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Christian and Muslim representatives in Ireland have issued a joint call for a conscience clause to be included in legislation in the event of a Yes result in the same-sex marriage referendum. In a document submitted to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, members of the Catholic Church, the Reformed Presbyterian and Quaker churches, together with the Irish Council of Imams and the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland urged legal protection for people of faith who may find themselves sanctioned for discrimination in holding true to their beliefs “in employment, worship or social interaction”.
Minister Simon Coveney who is running Fine Gael’s Yes campaign in the marriage referendum has denied that children have a right to a mother and a father. When asked, during an interview conducted with The Irish Times newspaper, if the right to a mother and father existed, Minister Simon Coveney said: “No I don’t, no.
A spokesman for Ireland’s Catholic Bishops has reacted with surprise to apparently off-hand comments by Taoiseach Enda Kenny regarding the Church’s continuing role in solemnising marriages on behalf of the State. Following a statement to RTÉ in which Mr Kenny said it was a matter for the Church alone to decide if it would continue its practice of registering marriages on behalf of State registrars should the same-sex marriage referendum pass, Martin Long of the Catholic Communications Office said the issue was one of importance to the State too.
The right of Catholic schools in Ireland to teach that marriage is between one man and one woman only must be protected in the event of a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, a Catholic bishop has insisted. In an interview with The Irish Catholic newspaper, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin stressed that “any school of course could teach that the law about marriage has changed but a Catholic school would also have to be free to teach that the Catholic Church does not subscribe to that changed understanding of marriage”.
A spokesman for Ireland’s Catholic Bishops has said the Irish Church may be forced to end the practice of civil registration of marriages conducted in churches if the same-sex marriage referendum passes. Speaking to The Irish Times newspaper, Martin Long of the Catholic Communications Office said: “If the referendum is passed the Church’s view and the State’s view of marriage will be radically different. It’s reasonable that the bishops may decide to separate the two.”
A British woman raised by a lesbian couple has warned of the potential for “irreparable, long-term damage to a child” by such an arrangement following her own “damaging and confusing” upbringing. Actress Hetty Baynes Russell said she had spent years in therapy “trying to make sense” of her familial situation once her father had been removed from her life, allowing her mother, Margot, to bring her lesbian partner into the lives of her five children.
A delegation of parents, including from Ireland, has urged the United Nations to end its use of the term ‘incompatible with life’ during a visit to the organisation’s Geneva Headquarters. Organised by the pro-life group Every Life Counts to mark the launch of the Geneva Declaration on Perinatal Care, the Irish contingent was led by Mattie McGrath TD, and was afforded time to address the assembly on the stories of their own children who had been deemed ‘incompatible with life’ by medical practitioners.
A pizzeria in the US state of Indiana has been forced to close its doors amid a backlash by LGBT activists after it said it could not cater for same-sex weddings on the grounds of their religious beliefs. Coming as Indiana became the 19th state to adopt a Religious Freedom Restoration Act – with additional protections for faith-owned businesses – the story of Memories Pizza became a lead story for numerous networks, resulting in an onslaught of vitriol from gay activists.
A bakery in the US state of Colorado has been cleared of discrimination after it refused to supply cakes bearing anti-same-sex marriage messages. The case, first brought before the Colorado Civil Rights Division last year, originated with a Christian, William Jack, who asked Azucar Bakery in Denver to create two Bible-shaped cakes, one bearing the biblical passages “God hates sin. Psalm 45:7,” “Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:2,” “God loves sinners,” and “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.” The second cake was to portray an image of two grooms, holding hands with a red ‘X’ covering them.
A new opinion poll conducted by Amarach Research on behalf of The Iona Institute has found that seventy percent of respondents agree with the statement, ‘Children have a right to be raised by their own mother and father’. Only eight percent disagreed with the statement while the remainder said they neither agreed nor disagreed.
Christians in Britain face ongoing prejudice for their faith, a leading British politician has said. Conservative Michael Gove, MP, a former education secretary, said in an article for The Spectator magazine that to declare oneself a person of faith today in modern Britain “is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal”. Describing himself as “Christian and proud of it”, Mr Gove went on that making such a statement "in a culture that prizes sophistication, non-judgmentalism, irony and detachment, it is to declare yourself intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward”.
Mothers and Fathers Matter, the organisation leading the No Campaign in Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum has demanded that Taoiseach Enda Kenny clarify comments he made regarding teaching on marriage in Catholic schools should the marriage referendum pass. In an interview on RTE, Mr Kenny said that Catholic schools "will be expected to teach children that people in this country, in Ireland, in 2016, will have the right to get married irrespective of their sexual orientation".
Postal workers in Canada face disciplinary action for their refusal to deliver a news sheet they view as offensive. The publication, Your Ward News, became a subject of controversy within the postal service when a Jewish worker objected to its content on religious grounds. The sheet is a vehicle for the unregistered New Constitution Party, which uses Your Ward News to attack mainstream politicians in very strong terms. One article referred to former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau as a “neo-Nazi fascist, anti-Semite and Quebec separatist”.
The official dictionary of the Swedish language is to include a gender-neutral pronoun for the first time among new entries in its latest edition. According to the Swedish Academy, which compiles the dictionary, the term 'hen' will now be listed as an alternative to the sex-specific pronouns 'han' (he) and 'hon' (she).
People from across Northern Ireland have been flocking to show support for a bakery facing court action in an equality case over a same-sex marriage cake. Since the start of the court action last week, Ashers Bakery in Belfast has experienced a surge in business as regular customers have upped their visits while first-time customers have travelled for miles to purchase cakes by way of supporting the bakery owners in their conscience stance against baking a cake with a message in support of same-sex marriage.
A planned debate in Australia’s Senate on same-sex marriage has been postponed indefinitely after the nation’s prime minister refused to allow MPs a conscience vote on the issue. In the days before the proposed debate, the Australian Christian Lobby together with other pro-family groups garnered over two million signatures in support of traditional marriage which were sent to MPs to urge a continuing defence of the family.
Police in the US state of Texas have arrested a woman after a firebomb was hurled at people engaged in a prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic. Members of the Central Texas Alliance for Life had gathered in the city of Austin for the prayer event when the crude device was thrown from a passing car, allegedly by 52-year-old Melanie Maria Toney. Luckily for those who were the intended target, the thrown bottle did not shatter and a burning wick failed to make contact with the liquid contents, thought to be flammable.
Senator Jim Walsh has given up the Fianna Fáil (FF) party whip following his expressions of opposition to the Children and Family Relationships Bill. Arguing, during a Seanad debate on the Children and Family Relationships Bill that it contains “many gaps”, Senator Walsh opposed 36 individual sections of the legislation and tabled amendments which recognise the right of a child to be raised by a mother and a father. Prior to his resignation, Senator Walsh met with FF party leader Micheál Martin to communicate his concerns and later, in his letter of resignation, stated that his actions were based on his “deeply held and conscientious opinions”.
The Government's Children and Family Relationships Bill, which is currently being debated in the Seanad, has been strongly criticised by Senators Ronan Mullen and Jim Walsh. Independent Senator Ronan Mullen accused the government of the same kind of groupthink that led to the banking crisis, and said that the Bill “wrecks the Government's credentials as defenders of the best interests of children.” Senator Jim Walsh of Fianna Fail said that the Bill did nothing to safeguard a child's right to have a mother and father, and said that in failing to restrict the use of donor eggs and sperm the Bill “in no way respects the genetic kinship of (donor-conceived) children and completely disconnects legal motherhood and fatherhood from genetic parenthood.”
The vast majority of Irish parents continue to have their children baptised, a new poll has revealed. According to a 'Family Values' survey undertaken by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of The Irish Times newspaper, 93% of parents have had their children baptised, with the figure climbing to 95% for parents aged under 35 and 97% for single parents. Those parents unmarried but cohabiting are least likely to have their children baptised, but the figure still stands at 86%. When asked about the faith of their child, 81% of respondents said their child believes in God.
The Tanaiste has emphatically ruled out any conscience clause for businesses in Ireland such as printers and bakers that on grounds of conscience do not wish to facilitate same-sex weddings. When asked to comment on the notion of such a clause, which has already been offered to religious ministers, allowing them to avoid performing gay marriage ceremonies should the May 22 referendum pass, Joan Burton stated that, in relation to businesses: “No, such an exemption will not be possible.” Deputy Burton's statement on the issue comes in the wake of comments made by Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on the issue of conscience. During a session of questions at an event organised by the Iona Institute on the topic of 'The Church's Teaching on Marriage Today', Dr Martin described conscience as a fundamental human right.
Less than ten percent of parents with young children have placed their children in day care, according to a new poll. The survey, conducted on behalf of The Irish Times by Ipsos MRBI reveals that for those parents juggling work with child-rearing, a parent remaining at home is still the most common option. According to the survey, 58% of parents state that one of them, usually the mother, stays home and minds their own children. Where both parents work grandparents are the most popular choice with 42% of parents leaving their children with them, while 20% each opt for creches and childminders. These are followed by other family members, accounting for 14%, au pairs at 4%, a figure matched by friends/neighbours as childcare options.
Over 70% of people in Northern Ireland believe it is wrong for the region’s Equality Commission to prosecute a Christian bakery over its refusal to bake a pro-same-sex marriage cake. As Ashers Baking Company prepares to face a court in Belfast this week, a poll undertaken by the UK’s Christian Institute found that, not alone did 71% of respondents disagree with the Equality Commission’s proceedings, but a massive 90% said that equality laws should be used to protect people from discrimination and not to force people to say something they oppose.
A Chilean cardinal has urged people to “fight” for the lives of unborn children as his country prepares to overturn its abortion ban. Responding to news of the introduction of a bill before Chile's parliament to allow abortion in cases of rape or a threat to the life of a mother, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, president of the Chilean Bishops' Conference issued a call for the faithful nationwide to “fight and get organised”.
Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has expressed concern at the hasty pace of political debate towards redefining marriage and the family. Speaking at an Iona Institute in Dublin last night, on the topic ‘The Church’s Teaching on Marriage Today’, the Archbishop said that “ in the current debate normal parliament procedures seem rushed”.
A case taken against a Christian bakery in Northern Ireland could have serious implications for freedom of conscience, a legal expert has said. Having examined the case of Ashers Baking Company, which faces sanction for its refusal on the grounds of faith to make a cake bearing a pro-same-sex marriage message alongside a picture of the Sesame Street characters Ernie and Bert, Aidan O'Neill QC said that the case had far-reaching implications, and not only for faith communities.
Ireland’s forthcoming referendum on same-sex marriage should be postponed as it may be unconstitutional to hold it before a pending Supreme Court ruling, legal experts have said. Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Dr Maria Cahill, a lecturer in constitutional law at University College Cork said that until a ruling is made on case currently before the Supreme Court, and centred on the Referendum Act itself, the same-sex vote may be ultimately be ruled unconstitutional.
A teacher at a Catholic school in New Jersey, USA, has caved into pressure from LGBT activists by suspending her from her job at the school after she defended traditional marriage on her Facebook page. Patricia Jannuzzi, a teacher at the Immaculata School in Somerville, drew fire when she accused gay activists wanting to “reengineer western civ (sic) into a slow extinction. We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of children and humanity.”
The Catholic bishops of Virgina, USA, have voiced their support for Catholic groups which have backed out of the annual St Patrick's Day parade in the city of Norfolk following the naming, as grand marshal, of the state's pro-abortion and pro-same-sex marriage Governor Terry McAuliffe. Despite his stance on these issues, Governor McAuliffe was chosen for the honour by the parade organisers, the Knights of Columbus Council 3548, which has organised the local St Patrick's Day parade for the past 48 years.
The Catholic Church in Ireland has issued new guidelines on inclusion for schools under its management. Seeking to respond to the state's Forum on Patronage and Pluralism, which was established to examine primary schooling in modern Ireland, the Church's Catholic Schools Partnership launched 'Catholic Primary Schools in a Changing Ireland: Sharing Good Practice on the Inclusion of all Pupils'. The document offers guidance for schools in welcoming pupils of other faiths and none, while at the same time dealing with how Catholic schools can accommodate such pupils during the teaching of religion. The Catholic Church currently has responsibility for 89% of primary schools in Ireland.
Christians in the UK are afraid to speak openly in work about their faith for fear of ridicule by colleagues, a study by the country's Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found. In a study conducted among 2,500 people of all faiths and none on the topics of religion and the workplace, the EHRC found that Christians who openly declare their faith are often labelled 'bigots' by work associates or routinely mocked for their beliefs.
Truly pluralistic and democratic nations should enshrine conscientious objection in law, a conference of Catholic legal advisors has stated. Over the course of a three-day meeting in Slovakia of advisors to Catholic Bishops' Conferences of some 20 European countries, delegates discussed both the idea of conscientious objection and argued for its maintenance by States Noting that “freedom of conscience - a fundamental right at the foundation of democracy and the Rule of law of our European countries - is increasingly struggling, especially in the medical and educational field” in a Europe “ strongly marked by secularism and liberalism”, delegates called on states to recognise that for Catholics, while fully respecting laws, “conscientious objection should be instituted as a legal possibility that gives people the right to refuse duty, which is contrary to the general principles of doctrine and morals of the Church”.
Doctors in the Canadian province of Ontario will be forced to refer patients for abortions, contraception and other treatments regardless of conscientious objections following a ruling by the region's College of Physicians. Following a 21-3 vote, surgeons of the Ontario College of Physicians adopted the new policy on patient care, with one supporter stating it had been drafted in such a way as to ensure there was no “wiggle room” on grounds of moral or religious beliefs. The adoption of the new policy comes despite massive objections from both medical practitioners and members of the public during a three-month online consultation process. The College of Physicians has admitted that, of 16,000 submissions received, most were against the policy move.
Ireland's bishops have warned that passage of the same-sex referendum will “make it increasingly difficult” for people of faith to speak of their deeply held belief of marriage as that between a man and a woman. The statement was presented by Archbishops Eamon Martin and Diarmuid Martin as the spring quarterly meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference continued. It poses a series of questions as to the impact on the Catholic community of a yes vote in the May referendum: “What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage? Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience? Can a way be found to protect the civil rights of gay people without undermining the fundamental meaning of marriage as commonly understood across cultures, faiths and down the ages?”
Couples who marry before starting a family are far more likely to stay together than those marrying or cohabiting after the birth of a child, according to new research carried out in the UK by the Marriage Foundation. Tracking the changes in tens of thousands of British homes over time, the Marriage Foundation analysed a sample cohort of 1,800 mothers with at least one mid-teen child in 2010. Of this cohort, 62% were married before having children, 16% were married after the birth of a child or children, while 14% lived with their child's father but never married.
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