Saturday, December 09, 2006

Australian flag banned at Australian soldier's funeral

Leftist clergy hate patriotism

The Uniting Church [formerly the Methodist church] has again sparked outrage by refusing to fulfil a Digger's [Australian soldier's] dying wish to have the Australian flag draped over his coffin. The Highfield Rd Uniting Church in Canterbury banned the flag at the funeral of long time congregation member and war veteran Geoff Bolton on November 15. It is believed the family were only told of the church's policy on the morning of the funeral and were forced to have the RSL service in the church's foyer.

Essendon Uniting Church minister Wes Campbell outraged many by refusing dead World War II veteran George "Dick'" Vipond a flag on his funeral casket in March last year, forcing the Digger's family to move the funeral to a nearby Anglican church.

State RSL president Major-General David McLachlan said he was disappointed as he thought the issue had been resolved after working with former Uniting Church moderator Sue Gorman last year. "It is an incredible insult to the family and also to Mr Bolton himself," told 3AW. "He was a veteran, he wanted to be buried under his national flag that he'd fought under and he his family has agreed to the RSL service. "I think it's just unacceptable. Here are people wishing to have the final ceremony conducted in the church where Mr and Mrs Bolton were married some 50 years ago. "The churches at the moment are crying out for membership, but those that have been faithful members of the church get treated this way and I just don't think it's right."

Former Uniting church moderator Sue Gorman issued a statement in June last year stating "the Synod Standing Committee gives strong affirmation for the use of the national flag within the Christian funeral liturgy." "The majority of Uniting Church of Australia Ministers... allow the coffin to be covered with the national flag during the funeral service (of a returned Service person) and they can continue to follow this practise," she said. However she cautioned all parishoners consult carefully with ministers to make sure funeral wishes and arrangements were clear, "with all ministers to devise a way forward when the reasonable requests of bereaved families with respect to the flag on the coffin conflict with the understanding of the Minister." A statement from the Uniting Church is being prepared and will be released shortly, spokesman Rev Kim Cain said.



If only because unmarried mothers are mostly poor and dumb. Excerpt from a comment below by Australian relationships columnist Bettina Arndt

Children in single-parent families are getting less of just about everything that we know leads to successful adulthood. That's the conclusion of a powerful new book by Kay S. Hymowitz, Marriage and Caste in America, which argues that family structure underpins the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots in America, which is a disturbing trend applying equally in this country.

For all the talk about Murphy Browns -- elite, professional women choosing to become solo mums -- it rarely happens. Talk to well-educated, professional women, who could afford to have children on their own and you'll find few would even consider it. As Hymowitz shows, the old-fashioned, married-couple-with-children model is doing quite well among better-educated women. It is primarily among lower-income, less-educated women that it is in poor health.

The figures show that here, as in the US, it is largely low-income, less-educated twentysomethings who are having babies without a wedding ring. In 2001, only 3 per cent of women aged 25 to 29 with degrees were single mothers compared with 30 per cent of women with no post-school qualifications, with the latter's higher divorce rate swelling the numbers. Most educated women marry before they have children because they are preparing their children to carry on their way of life, suggests Hymowitz. They know that marriage significantly increases their chances of doing that. Kids with two parents are more likely to have two incomes cushioning them during their developing years. More money means more stability, less stress, better day care and schools.

While educated women still believe in marriage as an institution for raising children, that's dropped off the radar for women who lack their advantages. Hymowitz argues this means disadvantaged women have lost a reliable life script, a traditional arrangement that reinforced the qualities they and their men need for upward mobility, one of their few institutional supports for planning ahead and taking control of their lives. And they've lost a culture that told them the truth about what was best for their children.

There's no question that culture has disappeared. Just look at the soaps, such as Neighbours and Home and Away, which regularly feature young women becoming pregnant. Because of their early-evening slot, abortion is rarely mentioned. So bingo, the women become single mothers. In the women's magazines, there's a passing parade of celebrities having children on their own, with never a question asked about their choices.

According to last year's Australian Survey of Social Attitudes, 70 per cent of Australian women and 84 per cent of females aged 18 to 30 now believe single parents can bring up children as well as a couple. But educated women still have the good sense not to do it. Most choose to provide their children with the extra security of a two-parent family. It is those who can least afford to take the risk who have been sold a pup, which condemns the women and their children to a lesser life.


A strange politically correct Christmas season in Melbourne

BAH, humbug! What has become of a jolly old-fashioned Christmas when a radio commercial yesterday earnestly implored everyone to place their orders for an organic turkey and a gluten-free pudding? Call me Scrooge but we are entering a very confused, plastic and politically correct Christmas season. If we don't watch out, it may soon become an offence to burp.

And what was that about celebrating the birth of Jesus? Has he been transformed into a Wombat Divine? Scrooge himself, before he was converted to let his hair down and really enjoy Christmas, was a "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner". Those were Charles Dickens' immortal words in A Christmas Carol.

Christmas was once a time when you ate too much and drank too much and did good works and embraced family. This old sinner went wandering through Melbourne's CBD yesterday, seeking the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Dickens described the original ghost, clothed in a simple green robe, bordered with white fur and sitting on a kind of throne made up of "turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreathes of sausages, mince pies, plum puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth cakes and seething bowls of punch".

Imagine trying to set that up in the heart of the city today. The inspectors wouldn't let you near a space without a building permit and animal welfare groups would set up a picket line. Instead, an environmentally safe artificial Christmas tree made of green, red and silver-frosted plastic stars stuck on the end of metal rods inserted into a green mesh cone now stands in the centre of the city. How lovely.

The tree, of course, has a commercial sponsor. A plum pudding on sale in a city store's food hall contains a health warning: "3.1 per cent alcohol by volume". The ingredients, also listed by law, are: "currants (10 per cent), raisins (10 per cent) sultanas (10 per cent), breadcrumbs (wheat flour), water, yeast, salt, soy flour, vegetable oil (canola), emulsifiers (471, 481), vinegar, vitamin (thiamin), butter (cream, water, salt), brown sugar, fresh eggs, flour, dates, mixed peel, Australian brandy, water, spices, lemon essence (contains colour 101), vanilla essence and baking soda". Yummy.

Please, pass Scrooge another slice of the delicious emulsifiers 471 and 481 with a dab of the colour 101. The accompanying brandy butter container, of course, tells Scrooge he is getting exactly 199.44 kilojoules of energy with each serve. Is that supposed to make Scrooge feel guilty enough to go for a brisk bicycle ride to burn off the brandy butter?

This Scrooge wandered on, joulelessly and sadly, past the five Myer windows, past the ghosts of Christmas past. No jolly Ghost of Christmas Present here either, but a crowd of somewhat confused human beings staring into caverns full of glassy-eyed, nodding and jerking replicas of Australian native animals. Mothers were trying to explain the show to their children. It was a difficult task. "Wombat Divine", said large signs, with a star overhead.

The story began: "For as long as he could remember, Wombat had wanted to be in the Nativity. "Now, at last, he was old enough to take part. "So, with his heart full of dreams, he hurried along to the audition." A strange theological tale then unfolded along the length of the windows. In short order, we learnt that Wombat was "too heavy to be the Archangel Gabriel", as well as being "too big to be Mary", "too short to be a King", "too sleepy to be Joseph", and too short, again, to be a shepherd. Instead, Wombat gets to play Baby Jesus. In the final window, the animals were in somewhat of a nodding frenzy as a panel explained: "On Christmas Day, when everyone was opening presents and eating pudding, they all agreed it was the best Nativity ever. " 'You were divine, Wombat!' said Emu, and Wombat beamed."

Don't tell the Archangel Gabriel, but those emulsifiers in the pudding can have the strangest side effects. How different to the abandoned days of Dickens' Mrs Cratchit and her pudding, "like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half a quatern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck on top". The pudding was enjoyed by Tiny Tim whose words, at least, endure to this day: "God bless us every one!"


No money for frontline police in Victoria

While the police bureaucracy just grows and grows

A police station protecting 120,000 Victorians could become a nine-to-five operation as a staff shortage sends officers' morale plummeting. A secret, high-level memo seen by the Herald Sun outlines a plan to cut 24-hour-a-day Werribee police station's operating times to between 9am and 5pm on weekdays and reduce its weekend operating times. Police say it is just one of several key stations in high-crime areas buckling under financial strain.

In the memo, Insp. Shane Dowling tells his superiors urgent action is needed to avert the danger of officers walking out. He writes that a police district management team has recommended Werribee - which covers a booming population of 121,000 - work shorter hours. About 70 people work at the station, a figure criticised as 30 to 40 short of what is needed. "Due to the low staffing levels, my members are exhausted and if action is not forthcoming, I advise that industrial action will occur," Insp. Dowling wrote. "This is having a real effect on morale."

Police officers at Werribee have been frustrated for years at what they say is a lack of numbers and heavy workload. The memo states the ratio of police to population in the Wyndham police district covered by Werribee is one to 1078, compared to one in 368 statewide. There were 6900 crimes in the area covered by Werribee last year. They included seven murders, 146 rapes and sex assaults, 918 burglaries, 407 car thefts and 1064 cases of property damage. Sources said domestic violence was widespread and a factor behind 483 assaults last year.

Insp. Dowling, a former mayor of Geelong, wrote that short-staffing was causing "welfare issues" for officers and the condition of the police station didn't help. "An absolute bloody disgrace. Nothing more needs to be said," he wrote. Divisional Supt Kevin Casey said he was confident the station would not have to go nine-to-five. "We'll continue to provide a 24-hour policing service for Werribee," he said. Supt Casey said he didn't know whether Insp. Dowling would face disciplinary action. He said extra staff had been provided this year and the crime rate had fallen in Werribee in the past 12 months.

Wyndham Mayor Shane Bourke said he had been told Werribee was "30 or 40 police short". "There's no way it can continue like this," he said. Police say the Werribee crisis is echoed at several other major stations, including Frankston, Ballarat, Dandenong, Geelong and Bendigo. Police Association secretary Paul Mullett said the Bracks Government had put on an extra 1780 police since 1999, but they were not being deployed to troubled areas like Werribee. "Werribee police station is one of a large number of stations across the state that are basket cases," he said. "Our dispute is with the Chief Commissioner - where is she deploying them, because they're not out on the front line."


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