An Anglican bishop in England is calling on his devotees to stop singing the first verse of a popular hymn because its nationalist undertones are racist and the references to the "empire" have no place in a multicultural, multi-faith society, reports London’s Daily Telegraph.

The Rev. Stephen Lowe of Manchester said parishes should no longer use the first verse from "I Vow to Thee My Country" because the words call on people to pledge allegiance to their country before God.

"My country, right or wrong is not an appropriate sentiment for Christians to uphold," he said. If they continue to sing it, the bishop said, the English run the risk of becoming -- shudder -- almost American.

"It is like American culture where there is this view that America is the land of the free when we know it is not. But there are those in America who want to maintain that it is and want to impose their understanding, their culture, their way of doing things on everybody else. That is dangerous."

Hero of the Week

A prominent Washington, D.C., chef who is planning a retail outlet named "Da Sto" is coming under fire from PC-apparatchiks who say that borrowing the vernacular of the street is insensitive and demeaning, reports the Washington Post.

Gillian Clark, creator and chef of Colorado Kitchen in D.C.’s Ward 4, plans to sell aprons, baked goods, wine, fridge magnets and the like. Busybodies on the egullet.com discussion boards have lit into the chef, however, calling the name choice obnoxious, stupid and condescending. She was accused of mocking the speech patterns of her black neighbors.

"It does not matter if the creator in question is black," one critic wrote. "It's still an unwise choice."

Clark got wind of the mini-controversy and joined the fray.

"I'm always interested to see a bunch of over-educated white people 'dissing' an over-educated black chef for calling her store (very tongue-in-cheek, I might add) a word she hears every day," she wrote. "None of my customers or employees who often say they're going to 'da sto' are ashamed of how they talk. It seems that only a small group of snooty white people attempting to be politically correct find fault with their pronunciation.

"White people think they're supposed to have this reaction in defense of the black community," the chef told the Post. "But the people who say 'da sto' don't see anything wrong with that. And the white people who criticize this are saying that there is something bad about saying it that way."

Buddha Bashing

The Honolulu Advertiser says Buddhists in Hawaii are upset about a new bar opening in Waikiki that bears the name of the big guy himself.

The Buddha Bar opened only last week and is already generating letters and e-mails of complaint.

"This is an inappropriate name and is a show of disrespect towards Buddhism," wrote Barbara Brennan in an e-mail sent to Buddhists and others. "The ignorance of the proprietors and their efforts to create a 'catchy' name for their establishment shows disregard for our religious community."

Stop Press

The Associated Press reports that the Miami Herald trashed a whole section of its daily newspaper just because an illustration might have been construed as racially insensitive.

The concern was over a headline that was juxtaposed over an illustration for a story on Olympic athletes and doping. The headline "How they will cheat" was placed over an illustration of a bulked-up athlete with a dark complexion.

Apparently, the Herald didn’t want to give the impression that it was dark-skinned athletes who might possibly take performance-enhancing drugs, though the paper didn’t give its readers any explanation for the episode.

Bunny Abuse

A Las Vegas act attempting to set a world record for the most number of rabbits pulled out of hats during an arts festival in Scotland had to cancel after bunny-lovers complained that it might be distressing to the critters, reports the Edinburgh Evening News.

Jarrett and Raja appealed to rabbit owners to bring their pets along to take part in the attempt, which they were performing as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

After getting wind of the act, the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had a hissy fit. Doreen Graham, a spokeswoman for the group, said they were concerned for the welfare of the animals.

"There is some concern over the stress they would be put through just making the trip on a hot day to this busy venue," she said.

For more doses of politically correct nuttiness, head on over the TongueTied daily edition.

Mailbag:

Carson S. in Crestview, Fla., wonders:

How does the Department of Agriculture force a private landowner to remove a scarecrow from his or her farm? Is there a law that defines what kind of scarecrows a farmer can install?

Jason B. writes:

Bill Taylor claimed that the sign on the First Baptist Church in Clinton, Ill. was racist? How is that possible? Are the homosexuals classified as a particular race of people now, like the Irish or Chinese? And Jeanne Howard should not be surprised that "religious bodies" do not condone their lifestyle. Their shallowness at tolerating differing beliefs is what I would call bigoted.

Mathew M. writes:

If the issue with the Irish soccer fans is that they simply like the colors featured on a Confederate flag, perhaps they could wave another flag that possesses the same colors. I'm not sure how many African Americans attend soccer games in Ireland, but the thought of hundreds of Irish soccer fans waving Confederate flags even makes me nervous: and I'm white. Either way, it's simply not necessary for them to be waving a symbol of slavery and racism, especially when that symbol originated from an entity that ceased to exist 150 years ago. Where did they get these flags, anyway?

Jennifer M. writes:

When are people going to realize that the true source of racial division in this country isn't that ads are put up stating "Where you at?", but that the black community sees this ad and assumes that it was meant against their race and culture. If races in this country keep alienating themselves, the racial division in America will stay forever. Nowadays, it's the minority groups that are seeing things as "black and white" instead of the white race. It's time the black community stops contradicting what it preaches and seeing all issues as having to do with the "black community." We should all be part of American communities not categorized by race.

Charelene A. writes:

I have too been a victim of the PC crowd. I am insurance agent and have been for the last 10 years. I pride myself on being accurate and honest with all of my clients and there needs.

I was approached by an Hispanic woman who needed insurance coverage for her automobile. This woman did not speak english at all. I do not speak spanish at all. I wrote down a name and phone number for a local agent who does speak spanish and referred her to that agency for her needs.

I was then approached about two hours later by a person who called himself an "advocate" of the Hispanic community. He claimed that I turned her away because I was being racist and discriminating. He said that I did not like their beautiful language and that he would slander our agency's good name and tell people that we are rude and unhelpful to people.

I explained to this gentleman that I was an agent. I was not willing to write an insurance policy for someone who could not understand the information that I was giving, nor could they read the application that they were signing. I told him that was unethical and in poor taste and I would be taking advantage of the women if I did write the policy, not to mention I would be breaking the law.

Just a note, I am Italian American, my ancestors came to the United States and became citizens, they also learned the language.

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