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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.
Dawkins was at it again recently. He claimed that Ireland is civilised in all but one aspect: its abortion laws. He then added that it’s “moral” to abort a baby with Down’s Syndrome. As Dawkins has greyed, his pronouncements have gotten more off the wall. And I thought wisdom increased with age…
A new study from the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project analyses some of the ingredients that go into lasting, high-quality marriages. By starting with a sample of over 1000 people who were in a relationship but unmarried and tracking them (418 of the individuals got married), the study's authors were able to analyse how decisions made before marriage impacted the quality of the union. They drew three major conclusions:
The latest UK figures on sperm donation reveal that the “top 500” donors have fathered 6,200 children between them, with 15 of these having more than 20 each. The figures illustrate a simple truth – legalising sperm donation is not a good idea, even if you ban anonymous donation. Let's review the arguments against sperm donation. All else being equal, it's a good idea for children to have a relationship with their biological parents, where possible. The natural ties are important, should not be set aside lightly, and certainly not deliberately. This is a substantial part of the reason why civil marriage evolved as a social institution – to bind parents, and particularly fathers, to their children.
OK, this is a good one: a letter from the National Union of Journalists expressing concern about a possibly disastrous development in broadcast journalism. That development? Broadcasters might have to be balanced about everything. The NUJ's complaint was occasioned by the decision of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to uphold a complaint about an item on the Derek Mooney show in which two panellists and the presenter himself expressed support for the passage of the same-sex marriage referendum without any dissenting voice being heard.
A poll published in The Sunday Times last weekend shows that more and more of us believe 'choice' is the most important value. Is this a sign of more 'open-mindedness' as the polling company itself claims, or something far more negative?
Terry Mattingly at GetReligion writes about the way in which the media is missing the truly vast scale of the religious persecution currently taking place in the Middle East. He argues that while the media has finally, finally caught up with reporting on the atrocities perpetrated by ISIS towards Christians and other minorities, it's largely ignoring the bigger picture.
Over at The Public Discourse, Mark Regnerus reports some of the findings from a forthcoming study, Relationships in America. Regernus was interested in finding out what Christians who support same-sex marriage believed about other issues of sexual morality – and what makes his study interesting is that he measured the attitudes of churchgoing Christians, rather than all those who identify as Christian but do not practise. His findings were quite striking.
One of the myths about marriage most badly in need of busting is the idea that cohabiting before marriage makes you less likely to divorce – a sort of “try before you buy” effect. But cohabitation before marriage either increases the rate of marital breakup or at best does nothing to reduce it. But tell this to most people and they'll just give you a weird look, and I don't really blame them – the evidence points to a conclusion that's quite counterintuitive.
The case of Gammy, a baby born through surrogacy who was abandoned by his genetic parents after they discovered he had Down Syndrome, (and is now being raised by his surrogate (birth) mother, a Thai woman named Pattaramon Chanbua) is uniquely tragic. The apparent callousness of the parents taking Gammy's twin sister but not him, the possibility that the commissioning father is a convicted sex offender – the situation is absurdly awful. But it also throws the dubious nature of surrogacy into sharp relief.
In his column in this week's Irish Independent, David Quinn asks why we don't seem to care about the murder and persecution of Christians in many parts of the world today, including Ireland.
What do people mean what they speak about the separation of Church and State? Having read Hugh Linehan’s opinion piece in The Irish Times yesterday it wasn’t clear to me. Linehan was responding to the homily Archbishop Michael Neary delivered at the top of Croagh Patrick last Sunday, Reek Sunday.
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.
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