News Roundup

US baker takes same-sex case to Supreme Court

A Christian baker in the US state of Colorado who was sued by a same-sex couple after failing to provide a wedding cake is to appeal to the US Supreme Court. Jack Phillips had been ordered by the state’s Civil Rights Commission to provide staff training, updates of cakes he bakes and to offer cakes to same-sex couples in future as a result of the case. With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), he is now appealing to the Supreme Court to vindicate his religious freedom rights. “We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living,” ADF lawyer Jeremy Tedesco said.
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Proposed cuts in religious education ‘an attack’ on Catholic schools – Iona Institute

A draft proposal to reduce the two and a half hours allocated by primary schools each week to the teaching of religion has been described as “another attack on the rights of denominational schools” by  The Iona Institute. Reacting to reports that the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) will make such a call this autumn, Dr Tom Finegan of Iona said: “This is another example of the State showing that it has little or no appreciation for the role and place of denominational education in Irish society, or of the importance many parents place on denominational education.” Questioning the implicit belief that “time spent teaching RE is somehow compromising academic standards in our schools”, Dr Finegan pointed to the high educational standards in Northern Ireland primary schools where RE is also taught for several hours per week.

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US Democrats to fight for taxpayer-funded abortion

The Democratic Party in the US has officially adopted taxpayer-funded abortion as part of its election platform. During the party convention to select Hillary Clinton as its presidential hopeful, the party pledged to build on its support for ready access to abortion by seeking to overturn the Hyde Amendment, legislation that prohibits direct taxpayer funding for most abortions. However, taxpayer funding for abortion continues to be opposed by 62 percent of Americans. Pro-life advocates point out that the Democrats’ election platform in 2016 is the most pro-abortion in the party’s history.

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Attacks on Christians in Egypt growing

Attacks on the Christian community in Egypt are escalating rapidly, a leading figure in the Coptic Orthodox Church has said. In a statement following the latest killing of a Christian in the country at the hands of Muslims, Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church in Britain said: “It is regrettable that the time has come yet again to speak of heightened, targeted attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt. Tensions against Egypt’s indigenous Christian community have again escalated over the past few months, and will spiral even further if not immediately addressed.” In addition to killings, the growing wave of attacks have been against Christian properties amid rumours of church construction.

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State may cover cost of bringing aborted remains back from UK

Women who procure abortions in England may be able to repatriate their infants’ remains at the Irish State’s expense under new proposals. Following a July 6 meeting with a group called Terminations for Medical Reasons (TFMR), the Department of Health has confirmed that Minister Simon Harris is considering whether the State should cover repatriation costs as well as other financial supports and whether a range of services such as psychological supports, such as bereavement counselling can be put in pl

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Pro-life doctors in Britain face ‘harassment, discrimination’ – report

Doctors in Britain who, for conscientious reasons, refuse to take part in abortions are being harassed and side-lined, a new report has found. According to the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, witnesses have stated that for medical staff who have made their pro-life beliefs known, a career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology is almost “out of the question”.  In one case, a doctor was offered counselling for holding pro-life views. The Pro-Life Group called for the introduction of ‘reasonable accommodation’ of conscience into law based on its findings. Fiona Bruce MP, who led the inquiry, said it was important that medics who object to abortion can be free to do so without fearing “censure, discrimination or abuse”.

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European Court criticised for endorsing commercial surrogacy

The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) has described as “lamentable” a judgement handed down by Europe’s highest court against French authorities for refusing to recognise the birth certificates of children born through commercial surrogacy in India. Despite evidence that the mothers in two cases had received payment to pass on their children to a single man and a gay couple respectively with no intention of maintaining contact, the European Court of Human Rights fined France €45,000 in damages and costs for violating the children’s privacy. Reacting to the case, the ECLJ stated:  “This judgement marks a step forward in the liberalisation of surrogacy and the ‘purchase of children’… The European Court, with all his authority, endorsed ‘low-cost surrogacy’ and ‘gay surrogacy’.”

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Citizens’ Convention on abortion ‘a smokescreen’ – Bishop Doran

Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin has described the Government’s planned citizens’ convention on abortion as “a smokescreen”. Delivering an address to pro-life advocates this week, the Bishop stated: “The Government has proposed the establishment of a citizens’ convention to make recommendations on what should be done about the pro-life amendment. In my personal view, this is nothing more than a smokescreen, by means of which the Government wants to distance itself from the political consequences, by pointing the finger towards some other group, in much the same way Adam is reputed to have pointed at Eve. A government is elected to take responsibility for the common good and that includes the good of each and of all. Any government which seeks to legalise the taking of innocent human life betrays its sacred trust and is guilty of a crime against humanity.”

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Increasing number of youngsters exposed to porn – ISPCC

Young children are increasingly exposed to porn and sexualised language, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has said. Launching its annual report for 2015, the body called on schools to better educate pupils on the issue. “Watching imagery that you’re incapable of processing does a child harm, not just immediately but over the course of their childhood,” said ISPCC chief executive Grainia Long.  “Schools and the curriculum now needs to play a much proactive approach in terms of saying this is an issue.” She revealed that the ISPCC is dealing with an increasing number of calls from young children who are distressed at witnessing pornography while surfing online.

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Atheist-led alliance calls for end to ‘compulsory’ RE is secondary schools

Atheists, Evangelicals and Muslims have joined in calling for an end to compulsory religious education in Irish secondary schools. Arguing that the State’s second level religious programme “disrespects the philosophical convictions of atheist, secular and minority faith families”, the alliance of Atheist Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and Irish Ahmadiyya Muslims is calling for children to be afforded the right to choose an alternative subject to religion. Atheist Ireland chairman Michael Nugent said: “The minister for education should immediately issue a circular letter informing all schools at second level that the State religious education course is not compulsory and students can choose another subject, and schools should actively inform students and parents about this.

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