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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Voters will be given two ballot papers: a white ballot paper for the marriage referendum and a green ballot paper for the age of presidential candidates referendum.
In the marriage referendum people may vote Yes or No to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution.
This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Church/State Matters Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Australia is clearly being asked to take a regional role in this ongoing crisis. What role should we take?
PHILIP FREIER: Well, I think there's a couple of things we could do. One is to look at these countries where many people are wanting to leave for a manifest number of reasons and seek some of the long term solutions that might stabilise those.
But I think that plainly we need to do all we can in association with our regional neighbours in making sure that there are not people simply left starving on boats with nowhere to go.
So the breakthrough that we've had are people being able to come onshore, seems to be the initiative of some fishermen in Indonesia, seems very welcome.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Last year, a death penalty sentence slapped on a Sudanese doctor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith stirred international outrage and heightened calls on the government to increase religious liberty.
Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was released a month later, but now two Christian pastors have been jailed and they also face a possible death sentence.
The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, both from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, have been charged with undermining the constitutional system and spying, offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment.
The clerics are charged with waging a war against the state and assault on religious belief.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Two “priceless” medieval painted panels, the stone effigy of a knight in chainmail and a plaque marking the spot where a 12th-century Bishop of Hereford’s heart was buried are among dozens of historic artefacts recovered by police investigating thefts from isolated country churches.
The brightly painted 15th-century panels were hacked from a rood screen at Holy Trinity Church in Torbryan, Devon, in 2013. The paintings of St Victor of Marseilles and St Margaret are rare survivors of the puritanical zeal of the Reformation when many religious artifacts were destroyed.
The panels were recovered from a London collector who had bought them along with about 40 other objects stolen from country churches, which police are now trying to return to their rightful owners.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire
“… must protect all. It must protect the rights of the defendants to have and to manifest their religious beliefs but it also recognizes that the rights of the plaintiff not to be discriminated because of his sexual orientation must also be protected. If the plaintiff was a gay man who ran a bakery business and the defendants as Christians wanted him to bake a cake with the words ‘support heterosexual marriage’ the plaintiff would be required to do so as, otherwise; he would, according to the law be discriminating against the defendants. This is not a law which is for one belief only but is equal to and for all. The defendants are entitled to continue to hold their genuine and deeply held religious beliefs and to manifest them but, in accordance with the law, not to manifest them in the commercial sphere if it is contrary to the rights of others [93 & 94].
As to the defendants’ argument that Article 10 (expression) meant that they could not be compelled to express or commit themselves to a viewpoint or to appear to give support to another’s views, she concluded that what the defendants had been asked to do “did not require them to support, promote or endorse any viewpoint” and did not engage Article 10 – and her view was that, even if she was wrong in that conclusion and Article 10 was engaged, any infringement of the defendants’ rights was justified under Article 10 (2) because they were prescribed by law, necessary in a democratic society and for the protection of the rights of others
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Fears that Islamic State has sent fighters to Europe posing as migrants were growing last night after a terrorist suspect was smuggled across the Mediterranean to Italy.
Abdelmajid Touil, 22, who was arrested by anti-terrorism police near Milan, is alleged to have helped to stage an attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis two months ago in which 22 people, including a Briton, were killed.
Police said that Mr Touil, a Moroccan, first arrived in Italy on February 17 at Empedocle, Sicily. Since Moroccans are not offered asylum in Italy, he was told that he would be expelled.
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US regulators are increasingly concerned about the threat that cyber attacks pose to financial stability after assaults on Sony Pictures and Target highlighted the proliferating range of techniques used by digital raiders.
In a new report on risks to the financial system, regulators also sounded the alarm on risk-taking by institutions searching for higher investment yields, as well as the threat of rising interest rates triggering market volatility.
On cyber security, the annual report from the Financial Stability Oversight Council said “the prospect of a more destructive incident that could impair financial sector operations” was even more concerning than recent breaches that have compromised financial information.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Globalization Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets Stock Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
DUP MLA Paul Givan is consulting on an Assembly bill that would allow people with religious beliefs a limited exemption from certain equality law requirements.
He said his private member’s bill would protect Christians who “do not feel there is space being made for their religious beliefs”.
Following the court ruling, DUP leader Peter Robinson said: “We have been listening to people and I think the term ‘reasonable accommodation’ is now what we would like to frame some legislation around – recognising that there are rights on both sides and therefore there has to be a reasonable accommodation between the two. So, I think we are not surprised at the outcome, that’s why we had embarked upon the legislative process.”
Mr Givan said his party leader had no apology to make for last year labelling the commission’s support for the court action “bonkers”.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
I have to admit I was surprised by the verdict. For me, the case was not simply one of straightforward homophobia. Refusing to write a message fundamentally at odds with one’s beliefs is different from, say, refusing a couple a bed in a B&B: it is to involve people in an argument rather than simply request that they act as disinterested providers. If Ashers had simply refused to sell any cake at all to Mr Lee or any other LGBT person, then that would be an obvious act of discrimination.
The case is complicated further by the fact that equal marriage is not just a religious issue in Northern Ireland: it is a live political issue. Less than a month ago, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted against the legalisation of equal marriage. We are now in the strange situation where the Equality Commission and the court have both decided that refusing to write an equal marriage slogan on a cake is against equality, while equal marriage itself is illegal.
The court ruled that as Ashers is a commercial organisation rather than a church there can be no exception. This is bound to lead to a wonderful summer of Northern Ireland’s national sport, whataboutery. Already all sorts of scenarios are being dreamt up, from Jews baking Nazi cakes to the somewhat confusing conclusion by loyalist “flags” activist Jamie Bryson that the ruling now means pubs must serve him while wearing his pipe band uniform.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A judge has ruled that a Christian-run bakery discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan.
Ashers Baking Company, based in County Antrim, was taken to court by gay rights activist Gareth Lee.
A Belfast judge said, as a business, Ashers was not exempt from discrimination law.
The firm's general manager said they were "extremely disappointed" by the ruling and are considering an appeal.
Damages of £500 were agreed in advance by legal teams on both sides of the dispute.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland
The Anglican church here will not allow same-sex marriages to take place on its premises, said newly installed Anglican bishop Melter Jiki (pic).
The 50-year-old bishop, who is the first native Kadazan chosen to lead the 90,000-strong Anglican community in the state, said this when asked about the church’s policies and what to expect during his tenure.
“We are totally against the so-called same-sex marriage. We will not allow it in the church,” said the father of four who was installed as the sixth Anglican bishop in Sabah on Tuesday
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces The Anglican Church in South East Asia Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary Asia Malaysia * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”
Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.
Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.
A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Philosophy Religion & Culture Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Other Faiths Secularism Religious Freedom / Persecution * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Lobleins are among thousands of couples and individuals in the United States grappling with difficult choices regarding their stored genetic material. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 600,000 frozen embryos are stored nationwide, in addition to countless more cryo-preserved eggs and sperm.
The issue made for dramatic headlines recently as “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara was hit with a lawsuit by her ex-fiance, who wants custody of their two fertilized embryos to use for a potential pregnancy. But for most people who have used assisted reproductive technologies, the question of what to do with frozen eggs, sperm and embryos plays out in a much more private, if no less wrenching, manner.
“Having embryos in limbo is a huge problem for our field,” says Eric Widra, medical director at Shady Grove Fertility Center, which has locations throughout the Washington area. “Parents are apprehensive or conflicted and don’t know what to do.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Men Science & Technology Women * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Speaking at the third synod of the Zaria Diocese of the Anglican Communion in Kaduna State on Sunday, Reverend Asaju urged General Buhari to ensure he prosecutes all corrupt government officials irrespective of their background, and also ensure he revives the nation’s refineries and as well address the problem of unemployment.
The cleric also urged the governors-elect and other elected political office holders across the states to imbibe the tenets of integrity, openness, transparency and prudence in the discharge of their duties.
The 2015 edition of the annual event, which commenced on May 14, has as its theme; ‘Walking in the Light of God’.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is nearing the end of negotiations to sell St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach to real estate developers.
Bishop J. Jon Bruno announced the sale to congregants Sunday, Diocese spokesman Robert Williams said. The sale of the church could bring in roughly $15 million -- twice the appraised value of the site, Williams said.
Services at the church will likely continue into the fall, Williams said. No information on where congregants will be moved or whether the congregation may reopen at a different site was available on Monday, he said.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles TEC Departing Parishes * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Baroness Shields, the former head of Facebook in Europe, is to become the UK's minister for internet safety and security in the new Conservative government.
The Telegraph understands the American-born entrepreneur turned technology evangelist is to lead the Government's effort to improve online safety in its war against child pornography.
She will also be involved in the UK's war on cybercrime and hacking, including the vital area of cybersecurity, with the aim of keeping the general public safe online.
Her appointment, as a Parliamentary under secretary in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is part of a push by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to tackle the problem of illegal child porn online, and to ensure that images of abuse are blocked.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Children Globalization Law & Legal Issues Pornography Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
This week marks one year since Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to 40 lashes for adultery, and death for apostasy. The campaign for her release was joined by thousands across the globe, including David Cameron, but although Ibrahim is now free, the situation for Sudan's religious minorities continues to worsen.
When the Court of Appeal declared Ibrahim innocent of all charges and released her from prison on 25 June 2014, there was cautious hope that the campaign would lead to wider respect for freedom of religion or belief in Sudan. But just five days after her acquittal, on 30 June, the Church of Christ in Thiba Al Hamyida, North Khartoum, was demolished after being given 24 hours' verbal notice.
As 2014 came to an end, religious minorities faced further restrictions. In particular, the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination (SEPC) has been embroiled in a legal battle to maintain ownership of its properties, which began with a court order to seize parts of the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A jury of seven women and five men sentenced Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death by execution, closing one of the most painful chapters in this city's history.
Tsarnaev looked straight ahead, showing no emotion, as the sentence was read. Jurors wiped away tears as the judge thanked them for their service.
"Your service as jurors in this case has been the very antithesis of mob law," U.S District Judge George O'Toole Jr. told the jury. "You can and you should be justly proud of your service in this case."
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Marte, the border town in the northern flank of Borno state has again fallen to the Boko Haram sect, security sources and government officials have confirmed.
Security sources said the terrorists, most of whom had fled Sambisa forests and their other strongholds across Borno State, have now regrouped in Marte, a town 112km north of Maiduguri, the state capital.
The deputy governor of Borno State, Zannah Mustapha, confirmed that Marte was seized on Friday.
The news came as soldiers sustained a 24-hour curfew imposed on Maiduguri, the state capital on Thursday after Boko Haram terrorists attempted an invasion of the city on Wednesday night.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Machete-wielding assailants followed Ananta Bijoy Das on Tuesday morning when he left his house in the northeastern city of Sylhet and hacked him to death, police and friends said.
Das wrote for Mukto-Mona, the blog founded by Avijit Roy, a U.S. citizen who was killed in a similar attack outside a book fair in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, in February. Another writer who protested Roy's killing on social media, Washiqur Rahman, was struck down on a Dhaka street in March.
Activists lay blame for the killings on ultraconservative Islamists who have gained prominence recently in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. They have complained about the slow pace of investigations and have accused authorities of allowing a culture of impunity to take hold.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia Bangladesh * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It would be unethical and a "sin of omission" to prevent the genetic engineering of embryos, a leading scientist has argued.
Cloning pioneer Dr Tony Perry told the BBC that advances in genetics posed a "wonderful opportunity" for eliminating diseases such as cystic fibrosis.
Last month, a group in China announced it was the first to successfully edit the genome of a human embryo.
Other scientists say it is unnecessary and a line that should not be crossed.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Booby traps, tunnels, mines and dense woodland cover thousands of miles.
The Nigerian military's push to invade the Sambisa Forest, the last stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, capture its leader and wipe the group out is delicate, highly dangerous and unlikely to be completely successful, analysts said.
Government forces have taken over numerous Boko Haram bases in the forest in Nigeria's northeast, rescued hundreds of women and children and released aerial images of terrorists retreating, but it has yet to capture the top leaders of the group or many of its fighters.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
While Ebola still haunts Guinea and Sierra Leone, where infections have dwindled but refuse to disappear, Liberia has passed a remarkable threshold: at least 42 days since its last Ebola victim was buried, or twice the maximum incubation period of the virus, according to the W.H.O.
Even before reaching that official marker, the nation was trying to stitch itself back together after more than 4,700 deaths from the disease, by far the most of any nation in the epidemic. Liberia has reopened markets, clinics and schools, eager to move past an outbreak so devastating that it “has changed our way of life,” as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf put it.
Similar efforts are taking place inside churches as well, bedrock institutions in West African society that were at once a place of succor and a source of contagion during the outbreak.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology
Christians who have so far avoided controversial “culture war” issues will likely be pulled into those battles as their religious freedom becomes threatened due to...[same-sex] "marriage," Dr. John Inazu warned Monday.
Theologically conservative Christian non-profit organizations, including churches, could face losing their tax exempt status or being shut down, and Christian doctors, lawyers, counselors and other professionals could be forced out of their professions, he explained.
Inazu, associate professor of law and political science at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, was delivering a presentation, “Religious Liberty and the American Culture Wars,” at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s “Faith Angle Forum.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
Ms. Allen’s article brings to mind another issue that I’m not sure many of those quick to condemn Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, and the citizens such acts seek to protect, have thought through—this country’s long-standing tradition of conscientious objection to compulsory military service.
The notion that government should not compel citizens to engage in behavior that they find morally objectionable on religious grounds has been honored in this country since its founding. The Supreme Court widened the definition of conscientious objector to include strongly held moral convictions not necessarily based on religious grounds. Perhaps Americans believe there will be no future need for the bad old days of conscription.
The “vengeful triumphalism among the progressive elites” over RFRAs signals a change in what many Americans believe their governments can require.
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The irony is that only a few years ago, when the legalization of same-sex marriage didn’t appear so inevitable, gay-marriage advocates eagerly assured a skeptical public that scenarios like those above would never happen. Typical was since-retired California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George, who wrote in the 2008 decision legalizing gay marriage in that state: “Affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person.”
The victors have dropped their conciliatory stance. Bubonic plague-level hysteria surged through the media, academia and mega-corporate America in March after Indiana passed a law—modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—that would enable religious believers to opt out of universally applicable laws under some circumstances.
Amid threats of business boycotts, the Indiana legislature amended the law to ensure antidiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians—but not before a pizzeria in Walkerton shut down for a week amid death and arson threats after its Catholic owners told a reporter that, while they would gladly serve gays in their restaurant, they wouldn’t cater a gay wedding.
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Ever since the “big bang” deregulation of Britain’s financial markets enacted by Margaret Thatcher in 1986, the UK has followed a liberalising trajectory that was accompanied by a public enthusiasm for wealth more commonly associated with the US.
During that time, London grew into a global financial centre that has become the favoured residence of the world’s super rich. By a wide margin, it now boasts more billionaires per head than any city in the world. But this election has raised the question of whether British attitudes towards wealth and the wealthy are now shifting.
The campaign has aired popular frustration over inequality and affordable housing, the bashing of bankers and growing resentment towards a London that other Brits regard as a distant haven of rapacious hedge funds. The common thread seems to be a suspicion that what is good for the rich may not be so good for everyone else.
“There is no doubt the political rhetoric has changed — above all from the Labour leadership,” said Ben Rogers, director of the Centre for London think-tank.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Law & Legal Issues Psychology Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market The Banking System/Sector Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
When Melissa Mira suffered sudden heart failure at the end of her second pregnancy last year, she worried first about her health and her baby — then about the more than $200,000 in medical bills that began rolling in.
“Your world is just crashing down around you and you wonder: ‘How is this going to be covered?’ ” recalled Mira, 30, who spent more than a month away from her Tacoma home, hospitalized at the University of Washington Medical Center.
For Mira and her family, the answer came not through traditional health insurance, but through faith that fellow Christians would step forward to pay the bills.
The Miras — including daughter Jael, 4, and baby Sienna Rain, now a healthy 9-month-old — are among the growing numbers of people looking to “health care-sharing ministries” across the U.S.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
“I was very active in the progressive community in my law school, and most of my friends were politically active progressives,” he said. “But I was unprepared for their response when word started filtering out that I had enrolled in divinity school. Some of them literally disowned me; my own roommates moved out. Several folks literally stopped speaking to me and acted as if I had lost my mind.”
His own background was thrown in his face, with friends saying: “Chris, you’re a scientist, you’re a chemist, you trained as a chemist as an undergraduate, how could you possibly believe this insane stuff...?”
Coons’s message was deceptively simple: that we must find ways of “getting past some of our misunderstandings of each other.” The problem: Respecting each other on matters of faith and politics seems beyond our current capacities.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General Senate * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a weekend attack at a center near Dallas, Texas, that was exhibiting cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad - though it offered no evidence of a direct link to the attackers.
An audio statement on the extremist group's Al Bayan radio station said that "two soldiers of the caliphate" carried out Sunday's attack in Garland and promised the group would deliver more attacks in the future
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
The women said several were killed in the stoning, but they did not know how many.
The survivors said that when they were initially captured, the militants had killed men and older boys in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest.
Some were forced into marriage.
They said the Islamists never let them out of their sight - not even when they went to the toilet.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Violence Women Young Adults * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Last August, I filed a complaint in Santa Monica, Calif., using pseudonyms, to protect two frozen embryos I created with my former fiancée. I wanted to keep this private, but recently the story broke to the world. It has gotten attention not only because of the people involved — my ex is Sofía Vergara, who stars in the ABC series “Modern Family” — but also because embryonic custody disputes raise important questions about life, religion and parenthood.
When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property? Does one person’s desire to avoid biological parenthood (free of any legal obligations) outweigh another’s religious beliefs in the sanctity of life and desire to be a parent? A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects. Shouldn’t a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects? These are issues that, unlike abortion, have nothing to do with the rights over one’s own body, and everything to do with a parent’s right to protect the life of his or her unborn child.
In 2013, Sofía and I agreed to try to use in vitro fertilization and a surrogate to have children. We signed a form stating that any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent. The form did not specify — as California law requires — what would happen if we separated. I am asking to have it voided.
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Arguments over same-sex marriage played out in the U.S. Supreme Courton Tuesday, but many religious groups opposed to gay marriage aren’t waiting for a ruling.
A court ruling expected two months from now could sanction same-sex marriage nationwide. In anticipation, some congregations and religious advocacy groups are re-emphasizing their teachings on marriage, fine-tuning their approach to gays and lesbians and bracing for legal battles and public criticism.
“The outcome of this decision will shape the landscape of the church’s ministry in the U.S. for generations to come,” wrote Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In an interview, he added, “If we have a redefinition of marriage across the board by judicial decree then the church will have a responsibility more than ever to articulate what marriage is in the first place.”
The Southern Baptist Convention, the U.S.’s largest Protestant denomination, is preparing a video series and booklets on marriage and how to address homosexuality, Mr. Moore said. The church is hosting symposiums for pastors on “teaching the biblical witness to marriage” while also “equipping them to minister to gay and lesbian people who don’t agree with us,” he said.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Irish people resent being bullied by either Church or State. Yet, ordinary citizens are being intimidated into voting “Yes”. For over a year, the campaign waged by the Government urged on by the media has been relentless. In the final weeks, reason may triumph over emotion. As they prepare to vote, people will ask, reasonably: what are we being asked to change? The simple answer is: human nature.
This referendum touches the very source of our humanity. Human rights are at the heart of the Constitution. Article 41 recognises the family, based on marriage, as the fundamental unit group in Society. As such it has rights which are intrinsic to it, which the State is obliged to recognise and protect. In other words, the family, which existed before either Church or State existed, not only has a real autonomy within society: it is the ultimate source of society. Past and future converge in the family. Through marriage, future generations come into being. A nation’s culture is passed on primarily through the family. Since the dawn of time, the union of man and woman was simply assumed to be the origin of the family. This is what we are being asked to change.
This is not only Church teaching. It is in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, art. 16.3: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” That Declaration was drawn up against the background of two totalitarian regimes: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union in particular, Marxist socialism tried to eliminate the family. This trend in Marxism — condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 — was radicalised in Communist China in their “one family, one child” policy. The family has to be destroyed in order to exercise complete control over the people. The autonomy of the family is one of the bulwarks against every State’s innate tendency to become totalitarian, our own State included.
Read it all from the Irish Times..
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Natalie Bennett has said her party is “open to consultation” on the possibility of legalising polygamy and civil partnerships involving three or more people.
The Green Party leader was responding to a question from a man living with his two boyfriends in a polyamorous relationship in London on Friday.
Dr Redfern Jon Barrett, taking part in an event organised by Pink News, said people like himself in three-way relationships faced a “considerable amount of legal discrimination”.
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Judge Fabricius, quoted in local media, said the ruling applied only to Mr Stransham-Ford and that future cases would be debated on their merits.
"It is not correct to say from now on it will be a free-for-all," he is quoted as saying.
The justice and health ministers, as well as the Health Professions Council of South Africa, have opposed the legal case.
Dignity SA said it would welcome an appeal as a chance to test the right to die against the constitution, the Associated Press news agency reports.
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The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland today announced the acceptance of the resignation of Heather E. Cook as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. This means that Cook is no longer employed by the diocese. The acceptance of Cook’s resignation is independent of any Title IV disciplinary action taken by the Episcopal Church.
Read it all and there is more there.
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As a church planter and pastor in Baltimore, my soul is burdened with all of the hurt and pain in my city this week. Though it has been encouraging to know that more people from around the country are praying for my city than ever before, right now I wish the city I love could be famous for different reasons.
The injuries sustained by Freddie Gray and his subsequent tragic death in police custody have rallied Baltimore residents, who had peacefully protested for weeks. Based on the coverage from major media outlets, however, one would believe that the protests have been all about random riots, looting, and fires.
I’ve seen many on social media asking why someone would destroy the neighborhoods where they live and that none of this would be happening if people simply made better choices or parents did a better job of raising their kids. However, we must avoid the temptation of letting the media paint us an overly simplistic picture of Baltimore and her issues.
These protests and riots are not merely the culmination of the past few weeks’ events. They are the collective groaning of years of brokenness from systemic sin in our city under a brewing simmer that had finally reached this boiling point.
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Today, April 29, 2015, the Federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond denied our motion for a rehearing of their decision to return to the District court the case of vonRosenberg vs. Lawrence, which asserted that this was a case of Federal trademark violations. The case will now go back to the Charleston court for further action. Several things remain true about this action. While the Fourth Circuit said that Judge Houck used the incorrect procedural standard to grant our Motion for Dismissal, it expressed no opinion on the merits of Bishop vonRosenberg’s claims. It was certainly not a ruling in their favor on the merits. It simply means that the court believes the standard used to make his decision to dismiss was the wrong one and should be reconsidered using the appropriate standard. The question is one of procedure and not the merit of the complaint itself. The judge could in fact reach the same conclusion, using the new standard. To that point, the standard called for by the court, exceptional circumstances, is arguably well met by the facts that we now have both a strong trial court ruling in our favor, as well as a date certain for the case to be heard by the South Carolina Supreme Court. All the issues at stake in the Federal complaint will be essentially resolved by that decision.
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The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge said: "We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has taken this view of the matter. There has been considerable consultation with the clergy on this issue as well as discussions at General Synod, and clergy have consistently said that they don't wish to change their status as office holders. To become employees, clergy would lose the freedoms which are at the heart of the Church's ministry and this is not something that they want to give up.
It is regrettable that UNITE fails to understand the context in which parish clergy exercise their ministry whilst the Church seeks to uphold the freedoms enjoyed by its clergy."
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Make no mistake. The Solicitor General of the United States just announced that the rights of a religious school to operate on the basis of its own religious faith will survive only as an “accommodation” on a state by state basis, and only until the federal government passes its own legislation, with whatever “accommodation” might be included in that law. Note also that the President he represented in court has called for the very legislation Verrilli said does not exist … for now.
Verrilli’s answer puts the nation’s religious institutions, including Christian colleges, schools, and seminaries, on notice. The Chief Justice asked the unavoidable question when he asked specifically about campus housing. If a school cannot define its housing policies on the basis of its religious beliefs, then it is denied the ability to operate on the basis of those beliefs. The “big three” issues for religious schools are the freedoms to maintain admission, hiring, and student services on the basis of religious conviction. By asking about student housing, the Chief Justice asked one of the most practical questions involved in student services. The same principles would apply to the admission of students and the hiring of faculty. All three are now directly threatened. The Solicitor General admitted that these liberties will be “accommodated” or not depending on how states define their laws. And the laws of the states would lose relevance the moment the federal government adopts its own law.
Read it all from Al Mohler.
Commenting on the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said, “Today is a moment of great consequence. Marriage is a perennial institution, with deep roots in who we are and in our nation’s culture and laws. Marriage is and always will be the union between one man and one woman. This truth is inseparable from the duty to honor the God-given dignity of every human person. We pray that the justices will uphold the responsibility of states to protect the beautiful truth of marriage, which concerns the essential well-being of the nation, especially children. Children have a basic right, wherever possible, to know and be loved by their mother and father together. The Church will always defend this right and looks to people of good will to continue this debate with charity and civility.”
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Two contrasting stories this week have thrown into sharp relief the complex relationship between humanity and science. The first was the harrowing yet inspirational story of how newborn Teddy Houlston became Britain’s youngest organ donor aged just 100 minutes old.
His parents allowed his kidneys and heart valves to be removed and given to a man 233 miles away. Why? Because it was medically possible and it felt right....
Meanwhile, across the globe, alarm is growing that Chinese geneticists have taken the first dangerous steps towards creating “designer babies”. Researchers have engineered embryos by “editing” the DNA to remove the gene responsible for the potentially deadly blood disorder thalassaemia.
Read it all.
People have been lining up outside the U.S. Supreme Court for days hoping that they will be among the lucky ones to get a seat for Tuesday's historic arguments on gay marriage.
As of now, gay marriage is legal in 36 states. By the end of this Supreme Court term, either same-sex couples will be able to wed in all 50 states, or gay marriage bans may be reinstituted in many of the states where they've previously been struck down.
Tuesday's Supreme Court arguments focus on two questions: First, whether bans on gay marriage are constitutional; and second, if they are, whether those states with bans may refuse to recognize out-of-state gay marriages performed where they are legal.
The court has scheduled an extraordinary 2 1/2 hours of argument and will make the audio available online later Tuesday.
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No rain in California—which grows half the country’s fruits and vegetables—is a disaster for all of us. But the drought, now entering its fourth year, is also an opportunity. It’s a chance to take a long-needed hard look at how water is used and conserved, how food is grown, and what sustainable development means.
With 80 percent of California’s water usage devoted to agriculture, that’s the first place to make major changes. “Most watering technology is stupid and doesn’t react to the environment,” says CEO Chris Spain of the water technology firm HydroPoint. “We shouldn’t be talking about a 25 percent reduction in water use, but rather a 95 percent elimination of wasted water.” In fact, many California farmers have already become water technicians, measuring soil and leaf moisture content and treating every drop as utterly precious.
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The management board of the debt-ridden Anglican Diocese of Bathurst in western New South Wales has admitted huge loans weren't properly examined before being approved.
The Commonwealth Bank is suing the Anglican Diocese of Bathurst for outstanding debts of $40 million dating back to 2007.
The diocese is being sued in the Supreme Court in Sydney and is responsible for roughly a third of all Anglican parishes across the state ranging from Bathurst to Bourke.
The actions of three governing groups within the diocese are being examined about their roles in the massive debt.
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Twenty-first-century Britain still aspires to be an international player. We may no longer be kingmaker across large swaths of the globe, but we like to see our influence, and our military assets, being used to destabilise and engineer the removal of some of the more unpleasant dictators who strut the world stage.
To go on doing this, in the belief that next time round what will ensue will be a peaceful, human-rights observing, multi-party democracy is getting us close to the classic definition of madness.
The moral cost of our continual overseas interventions has to include accepting a fair share of the victims of the wars to which we have contributed as legitimate refugees in our own land.
Ironically, all the evidence is that families who come and make their homes in Britain, as asylum seekers and through the free movement of European citizens, add to our wealth, increase job opportunities for all and are not a net drain on housing, healthcare or other public resources. The positive case for a steady level of inward migration into the UK is economic as well as moral.
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Czech man Vit Jedlicka has claimed a 7km2 stretch of land on the west bank of the Danube river as the Free Republic of Liberland, after disputes between Serbia and Croatia rendered it technically no man's land.
It's no half-assed attempted at nation formation either – Liberland already has a constitution, flag, coat of arms, official website, Facebook page and a motto: "To live and let live".
Read it all from the Independent.
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A day of mostly peaceful rallies to protest the death of Freddie Gray turned confrontational as dark fell over Baltimore on Saturday with demonstrators smashing the windows on police cars, blocking traffic near the Inner Harbor and shouting, “Killers!” at officers dressed in riot gear.
More than 100 officers — wearing helmets, gloves and vests and carrying batons — formed a wall along several blocks of Pratt Street, and began to make arrests. State police in full tactical gear were deployed to the city to respond to a crowd that was becoming unruly.
Protesters shouted: “Killers!” and “You can't get away with this!” and “Hands up don't shoot!” Some threw rocks, water bottles, even hot dog buns and condiments at police mounted on horses, smashed windows at local businesses and looted at least one convenience store.Read it all.
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An Oregon administrative law judge recommended today that the bakers who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding should be fined $135,000.
“[T]he forum concludes that $75,000 and $60,000, are appropriate awards to compensate [the same-sex couple] for the emotional suffering they experienced,” wrote Alan McCullough, administrative law judge for Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries in his proposed order.
Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa located in Gresham, Ore., say the fine is enough to potentially bankrupt their family of seven.
Read it all.
Regrettably, the Times uses Kallam as a pawn in its story while neglecting to state his case.
Not long ago, tmatt suggested in a GetReligion post that "the most important skill in journalism is the ability to accurately state the views of someone with whom you disagree."
Once again, we have a story where a major American newspaper seems to lack the ability — or desire — to do that.
The result: a biased, ...[poor] piece of journalism.
Read it all from Get Religion.
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The experiment with human embryos was dreaded, yet widely anticipated. Scientists somewhere, researchers said, were trying to edit genes with a technique that would permanently alter the DNA of every cell so any changes would be passed on from generation to generation.
Those concerns drove leading researchers to issue urgent calls in major scientific journals last month to halt such work on human embryos, at least until it could be proved safe and until society decided if it was ethical.
Now, scientists in China report that they tried it.
The experiment failed, in precisely the ways that had been feared.
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A couple of months ago I lost my mobile phone. I duly called AT&T, my telephone company, to order a replacement — and received a nasty shock.
“So you are living in Shanghai,” an assistant announced, quoting an entirely unfamiliar Chinese address. Baffled, I explained that I didn’t live anywhere near the Bund; my residence was in Manhattan, New York.
“No, you live in Shanghai,” the voice firmly replied. When I protested vociferously, the AT&T official pronounced the three words that we have all come to dread: “You’ve been hacked.” Somebody, somehow, had managed to break into the AT&T systems and switch my cellphone billing address from New York to Shanghai. Presumably, they were Chinese.
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A street vendor from Mozambique, Emmanuel Sithole, lay begging for his life in a gutter as four men beat him and stabbed him in the heart with a long knife. Images of his murder have shaken South Africa, already reeling from a wave of attacks on foreigners, mostly poor migrants from the rest of Africa. Soldiers were deployed on April 21st to Alexandra, a Johannesburg township, and other flashpoints to quell the violence, though only after seven people had been killed. Thousands of fearful foreigners, many from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, have sought refuge in makeshift camps. Others have returned home.
South Africa has experienced such horrors before. During widespread anti-foreign violence in 2008, 62 people were killed and some 100,000 displaced. Photographs of the murder of another Mozambican man, Ernesto Nhamuave, whom a jeering mob burned alive in a squatter camp, led to declarations that such atrocities would never happen again. Yet no one was charged in Mr Nhamuave’s death: the case was closed after a cursory police investigation apparently turned up no witnesses (who were easily found by journalists earlier this year). The latest violence flared up in the Durban area earlier this month after King Goodwill Zwelithini, the traditional leader of the Zulus, reportedly compared foreigners to lice and said that they should pack up and leave.
His comments poured fuel on an already-smouldering fire. Jean Pierre Misago, a researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society in Johannesburg, estimates that at least 350 foreigners have been killed in xenophobic violence since 2008.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis have demanded that European nations take in more of the migrants who are fleeing North Africa and the Middle East, days after hundreds were feared to have died after their boats sank in the Mediterranean.
Up to 400 migrants were believed to have drowned when their boat capsized last week, but as many as 900 people could have died after another boat sank near the coast of Libya on Saturday. The deaths prompted Archbishop Welby to call for a united effort to prevent more deaths.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "We can't say this is one country's responsibility, the one nearest; that's not right. Of course, we have to be aware of the impact of immigration in our own communities, but when people are drowning in the Mediterranean, the need, the misery that has driven them out of their own countries is so extreme, so appalling, that Europe as a whole must rise up and seek to do what's right.
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Nigeria’s military announced last week that it was raiding the Sambisa Forest, one of the last strongholds of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. Liberating the forest might be the hardest part of the campaign against the group.
Aided by regional troops and foreign mercenaries, Nigeria’s military has managed to take back nearly all of the towns and villages controlled by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeast over the past few months.
But one area remains mostly under their control: Sambisa, a massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states.
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French anti-terror police believe they have foiled an 'imminent" terrorist attack against "one, maybe two churches" in Paris, the interior minister revealed on Wednesday.
"A terrorist attack was foiled on Sunday morning," said France's interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve in an impromptu media briefing.
Cazeneuve revealed announced that a 24-year-old IT student, of French Algerian origins, was arrested on Sunday in possession of a significant arsenal of weapons. It is believed he was intending to carry out an attack that very day.
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The Post and Courier on Monday was awarded the year’s most prestigious Pulitzer Prize for its series about the deadly toll that domestic violence takes on South Carolina women.
The Public Service gold medal went to the newspaper for its “Till Death Do Us Part” articles that were published across five editions in August. Reporters Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff authored the series.
Their work told the tales of domestic abuse survivors and of the 300 women in the Palmetto State who have been shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death by men during the past decade while legislators did little to quell the bloodshed.
A panel of seven judges from news media and academia called the newspaper’s work “riveting.”
Read it all and take the time to read the whole series.
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Reliable data to quantify how many American workers misuse stimulants does not exist, several experts said.
But in interviews, dozens of people in a wide spectrum of professions said they and co-workers misused stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta to improve work performance. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or access to the medication.
Doctors and medical ethicists expressed concern for misusers’ health, as stimulants can cause anxiety, addiction and hallucinations when taken in high doses. But they also worried about added pressure in the workplace — where the use by some pressures more to join the trend.
“You’d see addiction in students, but it was pretty rare to see it in an adult,” said Dr. Kimberly Dennis, the medical director of Timberline Knolls, a substance-abuse treatment facility for women outside Chicago.
“We are definitely seeing more than one year ago, more than two years ago, especially in the age range of 25 to 45,” she said.
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Speaking on a visit to religious and political leaders in Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told the BBC's Lyse Doucet that the whole of Europe must share responsibility in dealing with the problem.
''It will be demanding, and that's why the burden must be spread across the continent, and not taken by just one country or one area, '' he said.
Read it all and listen to the whole BBC video piece (just under 2 1/2 minutes).
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John Singletary, a local photographer, remembers meeting Scott some years ago at Father to Father, a program to help men who had fallen behind on their child support. Singletary was an employment specialist there and Scott had recently been released from jail for not making his payments. Singletary helped Scott get a job at a construction company. Scott was “elated,” Singletary said. He could tell Scott wanted to be a better father.
When Scott was pulled over on Saturday, April 4, in a used Mercedes he had recently purchased, Romaine could picture what he must have been thinking. He had just taken his coworker at Brown Distribution, 30-year-old Pierre Fulton, to a food pantry at a nearby church so Fulton could get food for his family. He was taking Fulton home.
After the officer approached Scott’s car, Romaine imagined her cousin bracing the steering wheel, trembling in fear. He didn’t want to go to jail. He had a fiancee and children to provide for, a job he couldn’t afford to lose.
He needed to go home.
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Because of the work I do in the area of third-party assisted reproductive medicine, I have Google alerts set for “egg donation,” “sperm donation,” and “surrogacy.” Often the daily digest reads like the lineup for a week of reality-TV programming. Stories break with headlines that boggle the mind: “Mother tells of giving birth to her gay son’s baby,” or the recent court decision that a “dead reservist’s parents may use his [frozen] sperm, against widow’s wishes” so they can have grandchildren. Or this dreadful decision from Australia’s foreign minister, who said “Department of Foreign Affairs correct to allow couple to abandon unwanted Indian surrogacy twin” because the couple claims they cannot afford to keep both of the babies.
More recently, news broke of 65-year-old Annegret Raunigk, who lives in Berlin and is pregnant with quadruplets via egg and sperm donation. Because egg donation is illegal in Germany, Raunigk left the country to conceive the babies. If the pregnancy is successful — that is, if it results in live births — she will be the oldest woman to give birth to quadruplets. The current holder of this claim to fame is Merryl Fudel of San Diego, who was a five-time divorcee and 55 years old at the time she gave birth to quadruplets in 1998....
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Police in Australia say they have foiled an Islamic State-inspired plot to carry out an attack at a World War One centenary event.
Police arrested five teenage suspects, charging one 18-year-old with conspiring to commit a terrorist act.
The men were planning to target police at an Anzac memorial event in Melbourne next week, police said.
About 200 police officers took part in the counter-terrorism operation in the city early on Saturday.
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Armen Keteyian: Describe your emotional state at that point in time.
Mike Pressler: Really pissed. Really shocked that they would have this party first and foremost. But anyway, I asked each one of 'em to their face, one at a time. The astonishment on their face. And when you know your people, I knew exactly from their reaction to the allegations this was absolutely untrue.
The problem was, few others did. This is how the late Ed Bradley described the media storm surrounding the Duke rape case here on "60 Minutes":
The district attorney, Mike Nifong, took to the airwaves giving dozens of interviews, expressing - with absolute certainty - that Duke lacrosse players had committed a horrific crime.
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Christian ministers should establish relationships with law enforcement, seek ways to become moral authorities in their communities and listen.
Those were the top recommendations from experts at a panel sponsored by The Gospel Coalition on Tuesday (April 14) titled “Seeking Justice and Mercy From Ferguson to New York.”
The popular ministry offered an alternative approach to that of evangelist Franklin Graham, who was widely criticized for his recent “Obey the police, or else” comments on Facebook. The comments followed the spate of police killings of unarmed black men.
Read it all from RNS.
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There is no question that Donna Lou Rayhons had severe Alzheimer’s.
In the days before being placed in a nursing home in Garner, Iowa, last year, Mrs. Rayhons, 78, could not recall her daughters’ names or how to eat a hamburger. One day, she tried to wash her hands in the toilet of a restaurant bathroom.
But another question has become the crux of an extraordinary criminal case unfolding this week in an Iowa courtroom: Was Mrs. Rayhons able to consent to sex with her husband?
Henry Rayhons, 78, has been charged with third-degree felony sexual abuse, accused of having sex with his wife in a nursing home on May 23, 2014, eight days after staff members there told him they believed she was mentally unable to agree to sex.
Read it all from the New York Times.
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The Anglican Church in Malawi has appealed to all Malawians to take part in protecting people living with albinism and reporting any criminal acts by any suspects in our society.
The Church said it is sickened with reports that people living with albinism are still living in fear because some segments in the society continue hunting for their lives or body parts.
Chairman of the Anglican Council in Malawi, the Right Reverend Vitta Brighton Malasa, who disclosed that the Anglican Communion is monitoring the events and constantly engaging relevant sectors, observed that it is high time the nation joined hands in “uprooting this evil” so that sanity returns in the country.
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Beer has its Budweiser. Cigarettes have Marlboro. And now, from Nevada to Massachusetts, pioneers in the legal-marijuana industry are vying to create big-name brands for pot.
When the legalization movement began years ago, its grassroots activists envisioned a nation where mom-and-pop dispensaries would freely sell small amounts of bud to cancer patients and cannabis-loving members of their community. But the markets rolling out now are attracting something different: ambitious, well-financed entrepreneurs who want to maximize profits and satisfy their investors. To do that, they’ll have to grow the pot business by attracting new smokers or getting current users to buy more.
To hear these pot-preneurs talk is to get a better sense of how the legalized future could unfold and just how mainstream they believe their product can become. Says Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer at Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, a Denver maker of pot food products: “I want to get that soccer mom who, instead of polishing off a glass of wine on a Saturday night, goes for a 5-mg [marijuana] mint with less of a hangover, less optics to the kids and the same amount of relaxation.”
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Late yesterday the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a brief order transferring to itself the jurisdiction over the appeal filed by ECUSA and its rump group (ECSC) from the February 3, 2015 judgment and order against them entered by Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein. ECUSA and ECSC had themselves requested the transfer of the case in order to expedite a final decision in the case by the State's highest court, without having to wait for any intermediate decision from the Court of Appeals.
The Court's order declined further to expedite the case's briefing schedule, set oral argument in the case for September 23, 2015, and then added: "No further extensions of time will be granted." In view of the great number of parties to the case (Bishop Lawrence's Episcopal Diocese and thirty-six of its member parishes are all respondents in the appeal, represented each by their own attorneys), the Court's order relaxes some of the filing and service requirements, and urges the attorneys to compress the multi-volume record on appeal to just the documents necessary for meaningful review of the decision below.
This order will enable a written, final decision in the case to be rendered before the end of the current calendar year, and should be welcome news to those on both sides who want to put this litigation behind them, and get on with the real work of the Church.
Read it all and do follow the links.
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[Yesterday]... April 15, 2015, the South Carolina Supreme Court agreed to take the appeal of Judge Goodstein's February 3rd ruling in favor of the Diocese of South Carolina and its parishes. We are grateful that the South Carolina Supreme Court acted so promptly to take jurisdiction of this case, just as it did when requested during the attempted procedural delays prior to the trial. The more quickly the case is resolved, the more beneficial it will be for all parties, allowing us to get about the work of ministry without the incessant distraction of courtroom proceedings.
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Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that a small town in Quebec may not open its council meetings with prayer.
In a unanimous ruling Wednesday (April 15), Canada’s highest court ruled that the town of Saguenay can no longer publicly recite a Catholic prayer because it infringes on freedom of conscience and religion.
The case dates back to 2007, when a resident of Saguenay complained about public prayer at City Hall.
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The Pontifical Science Academies have launched a new website aimed at combatting the worldwide scourge of human trafficking. The website builds on the success achieved over the past year by the ecumenical Global Freedom Network, including a joint declaration against modern slavery signed by Pope Francis and leaders of different faith communities in countries around the world.
Read it all and there is more there.
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Technology has cut its transformative swath through the media, transportation and hospitality industries. Insurance could be next.
Telematics, the long-distance transmission of computerized information, is a small but growing element of the insurance business. If adopted on a widespread basis, it could revolutionize the underlying risk-spreading methods used for generations, analysts say....
Progressive (NYSE:PGR) has been among the leaders in this area, permitting its customers to insert a "Snapshot" gadget into their cars in order to provide increasingly sophisticated information about their driving habits.
"It made more sense to price premiums on how you actually drive," said David Pratt, Progressive's general manager of user-based insurance.
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Vernon testified that he hadn’t seen Franks die. He said the police fed him information – the battery acid, the caliber of the gun – and coerced him into testifying. He said they got mad whenever he got cold feet. They threatened to send his parents to jail. They controlled him with fear. And once told, Vernon’s story became a monster of its own volition.
“They were lies,” he testified.
“It was all lies?” the prosecutor asked.
“They were lies,” he said.
After Vernon’s recantation, Jackson took the stand. “Regardless of what happens here today,” he said, “somebody heard the truth for once. I spent 39 years of my life paying for something I didn’t do.”
In light of Vernon’s recantation, the state withdrew their case. The hearing ended on a Tuesday. That Friday, 39 years, 5 months, and 27 days after his arrest, Ricky Jackson walked out of the courtroom unshackled. He joined Ronnie and Wiley for a tearful, celebratory meal at Red Lobster.
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We are called to be advocates. Each of us has the responsibility to serve as advocates for our beliefs and in this particular context to clearly be advocates opposed to racism in any form and in firm opposition to gun violence.
We are called to pray. Prayer is powerful. Much healing is needed in North Charleston, in South Carolina and in our world. Praying together for understanding, forgiveness and peace is the pathway to healing.
We are called to examine our lives, our associates, our habits and to live according to the principles of our faith. We are called to live our lives as examples, so that those seeing us in the world may see Jesus through us.
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Before the service started, the crowd grew anxious, as hundreds started to push and shove each other, hoping to make it inside, and rain clouds loomed.
[Justin] Bamberg had to ask about 200 people to back away from the church doors before the service began to allow immediate family inside.
Among those in attendance were congressmen Jim Clyburn and Mark Sanford. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, and state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, were also present, in addition to state Rep. Seth Whipper, Gov. Nikki Haley’s Chief of Staff James Burns and Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith.
Clyburn said after the service that lawmakers need to look at how to deal with child-support issues without loss of employment. Clyburn has asked Kimpson to make sure something gets done at the state level.
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You may read the Episcopal Bishop here and and the Roman Catholic Bishop there.
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Last year, a study found that about four out of every 10 people who received financial help from the government while buying their Obamacare health plans had no idea they were getting any assistance.
This tax season, many of those people may be in for a rude surprise when they're asked to pay some—or even all—of that money back....
"I wasn't very happy," said Mike Highsmith, 61, a retired US Airways flight attendant who learned after having his taxes done that he has to pay back every cent of the $6,624 in federal subsidies that helped pay the lion's share of his HealthCare.gov-purchased plan.
"This shocked me ... I didn't know this was coming."
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Well, that discomfort may seem religious, but segregationists felt justified by scripture too. They got over it; their churches got over it; so will yours.
It’s not that simple. The debate about race was very specific to America, modernity, the South. (Bans on interracial marriage were generally a white supremacist innovation, not an inheritance from Christendom or common law.) The slave owners and segregationists had scriptural arguments, certainly. But they were also up against one of the Bible’s major meta-narratives — from the Israelites in Egypt to Saint Paul’s “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.”
That’s not the case with sex and marriage. The only clear biblical meta-narrative is about male and female. Sex is an area of Jewish law that Jesus explicitly makes stricter. What we now call the “traditional” view of sexuality was a then-radical idea separating the early church from Roman culture, and it’s remained basic in every branch of Christianity until very recently. Jettisoning it requires repudiating scripture, history and tradition in a way the end of Jim Crow did not.
Except we know now, in a way people writing the Bible couldn’t, that being gay isn’t a choice.
I take a different view of what they could have known. But yes, the evidence that homosexuality isn’t chosen — along with basic humanity — should inspire repentance for cruelties visited on gay people by their churches.
But at Christianity’s bedrock is the idea that we are all in the grip of an unchosen condition, an “original” problem that our wills alone cannot overcome. So homosexuality’s deep origin is not a trump card against Christian teaching.
I know smart Christians who disagree with you.
So do I. I just think their views ultimately point in a post-biblical, post-Christian direction.
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To people who have long lamented aggressive policing tactics in North Charleston, a video showing a police officer stopping Walter L. Scott’s car strikes at the heart of their plight.
Two brake lights on the Mercedes-Benz were working when Patrolman 1st Class Michael T. Slager pulled it over, according the dashboard camera footage released Thursday.
Police officials have said that Slager made the stop because one of Scott’s brake lights was out.
It was a third brake light behind the back window of the 1990 Mercedes 300E that wasn’t working, the video showed.
Ed Bryant, president of the North Charleston chapter of the NAACP, recalled a police forum a few years ago when officers explained that they can, by law, pull over a car with a bad third light.
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At campuses across the country, traditional ideals of freedom of expression and the right to dissent have been deeply compromised or even abandoned as college and university faculties and administrators have capitulated to demands for language and even thought policing. Academic freedom, once understood to be vitally necessary to the truth-seeking mission of institutions of higher learning, has been pushed to the back of the bus in an age of “trigger warnings,” “micro-aggressions,” mandatory sensitivity training, and grievance politics. It was therefore refreshing to see the University of Chicago, one of the academic world's most eminent and highly respected institutions, issue a report ringingly reaffirming the most robust conception of academic freedom. The question was whether other institutions would follow suit.
Yesterday, the Princeton faculty, led by the distinguished mathematician Sergiu Klainerman, who grew up under communist oppression in Romania and knows a thing or two about the importance of freedom of expression, formally adopted the principles of the University of Chicago report. They are now the official policy of Princeton University. I am immensely grateful to Professor Klainerman for his leadership, and I am proud of my colleagues, the vast majority of whom voted in support of his motion.
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State Rep. David Mack, a North Charleston Democrat who is black, was a speaker a few years ago in classes on cultural sensitivity that were mandated for all new officers. It was a program designed to help them better understand policing from the perspective of those they serve. Mack thought the classes made a difference, but a video of Scott’s shooting that emerged Tuesday shows that the Police Department still has its issues, he said.
“It’s an ongoing battle,” he said. “I think we have made progress, but this incident ... wounded the community tremendously.”
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Recently adopted net neutrality regulations soon could make your monthly Internet bill more complicated — and potentially more expensive.
Every month, consumers pay a small fee on their phone bills for a federal program that uses the money — a total of $8.8 billion raised nationwide last year — to provide affordable access to telecommunications services in rural areas, underserved inner cities and schools.
Now the fee could start appearing on broadband bills too, in a major expansion of the nearly two-decade-old Universal Service Fund program.Read it all.
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The country’s divorce laws should be overhauled to remove the need for allegations of adultery and blame, Britain’s most senior woman judge has said.
Baroness Hale of Richmond said that she wanted to see the acrimony taken out of most matrimonial disputes with divorces granted without a person being held at fault.
At present the 120,000 couples who divorce in England and Wales each year have to cite one of five reasons: adultery; unreasonable behaviour; desertion for two or more years; two years’ separation with consent; or five years’ separation without consent.
Those who want to divorce quickly are encouraged to cite unfaithfulness or unreasonable behaviour, which encourages recriminations, critics argue.
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A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder Tuesday after shooting and killing a black man following a routine traffic stop over the weekend.
The decision to charge the officer, Michael Thomas Slager, came after graphic video footage emerged depicting Slager firing a volley of bullets into the back of Walter Scott, who was running away.
Officers rarely face criminal charges after shooting people, a fact that has played into nationwide protests over the past year over how the police use deadly force. Yet this case took a swift, unusual turn after a video shot by a bystander provided authorities with a decisive narrative that differed from Slager’s account.
Read it all from the Washington Post and the local paper here.
In recent days we have heard claims that a belief central to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that we are created male and female, and that marriage unites these two basic expressions of humanity in a unique covenant—amounts to a form of bigotry. Such arguments only increase public confusion on a vitally important issue. When basic moral convictions and historic religious wisdom rooted in experience are deemed “discrimination,” our ability to achieve civic harmony, or even to reason clearly, is impossible.
America was founded on the idea that religious liberty matters because religious belief matters in a uniquely life-giving and powerful way. We need to take that birthright seriously, or we become a people alien to our own founding principles. Religious liberty is precisely what allows a pluralistic society to live together in peace.
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The whole point of freedom of religion is that it protects an extraordinary gamut of differing, frequently conflicting cosmologies, spiritual disciplines, and moral codes. They may include refusing to fight in defense of the nation, rejecting certain foodstuffs or medical treatments, discouraging young people from secondary or higher education, honoring celibacy or condemning a variety of sexual practices, sacrificing animals, drinking alcohol, or ingesting hallucinogens for ritual purposes, prescribing certain head coverings or hairstyles despite school or occupational rules, insisting on distinct roles for men and women, withdrawing from friends and family for lives of silence and seclusion, marching in prayer through neighborhoods on holy days, preaching on street corners or otherwise trying to convert others to these persuasions.
A great many of these beliefs and practices I disagree with. Some I deplore. Religious freedom means I live with the fundamentalists who describe the pope as anti-Christ and my kind as hell-bound—and with the black nationalist sects who consider me a white devil. Religious freedom means that I don’t have to send my children to the state schools if I choose not to nor does my Darwin-phobic neighbor. It also means state schools or state events or state laws should not force people to participate in religious rituals or practices contrary to their consciences.
Religious freedom means that I may very well want to question, critique, refute, moderate or otherwise alter religious beliefs and practices that I find irrational or unhealthy or dehumanizing or, yes, bigoted; but knowing how deeply rooted and sincerely held these convictions are, and how much about the universe remains in fact mysterious, and how much about my own perceptions of reality could in fact be mistaken, and how much religions do in fact evolve over time, I accommodate myself in the meantime to peaceful coexistence and thoughtful engagement. In particular I refuse to coerce religiously sincere people into personal actions that violate their conscience. And I refuse to dismiss their resistance to such coercion as nothing but bigotry.
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Canada’s medical schools are preparing for what was once unimaginable — teaching medical students and residents how to help patients take their own lives.
As the nation moves toward legalized physician-assisted death, Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine have begun to consider how they will introduce assisted dying into the curriculum for the next generations of doctors.
It is a profound change for medical educators, who have long taught future doctors that it is immoral to end a life intentionally.
“If legislation passes, and if it becomes a standard of practice in Canada for a small subset of patients who desire assisted death, and where all the conditions are met, would we want a cadre of doctors that are trained in the emotional, communicative and technical aspects of making those decisions, and assisting patients,” said Dr. Richard Reznick, dean of the faculty of health sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston. “We would.”
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Indiana’s passage of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week has created havoc and been met with loud opposition from gay rights activists. But a poll this month found that most Americans agree with such religious freedom laws.
Fifty-four percent of respondents to a Marist Poll survey, commissioned by Catholic News Agency, support or strongly support First Amendment religious liberty protections or exemptions for faith-based organizations and individuals, “even when it conflicts with government law.”
About 65 percent of Marist Poll respondents opposed or strongly opposed penalties or fines for individuals who refuse to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples “even if their refusal is based on their religious beliefs.” Only 31 percent supported or strongly supported such penalties.
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If the opponents of that law were arguing that the Indiana statute tightens the federal standards a notch too far, that would be compelling. But that’s not the argument the opponents are making.
Instead, the argument seems to be that the federal act’s concrete case-by-case approach is wrong. The opponents seem to be saying there is no valid tension between religious pluralism and equality. Claims of religious liberty are covers for anti-gay bigotry.
This deviation seems unwise both as a matter of pragmatics and as a matter of principle. In the first place, if there is no attempt to balance religious liberty and civil rights, the cause of gay rights will be associated with coercion, not liberation. Some people have lost their jobs for expressing opposition to gay marriage. There are too many stories like the Oregon bakery that may have to pay a $150,000 fine because it preferred not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. A movement that stands for tolerance does not want to be on the side of a government that compels a photographer who is an evangelical Christian to shoot a same-sex wedding that he would rather avoid.
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...there are now two very good reasons why ECUSA and its rump group should have no cause to celebrate their opportunity to go before Judge Houck once more with their claims of "infringement." The first is that the injunction against Bishop vonRosenberg remains in effect pending their appeal (which they have asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to hear directly, thus bypassing the Court of Appeals if the Supreme Court grants their request). If he is prevented from claiming to be the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, how can he say he owns the trademarks which have been adjudicated to belong to Bishop Lawrence and his Diocese?
Second, if the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina had the right to withdraw from ECUSA, as now finally adjudged in the Illinois courts, then it has the right to keep its marks and trade names -- and ECUSA (and by extension ECSC, since the latter claims to be one of ECUSA's dioceses) are both now barred from arguing to the contrary.
Judge Houck thought he was doing Bishop vonRosenberg a favor by declining to accept jurisdiction of his suit. Now that he is required to revisit that decision, however, he might just proceed (in due course, after appropriate motions and briefing) to the merits, and add his own adverse decision to the ones in the State courts of Illinois, Texas and South Carolina. ECUSA has asked for a decision, and now it will get one (but not for several more months).
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Today, though, as I said above, I think the consensus center-left position has basically shifted toward the argument offered by Garrett Epps for The Atlantic: It doesn’t matter if Stutzman or any other wedding vendor is a nice person with sincere religious beliefs, and it doesn’t matter if she or they would provide her services to gay clients in any other context; her religious anxiety about decorating a wedding chapel for a same-sex couple is no different from the objection to integration of a Southern store-owner whose preacher taught him the races should be separate, and needs to be dismissed with extreme prejudice lest anti-gay discrimination flourish and spread.
And whether you find this view, this analogy, persuasive or you don’t, it has a lot of possible further implications. Because in the annals of American history, both Jim Crow and the means we used to destroy it are, well, legally and culturally extraordinary. So if our current situation with same-sex marriage and religious conservatives really is analogous, there is no obvious reason why we’ve reached any kind stopping point once the florists and bakers have been appropriately fined or closed down.
Hence the following seven questions about future steps, which I’ll pose specifically to Epps and generally to the Indiana law’s many liberal critics. Some are rooted in real-life examples and possibilities; some are much more (I think) unlikely. But I’m still quite interested in whether people would support them if they were to become plausible options a little ways down the road.
Read it all and there is a WSJ editorial on it there.
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We are not speaking here of the believers across the planet who suffer grievous harm for the sake of faith. We’re talking instead about something else: the slow-motion marginalizing and penalizing of believers on the very doorsteps of the churches of North America, Europe, and elsewhere, in societies that are the very historical strongholds of political and religious liberty.
Men and women of faith in these societies are well-off, compared to many others. At the same time, though, their world is unmistakably darker and more punitive than it used to be. Let us show empathy and solidarity with all people who need it. Repeating the cardinal’s watchword, mercy, we hope that moral and political and intellectual leaders of all persuasions hear it too.
For there is no mercy in putting butchers and bakers and candlestick makers in the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs—but that’s what the new intolerance does. There is no mercy in stalking and threatening Christian pastors for being Christian pastors, or in casting out social scientists who turn up unwanted facts, or in telling a flight attendant she can’t wear a crucifix, or in persecuting organizations that do charitable work—but the new intolerance does these things, too. There’s no mercy in yelling slurs at anyone who points out that the sexual revolution has been flooding the public square with problems for a long time now and that, in fact, some people out there are drowning—but slurs are the new intolerance’s stock in trade. Above all, there is no mercy in slandering people by saying that religious believers “hate” certain people when in fact they do not; or that they are “phobes” of one stripe or another when in fact they are not. This, too, happens all over public space these days, with practically no pushback from anyone. This, too, is the new intolerance at work.
Read it all.
After the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the RFRA applied only to the federal government, states responded with mini-RFRAs requiring this "compelling government interest" test in their religious liberty cases. Of these, Indiana's RFRA is the 20th.
There is no excuse for refusing to serve a lesbian couple at a restaurant and to my knowledge no state RFRA has ever been used to justify such discrimination. But if we favor liberty for all Americans (and not just for those who agree with us), we should be wary of using the coercive powers of government to compel our fellow citizens to participate in rites that violate their religious beliefs. We would not force a Jewish baker to make sacramental bread for a Catholic Mass. Why would we force a fundamentalist baker to make a cake for a gay wedding?
For as long as I can remember, the culture wars have been poisoning our politics, turning Democrats and Republicans into mortal enemies and transforming arenas that used to be blithely bipartisan into battlegrounds between good and evil. Now our battles over "family values" are threatening to kill religious liberty. And liberals do not much seem to care.
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Freedom and duty often go hand in hand, as Indiana legislators quickly learned last week. After the state approved a law reinforcing religious liberty, a national protest claimed the measure could be used by religious owners of small firms to refuse business to gays and lesbians. In fast retreat, top lawmakers said the new act would soon be amended to prevent such discrimination.
This national upheaval, coming after clashes over similar measures in other states, seems to pit civil rights against religious freedom. In recent years, nearly half the states have followed a federal law in setting strong protections for religious practices. The measures insist that courts find a compelling government interest before imposing a burdensome rule on a person in the exercise of his or her faith.
Whether religious-liberty laws end up violating other rights and interests largely remains to be seen. In at least two cases so far, state courts have ruled they cannot trump anti-discrimination regulations. Yet the rhetoric on both sides about potential harm can often be overhyped and overgeneralized. Each case must be judged on its merits with a calm eye for accommodation and context.
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Once again, it is crucial to note that we are talking about legislation, then and now, built on the same template as that used by a bipartisan coalition that including a stunningly wide range of secular and religious groups.
Thus, the Times of 1993 noted:
President Clinton hailed the new law at the signing ceremony, saying that it held government "to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone's free exercise of religion."Read it all.
J. Brent Walker, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs called the new law "the most significant piece of legislation dealing with our religious liberty in a generation."
His sentiments were echoed by many other members of an unusual coalition of liberal, conservative and religious groups that had pressed for the new law. The coalition included the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Council of Churches, the American Jewish Congress, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Mormon Church, the Traditional Values Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union.
But now add in the EMM figures (bottom of the third page):
(D) 2014 EMM reimbursements received were $ 13,322,419; while
(E) 2014 EMM expenditures amounted to $ 16,811,183; for a net
(F) Annual EMM operating deficit of $ 3,488,763, which more than wipes out (C) above, and leaves
(G) A net operating loss for 2014 of $ 1,092,161 !!
In other words, the Episcopal Church is in the hole to the tune of over a million dollars for calendar 2014.
Read it all.
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Laws that disparately impact Christians can protect others from Christian attempts to take over society. If these laws are couched in terms of religious neutrality—like the “all comers” policies for student organizations—then those with Christianophobia can endorse them without worry about being stigmatized as bigoted. (There is a similar phenomenon noted in race/ethnicity scholarship. Public policy measures that seem racially neutral can work to the disadvantage of people of color. Restrictive immigration policies are theoretically racially neutral, but disproportionally affect Hispanic Americans.)
This helps to crystallize the current conflict in our society between conservative Christians and those with hatred towards them. Christians face economically, educationally, and socially powerful individuals who seek to drive them from the public square. Many with Christianophobia are convinced that conservative Christians will drag our society back into the Dark Ages and must be stopped with any measure that cannot be defined as overt religious bigotry.
An important challenge Christians have is to convince such individuals that they have the same rights to influence the public square as anyone else. Learning how to communicate, and hopefully find ways to co-exist, with them will help determine whether there will be a persistent cultural conflict or if a truce is possible.
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