News Roundup

Colombia ditches transgender schools programme after protests

Colombia has ended plans for the introduction of transgender programmes in schools following massive nationwide protests. President Juan Manuel Santos announced that “neither the Ministry of Education nor the national government has implemented, has promoted, or will promote so-called gender ideology”. In an apparent attempt to limit the political fallout of the transgender programme, the President added that the booklet at the centre of the programme – produced in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund and UNICEF – was not an official document, despite bearing the name of Colombia’s education minister, Gina Parody, and the logo of the Ministry of Education.

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Humanist weddings overtake Church of Scotland and Catholic ceremonies – new figures

Humanist marriages have overtaken Church of Scotland and Catholic weddings for the first time. According to figures issued by the National Records of Scotland, while there were 4,290 Humanist wedding ceremonies conducted in 2015, the Church of Scotland presided over 4,052 weddings, and the Catholic Church 1,438. The figures further confirmed the steady decline in Church of Scotland weddings over the past decade. In 2005, when Humanist weddings were first permitted, the Church of Scotland conducted 8,686 weddin

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Maltese Bishops urge rejection of euthanasia

Catholic prelates in Malta have warned against the island nation accepting euthanasia. In a pastoral letter penned in response to a pro-euthanasia petition, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Gozo Bishop Mario Grech denounced euthanasia as part of the “throwaway culture”, one in which society “kills unborn babies, abandons the old, forsakes people with disabilities, values people according to their potential contribution to the economy and their consumption, and is unjust to the poor”. The petition in Malta to legalise euthanasia has more than 1,300 signatures so far online.

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Legal hearing opens on US transgender toilet policy

Legal arguments have begun in a multi-state case against the Obama administration’s transgender toilet policy for schools. In a case led by Texas state Governor Ken Paxton, 13 states are asking a court to rule against the policy. The case opened before District Court judge Reed O’Connor in Forth Worth, Texas, on August 12, with Governor Paxton arguing that the administration was forcing “radical change” on America with the toilet policy.

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Justice at last for Indian Christians

India’s Supreme Court has ordered authorities to reopen investigations into alleged perpetrators behind a major anti-Christian pogrom in 2008. Ruling that the original acquittals “were not justified”, the court ordered a re-examination of some 827 cases linked to the outbreak of violence which saw 100 Christians killed in addition to the destruction of hundreds of churches and 6,000 homes belonging to Christians in the state of Orissa (now renamed Odisha). The court further ruled that compensation paid to Christian victims had been woefully inadequate and ordered increased payments to families of those killed in the pogrom.

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Violations of religious freedom increasing worldwide – US State Department

The rate of religious freedom violations around the world is growing, according to the US State Department’s annual report for 2015. Unveiling the document, David Saperstein, US Ambassdor-at-Large for Religious Freedom said that the use of blasphemy laws was one major factor affecting religious communities. “More than one in 10 [countries] have laws or policies penalising apostasy, and the existence of these laws has been used by governments in too many cases to intimidate [and] repress religious minorities, and governments have too often failed to take appropriate steps to prevent societal violence sparked by accusations of blasphemy and apostasy,” he said. The report also includes the ongoing abuse committed by non-state actors such as so-called Islamic State in the growing persecution of religious minorities.
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Few US Christians hear social issues in church- study

Christians in America hear little about current social issues in church, a new poll has found. Conducted by the Pew Research Centre, the study surveyed some 4,000 churchgoers across Christian denominations and found that just 40% heard their priest or pastor mention religious freedom, 39% heard about issues like same-sex marriage, and just 29% heard any mention of abortion. The findings of the survey were constant across denominations, including for White Evangelicals, Black Protestants, and Roman Catholics. The findings suggest that clergy are reluctant to invite controversy by discussing sensitive social issues from the pulpit.
 

 

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Christian refugees forced to hide Bibles at German migrant camp

Christian refugees in Germany are forced to hide their Bibles amid daily threats from Muslim refugees, it has been revealed. According to the Daily Express, refugees at a holding centre for migrants near the city of Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock have been warned that if Bibles are found they will be torn up by Muslims sharing the centre. The report comes after an earlier incident in which a number of Iranian refugees had to be rehoused at another location when they were threatened after refusing to abandon their Christian faith. Pastor Mahin Mousapour of the Persian Father House community in Frankfurt, is quoted as stating that Muslims in the camp regard their fellow Christian migrants as “unclean” and “more impure than dogs”.
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Marriage gap between rich and poor exists across Europe

A new study shows that a ‘marriage gap’ between upper and lower income groups exists across Europe and is worst in Scandinavia. A recent Iona Institute report shows that a large marriage gap also exists in Ireland. Compiled by the Marriage Foundation, the new study revealed that in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark an average of 30% of low income parents are married compared to the continental average of 43%. Mediterranean countries showed higher rates, with an average 53% of low income parents being married. In contrast, 75% of high income Scandinavians are married while the figure in Mediterranean countries is 87%. Harry Benson of Marriage Foundation said: “This research shows for the first time that the problem of the marriage gap – where the wealthy perpetuate their wealth and advantage by getting married, while the poorest suffer greater instability by not – is manifest across Europe.”

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Colombians protests gender ideology plan for schools

Thousands of people have marched in Colombia against plans to introduce gender ideology programmes in schools. Protestors called for the resignation of Education Minister Gina Parody, who earlier ordered schools to amend student manuals to better accommodate gay and transgender students. In addition, in recent weeks the nation’s Constitutional Court has ruled twice that transgender students in two schools must be allowed to wear the clothing of their preferred gender. The nationwide protests were organised by the Standard Bearers of the Family group which was backed in its action by the country’s Catholic bishops as well as Evangelical leaders. “We reject the implementation of gender ideology in the education system in Colombia, because it is a destructive ideology, it destroys the human person,” said the Cardinal Archbishop of Bogotá, Rubén Salazar Gómez.

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