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Opinions contained in The Iona Blog are not necessarily those of The Iona Institute. The Iona Blog is open to anyone who broadly shares the views of The Iona Institute. If you wish to post a comment on a relevant topic please email 200 – 400 words to [email protected] and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.
Ireland appeared before the UN Human Rights Committee and that Committee has now issued a report about Ireland that reads like a politically correct charge sheet. David Quinn writes about the biased nature of these proceedings.
When I read in the papers about a man who won a payout of €70,000 after being sacked from his job with South Tipperary County Council for repeatedly talking about his religion during working hours, I have to confess that my sympathies were initially with the Council. But when I read the full account of the case on the Labour Court website, my sympathies changed.
Lord Falconer's "Assisted Dying" bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords. The bill would legalise assisted suicide by doctors in the UK, and would seriously undermine the principle of "do no harm" as well as the protections that UK law currently gives the terminally ill. It's very bad news. But the prospect of the Bill passing has inspired passionate, intelligent, and articulate opposition, and I've collected some of it below:
It seems that no sooner was Ireland declared the country that does most good for the world (according to the first “Good Country Index”, or GCI), than our human rights record was being lambasted by the UN, and newspaper columnists here were calling us a “misogynist country” and a place where “The Irish Constitution treats (all women) as vessels.” Which is it? We can't be both the best country in the world and a rights-violating renegade – and in truth we are neither. What both of these stories reveal is that the answer you get depends on how you ask the question – and who's asking it.
“What has happened to consistent, coherent atheism?” is the question being asked by Michael Robbins, who's reviewing Nick Spencer's book Atheism: The Origin of the Species for Slate. Spencer's book examines what he calls the 'creation myth' of the orgin of modern atheism, different versions of which are embraced by most of the 'New Atheists' – Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne and others.
As we're greeted today by the news that a Christian bakery in Northern Ireland faces legal action over refusing to bake a cake with a slogan in support of gay marriage, this week's New York Times column by Ross Douthat is hugely relevant. What I like about Douthat is that e's almost never content to trot out the same old line on any given issue, instead inviting his readers to consider things from an unusual angle. His column this week is no different – in it, he argues that left-wing liberals should be fans of Hobby Lobby, the company that just won a case at the US Supreme Court exempting them from having to provide health insurance that covers abortifacients under the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.
We all think it's important to fight for what we believe in. But how do we fight, and could we do it better? Leah Libresco was an atheist blogger for Patheos who converted to Catholicism a few years ago. A Yale graduate, she's written for the Huffington Post, First Things, The American Connservative and elsewhere, and appeared on CNN and MSNBC. She recently gave a talk on "Having Better Fights", hosted by the Irish Catholic, which is essential viewing for anyone in the business of seeking the truth.
There's a new report out from the Institute for American Values and the Center of the American Experiment, which examines some of the ways that men and women's brains and bodies change when they become parents. While the physical changes that happen in women during and after pregnancy are well known, Mother Bodies, Father Bodies, by W. Bradford Wilcox and Kathleen Kovner Kline highlights the research showing that men experience changes too.
Judging by the end-times rhetoric employed by some journalists, bloggers and Twitterati in response to the US Supreme Court's decision on Hobby Lobby, one might be forgiven for thinking that contraception had been banned nationwide, fundamentalist corporation owners authorised to micromanage their employees' sex lives, and women declared second-class citizens.
Can the ‘working poor’ afford to maintain a family? Does being a member of the working poor make a person more likely to divorce? Does it make them less likely to marry in the first place? The answers are ‘no’, yes’ and ‘yes’ respectively. What is to be done? There is no easy answer, but we should look again at the concept of a ‘living wage’.
The new Bishop of Limerick, Dr Brendan Leahy explains his vision of religious freedom. The talk was delivered before an audience of almost 200 people in the Strand Hotel, Limerick on June 18.
Peter Ferguson, who calls himself ‘Humanisticus’, has replied once again on polygamy and same-sex marriage, and asked the Iona Institute a few questions. I'll do my best to answer them here, and I think it might be wise to leave our blogathon at that. In truth, these points have been dealt with in numerous previous blogs on this website, but it won't hurt to answer them in one place and save Humanisticus a bit of Googling.
Many atheists (such as Richard Dawkins, right) do not believe in free will. They don’t believe in free will because they believe we, and our thoughts, are the products of matter and energy and nothing else and therefore have no more have free will than a robot, or a dog. This belief, needless to say, has enormous implications for the idea of moral responsibility because someone who does not have free will is not responsible for their actions.
Almost 800 babies and young children died at Tuam mother and child home between 1925 and 1961. Two things were to blame, the very high child mortality rate at the time, and the social and religious attitudes then prevalent.
The NHS is to give children as young as nine years of age drugs in preparation for ‘gender reassignment’. As the Mail on Sunday reported, a treatment using hypothalamic blockers, “which halt[s] the onset of adulthood, is aimed at youngsters who believe they are trapped in the wrong body.”
There are few types of survey in this world more reliable than those carried out by insurance companies. When your company's continued existence depends upon the quality of your information, you tend to make very sure that your data is solid. So Allianz Insurance's “LoveFamilyMoney” study on the impact of family structure on financial wellbeing is sobering reading, despite the almost hilariously upbeat tone of the press release.
I must have missed the reports on the protests and vigils outside the Sudanese embassy, after a pregnant Sudanese doctor was sentenced to death for the crime of apostasy. Perhaps they were all busily protesting the Nigerian embassy, calling for greater protection of that nation’s Christians, following the Boko Haram kidnappings. But I’m sure the tweeting by a stern-faced @MichelleObama will #bringbackourgirls in jig-time. Mmmm-hmmm.
The single parent support and campaign group, One Family, have released a new video called “All Families Matter.” Produced as part of their campaign to change the constitutional definition of the family, the video is pretty striking. It shows a single mother and her two children being denied a family ticket to the cinema because there's no father present; an unmarried couple with their children being refused a family suite at a hotel; anda gay couple and their daughter being denied access to a family movie on television.
In my last post on polygamy and same-sex marriage, I noted that Peter Ferguson and Colette Browne, in coming up with coherent arguments against polygamy, ended up acknowledging that marriage is to a certain extent about child welfare I still wonder how this fits with a "love and consent" view of marriage - but it was good to see that both Browne and Ferguson were OK with banning polygamous marriage because of the less-than-ideal circumstances for children of being raised by three or more parents.
An interesting new book has just come out called ‘Why Science Does Not Disprove God’. The author is Amir Azcel and in an article in The Wall Street Journal a few days ago he describes how many scientists initially resisted the Big Bang Theory, especially those predisposed towards atheism.
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