Category : Law & Legal Issues

(Psephizo) Isabelle Hamley–Why does Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral matter?

It was therefore deeply moving, last night, to hear journalists groping for words they had almost forgotten—words that speak of faith and what faith had meant to the nation over the years. Many of them were trying to put into words the sense of connection they felt to the cathedral, how moved they were to hear hymns and prayers from Christians surrounding them, and find words that would nurture hope. This morning, journalists were tentatively using the word ‘miracle’ as they contemplated the picture of the inside of the cathedral, the cross illuminated from the side windows, still intact, and heard of the news that many windows had survived, and the organ maybe too. To hear these words spoken with awe and genuine interrogation is nothing short of a miracle – and it may be short lived. But as I listened, I realised that Notre-Dame had lived up to its destiny: it reminded a people of its past, and of the hope of new life we find at the foot of the cross.

France has tried very hard to push God away, and forget the faith of centuries. But when the people fell silent, the very stones cried out. The question is, now that we remember, what will we do with these memories for the future? There is a small window of opportunity for the nature of public discourse to change. For the derision and suspicion of faith to morph into respect and attentive listening. Yesterday, the French president embraced the rector of the cathedral. Church and state in a long forgotten embrace? It was a fleeting image, and yet a hint that new life, new ways of imagining our life together are always possible.

And for me, this is the real question of the rebuilding. What is it we are rebuilding? What kind of vision will animate the endless years of work ahead? Will we listen to the memory of stones, and honour the God whose cross triumphed over destruction, fire and ashes? Notre-Dame held memories we had forgotten; will we accept God’s gift of memory, and reshape some of the distorted, incomplete stories we tell ourselves, so that we can move into a better future? I hope and pray that we do; and I believe that we can, because I believe in the God of Good Friday and of Easter Sunday, who ultimately holds all memory, all past and future in his hand.Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Police/Fire, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Archbishops of Canterbury and York ask cathedrals and churches to toll bells Tomorrow for Notre Dame

From there:

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are today encouraging, where possible, all cathedrals and churches across England to toll a bell for 7 minutes at 7pm this Thursday, as a mark of solidarity following the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. This initiative has been suggested by the British Ambassador to France, Edward Llewellyn, and it is hoped that many will take part.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), France, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire

(RNS) Beth Allison Barr–History lends plenty of hope for the resurrection of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral

Henry VI of England was crowned also king of France here, a mostly empty title for him in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War. More than 300 years later, Napoleon Bonaparte would crown himself emperor of France here, a title which meant a bit more, at least for a short while. Here, the bells would ring the end of World War I and World War II.

As I watched the flames engulf the 19th-century spire, I could almost see the medieval world. Fire was an ever-present reality for both the timber frames of medieval towns and the inner frames of buildings like cathedrals.

Just this past summer I was studying a manuscript at the Weston Library in Oxford, a medieval liturgical book belonging to St. Chad’s, one of the four parish churches in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. A small note written on the bottom of one of the folios describes a 14th-century tragedy: “a fire burnt the whole parish of St. Alkmund’s starting at daybreak on the eve of Pentecost….anno. 1312.”

The comment was written without much fanfare, but as I watched the fiery spire of Notre Dame crumble and collapse into the burning building, my thoughts strayed to the desperate medieval bodies who would have worked tirelessly on that holy night in 14th-century Shrewsbury. They would have struggled to bring water from the River Severn, snaking silver around their town, trying to contain a fire quickly consuming the heart of their town and endangering the lives of their families and friends. Just like the fire of Notre Dame, they would only be partially successful. They would save the town at the cost of a parish.

Stories of catastrophic fires fill the pages of medieval and early modern history.

In 1174, a fire spread from a nearby cottage in Canterbury, England, to the wooden roof of Canterbury Cathedral. The heat was so intense that it melted the roof and caused significant damage to parts of the cathedral. St. Paul’s Cathedral in London burned at least three times in its long history, the most famous of which was the Great Fire of 1666.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Europe, Police/Fire

The World Famous Notre Dame Cathedral is Devastated by Fire

Posted in France, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture

Roseanne Gudzan–How a Jury Summons led to a very unexpected Outcome

In July of 2018, a summons ordered me to report to Charleston Municipal Court for jury duty in early August. After reading the very limited exemptions from duty, I realized that resistance was futile and reported on the required Monday morning to fulfill my civic duty.

As it turned out, a priest named Ryan Streett and 40-some other Charlestonians had been summoned for this same jury duty, and we all sat in the courtroom that Monday waiting to see if we would be selected. Later, those of us who were not chosen for the first case lined the walls of the hallway outside the courtroom waiting for the next case to be called. The week progressed this way and with a great deal of waiting outside the courtroom in the hallway.

During a particularly long recess, I spotted Father Ryan and I nervously approached him, introduced myself, and asked if he ever performed baptisms for people other than those in his congregation….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Baptism, Evangelism and Church Growth, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Sunday Telegraph) Professor quits Royal College of Physicians over new assisted suicide stance

Professor Weale, emeritus professor of political theory and public policy at University College London, said he saw no reason why the RCP’s governing council had decided to abandon its previous position, which stated the organisation could not support changing the law on assisted suicide.

“There seems to be no chain of coherent reasoning leading to the council’s own position – a situation I regret deeply,” he said.

He also attacked the handling of the survey of doctors which led to the change in stance.

The poll asked doctors if the RCP should be for, against or neutral on assisted suicide; 43 per cent voted for opposition, 32 per cent backed changing the law, and just 25 percent voted for neutrality.

But unlike previous polls on the same question, the RCP’s council had decided in advance they should automatically switch to neutrality unless any of the three options was backed by a super-majority of 60 per cent.

As a result, the RCP announced last month it would be neutral on the issue, despite only one in four doctors endorsing that position.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General

(The State) ‘The devil you know.’ South Carolina residents are selling family members into the sex trade

A Richland County woman told her 13-year-old sister and her friend they were attending a birthday party one Saturday night in 2016. Instead, the woman lured the teen girls into a trap, according to police reports, court records and interviews with law enforcement.

The woman delivered her sister and friend to Quincy Brian Bright in north Columbia. He told the girls he had invited men over to have sex with them. The men were paying customers, he told them.

The girls were separated, and the 15-year-old friend was taken to a room with a man she had never seen before. He raped her, according to the police report. But it wasn’t over.

She was taken to another room, where a second man raped her. Afterward, she was taken to another room, where a third man forced her to perform a sex act. Court documents show she, and the woman’s little sister, became victims of sex trafficking that night.

Data suggests South Carolina is grappling with one of the most horrendous crimes imaginable — familial trafficking. People are introducing or selling their family members into the sex trade. The reason why it happens is unclear, but officials who work the cases point to heroin, crack and opiate addictions.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Sexuality, Violence

(C of E) More than 900 reports of potential modern slavery recorded through app

Drivers using a pioneering app to gather information on modern slavery in hand car washes made more than 900 reports of potential cases over a five-month period, according to research published today.

The Safe Car Wash app, which allows drivers to respond to a check list of key factors that may suggest modern slavery or labour exploitation in hand car washes, has been downloaded 8,225 times since its launch by the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales last year.

Between June and December 2018 there were 2271 completed entries using the app, with 41 per cent, or 930 reports, where after responding to a number of questions, users were told there was a likelihood of modern slavery at the hand car wash. They were then asked to call the Modern Slavery Helpline and their anonymised findings were shared in real time with police and the Gangmasters’ and Labour Abuse Authority.

Analysis by the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab in a new policy report released today showed that nearly half of reports, or 48 per cent, commented that workers did not have access to suitable protective clothing such as gloves or boots, despite many hand car washes typically requiring their workers to use potentially harmful chemicals such as hydrochloric acid.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Scotsman) Majority of Scots back assisted suicide according to poll done by group which favours the practice

Nearly nine in 10 people in Scotland support legalising assisted dying, according to a new poll. The Populus survey, commissioned by campaign group Dignity in Dying Scotland, found 87 per cent backed the move for terminally ill people with less than six months to live, with medical approval and safeguards. Just 8 per cent of people were opposed while the remainder said they did not know. The results, from a survey of 1,057 adults last month, were released as the campaign group starts a national advertising drive calling on people to help legalise assisted suicide. Campaigners want the Scottish Parliament to legislate to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to have the choice of an assisted death.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

The C of E Response to Royal College of Physicians announcement on assisted suicide

From there: Speaking following the Royal College of Physicans’ announcement of the adoption of a ‘neutral’ position on assisted dying The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, said:

“We note the RCP’s decision, and welcome the President’s assurances that the RCP will not be focusing on assisted dying, instead continuing to champion high-quality palliative care services, an emphasis that the Church of England shares and has always encouraged.

“We also recognise that fewer than one third of RCP members wanted the College to support a change in the current law prohibiting assisted suicide while fewer than a quarter said they would participate in assisted dying should the law change.

“The Church of England’s position remains to affirm the intrinsic value of every human life and express its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected.”

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Man arrested after gun incident at St Paul’s Cathedral

A suspected gunman attempted to shoot security guards inside St Paul’s Cathedral before being arrested by firearms police as he fled.

The suspect, who has not been identified, is said to have also levelled the weapon at staff and pulled the trigger but no bullets were fired, the BBC reported.

He was spotted by security staff inside the cathedral’s crypt, which has a café and is generally busy with tourists. Elsewhere in the crypt lie the tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren, the architect who designed the rebuilt cathedral after the original structure was all but destroyed in the Great Fire.

He fled towards an exit but was intercepted by firearms officers from City of London Police.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NR) San Antonio Violates the First Amendment to Punish Chick-fil-A

The San Antonio city council has voted to block Chick-fil-A from opening a store in its airport to punish it for donating to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army.

No, really. Here’s the report, from Fortune:

Don’t plan on getting a Chick-Fil-A sandwich next time you fly through San Antonio Airport.

The city’s district council approved a new concession agreement for the airport on Thursday that will bring in more local establishments and specifically bans the popular chicken sandwich chain. At issue, apparently, is the donation of money by the Chick-Fil-A to groups that have been accused of discriminating against the LGBTQ community.

The council was apparently reacting to a breathless Think Progress allegation that “in 2017, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave more than $1.8 million to a trio of groups with a record of anti-LGBTQ discrimination.” The donations included more than $1.6 million of the FCA, $150,000 to the Salvation Army, and a small $6,000 gift to the Paul Anderson Youth Home. By Think Progress’s standard, a company is committing a terrible sin whenever it gives money to a traditional Christian ministry. After all, FCA is merely upholding traditional Christian teaching that sexual activity is reserved for a marriage between a man and a woman. The donation to the Salvation Army is apparently based on the Salvation Army’s past policies, since Think Progress admits that the Salvation Army currently has “a national policy of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The FCA and the Salvation Army (I’m not familiar with the work of the youth home) both do an immense amount of good in this nation. No one seriously questions the Salvation Army’s value, and the FCA is a fixture in the lives of hundreds of thousands of American youth. It provides a spiritual home for countless kids and often a community of friends they can find nowhere else. Does “inclusion” now demand that corporate donors exclude them from support? Apparently so. Here’s San Antonio city councilman Robert Trevino:

With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior . . . Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport. I look forward to the announcement of a suitable replacement by Paradies.”

This is Orwellian nonsense. This action isn’t based on any alleged mistreatment of gay customers. Instead it’s based on the notion that a person won’t feel “welcome” in an airport because they disagree with the charitable donations of a foundation connected to one of the airport’s vendors. That’s absurd. That’s more fake outrage. And it’s unsustainable for a free people in a pluralistic society. Should we only feel “welcome” in spaces where we know the owners share our faith?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(CT Editorial) Ted Olsen–Religious Freedom Isn’t Just for Christians

At the 2016 Southern Baptist annual meeting, pastors chastised convention bodies that had filed friend of the court briefs on behalf of New Jersey Muslims wanting to build a mosque. Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) didn’t back down. “A government that has the power to outlaw people from assembling together and saying what they believe, that does not turn people into Christians,” he said. “That turns people into pretend Christians, and it sends them straight to hell.”

The International Mission Board (IMB) initially defended itself too, saying the briefs both embodied Baptist beliefs and gave its workers credibility overseas. But it soon changed its policies and promised to “speak only into situations that are directly tied to our mission.”

Five years ago, the IMB and ERLC were two of several Christian organizations that filed briefs in a Supreme Court case on behalf of a Muslim prisoner barred from growing a half-inch beard. The Alliance Defending Freedom was another. But the ADF website indicates it hasn’t advocated for a Muslim’s religious freedom since. Meanwhile, some Christian organizations have been suggesting that Muslims don’t deserve religious freedom because Islam isn’t really a religion. The Thomas More Law Center’s Tom Lynch took aim at another organization: “[If you] Believe Islam a religion, then support the Becket Fund,” he tweeted. “Believe it will destroy US, then [support] thomas­more.org.”

This is madness. When we advocate on behalf of Muslims and other religious minorities, the Golden Rule dovetails with making common cause against aggressive secularization and government overreach. (It’s worth noting that Alabama said that if it lost the Ray case, it would bar chaplains instead of allowing imams.) But if you only argue for the religious liberty of your friends and co-religionists, what’s the point? Even pagans do that! (Matt. 5:47) We who know true freedom do not want to use our own freedom for self-indulgence but to serve others humbly in love (Gal. 5:13). Advocating for religious freedom is not just about what’s good for Christians. It’s also about being Christians: It is a way in which we can show our neighbors what the True God is about.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Letter to the Clergy in the Historic Diocese of SC about the latest attempted Maneuver by the brand new TEC Diocese in SC in the ongoing Legal Skirmish

From there:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As most of you are now aware, late on Wednesday afternoon, TECinSC notified Judge Dickson and our legal counsel by email that they had filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rule and precedents (quoted below) make clear its intended proper use is to compel a “ministerial act” that is normative for an “officer” when no other remedy is available (i.e. requiring the county treasurer to collect taxes).

Several observations can be made concerning this current petition.

  1. Judge Dickson (contrary to the accusations of judicial failings in this petition) is rightly exercising his duties as a judge and due process is moving forward. This is not the situation envisioned for the use of a mandamus.
  2. The clear motivation is concern for how Judge Dickson might shortly rule. If the matters before him were as clear and simple to discern as TECinSC again asserts, they would not be attempting such a desperate attempt to avoid a ruling by Judge Dickson.
  3. It is not believed that a single justice could or would, for a matter this significant, grant a writ. And in principle, Justice Hearn has recused herself from this case. The likelihood of this petition being granted should be quite low.
  4. The possibility of this being offensive to Judge Dickson is understandably significant. This is a serious criticism of his judicial competence, as exercised in this case.
  5. This might have other unintended consequences with the Supreme Court, by elevating the case to require their attention.

While an unpredictable turn of events, given its attempted misuse of judicial procedure, it is anticipated that this is only a temporary detour. Legal counsel is responding today with a reply to the assertions made in this petition. Because the nature of the petition itself presumes relatively prompt action, it is not expected that this matter will linger as long as others have more recently.

In the meantime, it continues apt to commend Judge Dickson and the Supreme Court Justices to our prayers that they might indeed, in all their decisions, courageously pursue what true justice demands. Please also keep the legal counsel of the Diocese and its parishes in your prayers. The continued and unexpected demands of this litigation are considerable and they merit our prayerful support.

Lenten blessings,

–(The Rev. Canon) Jim Lewis is Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of South Carolina

(Photo: Canon Jim Lewis (left) with Bishop Mark Lawrence)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Local Paper) Anti-human trafficking posters placed in South Carolina arena bathrooms during NCAA tournament

South Carolina law requires posting of human trafficking awareness posters in hotels, bars and airports.

But with Columbia hosting first- and second-round games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this weekend, the posters are on display for the first time ever in Colonial Life Arena.

“There’s always an increase in online solicitation around large sports events, which lands a lot of people in trafficking,” said Alexis Williams Scurry, the project coordinator for the Richland County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force who pushed for adding the posters.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Sexuality, Sports, Violence

(1st Things) California threatens the seal of confession

n February 20, California Democratic State Senator Jerry Hill, whose affluent, liberal-leaning district encompasses the San Francisco Peninsula and portions of Silicon Valley, introduced a bill to abolish legal protection for the Catholic Church’s sacramental seal of confession, at least as regards confessions of child abuse.

Specifically, the bill would remove an exemption for “penitential communications” in an existing state law that designates more than forty categories of professionals—clergy, physicians, teachers, counselors, social workers, and the like—as “mandated reporters” who face criminal penalties if they fail to report sexual and other mistreatment of children that they learn about in their professional capacities. Currently, the law carves out a narrow exception for information obtained during the Catholic sacrament of Penance and other religions’ similar penitential rituals, which bind clergy to secrecy. If the California legislature enacts Hill’s bill, that exception would disappear—and Catholic priests, bound by canon law not to disclose the contents of a confession, could face criminal prosecution and imprisonment for refusing to comply. “The law should apply equally to all professionals who have been designated as mandated reporters of these crimes—with no exceptions, period. The exemption for clergy only protects the abuser and places children at further risk,” Hill said in a statement accompanying the proposed measure, SB-360.

The Catholic doctrine of the seal of confession dates back to the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which mandated that Catholics confess their grave sins to a priest via the sacrament of Penance. The latest formulation of the church’s Code of Canon Law states: “The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.” The penalty for any priest who divulges anything heard in confession—or even a penitent’s identity—is automatic excommunication. Eastern Orthodox churches do not have such an explicit rule, but they do have the same expectation of absolute secrecy surrounding sacramental confession. Since the Middle Ages it has not been unusual for priests to risk—and occasionally endure—martyrdom from secular authorities rather than break the seal, as did several priests executed by militant secularists during Mexico’s Cristero uprising of the 1920s and the Spanish Civil War a decade later. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1953 film, I Confess, involves a priest who risks conviction for a murder he did not commit after the true murderer confesses the crime to him and he is bound not to reveal it.

Interestingly, although America is historically Protestant, it has also historically recognized the binding power of the Catholic seal of sacramental confession.

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(CT) Seventh Circuit rules Clergy Housing Allowance is constitutional

The October 2017 decision by Wisconsin district judge Judge Barbara Crabb had been a victory for the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), which “jeopardized the benefit for clergy in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin … and many predicted similar consequences nationwide,” wrote CT’s sister publication, Church Law & Tax(CLT) in an analysis.

In today’s ruling, a panel of three judges again refuted the claims of FFRF attorneys, deciding that the allowance passes muster according to two related Supreme Court rulings, Town of Greece v. Galloway and Lemon v. Kurtzman.

“FFRF claims Section 107(2) renders unto God that which is Caesar’s,” wrote circuit judge Michael Brennan. “But this tax provision falls into the play between the joints of the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause: neither commanded by the former, nor proscribed by the latter.”

The FFRF told the Associated Press it is reviewing its options.

CT previously reported how the FFRF challenged the same tax break in 2012 with the same initial success, but ultimately lost on appeal in November 2014. Today’s ruling was essentially a rematch over whether the tax benefit unfairly benefits religious Americans.

“This ruling is a victory not just for my church but for the needy South Side Chicago community we serve,” said Chicago Embassy Church pastor Chris Butler in a Becket press release. He intervened in the case because his church “can’t afford to pay him a full salary, but it offers him a small housing allowance, so he can afford to live near his church and the community he serves,” noted Becket, which represented a group of pastors appealing the FFRF’s initial victory.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes

(SC) Martin Sewell–Too important to care about child sexual abuse? Problems for Church and State

To their credit, the Scottish Liberal Party have moved swiftly to suspend and investigate Lord Steel’s case. In this they put to shame the Church of England. At virtually the same time problems have again hit the Church of England with reports
from Chester Crown Court that the local Diocesan Bishop had received an admission from a priest abuser but accepted an assurance that he “would not do it again”. This has resulted in campaigning journalist Andrew Graystone writing to directly call for the Bishop’s resignation.

In both cases, plainly those exercising misjudgement are not bad people. I constantly remind readers that the context of the time must be factored in. However, the time for this to be an excuse allowing us to continue, simply apologising, undertaking a “learned lesson review’ and moving on, has surely passed. That scenario has been played out too many times in too many places. Victims need to see more robust responses either from the individuals concerned or from the relevant institutions.

Until such public figures pay a price, either through voluntarily resignation, through the withdrawal of honours conferred upon them, or through being shunned by the court of public opinion, we shall continue to have a culture of minimisation and cover-up. Hitherto the only ones who have paid a price for these matters coming into the public domain are the victims who have to revisit their history of pain, humiliation, anger and all the tragedies within their personal lives that go with this.

If the Establishment, secular or faith, is to retain any credibility, it is time for its members to grasp the personal responsibility that such cases require. Great reputation and personal advantage goes with pubic status: with great privilege goes great responsibility. Respect for both victims betrayed and the institutions served requires no more feet shuffling but bold moral acceptance of consequence through principled resignation.

Anything less would demonstrate precisely the kind of cynicism which our Archbishop advised us to give up for Lent when he addressed the General Synod last month. It will continue to poison our public discourse unless or until those privileged with public approval voluntarily surrender it when public confidence is no longer merited.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Telegraph) Longest serving Church of England bishop faces calls to resign after court hears he knew about paedophile priest

The longest-serving bishop in the Church of England is facing calls to resign after it emerged he knew about a paedophile priest in his diocese and did nothing.

The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Peter Forster, found out Rev Gordon Dickenson had become embroiled in a child abuse scandal decades earlier when the retired vicar wrote a letter about the affair in 2009.

Dickenson was convicted earlier this month of eight counts of sexual assault after pleading guilty to abusing a boy during the 1970s inside a church hall and even his vicarage.

But ten years ago, Dickenson had written to the Diocese of Chester which was conducting a review of past abuse cases admitting he been accused of the abuse during the 1970s and had promised the then Bishop of Chester he would “never do it again”.

Despite this admission, Bishop Forster failed to pass on the letter to the police or order an internal church inquiry.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

Bp Stephen Cottrell–Regulation: Saving the internet from itself

The ‘digital world’, that is an environment composed of digital services facilitated by the internet, plays an ever-increasing role in all aspects of life. It is the internet that makes the world go round today. It is the internet that that provides heat and light. The trouble is that as the control of this world settles in the hands of a few very dominant players, there seems to be more heat than light.

In the past year many of us have woken up to this. Our data is the currency with which Facebook makes its billions. We thought we were the customer; we have discovered we’re the product. Darker still, all sorts of inappropriate and illegal material are available to anyone who has a smart phone in their pocket, whatever their age: from on line bullying to do it yourself advice on how to self-harm, things that would not be tolerated offline flourish in the online environment. Parents in particular feel anxious and out of control. At the same time fake news, the misuse of personal data and abusive and hateful speech diminish and toxify our democracy and our public life.

For Christians and people of faith this is a particularly important issue. Jesus reserves his most stinging opprobrium for those who make life difficult for children. And it is children who are most at risk from an ineffectively regulated internet. Equally important, a faith perspective maintains that human flourishing requires the foundations of a strong and agreed ethical framework. It is this that is lacking online.

When other things that are wrong in our society and people demand that something must be done. With the internet, people are aware of the problem, but feel powerless. They don’t think anything can be done.

But it can.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Local Paper) Volunteer accused of assaulting 14 kids is 4th alleged predator in SC megachurch

After telling detectives in November that he had sexually assaulted young boys in the North Charleston church where he volunteered, Jacop Hazlett made another troubling revelation: this wasn’t the first time.

As a teen in Ohio, Hazlett had been jailed for molesting a younger boy. And when he later moved to North Carolina and began volunteering in churches there, his interactions with young people drew concerns from two congregations he joined, according to a recent lawsuit.

NewSpring Church leaders insist they knew none of this when Hazlett began volunteering in the children’s ministry at their North Charleston campus last year. They expressed shock when he was accused of sexually assaulting at least 14 children during his nine months there. They said they had taken every precaution to prevent such crimes from occurring….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(DN) Why faith groups are divided over the cross case before the Supreme Court this week

If a World War I memorial is shaped like a cross, does that make it a religious symbol? Even faith groups don’t agree on the answer to that question, which is before the Supreme Court this week.

The American Legion, et al. v. American Humanist Associationcenters on a 40-foot-tall, cross-shaped monument in Bladensburg, Maryland, which is maintained with government funds. By the end of June, justices must decide if this arrangement violates the Constitution’s establishment clause, which bans the government from privileging one faith group over others, and, if it does, whether the cross should be altered or removed.

Briefs filed in the case, which will be heard on Wednesday, reveal conflicting claims about the monument within and between faith groups and religious freedom organizations.

Supporters of the so-called “Peace Cross” say its secular purpose outweighs its association with Christianity, while opponents say it’s undeniably and unlawfully religious.

“Maintaining a nearly century-old war memorial at a busy intersection is hardly an official declaration in law that Christianity is the government’s preferred religion,” argues a brief in support of the Bladensburg cross signed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and four other religious organizations.

On the other hand, faith groups opposing the cross filed briefs stating that even the appearance of religious favoritism is a problem.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(USA Today) the Robert Kraft prostitution scandal exposes depth of modern slavery, sex trafficking industry

Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the six-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots was charged Friday with soliciting prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. Not three days prior, the Martin County Sherriff’s Office hosted a press conference to announce the bust of a human trafficking ring involving numerous spas in three counties, including Orchids of Asia.

The evidence indicates that Chinese women were recruited and transported to the United States under the false promise of securing legitimate jobs, only to be held captive at the spas and coerced to transact for commercial sex. Male clients at Orchids of Day could purchase a female body at the rate of $59 for thirty minutes or $79 for one hour.

Sex trafficking generates annual profits of nearly $100 billion, according to the International Labour Organization, making it the most profitable form of slavery the world has ever seen. Under the United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act, sex trafficking involves the recruitment or transfer of a person; through force, fraud, or coercion; for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Christian Today) Churches are playing a ‘key role’ in the fight against human trafficking

Churches and faith groups are making an important contribution to efforts to eliminate the global scourge of human trafficking, a UN human rights committee has heard.

Jack Palmer-White, the Anglican Communion’s Permanent Representative to the UN, outlined the many anti-trafficking initiatives being led by churches in a submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) this week.

The CEDAW is considering submissions on the issue of human trafficking as it prepares to make a ‘general recommendation’ to UN member states.

In his report, Mr Palmer-White asked that the general recommendation ‘reflects the key role that churches and other faith actors can, and do, play in the fight against trafficking of women and girls in the context of global migration’.

Examples of anti-trafficking work detailed in the report include a partnership between the US Embassy to Ghana and the Diocese of Accra which has led to the creation of a community shelter called Hope Village that rehabilitates rescued children, while holding the government of Ghana to account on its progress in eliminating trafficking.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Ghana, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(NYT) Murders of Religious Minorities in India Go Unpunished, Report Finds

The Indian authorities have delayed investigating a wave of vigilante-style murders of religious minorities, with many instead working to justify the attacks or file charges against some of the victims’ families, according to a report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch.

The 104-page report said that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, attacks led by so-called cow protection groups have jumped sharply.

Between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people have been killed, Human Rights Watch found. Most of the victims were Muslims accused of storing beef or transporting cows for slaughter, a crime in most Indian states. Many Hindus, who form about 80 percent of India’s population, consider cows sacred.

Data cited in the report from FactChecker.in, an Indian organization that tracks reports of violence, found that as many as 90 percent of religion-based hate crimes in the last decade occurred after Mr. Modi took office. Mobs hung victims from trees, frequently mutilated victims and burned bodies.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, India, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Violence

(PBS Newshour) Pope sends ‘signal’ by defrocking ex-cardinal for sexual abuse

Rev. James Martin:

But you know my faith in God hasn’t changed. It’s it’s my sort of disappointment and anger. You know certain people in the church at abusers certainly some of whom I know people who covered this up. But I think it’s also important to say that this happens in all sorts of institutions you know families schools places like that. But in the church what we need to do is really address that and be sort of forthright about it and be as transparent as possible so frankly I am really in favor of the release of these lists that have been happening that’s pretty controversial because it’s it’s necessary for transparency it’s necessary for us to understand how these things happen and enable us to move ahead and reconcile.

Hari Sreenivasan:

Well what are you looking for this week? What helps the church survive this?

Rev. James Martin:

This desire to confront it without any sort of fear. You know that you know we have of the truth the truth sets us free. I mean that that really should be kind of what we’re focused on.

Hari Sreenivasan:

You think the Pope’s doing enough?

Rev. James Martin:

I think the pope could always do more. I think that this meeting in the end of this week is really helpful it’s the heads of all the bishops conferences. There are still countries where bishops have said well it doesn’t happen in our country it doesn’t happen and are part of the world. And I think one of the reasons for this meeting is to teach in a sense those bishops the facts about sex abuse. So I think that’s a really good step forward.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(DN) Amsterdam’s mayor: ‘prostitutes should not be a tourist attraction’

Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema has called for changes to the city’s red light district, arguing that turning prostitution into a tourist attraction is ‘humiliating’ and ‘unacceptable’. The mayor, who took office last June, told Het Parool she wanted to consider all options for reforming the area, including the status quo, but gave a clear signal that the current situation was untenable. ‘The circumstances in which women have to do their work have worsened. So I can understand why a lot of Amsterdammers think: this is not the way we want prostitution to be or how it was supposed to be,’ she said. There has been growing concern that the number of tourists flocking to the red light district has made it more difficult for prostitutes to work in the area and compromised their safety. Unlicensed prostitution remains a problem in the city and has been linked to human trafficking.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:

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Posted in City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Sexuality, The Netherlands, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NR) David French–A Court Case in Iowa Shows the Reality of Religious Discrimination in America

Take, for example, a story that should have made headlines last week. Federal district-court judge Stephanie Rose (an Obama appointee) delivered the University of Iowa a humiliating defeat in court, granting a small Christian student group called Business Leaders in Christ a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the university’s so-called Human Rights Policy — a policy that the university had selectively enforced to privilege favored speakers and punish theologically conservative Christians.

The facts of the case are simple — and have been replicated on college campuses across the land. The university “de-recognized” the Christian group because it screens its leaders to make sure that they “agree with and can represent the group’s religious beliefs” — which include a standard statement of faith and the orthodox belief that sexual activity is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. In other words, a traditional Christian group wants to be led by people of traditional Christian faith.

This was intolerable to the University of Iowa. And lest you think it was even-handedly enforcing a neutral nondiscrimination policy, think again. Here’s the court:

The University has approved the constitutions of numerous organizations that explicitly limit access to leadership or membership based on religious views, race, sex, and other characteristics protected by the Human Rights Policy. These groups include Love Works, which requires leaders to sign a “gay-affirming statement of Christian faith”; . . . House of Lorde, which implements membership “interview[s]” to maintain “a space for Black Queer individuals and/or the support thereof”; [and] the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, which limits membership to “enrolled Chinese Students and Scholars.” [Internal citations omitted.]

When asked to justify this blatant favoritism, the university claimed that the privileged groups existed “for reasons which support the University’s educational mission.” For example, the university argued that some groups “provide safe spaces for minorities which have historically been the victims of discrimination.” As a result, “the University allows groups to speak about religion, homosexuality, and other protected traits through their leadership criteria,” but it denied the Christian group the same right.

That is textbook viewpoint discrimination, and it’s blatantly unconstitutional.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Houston Chronicle) Abuse of Faith 20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms

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Posted in Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Local Paper Front Page) Progress made, but South Carolina must do more to combat deadly domestic violence toll

More must be done to curb domestic violence in a state that ranks among the nation’s deadliest for women, despite signs of progress in the nearly four years since South Carolina enacted sweeping reforms to combat abuse, according to a report issued Wednesday.

Since reforms passed in 2015, South Carolina has lost its ignominious distinction as the nation’s deadliest state for women. But it stubbornly remains among the top-10 offenders, currently holding onto a spot as sixth-worst in the country, the S.C. Domestic Violence Advisory Committee noted in its report to the governor and General Assembly.

The 16-member panel, which includes lawmakers, prosecutors, advocates, police officers and others, noted progress across several fronts, with dozens of initiatives either completed or in the works to combat domestic violence. But more needs to be done, particularly in regard to research and education, so South Carolina can better understand and confront the problem in a systematic fashion, panel members said.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, State Government, Violence