A surprisingly quiet week, in which the reserved judgment in the Ashers Bakery case was put back from 7 May – possibly because there was something else going on…
General Election 2015
There is little to say that hasn’t by now already been said, except that the Charity Commission is apparently investigating a complaint that a religious charity indulged in party-political campaigning. However, there’s always the BBC’s Election quiz: How well have you been paying attention? with a reprise of the some of the trivia you may have missed – David certainly did.
On a more serious note, the fact that David Cameron has been able to form a majority Government presumably means that any radical reform of the House of Lords – Lords Spiritual included – is now off the agenda until 2020. Yesterday the BBC reported that Chris Grayling was to be replaced as Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary by Michael Gove and it remains to be seen what will happen to the Human Rights Act 1998 and UK adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights under the new regime. For a reaction to the change of government see Adam Wagner’s post on RightsInfo: The Election Result Means Big Changes Are Coming For Human Rights.
Abortion in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford MLA has said that he proposes to seek Executive approval for a Bill to make limited amendments to the current law on abortion. A press release on 16 April said that he had concluded that it was right to change the law along the lines outlined in the consultation paper: to permit a legal abortion in the limited circumstances of foetal abnormality likely to cause death either before birth, during birth or in an initial period after birth and where no treatment other than palliative care could be offered to improve the chances of survival. He also proposes to include a conscience clause in the legislation. However, he does not propose to proceed with changes relating to pregnancy resulting from incest or rape.
Cakes in Northern Ireland
And while we’re still in Ulster, the Belfast Telegraph reported that judgment in the Ashers Bakery case will now be handed down on 19 May, instead of on 7 May as originally announced.
Richmond, Islington and Maidstone
The official Church of England position is that “part of the normal statutory process for filling suffragan sees is for the Dioceses Commission to consider, on behalf of the national church, whether to agree to a proposal from a diocesan bishop to fill such a see. Suffragan sees are normally filled within a short time frame but …”. In the past few days, an appointment has been made to one See that has been vacant for six years and approval given to revive two other Sees that have been long dormant:
- the See of Maidstone was left vacant in 2009 following a diocesan decision to appoint an additional archdeacon;
- the See of Islington was created in the late 19th Century but has been left unfilled since 1923; and
- the See of Richmond has been dormant since 1921.
- Law and Religion Australia: Employment status of clergy: Neil Foster comments on Sharpe from an Australian perspective.
- Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians: Europe: The Problem of Intolerant Equality Laws 2014: Cases of intolerance or discrimination against Christians: List of purported cases of anti-Christian discrimination during 2014. Warning: it is written from a very particular standpoint. For example, vandalising churches (or, for that matter, mosques or synagogues) is illegal in all European jurisdictions; but, one might have thought, secularists in Scotland calling on the Government “to remove religious representatives from education committees” sounds like a matter on which there can be a perfectly proper debate.
- Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee: Stage 1 Report on Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill: as we have already reported, because the issue is a matter of conscience the Committee has chosen to make no formal recommendation to the Parliament on the Bill.
- Fulcrum: Jonathan Chaplin: Christian Scholarship Beyond the Theological Guild as mentioned in last Tuesday’s post. (The comments include a link to an American list of The 20 Most Brilliant Christian Professors – which fails to include Rowan Williams…)
- BBC 2, The Big Questions: Have human rights laws achieved more for mankind than religion? Broadcast at 10.00 – 11.00 am, 10th May.
- US Government: Annual Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom 2015.
- Dr Ed Peters: Bad ideas know no borders Further to our piece on “The Church and Marriage” in last week’s round up, Dr Peters addresses the possibility of same-sex marriage in Ireland and concludes “we can and should cooperate with the State in regard to marriage for so long as what the State requires is not contrary to divine or canon law (c. 22). And certifying religiously married Catholics as married in the eyes of civil law is not remotely contrary to divine or canon law.”
- BBC website: Devoted followers of fashion, which is nothing to do with anything very much, but if you’re into ecclesiastical tat, Vicenza is evidently the place to be…
And finally …
… according to The Independent, an Iranian cleric has claimed Promiscuous women cause earthquakes: the story reveals that Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi, a prayer leader in Tehran, has blamed earthquakes on women who dress provocatively and tempt people into promiscuity. He is reported to have said “when promiscuity spreads, earthquakes increase,” said during prayers on Friday, a video of which has been posted on YouTube. It is certainly a variation on “and did the earth move for you?”