News Roundup

Concerns for Turkey’s Christians amid attacks

Concerns are growing for the Christian community in Turkey after it emerged that a number of Christian sites were attacked during the failed coup of July 15. Reports from areas across the country report broken windows at a number of churches as demonstrators took to the streets in response to the action of some in the military to overthrow the government. The actions have led to calls for the authorities to better protect the positon of minority communities. Canon Ian Sherwood, Anglican chaplain of the British consulate in Istanbul said: “As long-centuries established Christians in Turkey we are alarmed at how life is evolving in Turkey.” He added that many indigenous Christians are now trying to flee growing intolerance in Turkey.

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Canadian Anglican Bishops critical of same-sex marriage vote

A group of Bishops of the Anglican Church in Canada has issued a joint statement criticising the Church’s recent vote in favour of same-sex marriages as “a departure from faith”. In a joint statement, the seven Bishops warn that the conducting of gay marriage ceremonies in Anglican churches ““would be a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of the Anglican Communion on the doctrine of marriage”. They added: “The General Synod has taken a further step in ordaining something contrary to God’s Word written and imperils our full communion within the Anglican Church of Canada and with Anglicans throughout the world”.

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US University ditches speech ‘permit policy’ after religious challenge

A university in the state of North Carolina has ditched plans to require permits for religious and other groups to host speeches on campus following a challenge by a Christian group. Authorities at Northern Carolina State University agreed a settlement with Grace Christian Life after the group threatened legal action, backed by Alliance Defending Freedom, for what it said was an unacceptable curb on constitutional freedoms of religion and speech. Welcoming the university’s decision, ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said: “Students of any religious, political, or ideological persuasion should be able to freely and peacefully speak with their fellow students about their views without interference from university officials who may prefer one view over another. NC State did the right thing in revising its policy to reflect this instead of continuing to defend its previous policy, which was not constitutionally defensible.”

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Malta pushed to offer Morning-After Pill

The island nation of Malta is facing renewed calls to introduce the morning-after pill which can act as an abortifacient. The Woman’s Rights Foundation, which claims to represent 102 Maltese women has filed a legal action which states that women’s civil rights are being violated in being denied access to the drug. Malta remains the only European country not selling the morning-after pill. Members of the Maltese Parliament have said they would welcome a full debate on the issue, though Malta remains overwhelmingly pro-life.

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LGBT programme for Scottish schools a ‘Trojan horse’ – Church leader

A new initiative in Scotland to teach school children lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) issues has been described as a “Trojan horse” to force an ideology on all pupils. Reacting to the forthcoming Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) programme, which begins in Glasgow and Edinburgh schools in October, Free Church Moderator David Robertson said the programme is merely “a Trojan horse to impose an ideological perspective on all pupils…to indoctrinate school pupils with one particular perspective on moral and sexual ethics and one which is contrary to mainstream Christianity”. Backers of TIE are pushing for nationwide adoption of the programme even before the pilot roll-out is complete.

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UK Boarding school teachers instructed to adopt transgender terminology

Teachers at British boarding schools have been instructed to use gender neutral vocabulary in order to better accommodate transgender pupils. In a set of guidelines issued by the Boarding Schools’ Association, teachers are told to address transgender pupils as ‘zie’, ‘zir’ and ‘zem’ to avoid causing offence. The guidance further informs teachers of a range of gender identities to be catered for, such as ‘genderqueer’, where a person says they are neither male nor female, and ‘pansexual’, where a person says they are attracted to men, women and transsexuals. Additionally, schools have been asked to make available an equality pledge to be signed by visitors at individual schools.

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Medical staff in Cyprus arrested for illegal abortions

At least six medical practitioners at a hospital in Turkish Cyprus have been charged with performing abortions on infants older than five months gestation, and one full-term. According to reports, those to be brought before the courts include the hospital’s owners, the head physician, a doctor, an obstetrician, and a nurse. The charges come after police investigations led officers to the secret burial site of a number of infant bodies. Turkish Cyprus allows for abortion up to the first 10 weeks of development.

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Christian community in Pakistan threatened after blasphemy case

Muslim clerics in Punjab, Pakistan, have allegedly called on followers to burn Christian homes unless a Christian accused of blasphemy is arrested. James Nadeem went into hiding after he was accused of using social media to send a poem insulting to the Prophet Mohamad. Police have already moved to detain the man’s sisters, reportedly to place pressure on Nadeem to surrender, but he has not yet down so, apparently leading to the threats from local mosques against the Christian community as a whole.

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Canadian Anglican Church votes to conduct same-sex weddings

The Anglican Church in Canada has voted to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies. In a poll at the Church’s general synod in Ottowa, the motion on same-sex ceremonies was at first defeated by a majority of clergy but subsequently reversed when supporters of the move pointed to a miscount among lay voters. The Anglican Network in Canada expressed dismay at the move which, it said, was “clearly in contrast to the scriptural teaching of marriage and moves the Anglican Church of Canada apart from the Anglican Communion worldwide”.

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More US states challenge Obama transgender directive

Ten more states in America have joined the fight to sue the Obama administration over its transgender directive on access to toilet and shower facilities. Announcing the beginning of the latest legal actions, Nebraska’s Attorney General Doug Peterson said of the directive: “It’s putting school districts in a terrible position. It’s trying to push a certain agenda through our school systems, and we need to simply stand up and say this does not make sense.” Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming joined Nebraska in the lawsuit.

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