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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.
Earlier this week, British Prime Minister David Cameron was attacked by the Centre for Social Justice over his failure to support marriage and the family since coming into office a year ago. The irony is that the CSJ was founded by one of his own Ministers, Iain Duncan Smith.
I didn’t spot this story at the time, but it is absolutely extraordinary. As we know, some pharmacists object to selling the so-called morning-after-pill because it can act as an abortifacient. But in Berlin recently, a pharmacy had its windows smashed because of the owner’s refusal to sell the morning-after-pill.
MP Nadine Dorries has bravely proposed a new law requiring that schools teaching abstinence education to girls aged 13-16. I say brave, because there is something about the word ‘abstinence’ that makes some people break out in spots. She would have been better off using a term like ‘sexual delay’.
The marriage of Kate Middleton to Prince William last Friday was a teaching moment par excellence. The Church of England used it to full advantage to gently teach about the nature of marriage, and the message was very traditional.
On May 26, The Iona Institute is hosting a conference called ‘Women, home and work: towards a policy that’s fair to all women’. One of the speakers will be Jonas Himmelstrand of The Mireja Institute in Sweden who will speak about family policy in Sweden, especially its much lauded childcare system.
Today’s Irish Times has a revealing feature on the difficulties faced by adopted children try to find their birth parents. The piece speaks of the “huge emotional turmoil” experienced by both the adoptee and their birth parents. Underlying the piece is the assumption that adopted children ought to have the right to access information about their adoptive parents.
Could the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton next week give the institution of marriage in the UK a boost? One prominent family policy expert certainly hopes so. Jill Kirby, chair of the Family Policy Group at the Centre for Policy Studies, suggests in this piece in the Daily Telegraph that marriage there could badly do with a shot in the arm.
Since coming to office in February, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has certainly been forthright in advancing a secular education agenda. His call for the transfer of “at least half” of all Catholic primary schools to alternative patronage caused waves, but his suggestion that the teaching of the sacraments took up too much school time was arguably more controversial.
The latest Eurostat figures again demonstrate that the continent’s demographics are headed for imminent collapse. According to the latest figures, there has been a slight improvement in the overall total fertility rate (TFR), from 1.47 per woman of childbearing age to 1.6, since 2003.
Writing in the current issue of ‘InTouch’, the magazine of the INTO, Fionnaula Ward, Primary Education Officer of Educate Together wonders how to go about teaching atheism in Educate Together schools. She acknowledges the potential difficulties while obviously hoping they can be overcome.
The new Catholic Schools Partnership (CSP) has just issued a very good and timely position paper called ‘Catholic schools in the Republic of Ireland’. It is timely because of the forum on school patronage established by Ruairi Quinn.
Richard Waghorne (pictured), writing in today's Irish Daily Mail, explains that, although he is himself gay, he doesn't believe that same-sex marriage is a good idea. His reason for this is simple: Marriage receives special status because the protection it gives to children, not because of the status it gives to adults.
One of the big accusations aimed at denominational schools is that they are ‘exclusive’ whereas their secular counterparts are ‘inclusive’. However, this is a caricature. Denominational schools obviously have a denominational ethos, and they are there to serve their own religious community first and foremost. But this does not mean children from other backgrounds are made to feel unwelcome or excluded.
Yesterday's statement by Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn that he is looking to transfer the patronage of 50 per cent of Irish primary schools from the Church to some other patronage body appears to have caused some concern to members of the hierarchy.
A new study argues that religion is headed for extinction in nine countries, including Ireland , if present trends continue. That’s a very big ‘if’, of course. I suppose if religious affiliation continues to drop by one or two percent a year into the future eventually you get down to zero.
Last week's momentous ruling by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the Italy v Lautsi case, which found in favour of Italy's right to continue to place crucifixes in its State classrooms turned partly on the Court's finding that Council of Europe member states have a “wide margin of appreciation” when it came to sensitive cultural matters.
In Ireland over the last few years hospitals and other public places have been removing Christian symbols from view in the name of ‘not causing offence’. This has even extended to not displaying cribs at Christmas. Cromwell would have been proud of these secular Cromwellians.
The latest unemployment figures released this week by the CSO confirm that men are much more likely to be unemployed than women and hence the term some people have coined for this recession, namely the ‘mancession’. Figures from the National Household Survey for the fourth quarter of last year show that whereas the female unemployment rate is 10 percent, among men it is 17 percent, that is, fully 70 percent higher.
Last week on the BBC's Question Time, a member of the audience asked whether it was right for the State to prevent a Christian couple fostering children because they believe in traditional sexual morality. The question was prompted by a High Court ruling which held that Eunice and Owen Johns couldn't foster children under equality legislation because of their beliefs concerning homosexuality and sex outside marriage.
In debates about conscience rights something very strange has happened. The left, which used to champion conscience rights, is now frequently opposed to such rights. In a new article, American scholar Robert Vischer wonders why this has happened. He takes as his starting point the decision by President Obama to curtail the conscience rights afforded to health-care professionals by the Bush Administration in its last days.
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