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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.
So, it seems that the French are going to make a stab at reducing their very high divorce rate. The French Government has announced plans to introduce marriage preparation kits and longer civil ceremonies which currently can be as short as five minutes. But François de Singly, a sociology professor at Paris Descartes University, has other ideas. He appears to thinks marriage only exists where there is love and that the State has no right intruding in people’s private lives.
A new study out this week has been well covered in many media outlets because it purports to overturn the findings of many other studies which show that marriage confers various health and welfare benefits on married people compared with cohabitees or single people. The study is published in the current issue of the prestigious Journal of Marriage and Family and we await the response of other sociologists to it.
The Civil Partnership Act is now in existence for over a year. In his column in last Friday’s Irish Times John Waters drew attention to an aspect of this law that was little noticed at the time, namely the provisions that force many of the legal responsibilities of marriage on cohabiting couples unless they opt out through legal agreement.
On Wednesday the US Supreme Court issued its most important religious freedom ruling in years. Religious freedom is under increasing pressure in the US, Ireland and elsewhere, and the question was whether the court in this particular case would rule in favour of religious freedom or against it. It ruled in favour.
A few months back British Prime Minister David Cameron declared himself in favour of same-sex marriage because encouraging commitment is a conservative thing to do in his view. Around the time he said that, Douglas Murray writing in The Spectator agreed. But his article was most noteworthy for what it left out.
A court in Florida has ruled that the birth mother and the genetic mother of a child are both the parents of that child, legally speaking. The court described the case as “unique” saying that it had “never before considered a case quite like it”. But this is happens when you deliberately ‘split’ motherhood. Reproductive technology is creating whole new types of parenting for courts to consider. But the real question before them should not be who is and who isn’t the parent of a given child, but in what way the reproductive technology industry should be regulated.
Shortly before Christmas, The Irish Times published an article that took a crack at yours truly over my support for the special status of marriage. But nowhere in the article does its author, Anthea McTiernan, consider the evidence in favour of the family based on marriage, nor does she come up with a working definition of family breakdown.
New figures show that more than one in five abortions in the UK (22.1 percent) is carried out on girls under the age of 20. Dominique Jackson, writing in The Daily Mail, reckons the answer to this is more sex ed. But her conclusion is flatly contradicted by figures she quotes in her own article.
The UK's deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has attacked in rather odd terms proposals to give a modest tax break to married couples. In a speech a few days ago he said: “We should not take a particular version of the family institution, such as the 1950s model of suit-wearing, breadwinning dad and aproned, homemaking mother, and try and preserve it in aspic.” Mr Clegg also opined that couples married for love, not to “get some cash back from the state”.
The findings of the recent Pew survey showing the low level of marriage in the US aren't really all that surprising to those who are familiar with the issue. Just over half (51pc) of US adults are now married says Pew, based on US census data. The figure here is the same.
Two major reports on the family have been issued in the last few days, one on attitudes to the family in Ireland, one on family structure in Ireland. The first shows that there is a lot of wishful thinking going on about the changes to family life that are taking place, the other confirms that the traditional family is in decline in Ireland. The report on attitudes to the family is called ‘Attitudes to Family Formation in Ireland’ and is by Margret Fine-Davis of Trinity College Dublin. It is based on a survey of 1,400 people aged 20-49.
Earlier this year, Labour Senator Ivana Bacik and her colleague in the Dáil, Labour TD Aodhan O Riordán proposed ending the prayers said in the Oireachtas before each session, supposedly to promote greater “pluralism”. Both Senator Bacik and Mr O'Riordán placed this issue on the agenda of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP) in both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Family law scholar Helen Alvare, an associate professor at George Mason University, has written a thoughtful two part series for the Witherspoon Institute's blog, Public Discourse, on how family law has evolved over the decades from being child and marriage-centred to being freedom and adult-centred. This trend is very much present in Irish law as well which increasingly sees the family, and especially marriage, as a potential obstacle to person freedom and therefore has made it easier and easier to break up the family unit.
Last month the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada rejected an attempt by breakaway Mormons to recognise polygamous marriage. Pressure is growing across the Western world to no longer restrict marriage to one man and one woman. Increasingly Muslims and certain religious sects are demanding that more than two people should be allowed to marry one another.
The Family Scholars' blog, which carries a range of stories and opinion items on contemporary family issues recently carried a post by an author calling himself Rnewman and bemoaning the attitude of his fellow countryfolk to marriage and the family. He points out the irony of a country where state supports for the family are strong, but where social attitudes towards family stability are lax.
During the riots that engulfed parts of Britain last summer, one figure stood out for the clarity of his analysis and the credibility of his witness, namely Labour MP, David Lammy (pictured). Lammy was raised in Tottenham, one of the worst hit areas, and from the age of 12 was raised by his mother alone, a hard-working woman and a devoted member of her church. At the time Lammy blamed the riots (if such they can be called) on a culture of mass consumerism brought about by untrammelled capitalism, and on the extremely widespread absence of fathers from the lives of the children in the affected areas.
The Irish Times has been running a series of articles focusing on some of the issues surrounding Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR). These include the issues of surrogacy, conception involving donor sperm or eggs and the treatment of embryos which result from IVF. One of the notable features of this series is that it has looked at these issues mainly from the point of view of adults, rather than children.
Americans see religion as more important, and more important for morality, than Western Europeans, according to a new poll carried out by the Pew Research Centre. The poll, published yesterday, 50pc of Americans deem religion very important in their lives. From the European side, the survey looked at Spain, Germany, France and the UK but not at more religious countries like Poland.
Since writing a blog earlier in the week about a recent episode of Glee someone has brought to my attention the musings of Ian Brennan, the co-creator of Glee on being a Catholic. Incredibly, Glee was given an award by a Catholic group in the US. The decision was so incredible that Brennan himself was surprised to receive it.
We are frequently told that, for Ireland to be truly “modern” and “pluralist”, it must remove the reference to God in the preamble to the Constitution. In fact, it is commonplace for European countries to include a reference to God in their constitutions or the preambles to their constitutions.
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