The Iona Blog

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 and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.


Chief Rabbi Sacks’ scathing denunciation of attacks on male circumcision

By David Quinn on 31st July 2012. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

It is scarcely believable that there is a growing threat to the practice of religiously motivated male circumcision in Europe. A fierce debate has erupted over the practice, chiefly in Germany following a court decision there against it. However, curbs have also been placed on it in certain Swiss and Austrian hospitals. In addition, we have today in the Irish Times an article condemning it as ‘male genital mutilation’ and comparing it with female genital mutilation.


A searing new report on radically dysfunctional families

By Tom O'Gorman on 28th July 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Schools and Education

A major new report on Britain's most dysfunctional families commissioned by the British Government in the aftermath of last year’s riots makes for disturbing reading but much of it is depressingly familiar. Quite apart from the accounts of serial physical and sexual abuse, it's the casual neglect of children and the failure of mothers to protect their children from such abuse, for fear of losing their new “boyfriends” that is shocking. To cite just one particularly dramatic example, one mother mentioned in the study “reported that her son slept with a knife under his pillow for fear of his stepfather”.


How the morning-after pill has put more pressure on women

By David Quinn on 24th July 2012. ~ Categories: Schools and Education,Other

When we made the morning-after-pill available from pharmacists without the need for a doctor’s prescription the change took place without any debate. We never asked whether the number of unwanted pregnancies would come down as a result, or what effect it would have on women’s health, or the effect it would have on sexual behaviour.


How lone parenthood widens income inequality

By David Quinn on 21st July 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Even The New York Times is starting to cotton on to the fact that the high number of births that take place outside marriage is a problem. Last week it ran a big feature examining how lone parenthood, which is already very common in the lowest income groups, is becoming increasingly common among middle income groups. It correctly observed that this development is serving to widen inequality between the various social classes in America.


Do children raised by religious parents fare better?

By Tom O'Gorman on 19 July 2012. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

Sometimes, in a culture which often seems to be overwhelmingly anti-religious, parents of faith must feel that raising their children in their religion is an uphill climb. So it's encouraging to see that there is evidence that the struggle is worth it. This piece, from Family Edge, an Australian website, shows that children raised by religious parents fare better on a range of measures. It links to an article by Andrew Whitehouse, Associate Professor, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia.


Name-calling could make debate on same-sex marriage impossible

By John Lalor on 17th July 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Let’s dispel a key myth about this current “debate” about same-sex marriage. Should such a time comes for a referendum, there will be no debate, not a rational one at any rate. Briefly, a debate is when two parties present their arguments for and against a motion respectively, and the motion is voted upon by an objective audience. This system gives us curious yet refreshing outcomes, such as when patently unpopular motions are carried.


David Quinn debates same-sex marriage on Prime Time

By Tom O'Gorman on 13th July 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

David Quinn and Moninne Griffith of Marriage Equality debate the issue of same-sex marriage on RTE's Prime Time.


David Quinn and Ivana Bacik debate same-sex marriage

By David Quinn on 10th July 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Iona Institute director, David Quinn, and Senator Ivana Bacik debated the issue of same-sex marriage on Today with Pat Kenny yesterday. The debate quickly centred on whether or not children should ideally be raised by their own mother and father.


Mr Gilmore and the “Separation of Church and State”

By Tom O'Gorman on 6th July 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Religion and Religious Practice,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's (pictured) speech on Sunday, as well as distorting the true meaning of religious freedom also used another theme to advance his socially radical agenda. Issues like same-sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research and the rollback of religious education were part of a mission to complete “the separation of Church and State” he said. Mr Gilmore told us: “But it is my strong view that the best - and indeed the only - means of guaranteeing religious freedom for all, is the full separation of Church and State.


Eamon Gilmore's distorted view of “personal freedom”

By Tom O'Gorman on 3rd July 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's speech on Sunday got many headlines for coming out in support of same-sex marriage. But his remarks about personal freedom also deserve some attention. Mr Gilmore said that his party parted company from the European liberal tradition “on matters of economics, and in particular on the freedom of markets but had “always been of similar mind on matters of personal freedom”. He cited famous liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill and said that it was this committment to “personal freedom” that led Labour “to take up the banners of the liberal agenda - for divorce, for contraception; for gay rights and for women's rights”.


Court ruling restricts real choice for children

By Tom O'Gorman on 29th June 2012. ~ Categories:

The decision of a German court to attack circumcision is yet another example of state encroachment on religious liberty. The rationale of the court appears to be based on the notion that children should be allowed to choose religions and tradition for themselves, rather than having their parents choose their faith. Superficially, this seems to respect the freedom of the child. This is a mirage however.


Leading gay historian asks "Is gay marriage worth trashing our traditions?"

By Tom O'Gorman on 28th June 2012. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

A recent poll in the UK found that, while most homosexuals believe that the Government should redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to tie the knot, a significant number 25pc, don't think it's needed, and 39pc don't think it's a priority. Atheist historian David Starkey (pictured) seems to be part of that 25pc. In this piece for the Daily Telegraph, he laments the possibility that legalising same-sex marriage could lead to the disestablishment of the Church of England.


Too big an issue to surrender

By Tom O'Gorman on 26th June 2012. ~ Categories:

The news that David Blankenhorn, a leading defender of marriage, has decided to stop arguing against same-sex marriage, is very disappointing. In a column in the New York Times, he said he took the decision “in the interest of comity”, and with a view to creating alliances with people interested in building stronger families. He writes: “So my intention is to try something new. Instead of fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same.


The UN’s ultra-radical concept of “children's rights”

By Tom O'Gorman on 22nd June 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The Government has now announced that it will hold its long-awaited children's rights referendum in the autumn. We have yet to see the wording, but it is certain that the term “best interest of the child” will be included. A number of legal authorities have suggested that this term, unless express limitations are set down on it, could easily give the State too much power in respect of the family. Who decides what’s in a child’s ‘best interests'; parents or the State?


The changing family; for better or worse?

By Tom O'Gorman on 21st June 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Last week, director of the Iona Institute David Quinn (pictured) gave a talk at the International Eucharistic Congress about the many changes that have affected the Irish family in the last three decades. You can listen to his talk here.


On the role of spirituality in healthcare

By Tom O'Gorman on 19th June 2012. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

In 2009, the Iona Institute published a study by Professor Patricia Casey, “The Psycho-social Benefits of Religious Practice” on the positive impact of religion on people across a range of measures, including mental health. While the paper and the associated conference – the first of their kind in Ireland - received considerable media coverage, there was little sustained interest in the subject. But in today's Irish Times, Professor Des O'Neill says that there is a need for a better understanding of religion and spirituality in the medical world.


Are the kids really alright? A new study on same-sex parenting

By David Quinn on 16th June 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A very important new study that compares children raised in families headed by same-sex parents for part of their lives with children raised in other families was published this week. The study has been heavily criticised by advocates of same-sex marriage but the criticisms they are levelling at it apply with much more force to studies they quote in favour of same-sex marriage and parenting. In other words, by attacking this new study by sociologist Mark Regnerus they are sawing off the branch on which they are sitting.


A politician brave enough to spell it out about the changing family

By Tom O'Gorman on 13th June 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

It often seems puzzling, given the overwhelming evidence showing that marriage is the best family structure for children, that politicians are so unwilling to acknowledge this and make policy accordingly. This was one of the topics addressed in a very thoughtful speech made by Fianna Fáil Senator Jim Walsh (pictured) at the Seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan last month. Senator Walsh laid out the extent of the problem of family breakdown.


Single motherhood “an economic catastrophe”

By David Quinn on 8th June 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Kay Hymowitz is one of America’s most acute social observers. In an article in The Los Angeles Times last week she draws attention to the link between single motherhood and poverty. The figures are both devastating and tragic. She writes: “Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. census puts only 8.8% of them in that category, up from 6.7% since the start of the Great Recession. But more than 40% of single-mother families are poor, up from 37% before the downturn."


It's "not acceptable" to shut down debate, Minister

By Tom O'Gorman on 5th June 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

One of the arguments used by those who have insisted on maintaining the current definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman has been that redefining marriage would suddenly mean that anyone who thinks that a child needs a mother and a father would suddenly be defined as a bigot. Once the state says that marriage is no longer about ensuring that as many children as possible are raised by their biological mother and father, but about validating adult sexual relationships, then society will view the former attitude as simple prejudice.


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