News Roundup

Decline of religion in Britain levels off

Decades of religious decline in Britain have levelled off according to soon-to-be released figures. According to The Sunday Telegraph, which has seen the results of the 2016 British Social Attitudes Survey, “the overall proportion of Britons who described themselves as Christian actually rose one percentage point in the last year from 42% to 43%”. The rise, it says, corresponds to a 1% decline in those describing themselves as having no religion, from 49% to 48%. Within the category of those aged under 25, the number of non-believers actually fell three percentage points, from 65% to 62%.
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Call to criminalise sex buyers

The Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Ruhama anti-prostitution group have renewed calls for the criminalising of sex buyers following comments by Minister John Halligan that prostitution should be legalised. Voicing backing for the Turn Off the Red Light campaign, both groups, which support trafficked women and those forced into prostitution, said most women in prostitution want to escape that life and most had been trafficked into it. “The Government can enact the Sexual Offences Bill within a matter of weeks. This Bill takes huge strides in tackling many forms of sexual exploitation of vulnerable children and adults,” the Council stated.
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Illinois doctors challenge removal of conscience rights

Medical practitioners in the US state of Illinois have launched a legal bid to have a new law denying conscientious objection to abortion overturned. The move comes in the wake of the recent signing of Senate Bill 1564, which removed the right of doctors to opt out of providing abortions to patients on moral and religious grounds. The Alliance Defending Freedom group has announced it is backing a doctor and two pregnancy centres in the legal challenge. “The governor should have vetoed this bill for many reasons, including its incompatibility with Illinois law and the state constitution, which specifically protects freedom of conscience and free speech,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman.
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Minister Zappone wants wider provision of abortion

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has said she favours widening access to abortion beyond rape and fatal foetal abnormality as such provisions would “do nothing at all for most women in Ireland”. Arguing that she supports the repeal of the Constitutional protection for the unborn, Minister Zappone said women “do not want to be pregnant without their consent [and] I am committed to them having the option not to be”.
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Fresh threat to Nigeria’s Christians

The new leader of Nigeria’s Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has instructed his followers to actively target Christians in the country. In a message announcing his leadership, Abu Musab al-Barnawi alleges that there is an active conspiracy in Nigeria to Christianise the region and says this will be resisted. He said members of Boko Haram will react by “booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those (Christians) who we find from the citizens of the cross”.
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German Court rejects creation of third gender category

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has rejected the creation of a third gender category to accommodate a person who identifies as neither male nor female. In a case taken by the unidentified German citizen, registered as female, it was argued that as she could produce a genetic analysis proving to be neither male nor female, she should be granted the right to identify as ‘intersex’. The court, however, disagreed and ruled that German law would not allow entry of a third option of “inter” or “diverse” in the birth registry, and saw no reason to refer the matter to the German constitutional court. The plaintiff has said she will challenge the ruling.
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Junior Minister rails against pro-life advocates

Junior Ministers for Training and Skills John Halligan has likened pro-life advocates to Islamic State and says he knows for a fact that God does not exist. However, he said he beleives in aliens. During the course of a broad ranging interview with Hot Press, Minister Halligan, who previously backed the latest attempt to have abortion legislation passed through the Dáil, said he had been hurt by personalised attacks by some pro-life advocates, describing them as “b******s”. In addition to backing abortion and assisted suicide, the Minister said he also favoured the introduction of legalised prostitution to Ireland.
 
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Islamic State dismisses Pope’s words of peace

Islamic State (ISIS) has dismissed Pope Francis’ assertion that its campaign is not a religious war, accusing the Pontiff of delivering a “false narrative”. In the terrorist group’s latest edition of Dabiq, its online magazine, the group attacks the Pope’s claim that “religions don’t want war” stating that its campaign “is a divinely-warranted war between the Muslim nation and the nations of disbelief. Indeed, waging jihad – spreading the rule of Allah by the sword – is an obligation found in the Koran, the word of our Lord.” The group adds: “Muslims have been commanded to terrorise the disbelieving enemies of Allah.”
 
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US Supreme Court overturns transgender bathroom access

The US Supreme Court has overturned a lower court’s ruling that a transgender pupil be granted access to the toilet facilities of their chosen gender. In the first case of its kind to reach as high as the Supreme Court, judges ruled 5 to 3 that Gavin Grimm, who was born a female should not be allowed to access male toilets. Grimm had previously taken a successful case against in Virginia after the school Grimm attends decided that pupils should use a private toilet or one corresponding to the biological details on their birth certificate. The Supreme Court judgement will be revisited this autumn.
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Pope decries gender theory as ‘ideological colonising’

The Pope has spoken out strongly against the drive to introduce gender theory to society. According to the text of a private meeting with Poland’s Bishops, released by the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke of “ideological colonising” and warned that the spread of the belief that people can simply choose their gender in a manner unrelated to their biological sex represented “a moment of annihilation of man as image of God”. “Today, in schools they are teaching this to children – to children! – that everyone can choose their gender,” the Pontiff lamented, stating that the current drive on gender theory is backed by “very influential countries”.
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