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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.
The debate about childcare in Ireland is not really a debate at all because, as usual, it is dominated by one side, namely those who want a State-subsidised universal day-care system available to all. To this end, they heavily promote the ‘Nordic model’. In doing so, however, they fail to distinguish between different Nordic models.
It has now emerged that Pope Francis met briefly with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who would not hand out marriage licences to same-sex couples because of her conscientious objection to same-sex marriage. He also met with the Little Sisters of the Poor who have also been involved in a religious freedom battle of their own. In doing so he has lent them a little bit of some of his very considerable moral authority.
In his Irish Independent this week David Quinn writes about an INTO and Minister of Education-backed programme for primary schools called 'Different Families, Same Love' that is radically at odds with Christian teaching on marriage and the family.
No less a figure than Steven Pinker, one of the world’s best known academics, has called it “one of the most important papers in the recent history of the social sciences”. He is referring to a paper which deals with what amounts to the ideological capture of the social sciences by the political left, and the consequences of this.
During what debate there was about the Government's Children and Family Relationships Act, which allowed for egg and sperm donation to anyone and everyone (donor-assisted human reproduction or DAHR), those who supported the bill had a sort of mantra that could have been taken from the Beatles. When it comes to raising children, “love is all you need.” There's no right to be raised by your natural parents, or even a presumption that it's a good idea all else being equal: what a child really needs, by this account, is one adult who loves them. After that, nothing else matters. A second parent brings nothing a lone parent can’t bring. A mother doesn't matter, a father brings nothing in particular. All you need is love. Two recent stories throw some doubt on this picture.
A poll conducted by website MummyPages.ie and RecruitIreland.com looks at the attitude of mothers towards childcare. Media coverage of the poll focused on the finding that 45 percent of mothers said the cost of childcare prevented them returning to work. This would indicate a clamour for State-subsidised childcare. In fact, the findings of the poll were much less straightforward than that.
Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland has outlined his wishes for Irish schools in The Irish Times. If implemented they would result in the effective elimination of every denominational school in the country, bar a few privately-funded ones. If you strip down his vision to its core, it is based on the delusion that it is possible to run a school on the basis of an all-inclusive ethos.
Between October 2007 and December 2011, 100 people went to a clinic in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking region with depression, or schizophrenia, or, in several cases, Asperger’s syndrome, seeking euthanasia. The doctors, satisfied that 48 of the patients were in earnest, and that their conditions were “untreatable” and “unbearable,” offered them lethal injection; 35 went through with it. These facts come not from a police report but an article by one of the clinic’s psychiatrists, Lieve Thienpont.
The other day sociologist Tony Fahey was interviewed on Today with Sean O’Rourke (Keelin Shanley standing in) about marriage in Ireland twenty years after the divorce referendum. During that referendum there were the usual accusations and counter-accusations but in some respects both sides were wrong about what would happen. The anti-divorce side warned that allowing divorce would open the way to British-style divorce levels with the big caveat that this would only happen over time and not overnight. It’s true that it didn’t happen overnight, but so far it hasn’t happened at all. Twenty years on the rate of divorce in Ireland remains very low by Western standards.
It gives me no pleasure to note that social and legal situation around same-sex marriage is continuing to obey what writer and blogger Rod Dreher christened the “Law of Merited Impossibility”, which goes something like this: “legalising same-sex marriage will result in no negative consequences for religious liberty or freedom of conscience - and those bigots will deserve it everything they get.” An article in Christianity Today from three law professors, titled (somewhat optimistically) "How to Protect Endangered Religious Groups You Admire",makes the case for a First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), to protect religious groups who take stances deemed 'unacceptable' from being penalised
Church-run schools, and more specifically Catholic-run schools, are under the spotlight again as a new school year approaches. There is criticism of the slowness of the bishops in handing over a set number of schools to other patron bodies such as Educate Together. However, as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (pictured) has pointed out, when a particular school is designated for transfer, there is often a lot of local opposition.
The Department of Children has just released a report, Future Investment in Childcare in Ireland, suggesting different ways in day-care becomes more affordable for working parents. Some of the proposals, such as those to extend paid parental leave from six months after the birth of a child to a full year, are very welcome. But others are simply unfair, and the logic that undergirds the whole report too often puts the views of NGOs and the State on what is best for children above the wishes of parents.
"At first glance, Irish Catholics voting for same-sex marriage, British Muslims living according to sharia and French secularists chasing symbols of faith from the public sphere would seem to have little in common. Some seem to be drifting away from religion, others towards it. But according to a four-year study on religion in today’s Europe, these phenomena have a deeper link that goes beyond Catholicism, Islam or atheism. They all reflect the tensions that arise in secularised societies because of the contemporary disconnect between religion and culture." That's from an interview with Oliver Roy, a French academic and director of the EU-funded ReligioWest research project, recently published in the Tablet.
After the US Supreme Court legalised and constitutionalised same-sex marriage in all 50 states last week, there’s been a lot of talk about questions of religious freedom and freedom of conscience. How will dissenters from the new view of marriage fare in the new dispensation? Two pieces of writing, from UK Barrister Neil Addison and US journalist Jonathan Last, make for sobering reading - and their analyses are very relevant to Ireland's future.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recently called for Ireland to have a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment and legislate for abortion in various circumstances, in order to bring Ireland into compliance international human rights law. A lot of the debate following has has been about this last point. Is Ireland in breach of international law? How should relevant treaties be interpreted? These discussions spectacularly miss the point. As a matter of principle, nobody should care what the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights says about abortion: and in fact, nobody really does.
Father’s Day is coming up this weekend (21/6) and this article from the Institute for Family Studies shows that a father is more likely to be involved with his children if he is married to the mother of his children. That means he is more likely to have a close relationship with his children.
What do mothers and fathers bring to parenting that is different and complementary? This was one important issue that came up in the recent marriage referendum. Many of those on the Yes side claimed all a child needs is love, but that the sex of the parents per se (and by logical extension the biological ties) are of little importance.
In a piece in The Irish Times today Laura Slattery basically calls for a total end to the debate about same-sex marriage. She quotes from an interview she did with Michael O'Keeffe, the BAI chief executive, a while ago, and says she “asked him whether same-sex marriage would still be regarded as the subject of current public debate if the referendum were passed. Could the No side continue to insist, citing the code, that expressions of equality must be countered by faith-fuelled pronouncements? O’Keeffe responded: “On the assumption that it is passed, then it’s a legal right. For me that should probably be the end of the matter as a matter of public debate.”
The Iona Institute helped to represent the almost 750,000 voters who voted against the redefinition of marriage and the family on May 22. No political party was willing to represent those voters. We will continue to argue for the importance of marriage in society and for the rights of religious believers in an increasingly secularised society. To keep informed about our activities please sign up to our free e-letter.
On the "Constitution Project" blog recently, Dr Conor O'Mahony of UCC Law Department, took issue with points made by Dr Tom Finegan of Mothers and Fathers Matter on the likely effects of the proposed referendum on future laws on adoption, surrogacy and donor-assisted human reproduction. Now, Dr Finegan responds to Dr O'Mahony's critique explaining why it ignores several key factors and fails to rebut the No side's legal analysis.
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