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Same-sex marriage ban likely to be upheld by California Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court last week suggested that it was ready today to uphold Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage. However, it also seemed likely to rule that the marriages of same-sex couples who wed before the vote would remain valid.

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New proposals to stop religious selection “perverse” say English religious leaders

New proposals to take away the rights of faith schools' to admit pupils on the basis of religion are "perverse and unjust", according to the Britain's religious leaders.

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Religious people stay calm in a crisis: study

Religious people are less likely to panic under pressure than those with no religion, according to the results of a new experiment.

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Punishment of people over their faith “ludricrous”, says Blair

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has blasted as "ludicrous” the punishment of people for expressing their beliefs, such as the nurse recently suspended for offering to pray for a patient.

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Senators Norris and Bacik deny child’s right to mother and father

The idea that children have a right to a mother and father is “absurd” and “nonsensical”, Senators David Norris and Ivana Bacik have said in a Seanad debate. During the debate, children’s minister, Barry Andrews, indicated he was open to the idea of adoption by same-sex couples and said the only real impediment to it was the Constitution.

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Archbishop backs moves to secure protocols for Lisbon II

Protocols securing Ireland's unique stance on social and moral issues ahead of a second Lisbon referendum are an important part of ensuring that the “competence creep” of EU law does not interfere with our laws on family and abortion, according to the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin.

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New IVF rules allow two ‘mothers’ to be named on birth certs

A former head of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), Baroness Deech, has said that new regulations governing IVF are “ putting the rights of the parents way above those of the child”.

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Australian rights charter weakens protection for religion, warns expert

A leading Australian human rights expert has warned that a human rights charter being championed by some campaigners is "a device for the delivery of a soft-Left sectarian agenda".

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Twenty children in care of State died over six years, say new figures

Twenty children in State care have died over a six-year period, according to figures reported in the Irish Times.

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US to fund pro-marriage ad campaign

The US government is funding a $5 million national media campaign that launches this month, extolling the virtues of marriage for those ages 18 to 30.

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Draft EPP manifesto favours ‘family diversity’ over marriage

The draft manifesto of the European People's Party (EPP) for the 2009 European Parliament elections has removed the reference to “unique ties between man and woman” in the context of the family and replaced them with a reference to family diversity.

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Marital children have priority over non-marital children: High Court

Fathers have a prior duty to provide financial care for their marital children over and above any duty to non-marital children, the High Court has ruled.

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Govt must secure social guarantees to win Lisbon, says Senator Mullen

The Government needs to ensure that the Irish Constitution, and not Europe “reigns supreme where sensitive social issues are concerned,” in considering its approach to any second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, Senator Ronan Mullen has said.

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Radical Yogyakarta Principles being considered at Council of Europe

The radical Yogyakarta Principles, which are aimed, among other things, at legalising same-sex marriage and adoption world-wide, as well as banning ‘hate speech’ against homosexuals, is being considered by special committee of the Council of Europe (CoE) is meeting this week in Strasbourg.

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Religion important in vast majority of people's lives, world poll finds

Religion is important in the daily lives of over 80 per cent of the world’s population, according to a new poll conducted by Gallup. Approximately 1,000 adults were surveyed in almost every country in the world 2006, 2007, and 2008. It asked respondents how important religion was to them in their daily lives.

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UK Christians regarded as “mad”: Archbishop

Contemporary British society regards Christians as "mad" because they are motivated by compassion and not money, according to a leading Anglican clergyman

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Children need to learn the Bible, says leading atheist

Children should be taught the Bible or they will fail to understand culture and and literature, according to the UK's leading poet.

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UK teachers may face action for talking about faith

New guidelines for teachers drawn up by the UK's General Teaching Council (GTC), mean that teachers may face disciplinary action if they discuss their religious beliefs with children, according to reports. The guidelines say that teachers must "promote equality and value diversity".

Similar guidelines which operate for nursing led to the suspension of Caroline Petrie, a Christian nurse in the UK who offered to pray for an elderly patient.

The guidance from the GTC, which regulates the teaching profession in the UK, states that registered teachers must "act respectfully towards all children and young people, parents, carers and colleagues, regardless of their socio-economic background, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, religion or beliefs".

It adds that they should be "sensitive to the socio-economic and cultural context in which they are working, and issues in the local community that may impact on the well-being, development and progress of children and young people."

Teachers are also required to "proactively challenge discrimination, stereotyping and bullying, no matter who is the victim or the perpetrator; promote equality and value diversity in all their professional relationships and interactions".

Campaigners have highlighted the similarity between this requirement to respect "equality and diversity" and that used against Mrs Petrie, a committed Baptist who faced being sacked from her job as a community nurse by North Somerset Primary Care Trust after she offered to pray for an elderly patient.

The 45-year-old was suspended on full pay for more than a month and was only reinstated after overwhelming public support forced her employers to cave in.

But all National Health Service employees are at risk of being suspended if they are accused of "preaching" to colleagues or patients, under official guidelines disclosed by The Daily Telegraph.

Now it is feared teachers will be the next to face disciplinary action for discussing their faith in public, under the new GTC code.

Religious groups warn that it represents an attack on freedom of speech and claim it is impossible for the devout to suppress their beliefs.

Mike Judge, a spokesman for The Christian Institute, said: "Are we going to see Christian teachers suspended because they mention God, or prayer, or church? If it happened to a nurse it could happen to teachers. Where does this leave Christian assemblies and teachers who work in faith schools?

"There is a witch hunt against Christians and it is time it stopped. Churches pioneered bedside care for the sick and education for the disadvantaged. Now they are being squeezed out by the 'tolerance intelligentsia' who tolerate anything as long as it is not Christianity. I doubt that Florence Nightingale would be allowed to work in the modern NHS."

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported Mrs Petrie, added: "What this shows is that equality and diversity policies which are purported to promote tolerance end up imposing censorship and a new intolerance.

"To say you can't express your faith in the workplace is unrealistic. It's the next stage of this chilling process where people don't know what they're allowed to say any more."


First ever Marriage Week in Ireland launched

This week Ireland's first-ever Marriage Week has been taking place. The event consisted of a programme of events to support and encourage married and engaged couples, has been welcomed by Mary Hanafin, Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

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Jesuit College strengthens Catholic identity

Boston College (BC), a renowned US Jesuit university, has decided to reintroduce crosses into its classrooms. The move, which was made last month, is part of an ongoing drive to make the college's Catholic identity more public. Two years ago, the college installed a new statue of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.

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"The child...shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents."

Article 7. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.