News Roundup

Christian groups welcome Northern Ireland abortion guidelines

Christian groups in Northern Ireland have welcomed newly published guidelines on abortion which offer no change in laws regulating terminations there. Despite some concerns over the affording of a more liberal approach to interpreting the new guidelines, issued in the wake of a legal challenge, both the Christian public policy charity CARE and the Evangelical Alliance have expressed support for them.


Pope appeals to Pakistan for greater Christian security

Pope Francis has urged the Pakistani authorities to step up security for the nation’s Christian community in the wake of the Easter bombing in Lahore which claimed 70 lives. The Pontiff appealed to “the civil authorities and all community leaders in that nation to do everything possible to ensure the security and serenity of the population, particularly the most vulnerable religious minorities.” The extremist Jamaat-ul-Ahrar grouping claimed the attack and stated it specifically targeted Christians.


Georgia vetoes religious freedom bill in face of corporate pressure

The US state of Georgia has vetoed a bill aimed at protecting the religious freedom of groups unwilling to facilitate same-sex weddings. The ‘Pastor Protection Act’ fell after major corporations such as Disney, and leading Hollywood figures said they would boycott the state if the bill was passed. The failure of the bill now opens the door to legal actions against individuals and groups opposed to same-sex unions on the grounds of faith.


Christian student body faces sanction for accepting Jesus as Lord

A student union in Australia has threatened to de-register a Christian grouping for students because it believes the group’s requirement that members accept the divinity of Jesus Christ amounts to discrimination. The University of Sydney’s student union has demanded that the on-campus Evangelical Union drop this requirement by the end of March or be barred from the campus.


Former minister critical of threat to faith-based funding

Former minister Dr Martin Mansergh has criticised the State for its role in the Diocese of Elphin’s withdrawal from a family life centre on the grounds of a threat to its funding.
Following a report on The Irish Catholic newspaper that the diocese had felt compelled to end it backing for the centre in Boyle, Co. Roscommon so as to secure the continued funding from Tusla, the State’s child and family agency, Dr Mansergh said it “is sad when the State withdraws financial support for work that has been of public benefit for many years, unless it renounces its original mission or core values”.

Precious Life launches petition to end Down’s Syndrome discrimination

The pro-life group Precious Life is appealing to people in Ireland to back its online petition to end discrimination against people with Down’s Syndrome.
The petition calls on the Secretary General of the UN, the Commissioner for Human Rights from the Council of Europe and the European Commissioner for the Charter of Fundamental Rights to appeal to member states to use genetic testing solely to enhance human care and well-being of babies.

US Supreme Court divided over nun’s contraceptive mandate case

The US Supreme Court is reportedly divided 4-4 on the issue of religious orders and faith groups being forced to offer contraceptive and abortion cover as part of insurance packages. The court’s indecision arises from a case taken by the Little Sisters of the Poor, who, along with other charitable groupings, are seeking to challenge the requirement contained in the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services mandate.

North Carolina enforces biological-gender restroom use

The governor of the US state of North Carolina has signed a bill effectively barring transgender individuals from using toilets of their preferred gender choice. House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act also enshrines the requirement that local ordinances on ‘non-discrimination’ be passed to the state legislature for ratification, insisting that state law pre-empts the local.

Atlanta Super Bowl bid threatened over religious freedom protection

America’s National Football League (NFL) has threatened to deny the city of Atlanta Georgia a future chance of hosting the sport’s Super Bowl final because legislators there are considering protections for churches and other faith-based groups against claims over opposition to same-sex marriage. Georgia is currently in the running to host the 2019 and 2020 finals.

House of Lords blocks Islamic State ‘genocide’ motion

Britain’s House of Lords has blocked an attempt to enact legislation towards forcing High Court judges to rule on whether Islamic State action against minorities amount to genocide.
In a vote on an amendment to the Immigration Bill currently before the Lords, and tabled by a cross-party group of peers, the move to achieve a genocide label via the courts was struck down by 148 votes to 111. Lord Alton, a leading advocate for minorities suffering under Islamic State rule described the vote as “a lamentable failure” for the British government.