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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@example.com and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.
What happens when you marry outside your belief system, whether that be a religious belief system or a secular belief system? The answer, frequently, is trouble as ‘Till Faith Do Us Part’, a new book by Naomi Schaefer Riley from Oxford University Press makes clear.
Last week, the Iona Institute released a report detailing the extent of marital breakdown and the proliferation of new family forms in Ireland, including a surge in the number of children raised by lone parents. Iona Institute representatives debated this issue on a number of programmes and came up against a flat-out denial that there is any disadvantage attached to being raised by one parent. A UN report issued in 2007 has a different view.
Gay couple David Tutera and Ryan Jurica have gone their separate way just months after taking delivery of half-twins via a surrogate mother. Tutera is biologically the father of one child and Jurica is father of the other child. Advocates of sperm and egg donation and surrogate motherhood constantly tell us that the biological tie doesn’t matter. Nonetheless, the court granted each one custody of their own biological child.
The British Social Attitudes survey, which has been running annually for 30 years now, was published yesterday and showed that, over the course of those 30 years, there has been a steep decline in the numbers who think marriage is important for raising children and those who identify as religious. The numbers aren't really surprising. Still, it raises the question; is the collapse in religious affiliation and the collapse in the family linked and do they have the same cause?
This week The Iona Institute launched a new report called Marriage Breakdown and Family Structure in Ireland. The headline figure is that divorce and separation in Ireland has risen sixfold since 1968. As at Census 2011, almost 250,000 Irish adults were separated or divorced. I appeared on a number of shows to discuss the report as did Professor Patricia Casey. It’s a pity we didn’t know at the time about a programme that was broadcast in BBC2 last night called ‘Mum and Dad Are Splitting Up’.
The trend towards removing every last trace of religion from the public square continues apace across the Western world. In a blog for the Telegraph website, Brendan O'Neill (pictured) says that the hallmark of this trend is secular liberal intolerance. He writes: "If you want to see what intolerance means, look no further than the current campaign against faith schools."
This week the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ageless ‘I have a dream’ speech took place. Much of the commentary has ignored the fact that Dr King was a Baptist pastor that his vision, and his vision of justice specifically, had a deeply religious underpinning. As David Quinn argues in his column in The Irish Independent this week, without that vision, his speech cannot be properly understood.
It’s interesting to read about the policy of the early Soviet state towards the family and to compare it with policies gaining increasing influence in the West today including in Ireland. They are rather too similar for comfort. Essentially, both sets of policies have the effect of making the State far more powerful and the family far less autonomous.
Recent coverage of the crisis unfolding in Egypt has finally focused attention on the plight of Coptic Christians in that country. But, as this article by David Quinn argues, we in the West ought to be far more aware of the fate of persecuted Christians across the globe.
In an effort to be more ‘inclusive’ the Girl Guides in Britain have dropped references to ‘God’ and ‘country’ from their pledge. Guides now pledge instead to “be true to myself” and to “develop my beliefs”. This is almost beyond parody. Essentially, instead of the pledge being focussed on something external, it is now focussed purely on the individual member and their feelings and personal beliefs. It’s the ‘me generation’ yet again.
Are dads (and men) redundant? The increasing trend towards single motherhood (single fathers head only a tiny fraction of families) and best-selling books like Hanna Rosin's The End of Men would have you believe so. Common sense says different of course. For a start, it should be obvious that when it comes to something as tricky as parenting, two is better than one, men are different from women and mothers are different from fathers.
One day a major case concerning religious freedom is going to appear before the Supreme Court. That will be a fateful day because on that day, the Court will either interpret religious freedom in a very constricted way, or in a much more (genuinely) liberal way. The implications of either decision will be immense. If Dr Eoin Daly of UCD law department has his way, the Court will opt for the constricted view
Last week David Quinn appeared on The Right Hook on Newstalk to discuss the ethos of the Mater hospital with George Hook, and the looming clash between it and the new abortion law.
The Mater hospital is being pressured by the new abortion law into abandoning its pro-life ethos. In his column in last Friday's Irish Independent, David Quinn argues that this isn't only a battle about abortion, it's also a battle about the autonomy of civil society.
The Mater hospital is required by the newly passed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act to perform abortions under certain circumstances. This includes the suicide ground. Fr Kevin Doran, a member of the board of the Mater, said the law clashed with the ethos of the hospital. The Iona Institute released a statement today defending Fr Doran.
The issue of our schools featured at this week’s MacGill summer school including in speeches by Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly (pictured) and Labour TD Aodhan O’Riordain. Unlike O’Riordain, O’Reilly has a nuanced line on the Catholic Church, nonetheless she seems to disapprove of the fact that at independence the State ‘outsourced’ the teaching of the nation’s children to the State.
David Quinn appeared on the Vincent Browne Show last night to discuss the ‘liberal agenda’. Also on the panel were John McGuirk, Cllr Bríd Smith of People Before Profit and Niamh Hourigan of UCC. The presenter was Tom McGurk. The panel discussed the effects of the liberal agenda on Ireland, both from a social and economic point of view. David Quinn focused in particular on liberalism’s effect on children.
President Higgins’ decision to sign the Government's abortion legislation, rather than refer it to the Supreme Court, gives rise to mixed feelings. On the one hand, had he decided to refer the Bill, it would have delayed its implementation, and given some hope that it might never become law, or at least not in its present form.
The other day I blogged about a new website in America that allows those who went through divorce as children, but are now in adulthood, to recount their often very painful and bitter experiences. I then tweeted it. Here is what Labour councillor Niamh McGowan tweeted in reply: “Like parents who make the difficult decision to separate really need this guilt inducing nonsense.”
A new study, reported in the New York Times, confirms that children who grow up in areas with higher than average levels of marriage and higher than average levels of religious practice are more likely to be upwardly mobile in later life. According to the study, some of the favoured ways of tackling poverty such as larger tax credits for the poor and higher taxes on the affluent seem to improve income mobility only slightly.
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