News Roundup

Lesbian couples in UK are twice as likely to divorce as married gay men

Lesbian couples are more than twice as likely to divorce as gay men, Government data on England and Wales suggests. It confirms a similar finding in Scandinavia.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published annual research on Tuesday that showed there were 822 same-sex splits in 2019.
589, or 72 per cent, took place between women while there were 233 between men.
Alison Fernandes, a partner with Hall Brown Family Law, said same-sex divorces involving women tend to happen “at a slightly younger age than for gay men or heterosexual men and women”.

Abortion chain dumps Marie Stopes name due to her racist beliefs

The Marie Stopes International (MSI) chain of abortion clinics is to change its name in an attempt to break its association with the eugenicist and racist views of the birth control and abortion campaigner.
From Tuesday, the clinics, which operates in 37 countries, will abbreviate their initials and go by the name MSI Reproductive Choices.
Among her writings, Marie Stopes called for new laws that allowed the “hopelessly rotten and racially diseased” to be sterilised and wrote fiercely against interracial marriage. Eugenic beliefs were extremely widespread in the first decades of the last century.
“We’re absolutely not trying to erase her from history, or what she did,” said Simon Cooke, MSI’s chief executive. “For me, she was an acknowledged family planning pioneer, an extraordinary women who broke down barriers … but we really need to look forward and not back. It’s the right moment for us.”
Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood in New York also dropped the name of Margaret Sanger from their abortion clinics due to her similarly racist, eugenicist views.

Report claims human rights abuse of elderly in Belgium amid pandemic

Belgian authorities “abandoned” thousands of elderly people who died in nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic and did not seek hospital treatment for many who were infected, violating their human rights, Amnesty International said in an investigation published Monday.
Between March and October, 61.3% of all COVID-19 deaths in Belgium took place in nursing homes. The group said authorities weren’t quick enough to implement measures to protect nursing home residents and staff during this period, failing to protect their human rights. A similar percentage of death occurred in Ireland among care home patients.
Amnesty International said one of the reasons so many people died in nursing homes is because infected residents weren’t transferred to hospitals to receive treatment.
“The results of our investigation allow us to affirm that (care homes) and their residents were abandoned by our authorities until this tragedy was publicly denounced and the worst of the first phase of the pandemic was over,” said Philippe Hensmans, the director of Amnesty International Belgium.

Study suggests religiosity correlates with better sexual relationships

Highly religious couples who share a common faith report more satisfying sexual relationships than their secular peers, according to a recently released study from the Wheatley Institution,
The findings complement a separate study by Stephen Cranney published earlier this year in the Reviews of Religious Research, which found that married religious couples also have more frequent and better sex.
The Wheatley report analyzed survey data from 11 countries, including the United States, and its findings suggest that the level of a couple’s religious involvement can play a role in reported sexual satisfaction. According to the analysis, moderately religious women were 50% more likely to report being sexually satisfied in their relationship than women with no religious practice. However, women in highly religious relationships (couples who pray together, read scripture at home, and attend church, etc.) were twice as likely as their secular peers to say they were satisfied with their sexual relationship. And the men in these couples were fully four times as likely to report being sexually satisfied as men in relationships with no religious activity.

Christian Churches in Sligo unite to lobby for public worship

Seventeen church leaders in Sligo including the Catholic bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, have written to local TDs and Councillors to asked the Government “to allow Churches to open at level 3 of lockdown so that people can return to worship and that the avenues of Christian love and comfort can resume.” Ireland was unique in Europe in stopping public worship at mid-level restrictions.
The group includes Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Pentecostal Christians that make up “Sligo Churches Together”.
They say for many years they have cooperated to advance the spiritual welfare of their respective congregations.: “We do this by coming together for acts of prayer and worship, raising awareness of social issues such as pastoral care for refugees and migrants in our community and collecting much needed funds to distribute to needy causes in the local area.”
“We have been disheartened that when our Christian community is most in need of God’s grace, love and the comfort of the Sacraments our Churches are forced to close.”
The group say they are perplexed that the Covid-19 response plan for the Church is the same at level 3 as at level 5, and they appeal to Government, given the degree of safety that the Churches have implemented, that they should be allowed to open at level 3.

Atheist group faults schools’ policies for opting out of ‘religion classes’

A new report critiques the processes used by schools to enable students to opt out of religion class.
Atheist Ireland claims most schools are not providing sufficiently transparent policies in their admissions statements and claims they are thereby defying the law.
The Education (Admission to Schools) Act, 2018 outlined new requirements that apply to admissions for September 2021 onwards. Among those is that “an admission policy should provide details of the school’s arrangements for students who do not wish to attend religious instruction”.
The survey details how 100 sample schools address the issue in their Admission Policies for 2020/21.
In response to a request for comment, the Department of Education said the manner in which any school ensures that the right to opt out of religion classes is upheld “is a matter for the school concerned”.

Baptism ceremony in UK shut down by police due to lockdown rules

Police in London halted a baptism service after about 30 worshippers gathered in breach of national lockdown restrictions.
Regan King, lead pastor at The Angel Church, Islington, defended his decision to hold the service, saying it served “the greater good”.
The pastor agreed to hold a brief “socially distanced outdoor gathering in the church courtyard” after officers halted the service.
Four officers stood at the entrance stopping people from entering.
Under current restrictions weddings and baptisms are not allowed in England. Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people.

Taoiseach says churches could be open for public Mass in early December

Public worship could return under “modified” level 3 restrictions in early December.
In an interview on RTÉ News at One on Friday An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “We will make decisions towards the end of the month, I did say that we may look at level 3 as to modifications to level 3 and that could apply to worship as well.”
He said that “Christmas has a strong spiritual theme to it and again we will work with all faiths and none in terms of their own particular requirements”.
“In the Christian tradition in particular – it’s an important number of weeks leading into Christmas and we acknowledge that and we appreciate also it’s good for many involved in Catholicism, in Church of Ireland, in different religions, it’s important for their mental health as well and this is something that is important to their lives and I understand that,” he added.
When asked about Christmas he said that “I think the churches will be open in the Christmas week”.

US Supreme Court Justice warns religious liberty is becoming a ‘disfavoured right’

Religious liberty and free speech are among Americans’ personal freedoms potentially imperiled by government overreach during the coronavirus pandemic, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has warned.
“Tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply,” Alito added in a virtual keynote speech to a conference of the Federalist Society, in which he referenced the current state of discourse in the nation’s law schools and the “broader academic community.”
Many recent law school graduates claim they face “harassment” and “retaliation” for any views that depart “from law school orthodoxy,” Alito said.
“In certain quarters religious liberty has fast become a disfavored right,” he said. “For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It’s often just an excuse for bigotry and it can’t be tolerated even when there’s no evidence that anybody has been harmed.”
He said there was “hostility” toward “unfashionable views” before the pandemic but said that free speech on campuses and at some corporations is now in danger.
“You can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman,” Alito said. “Until very recently that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry.”

US city abolishes gendered language to be more ‘inclusive’

The left-wing Mayor of the US city of Portland, Oregon, has announced the removal of gendered language from the city’s charter in a bid to become more inclusive.

The move will see terms including ‘she’, ‘he’, ‘herself’ and ‘himself’ purged from the progressive city’s founding document.

It follows similar action by the cities of Philadelphia, Tulsa and Oklahoma, all of which wiped gendered references from their charters last year.

Berkeley, California has also scrapped words such as manhole, brother and policeman from its law books.

In 2017, Oregon became the first state to allow residents to list their gender as ‘not specified’ when applying for driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and identity cards, Fox News reported.

Under that rule, the cards of those who select the ‘not specified’ option will be marked with an X, rather than an M or F to indicate their gender.