Of course the aim of the scheme is a good one, and if it helps struggling families to avoid taking on more debt, we could welcome it. But the police, local higher education bodies, the health board, etc. are all involved in collecting toys, which will then be delivered to Towy Community Church, Myrtle House (aka Elim Pentecostal Church), Ammanford Evangelical Church and Communities First Pantyffynnon for distribution to needy families.
In other words, apart from Communities First in Pantyffynnon, the council is outsourcing the last links in the chain to three fundamentalist churches, and it is they, presumably, who will decide who gets the toys. Perhaps parents wishing to pick up a toy may even be given a spot of evangelising and a few leaflets while they are at it. Who knows?
A quick glance at the websites of these churches will give you an insight into what they are all about. Here's Elim Pentecostal Church on its core values:
"We believe in the universal sinfulness of all men since the Fall, rendering man subject to God's wrath and condemnation."
And that's it - their core values in their entirety. Short and to the point. Not much about love and forgiveness there.
What about Ammanford Evangelical Church? Here's what it has to say about the Bible:
"The Bible is God’s completely true Story about who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do. It was given by God to human writers and so reflects their backgrounds, styles, and use of language. The Bible is the final authority on all matters of which it speaks.
In His own time and in His own way, God will bring the world as we know it to an end. According to his promise, Christ will return personally and visibly to judge the living and the dead. Those who have received God’s grace will spend eternity in Heaven, whilst those who have not will receive their just punishment in Hell."
Spot the difference between this view of the world, and that of Islamist fundamentalists.
Which brings us back to our old friends at Towy Community Church, the council's own favourite Christian grouping, which told Wales on Sunday yesterday that it was a partner church in Mercy Ministries, the Tennessee-based organisation which believes, the paper tells us, that homosexuality and bulimia are caused by demonic possession.
Like its friends in Llanelli and Ammanford, they too believe that the Bible is literally true and the "final authority in all matters of faith and conduct". Anyone who does not share their faith will suffer a similar fate to the sinners of Llanelli and Ammanford:
"We believe in the second coming of Christ as the blessed hope set before believers, in the resurrection of the dead and in the final judgment of the world, the eternal conscious bliss of the believer and the eternal conscious punishment of those who reject Christ."
In recent years there has been a growing crescendo of attacks by religious groups on what they see as the secularisation of society, with the fiercest condemnation coming from the religious right and the Catholic hierarchy, which still thinks it has a right to tell us all how to live and behave despite the multiple scandals involving the abuse of children and young women over decades. Let's imagine how things might have looked if they had had their say in the last 50 years.
- Divorce would be illegal, or we would be stuck with the old divorce laws which caused so much suffering to so many people.
- Suicide would be a criminal offence still.
- Gays would be subject to persecution by the police and state and live in constant fear of being denounced and arrested.
- Women with unwanted pregnancies would be visiting back-street abortionists kitted out with knitting needles.
- Children would be taught creationism and "intelligent design" at school.
Are these really the sort of organisations local government should be collaborating with? There is something deeply worrying about the path Pam Palmer, Meryl Gravell, Mark James et al are taking us down.
Caebrwyn, triumphant winner of a year's subscription to Private Eye, has spotted an interesting report in the current issue here.
I wonder when readers of the local press will finally get to hear about what their council is up to? After all, it's now been in Wales on Sunday as well. Let's hope there have not been any suggestions from County Hall that it might review its advertising spend with the Northcliffe Press.
Under the circumstances, it was also a little unfortunate that the local papers should have thrown their weight behind the toy box campaign without getting their hacks to check out the story first.
Quite, this is a very worrying trend for our Council. Why are these evangelical churches, and therefore and their beliefs being endorsed by the council - to the extent where they appear on the Council rag and the media section of the website? Apart from the links to the Mercy Ministries, should they be also embracing the notions that you have outlined which also include the belief that a wife must submit to her husband's authority...and of course any denial of the 'living word' of the Bible means you will certainly burn in hell? The 'toy box' appeal, worthy cause as it is, is reminiscent of the 'Operation Christmas Child' where several years ago evangelical groups were stuffing their literature into the toy boxes with the knowledge they were being sent to poor and vulnerable Muslim children in the third world. Even the South Wales Fire Service withdrew from distributing them. As you say, I hope the kids in Llanelli or wherever these gift boxes are going aren't greeted with images of hellfire.
The way this is going, when you phone the council about your bins, there'll be recorded shouty messages from Billy Graham when you're put on hold...
I'm not sure how many sinners there are in Llanelli, compared, say to somewhere like Broken Barnet: it would be an interesting exercise to try and guess. I do think, however, that your county council is playing a very dangerous game: they seem to have committed a very obvious corporate sin - acting in a way which may very well be in breach of equalities legislation, and I am amazed that no one has challenged what they are doing on that basis.
I believe there are quite a few sinners in Llanelli, Mrs A.
Yesterday my 9-year old son came home from school and asked me if Noah had really existed, and if he really lived to be 950.
While a 9 year-old child has his doubts, the adults who run these churches tell us they believe this is the literal truth.
To finish the story, I suppose I'd better add that after weighing things up, my son decided that Miss Davies was more credible than his dad.
Bigotry in any form is reprehensible but when it is paraded in the guise of religion, it become dangerous.
The morals and motives of the council officials responsible for the measures outlined in the account, are all tarred with the same brush: that of hypocrisy. At the same time, they are guilty of betraying the trust of the population of Carmarthen. But while those on the executive;and those who rely on their chairs of committees;continue to watch each other's backs; and the politicians play the game of putting their own wards at the top of any agenda for improvement, they know they are unlikely to be toppled.
Gone are the days when local politicians had to work for their keep. Nowadays, its all about the postman delivering leaflets and most people are too lethargic to even read them, let alone question the credentials of the nominee. Once elected, there are few who bother knocking on the same doors they knocked on when seeking election in the first place.
Once inside the council, those who question the big names are quickly squashed and those who want to curry favour and hang on to lucrative positions just do not rock the boat or step out of line.
I have been amazed at the couldn't-care-less-don't-get-involved behaviour of local councillors in view of the high-handed, cut-throat behaviour of Mark James and Meryl Gravell towards certain councillors who have dared to answer back and demand their democratic rights, let alone their treatment of members of the public at public meetings.
Perhaps we should all take a deep, long look at what is happening to our society in general. If you browse the internet, you will see the scales have dropped off the eyes of many who once viewed the United Nations and the EU as benign organisations. These bodies are now seen for what they are - the tools of Common Purpose. They are achieving world domination by by the back door.
Where Napoleon, the Kaiser, Stalin and Hitler used the sword and mayhem, these new bureaucrats, Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair et al, and even Mark James and Ruth Marks, the Commissioner for Older People, serve the cause of Common Purpose - whose aim is world domination through infiltration rather than the ballot box. This is a dangerous sea and the sharks come in all shapes and forms, but their end purpose is the same - ultimate domination through fear - unless challenged by the concerted intent of honest people to bring change and re-establish true democracy. One person, one vote and no more collective votes apportioning power to those who would rule the roost.
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