Monthly Archives: February 2015

Ashers Bakery and the DUP: Charlie Freel



Without a doubt Ashers Bakery has already won the argument, with regard to the homosexual cake row. I also believe that basic common sense and basic human moral decency, would have prevailed and that, Ashers Bakery would also have easily defeated, the ludicrously intolerant, charges, lodged against them in the courts.

The totally biased, undemocratic, unelected, and seemingly unaccountable, equalities commission, would then have been exposed as the totally incompetent, waste of tax payers money, which they have proved themselves to be.

Remember this is the same biased, totally undemocratic, equalities commission that, wasted thousands of pounds of tax payers money organising numerous, different types of public consultation procedures, with regard to the flying of our democratically chosen National Standard at Belfast City Hall.

The overall result of these opinion polls was, an overwhelming vote in favour of the status quo.  The farcically biased, equalities commission then proceeded to ignore the results of their own very costly opinion polls, and advised the Belfast City Council to change the existing practice, of flying the National Standard every day, thereby rendering their very costly public opinion polls, a total waste of tax payers money and a betrayal of our democratically chosen National Standard.


The probably very well intentioned but very clumsy attempts by the DUP to introduce a religious conscience clause, has merely served to muddy the waters for Ashers Bakery, in what is very clearly a case of Civil and Religious liberty being deliberately abused, in an attempt to force Ashers Bakery to personally inscribe one of their products with a statement of support, for something which was totally offensive to their own personal, sincerely held basic religious beliefs.

The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, including many from the homosexual community, immediately realised the stupidity of this ludicrous attempt to abuse the Civil and Religious Liberty of Ashers Bakery.

The DUPs clumsy attempts to introduce a conscience clause, has gifted every extreme, looney left and God hating group in Northern Ireland and the UK, the opportunity to jump up and down protesting, on their pink band wagons and even pinker Trojan Horses,  thereby allowing them to obscure and detract publicity away from the real issue.IE, The ludicrous attempts of the biased, equalities commissions to deny, the Civil and Religious Liberty of Ashers Bakery, to refuse to personally inscribe a product, in a manner which was totally offensive to their own sincerely held, personal basic Christian and Moral Beliefs.

All over the Far East, Asia and Africa, at this present moment in time persecuted Christians are being slaughtered, via intolerance, for refusing to deny their sincere faith. I sincerely doubt if Ashers Bakery will surrender their Faith, their basic Civil and Religious liberty, or their basic, Human Moral Principles, to appease this intolerantly, bigoted, equalities commission and the other assorted God haters, foolishly lined up against them.


Charlie Freel




Churches Tied Up In Knots: Fifty Shades Could Help: Dr. John Coulter

Every cleric, nun, pastor and reverend should show the courage of their Christian convictions and see a screening of the erotic bonkbuster, 50 Shades of Grey, starring Ireland’s Hollywood hunk actor Jamie Dornan.

And if these Christian clergy had any genuine courage, they would bring their flocks along to see a contentious screening.


The fact that clerics – especially from the Irish Christianity’s fundamentalist fringe – are ordering their flocks to snub it unveils the real dilemma which the Churches face.


It is not the bondage and brutality that has embarrassed the clergy; it’s the clear fact the modern day Christian Church has abandoned its spiritual responsibility to deliver sex education to the community.


Instead of lambasting their congregations about the evils of ’50 Shades’, clerics should be encouraging churches to watch the film – and then discuss the relevance of the sexual scenes unveiled in the film.


Sadly, modern Christianity seems petrified to want to educate its denominations about the joys of sex, preferring instead to dump this moral obligation onto the schools as part of science or religion lessons.


How many Christian marriages could be saved if they were spiced up with some of the bondage scenes from ’50 Shades’?


Unfortunately, the Christian Churches are stuck in the late 19th century of the Victorian era when hundreds of missionaries from Ireland and Britain travelled to Africa to convert the heathen natives to Christianity.


Missionaries were shocked at the sexual techniques of many of these tribes and invented the so-called ‘Missionary Position’ to combat what they perceived to be the un-Biblical sexual activities of the unconverted natives.


There would be a lot fewer Christian young people and Christian marriages facing a sexual crisis in their relationships if clerics and nuns took a more pro-active role in sex education.

Tragically, modern day sex education in the churches is nothing more than ‘stay a virgin until your married, keep to the missionary position and if you have any queries, ask your local biology teacher or discreetly discuss it with your chums in the playground!


The Churches would rather indulge in Hell-fire sermons about the Biblical evils of fornication, adultery and homosexuality, instead of stressing the joys and role of sex in a relationship.


In reality, the Churches have a credibility problem. Given the celibacy pledge in Catholicism, how can a couple seek advice from a supposedly virginal priest or nun on how the bedroom can become a place of pleasure rather than a bolthole of boredom?


In Protestantism, sex education is seen in many churches as ‘dirty talk’ and many couples – even those who have attended pre-marriage classes – are brushed aside by the ‘we recommend trial and error’ methods.


Okay, I understand the brutality against a women in ’50 Shades’ could become very contentious. However, given how many women are treated as second class citizens by several Christian denominations, surely the female submissive elements of the film would be right up the street of the anti-women brigade in churches?


And given the film’s erotic bondage scenes, I can equally understand how the militant tub thumpers will argue ’50 Shades’ will pollute people’s minds.


But the protests from some Christians churches makes me wonder if it is just a smokescreen because the clerics know some of their flock are indulging in the bondage sessions in their own bedrooms.


Fundamentalist fury at ‘50 Shades’ will soon evaporate, and the Christian churches will sigh with relief that the spotlight has moved away from them facing up to their spiritual and social responsibilities.


Maybe the Christian Church should campaign to have the Biblical passage about people becoming ‘one flesh’ left out, then the Church could once more duck its duties. I’ll probably be hung by the wrists as a heretic for suggesting this!



Colin: A story by Primo



1975 in Belfast was a violent year. Many people died due to the troubles, many more were wounded both physically and mentally.  This is the story of one of those victims.  For reasons outlined later Im not using his real name.  Slightly older than myself I recall him from my school days. A bit chubby,  easy going  and very quiet. Not one of us who run the streets kicking football, collecting for the boney and later drinking cider up the local entry. He lived with his mum. One night he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was hit by an IRA bullet. One other man died. One other was injured. Colin  had never been in trouble. Had never been in court. But as well as his physical wounds the attack left a terrible mental legacy. Colin  had what we called in the old days a nervous  breakdown. He was never the same person after the IRA shot him for being at a pub door.  Undoubtedly an innocent bystander, an unfortunate,  collateral damage, just the way things were. No apology was offered to him or his mother.  His physical wounds healed but it was obvious that Colin had changed greatly and was not coping.  Colin would never marry, never have children, never have a full time job, and never go on a big holiday.

Only for his mother I wonder what would have become of Colin. His mother was a small, quiet, house proud ,working class Belfast woman. I most often saw her out brushing and sweeping the front of her home. Her neighbour was a good friend of our family. She lived yards from my parents.  It was a tight knit community were people knew each other over decades. I would stop and chat with her and ask about Colin. A stable form of routine and stability had been established. Colin was a real Linfield man. He would go watch a match then go for a drink,  then home. His mother done all the cleaning,  cooking and everything else.

Colin  then started to sport a beard.  When we talked I would be teasing and slagging about the blues. (Despite being a supporter myself!) I then started to tease him about the beard. Which actually suited him.  If he had the correct attire he would remind me of some pictures of Henry VIII.  We had some discussion about his excessive drinking of Coke. This,  despite the diabetes that he had developed.  It all came crashing to an abrupt end in 1994. I lived close by and someone came to the door to say that Colins mother had taken seriously ill and was in hospital.  Eventually I got talking to Colin  and he explained as best he could. I offered to go to the RVH with him.  His mum was in bed unconscious and hadn’t spoken since admission. The nurse was keen to talk to me and ask various questions. Obviously they had assessed the mental state of Colin  and wanted someone else as a contact.  I gave my contact details.
It was explained that the mother had suffered a major stroke and was not expected to survive. I stood beside Colin  at the bedside. He looked puzzled.  He wasn’t given to expressing how he was feeling.

He simply said that he mum wasn’t well. I agreed and tried to explain the situation. I was unsure as to his level of comprehension.  Eventually we went home. I asked if he was OK and he said yes. I returned home to my wife and children. No sooner had I got into bed than the phone rang and it was the RVH. Please get Colin up here asap.  Up out of bed,  dragging clothes on, grabbling car keys. Rapping and kicking Colins door.  Urging him to hurry. It was late and thankfully with next to no traffic. I may  have went through some red lights?  I was prepared to take the consequences but I needed Colin  to see his mum. While she was still alive.

It was too late. She had died peacefully. We told Colin quietly. I will never forget that scene. Colin was standing beside his mother’s bed. The ward was deathly quiet. And dark. I walked away to give Colin  some privacy to say whatever he had to say.  He turned to me and said,  ‘my mums sleeping’.  I just agreed.   Eventually we had to go home. I rang my wife and said I was staying with Colin  for that night. Then another bombshell.  There had been a major falling out in the family and there was no one to take over the situation.  I took work off the next day.  Undertaker,  hospital,  register death, check insurance policies, make lunch, pick a coffin, contact friends, death notice in the Tele.  I was watching for any signs that Colin was not coping with this but he seemed unperturbed and strangely calm.  The funeral came and went. It was with pride that I think back to the circle of friends and mates that Colin had.  Collectively we helped him through. That circle of friends would be needed again.

What now?

Colin carried on in his home  with good  outside support around cleaning and cooking. And he got back to a routine which was important for him. Neighbours kept an eye out. I dropped the bantering and teasing. We spent a bit more time talking to him but his general health started to fail. One day I was told that Colin was in the City hospital. His stays in hospital were becoming more frequent. When I visited him I felt he was a bit failed. Some weight loss? We went out of the ward to a visitor’s room where he told me that he had MRSA.  This was when MRSA was making its way into the public consciousness and was seen as akin to the black plague.  It didn’t seem to fuss or upset him. Then again nothing seemed to fuss him.  I had never heard him bewail his situation. Or curse fate. Or wish it all away. No moaning,  no self-pity or  bitterness.

The inevitable came and Colin died of a range of issues.  The ceasefires had come into being but far, far too late for Colin.  Again friends rallied round. The small funeral parlour service was packed.  Out at the cemetery we buried Colin with his mother. I think she would be happy with that.  Her only child was now back with her. She spent her lifetime looking after him.  And now,  together for ever.

There are no poems or songs about Colin. There were no TV people  or journalists asking about his story.  No name on a wall plaque. No bands with his name emblazoned on a drum. A Google search does not produce one mention of the man or his life.  Another forgotten victim of the troubles.  His story is part of the price paid by so many no matter where they came from.  The unseen and unmeasured suffering   that dominated so many lives. The IRA men were caught and imprisoned for life.  They were all out by the time Colin’s mother had died. Colin didn’t die that dark cold night in ’75  but in a way his future died.   Maybe we should tell the story of everybody hurt through the troubles?  Get away from the hierarchy of victims.  Drop the them and us?  See the person and not the label?




” Humbly Relying on the God Whom our Fathers in Days of Stress and Trial Confidently Trusted”: Charlie Freell



Above is the declaration of faith in the Christian cornerstone and foundations of Original Authentic Ulster Loyalism, made by our Forefathers in 1912 and the Ulster Volunteers of the early seventies, as they prepared to defend, by the use of force if necessary, Civil and Religious Liberty for all and the democratic right of the People of Northern Ireland to decide their own future. This sincere pledge was ended as follows. “IN SURE CONFIDENCE THAT GOD WILL DEFEND THE RIGHT, WE HERETO SUBSCRIBE OUR NAMES.”


The majority of the Ulster Volunteers of 1912 and the early seventies, would probably not have described themselves as sincerely practicing Christians,

or the guardians of strict, Human Moral Decency.   However, nearly every one

of these Ulster Volunteers would have expressed a basic belief in God and a desire for civilised standards, of basic Human Moral and sexual Decency. It was in fact because these basic Christian and basic human moral beliefs that, they had found themselves in the dangerous positions that, they were in.


As they prepared to go over the top, the vast majority of these brave Ulster Volunteers will have silently and privately turned to God in prayer, to ask for forgiveness of sins, protection in the coming battle and a request for the Salvation promised and earned by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


At this point it is worth remembering that, Civil and religious Liberty becomes an abuse of Civil and Religious Liberty if, it is used to force someone to support, inscribe, or subscribe to, something which they sincerely believe contradicts their own sincerely held, basic Human Moral Principles.


Once again Northern Ireland is about to enter a period of “stress and trial”. The IRA/Sinn Fein are in a stronger position than they have ever been before, both politically and militarily, both here and in the Republic of Ireland.

The IRA/Sinn Fein are on the verge of becoming the Government of the Republic, if not in the coming election then in the following election. The end result will then be that, the IRA/Sinn Fein will have total control of all the arms and the Armed Forces of the Republic at their disposal.

Here in Northern Ireland, the numerous new variations of anything goes Loyalism, are all totally divided, some of them even claim to be religious, but they all lack the basic Christian corner stone of Original Authentic Ulster Loyalism and ” THE SURE CONFIDENCE THAT GOD WILL DEFEND THE RIGHT”.

Thanks to their combined totally selfish personal egos, and the lure of the Stormont and Westminster honey pots, they have all abandoned, God and Ulster and the Innocent Victims of the conflict, in favour of Party, Personal profit and totally intolerant false equality. The end result of this constant feuding and their selfishly small minded, Party before Country policies, has allowed IRA/Sinn Fein and the “peace at any price” Alliance Party, to exert a republican influence over the affairs of Northern Ireland, our security forces and the flying of our National Standard, which their electoral support does not justify.


The time is fast approaching again when, sincere, ordinary, decent working class, Northern Ireland Loyalists are going to be forced to take up arms again, in defence of the democratic right of the people of Northern Ireland to decide their own future, and again as happened in the early seventies, the never, never, never, politicians, will be conspicuous on the front line by their absence.

Now would be a good time to remember the words of “THE RED HAND SOLDIER”.


Raise the Red Hand proudly boys, raise the Red Hand proudly boys.

Raise the hand of Ulster, never let it fall.

Let others fail or falter, our cause we will not alter.

Our cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


Stand up you Red Hand Soldier, with your rifle at your shoulder.

Our enemies still lay in wait, to rise up once again.

Let others fail or falter, our cause we will not alter.

Our cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


This land our fathers cherished, for its cause they perished.

At the Boyne, the Somme, Gallippolie, Dunkirk and Normandy.

While others failed and faltered, their cause they never altered.

Their cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


Some say the war is over, no more need for the Red Hand Soldier.

But we have seen their peace before, we will see it through again.

Let others fail or falter, our cause we will not alter.

Our cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


So stand up you Red Hand Soldier, with your rifle at your shoulder.

Old Ulster’s cause will not be lost, while you remain on guard.

Let others fail or falter, our cause we will not alter.

Our cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


Charlie Freel.




Conscience Clause Protects the Founding Principles of Ulster Protestantism: Jamie Bryson

Conscience Clause Protects the Founding Principles of Ulster Protestantism


I have followed the Asher’s bakery case with interest. I believe that the entire case was contrived and maliciously set up by those seeking to promote an aggressive gay agenda that seeks not equality, but instead to have gay rights trump the right to freedom of conscience.

Those who campaign for gay rights are entitled to equality, but so to are those who strongly oppose gay marriage on the basis of deeply held religious convictions.

If one claims to be a Protestant then this entails following Biblical principles. Indeed the Ulster Volunteer Force who formed to resist Home Rule held to the words “For God And Ulster”.

The argument being put forward that introducing a conscience clause (using powers granted to Northern Ireland under devolution) is anti British, when followed through to it’s logical conclusion is simply ludicrous.

As Paul Givan pointed out on the Nolan TV show last week, the Ulster Volunteer Force formed to resist Home Rule that was to be imposed by a British parliament.

If we follow the notion that we should slavishly follow our mother parliament through to it’s logical conclusion then it would lead us to the point of saying that the Ulster Volunteer Force should never have been formed and instead the people of Ulster should have just bowed the knee to the mother parliament.

I oppose gay marriage and in my personal opinion I feel it goes against the very principles of Protestantism, and given my view that loyalism springs from Protestantism then I can only conclude that supporting gay marriage and seeking to trample over the religious beliefs of persons who wish to follow the Bible would be a gross betrayal of Ulster Loyalism.

Of course loyalism is a mixed bag and there are many who would seek to separate loyalism from Protestantism. That is all part and parcel of a broad based movement. The problem comes when you try and reconcile the founding principles of the covenant and the Ulster Volunteer Force-who formed to resist Home Rule under the banner carrying the words ‘For God and Ulster’- with a new set of principles that oppose religious beliefs. This simply does not work. It is illogical.

I support the conscience clause. There needs to be protection for those with religious beliefs. You cannot force someone to support a cause that they wholeheartedly oppose. This is the agenda of the left wing. It is verging on communism. This left wing agenda seeks to destroy centuries of noble values all under the auspices of ‘equality’.

I am no fan of the DUP, but on this occasion they are absolutely correct to try and protect those with religious convictions who are being increasingly persecuted by a politically correct agenda of appeasement.

The Courts in the United Kingdom and the European court of human rights have continually held in favour of the protection of religious beliefs. Marriage is a Biblical tradition, gay marriage is seeking to rob part of a religion they claim to oppose and make it their own. That is in itself illogical. If those who campaign for gay marriage oppose the Bible then why on earth would they want to follow the Biblical tradition of marriage which is between one man and one woman?

If those who oppose the conscience clause are genuine in their opposition then they should explain clearly how this reconciles with our Protestant culture and heritage and indeed how it reconciles with the founding principles of the Ulster Volunteer Force who fought and died in the name of God and Ulster.

Jamie Bryson


In Memory of Victor Logan


David Ervine Lecture at Skainos: Dr. Connal Parr


We Need Rights Charter: Christians Face Prejudice too: Dr. John Coulter

We Need Rights Charter … Christians face prejudice too


(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

The Dáil and Stormont need to join forces and celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the famous Magna Carta by introducing the Irish Freedom Charter to protect evangelical Christians.

Every responsible Christian and church on this island should throw its full support behind DUP Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan’s Conscience Clause as a starting point.

It should not be dismissed as a DUP election stunt ahead of May’s Westminster poll. If successful, the Conscience Clause will offer real protection for evangelical Christians from persecution from militant atheists, humanists, agnostics, communists, and the well-organised gay community.

While campaign groups warn about the growth in Islamophobia and homophobia, society should not ignore the threat posed by Christophobia – an active campaign of hatred to persecute anyone who believes in Biblical Christianity.

As an evangelical Christian, I remain convinced Section 75 of the North’s equality laws, along with the hate crime legislation, are powerful enough to protect me.

Givan’s Conscience Clause may give a little more legal muscle to these existing laws, but it doesn’t go far enough, even though it’s a good starting point which any responsible Christian church has a moral and spiritual duty to support.

But what is really needed is an all-island Freedom Charter which protects the rights of individual Christians.

The big weakness of Givan’s Clause is that while it gives added protection to Christians from the hate mongers who peddle Christaphobia, it doesn’t protect ordinary evangelical Christians like me from militant Bible-bashing fundamentalists.

Known as ‘The Fundies’, these extremist Christians still think they are living in Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan era and behave like the cinema character played by horror legend Vincent Price in the Hammer blockbuster, Witchfinder General.

Who protects evangelical Christians from ‘Fundies’ who refuse a married couple church membership because the wife does not wear a hat to worship?

What about the ‘Fundies’ who ban women from wearing trousers in church; ban them from speaking in church or holding clerical posts, and reduce their role to nothing more than religious trolley-dollies?

What about the ‘Fundies’ who order men to ‘tone down’ their ties because the colours are too loud for church?

What about the fundamentalist eejits who maintain that autism is a punishment from God and anyone with the condition to doomed to Hell?

Equally importantly, who protects evangelical Christians from the ‘Fundie’ clerics who make knee-jerk decisions based on unsubstantiated tittle-tattle and gossip in their congregations and don’t bother their asses to check the facts?

Unfortunately, many of these ‘Fundies’ adopt the view once held by Nazi tyrant Adolf Hitler – tell a lie often enough and people will believe it.

Some finger-pointing moralising ‘Fundies’ have no concept of the law. They simply fire out their hideous accusations conceived in the depths of their imagination. They don’t care if it destroys families and people’s reputations – they just like to hear the sound of their own condemning voices.

I don’t need Givan’s Clause to protect me from atheists. My deeply personal evangelical Christian faith is strong enough to withstand whatever bile they hurl at me.

What I really need is Freedom Charter to protect me from ranting ‘Fundies’ who behave like the Biblical Pharisees. So sign up to Coulter’s Charter today!


Over The Wire: A Play by Seamas Keenan

Over The Wire
Written by Seamas Keenan
Directed by Kieran Griffiths


Over The Wire was first performed in 2013 in the Derry Playhouse.  Then it was directed by Kenny Glenaan the Scots director responsible for Spooks and more recently Charlie-the RTE series on Charles Haughey.  This time round the reins are taken up by Kieran Griffiths and he doesn’t disappoint.  From the off the pace is unrelenting…90 minutes nonstop with no interval.  The atmospherics are a standout—lighting and background sounds with what seems like an ever swirling mist—helps to transport us back to late October/Early November 1974.  You can feel the cold..the hunger and the isolation as the 5 Republican prisoners do what it takes to survive in the wake of the burning of Long Kesh camp.  The set design is very simple but hugely effective.  A mini cage complete with gate and topped with barbed wire recreates-on a smaller scale-the old compounds of that era.  It too is highly effectual in creating the shadowy effect and showing an almost post apocalyptic vista.
The five actors virtually remain on stage for the duration of the play with one notable exception.  At all times we are privy to their most private discussions.  There is no hiding place and even their makeshift shelter built from the debris fails to conceal them.  Throughout the years the humour and the camaraderie amongst political prisoners has been well documentary and it is given great scope here.  The legendary sing songs, organised to lift flagging morale-The Broad Black Brimmer here alongside unforgettable pop classics like Running Bear.  The gallows humour, the corny jokes, the pranks and the random classics-“ Name me the one woman in the whole world you would ride if you had the Chance”…sure we all played that one.  But I wonder how many came up with Lulu as their first choice.  It was 1974 after all.
5 actors-all Derry men by the sound of it-and it seems..even then—that there was 5 different shades of Republicanism.  Take Dee—the OC-he wasn’t even in the Movement before he was lifted and now he’s dishing out orders at the behest of “that shower of shite in cage 6”..who make all the rules.  Then there’s the effervescent Dutch—Jack the Lad type, fancies himself as a bit of a ladies man, takes everything at face value.  But is impressionable and vulnerable.  And Colin..who’s girlfriend has just had a baby even though he has been in prison for two years.  But he loves her and longs to be with her again.  Then there’s Lucas.  Bit of a socialist apparently..trusts no one..has more than one axe to grind and seems like a far more natural OC than Dee.  As the play progresses Lucas’s mental state deteriorates at an alarming rate.  Where the drama succeeds is in relaying the emotions and the real fears, the despair and the loneliness, the vulnerability of each person.  Each individual has his personal dreads, his terrors, which at times-and particularly when we were young you do your best to disguise.  All of this shown up in the glare of the searchlights and the strength of the writer and director is exemplified in the minutiae of long term life within a cage and under extremely terrifying circumstances.
Without wanting to disclose too much of the main plot it is enough to say that that ever present and long standing fear within republicanism inevitably raises its head.   An informer in the ranks.  Who..if the cage is operating for the Brits…why are the 3 younger men always in a huddle?..Are they trying to undermine Dee and Lucas?..Are they plotting something?  Even if Lucas’s suspicions are founded would this be the catalyst for his demonic behaviour?  One review described Over The Wire as “short, sharp, shock” treatment.  I wouldn’t disagree entirely.  There are some great one liners here..some incisive dialogue..a liberal smattering of agricultural language..a little nudity and plenty of violence.  Overall I offer high praise to the production.  The set is basically a small reproduction of a Lonk Kesh compound but utterly effective.  High plaudits also to the technical staff and the production levels.  But what impressed me most was the script.  I haven’t a clue whether Seamas is an ex prisoner or not but he nailed the intensity of some conversations and equally as important the banality of the rest of it.  Go see.




Put on a Brave Faith: Christian Churches have to fight to Save their Schools: Dr. John Coulter

Put on a brave faith … Christian churches have to fight to save their schools


(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

Christian Churches must get out of their pulpits and pews and fight to save faith schools in Ireland or the secular society will have us drowned in a sea of forced integrated education.

While it makes common sense to cut the number of administrative bodies controlling schools, that should not mean we waste millions of much-needed funding on the integrated education sector.

The North requires a single education body which at the same time protects the identity of the Christian ethos.

Listening to the pundits who sing the praises of integrated education, you would think they had magically discovered the cure for eight centuries of conflict in Ireland.

In the North, the regional colleges have been providing integrated education for more than a century.

Affectionately still known as the ‘Tech’ have had Protestants and Catholics mixing together in the classroom for generations.

Yet Stormont seems hell-bent on slashing funding to such colleges.

Likewise, Unionists should not gloat if Stormont finally decides to chop St Mary’s teacher training college in Belfast, which supplies many excellent teachers for the Catholic maintained sector in the North.

If the North loses the battle over St Mary’s, mainly Protestant state sector schools will be forced to water down their Christian ethos.

It will only be a matter of time for the trendy liberals of the ‘politically correct’ brigade are successful in banning Christian morning assembly. Meanwhile, the Christian Churches sit on their asses and do nothing.

Too many churches, especially in mainstream Christianity, are more interested in preserving their image than helping young people cope with the stresses and strains of modern society.

The pluralist and secular society has provided a more attractive alternative to the traditional Sunday School and Bible classes which were all the rage in the Super Seventies.

Instead of pushing integrated education, schools minister John O’Dowd and Alliance Learning Minister Stephen Farry should pump cash into helping existing schools provide sound Christian education classes as part of the school, college and university curriculum.

If the mainstream Catholic and Protestant denominations are not careful, teaching Christian values will be booted out of schools altogether.

In this scenario, it will be left to the growing band of smaller independent Christian denominations, such as the Elim Pentecostalists, to provide Biblical teaching to our children.

Elim is celebrating its Irish centenary this year and has become one of the fastest growing faiths on the island, pulling in converts from across the religious divide on both sides of the border.

While abortion and gay marriage are important subjects for the Christian Churches to take stands on, those churches must not forget that the real battle for the Christian faith will be fought in the schools.

Catholicism is still recovering from the sex abuse scandals while Protestantism is so split its hard to know who really speaks for the faith. Lose the schools battle and the churches might as well shut up shop for good.

Unfortunately, many Christians are too scared about upsetting people. Many clerics need to grow a set of real balls and get into the community and defend Christian values.

Too many toothless twits wearing dog collars are more interested in getting pats on the back from their flocks rather than getting their hands dirty for the faith.

What Christian education urgently requires are pastors with punch! The crisis facing faith schools is not the fault of the politicians; the gutless clergy are to blame for not defending the Christian Gospel effectively.

February 11, 2015________________


This article appeared in the February 10, 2015 edition of the Irish Daily Star.