UK bishops celebrate Iran's kindness in freeing British sailors; Update: Brits ban sailors from selling stories

Everyone’s milking it, from Iran putting out new hostage videos to the sailors selling the martial equivalent of woman-in-jeopardy stories to the tabs to the Christian leadership in Great Britain celebrating the Easter season by loving their enemy a wee bit too much.

In a statement welcoming the hostages’ release on Thursday, Bishop Burns said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had spoken of forgiveness, and appealed to the religious traditions of Islam. This might seem puzzling, said the bishop. But it had to be seen in the context of the Iranians’ belief that Britain had violated their territorial waters.

“So, if that is the case they are putting forward, then by their own standards, the standards enshrined in their religion, they have then chosen to put their faith into action to resolve the situation,” said the bishop.

“Faith in a forgiving God has been exemplified in action by their good deeds. They are offering to release the sailors and marines, not just as the result of diplomacy, but also as an act of mercy in accordance with their religion.”…

Col Tim Collins, who led the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said: “It’s a close call as to which organisation is in the deepest moral crisis – the Church or the Ministry of Defence.”

Burns isn’t just any bishop, mind you. He’s the Bishop of the Forces, responsible for ministering to all of the UK’s Catholic servicemen.

Not to be outdone, the Anglicans try a soft Falwell approach in which a national crisis is exploited for a lecture on moral values:

Bishop Nazir-Ali said the Iranians had scored “something of a coup” by appealing to their religious traditions in freeing the hostages. In sharp contrast, Britain had failed to refer to any higher values.

“I saw on the one hand what Iran was doing, and what the president [of Iran] said had much to do with the moral and spiritual tradition of their country,” he said.

“The president talked about the religious background to the release, with reference to the Prophet’s birthday and the passing over of Christ. What struck me was that if there were any values on the British side they were free-floating and not anchored in a spiritual and moral tradition.”

Here’s the punchline.

The Sun‘s got an exclusive interview with Faye Turney but it’s not that interesting aside from the tidbit in the sidebar about Iranian scum trying to coax her mother-in-law into coming to Tehran to beg for her life. A more interesting piece is the Mirror‘s interview with Arthur Batchelor, the youngest sailor among the 15. He’s 19 years old but looks five years younger. And acts it, too, apparently — I won’t share the comments of the tipster who sent this to me, but suffice it to say he’s spent time with military men and is not impressed by young Batchelor’s comportment.

But, speaking of the moment [he was] reunited with [Faye Turney in an Iranian jail], he told how he wept and begged the 26-year-old for a hug. Arthur said: “I missed Topsy most of all. I really love her, as amumand a big sister. Not seeing her and not knowing if she was safe was one of the hardest parts of the whole thing.

“Then on the sixth day, when I was just about giving up hope, I was pulled from my bed in the early hours of the morning.

“They led me down a corridor and into a room, where I saw Topsy in a corner.

“I can’t describe how that felt…just every emotion rolled into one. I ran up to her, threw my arms round her and cried like a baby.

“When I’d calmed down, she asked, ‘Do you need another hug, a mother hug?’ and I said, ‘damn right’. She was just as pleased to see me because they’d told her I’d been sent home.

“Topsy said she’d always be there for me, to protect me and look after me.

The Marines who were held hostage are planning to pool the money they get and donate 10% to a fund for vets. Although I’m not sure if that does or doesn’t include the proceeds of the sale of their Iranian goodie bags on eBay. Heh.

Here’s the new video released today on Iranian TV. Not the last one we’ll see, either, I’ll bet.

Update: Faye Turney’s interview with ITV in the UK will broadcast tonight. Meanwhile, the Beeb has cancelled a movie about the heroism of Private Johnson Beharry because it might boost morale.

Update: I published five minutes too soon. The Ministry of Defense has reversed course and declared that if service members want to talk to the press, it’ll have to be gratis. The ruling doesn’t affect Turney and Batchelor, though, since those deals had already been struck.