington, Blair winning the Labour leadership, Call me Tony stepping into the right place at the right time and then schmoozing the right people in the right positions to assure Labour’s smooth rise to electoral victory in May 1997, etcetera ad nauseum”.  (Download the rest of the paper Cruel Britannia by Kit Klarenberg)