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the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS – VOL 168 NO 14 3 Bath Friends to host reverse hustings ahead of election 4 Time to think the unthinkable 5 Better than expected 6 Targetting soldiers on the ground
David Gee 7 Comment
Chas Raws and Diana Francis 8-9 Letters 10-11 Passions and mysteries
Janet Scott 12 Answering that of God on the red carpet Rowena Loverance 13 The Scouting Book for Boys
Rowena Loverance 14-15 Why Universalism?
Norman Richardson 16 q-eye: witness 17 Friends & Meetings
Cover image: The Crucifixion in the Oberammergau Passion Play 2000. Photo: Passion Play Oberammergau 2010. See pages 10-11. Image on this page: Peter denying Jesus. Photo: Passion Play Oberammergau 2010. See pages 10-11.
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the Friend, 2 April 2010 News
Bath Friends to host reverse hustings ahead of election
Election candidates in Bath will undergo a major role reversal, after Quakers in the city joined with local campaigning groups to set up a hustings with a difference.
Rather than expecting the local community to sit and listen to general election candidates, it is candidates who will listen to representatives of local groups.
The initiative, entitled Agenda for Humanity, is a coalition of organisations including Friends of the Earth, Transition Bath, Amnesty International, Bath Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Bath Stop the War Coalition, Oxfam and the World Development Movement.
Bath Friends explain that they are avoiding the traditional hustings format, which involves candidates ‘lining up and trotting out their party lines’.
Instead, at an event on 21 April, candidates will listen to four speakers from the coalition, each focusing on one of its core concerns – peace, justice, democracy and environmental protection. The candidates will then be asked for their views on what they have heard and this will be followed by open discussion.
Friends in other parts of Britain are also expected to host hustings or similar events, while others are involved in lobbying candidates on particular issues. Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) has produced a briefing to help churches and Meetings that are responsible for running hustings. Meanwhile, at least three Quakers are planning to stand as candidates in the general election. Dilys Cluer will contest Scarborough and Whitby for the Green Party, Lucy Care is standing as a Liberal Democrat in Derby North and John Morris is the Peace Party’s candidate in Guildford.
Are you planning to stand as a candidate in the general election? Or is your Meeting hosting a hustings event or lobbying candidates on issues of concern? If so, the Friend would like to hear from you. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact details on page 2.
Fears raised over proposals to combine lottery and utility bill payments
Alarm is growing over proposals from the National Lottery company Camelot that could see Lottery ticket terminals used to process cash payment of utility bills.
Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs (QAAD) is one of a number of members of the Interfaith Group on Gambling to express concern over the issue. While other forms of gambling are permitted only in specified premises or locations, the sale of National Lottery tickets is allowed in a much wider variety of venues, including post offices, newsagents and supermarkets. Up until now this has been justified on the basis that the provider offers no other service and is raising funds for ‘good causes’.
QAAD suggests that if gambling were to be enabled not only in the same place, but on the same machine as a service related to necessities, important principles will have been breached.
A particular concern is that people who use terminals for paying bills in cash tend to be those on lower incomes. Whereas spend on the National Lottery is fairly similar between income groups, the same sum represents a higher proportion for those with fewer resources. As the change would be likely to result in increased revenue, QAAD points out that gains would be the result of extra play among lower income groups.
QAAD also suggests that the proposal is inconsistent with the stated objectives of the Gambling Act, which include the protection of vulnerable people from exploitation.
The National Lottery Commission is consulting on this proposal, but its scope is confined largely to matters of competition. Wider gambling issues about social responsibility will not be considered in the way that could be expected of the Gambling Commission, which regulates other forms of gambling.
There are also fears that the general election will draw attention away from the issue. However, QAAD is encouraging concerned Friends to raise the matter with their local candidates.
the Friend, 2 April 2010