Monday, November 24, 2014

Investigation into Revelation TV by the Charity Commission

I have updated my long standing article about Revelation TV to include information about an investigation into the Revelation Foundation by the Charity Commission.

Having reflected on this I suspect that those hoping for something to happen will be disappointed.

The Charity Commission is very reluctant to take action in cases like this, usually citing concerns about loss of benefit to beneficiaries or bringing the voluntary sector into disrepute. Even when they do take action this information is only publicly available for a short period of time, and are not held in a public archive. See this article from another blogger for an argument against this policy - which cites the story of payments to the pastor of a church from charitable funds.

The investigation

The investigation seems to centre on transactions between the Revelation Foundation and commercial companies who provide services to Revelation TV, but have directors who are trustees, or former trustees, of the foundation.

Possible effects of the Investigation

The general feeling amongst Christians on social media commenting on this seems polarised into two camps:

1. Those who say it is a satanic attack against Christians, often linking it to Rory Alec's recent fall at God TV which they view as the work of Satan to undermine Christians. An article here by Christian Media Watch is a good example of this.

2. Those who are not keen on the word-of-faith preachers promoted by these channels who view it as the removal of false witness from the airwaves by God.

Both sides apportion these events to external supernatural forces. Neither is keen for responsibility to lie with individuals. Maybe that would be too difficult as it would require people to be seen as more fallible than they had presented themselves.

The truth is, that in neither case do we know what really happened. We will probably never know the whole truth as that usually lies somewhere between the claims of the accused and the accuser. The one thing we can be sure of is that this is going to galvanise financial support for both organisations amongst their most ardent supporters, which will compensate for any loss of the less committed.

We need to wait for a conclusion to the Charity Commission's investigation into the Revelation Foundation, which could take many months.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Is Virgin Galactic really about cutting edge space exploration?

I had not thought about this until the crash this week, but a lot of the news coverage has focused on how cutting edge the Virgin Galactic programme is and how dangerous space exploration is.

However, we have been going into space for over fifty years. A quick comparison of Virgin Galactic with the US Mercury space programme (Project Mercury) makes interesting reading.

Project Mercury
1959-1963 (4 years)
7 successful launches into space
7 astronauts
161-280 km max height
0 deaths
$0.4bn cost (at 2014 values)

Virgin Galactic
2004- (10 years at least)
0 successful launches into space
0 astronauts
100 km max height (planned - just enough to count as leaving the earth's atmosphere)
4 deaths
$1.73bn cost (at 2014 values)

We were sending people into space over fifty years ago so going into space is not cutting edge. Reusable spacecraft were pioneered 25 years ago with the space shuttle. It seems to me that if Virgin Galactic is an experiment, then it is an experiment in economics rather than in space exploration. Its about how money can be made from space rather than how we get there or why we should be going.