A hotel run by Arizona State University (ASU) has been forced to remove the Bible from hotel rooms following an action by an atheist group. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) targeted the hotel arguing that the presence of Bibles in hotel rooms caused offence. The state’s Attorney General, Madeline Ziegler agreed and wrote to the university to warn that making Bibles available “sends the message that ASU endorses the religious texts”. She added that state-run universities have an obligation to remain neutral on religion. This is not the first time the FFRF has sought the removal of Bibles. In 2014, it caused their removal from rooms at hotels linked to Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin.
Citizens in Chile have staged a massive pro-life rally against government plans to legislate for abortion. Taking to the streets of the capital Santiago, tens of thousands of people demonstrated for a reversal of plans by President Michele Bachelet to legalise abortion in cases where the unborn baby has a terminal illness. Pro-life leaders have promised that the issue will become a hot topic for voters in forthcoming elections and warned that those backing the abortion push can expect to suffer at the polls.
Pro-life groups in Ireland have strongly criticised plans by a leading abortion provider in Britain to offer a helpline to women here seeking to use abortion pills. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) says it will offer advice to women who have obtained pills online. In response, the pro-Life Campaign stated: “If BPAS were serious about helping women, they would work on providing alternatives to abortion, which ends the life of an unborn child and very often leaves a woman suffering serious trauma. This helpline is a further attempt by BPAS to ignore the unborn baby entirely and normalise a procedure which is life-ending, not life-saving.” Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Precious Life group said that abortion drugs were not healthcare. “Research has shown, time and time again, that these abortion drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, also endanger women’s lives.”
Lawmakers in California have passed a Bill aimed at preventing undercover filming of abortion facility staff there. In the wake of the expose of abortion provider Planned Parenthood in a ‘body parts for sale’ scandal, an investigation resting on the use of secretly filmed footage, the state’s Senate passed the new legislation by 52-26 votes, making it a criminal offense to secretly record and distribute conversations with a healthcare officials, such as an abortion clinic worker. Offenders face a year in prison and a fine of $2,500. The new legislation will now be passed to Governor Jerry Brown for its final signing into law.
Over 180 same-sex marriages were registered in Ireland in the first three months of this year, latest figures reveal. According to the Central Statics Office, of 3,539 marriages conducted in the State in the first quarter of 2016, 186 were between same-sex couples. Many of these were converted Civil Partnerships.
LGBT activists in Spain are calling for the prosecutions of four Bishops who voiced objections to new legislation on LGBT rights and protections in the Madrid region. In a statement on the new ‘Law of Integral Protection against LGTBIphobia and Discrimination for Reasons of Orientation and Sexual Identity’, Bishops Juan Antonio Reig Pla, Joaquín María López, and Auxiliary Bishop José Rico Pavés warned that it “seeks to prohibit the public teaching of the Bible”. The statement was supported later by Bishop Demetrio Fernández, who said “gender ideology is an atomic bomb that seeks to destroy Catholic doctrine and the image of God in man and the image of God the Creator”. All four now face demands that they be prosecuted for hate speech in a Spanish court.
A major investigation of mass graves in Syria and Iraq by The Associated Press (AP) has uncovered the scale of killings by Islamic State (IS) of Christians and other minority groups. The agency claims to have found at least 72 mass graves already – with more set to be uncovered – which contain the remains of thousands of people summarily executed by the militant group since its emergence in 2014. The number of dead is estimated at anywhere between 5,200 to 15,000 so far, including women and children. Sinjar Mountain, where thousands of Yazidis sought shelter from the onward drive of IS is, says AP “dotted with graves”.