Category : Law & Legal Issues

(WSJ) Elya Brudny and Yisroel Reisman–New York State Targets Jewish Schools

Together the two of us have 70 years of experience in Jewish education. Yet nothing could have prepared us for what the New York State Education Department did last month. On Nov. 20, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia issued guidance empowering local school boards to evaluate private schools and to vote on our right to continue educating our students.

The state government now requires private schools to offer a specific set of classes more comprehensive than what students in public schools must learn. Our schools must offer 11 courses to students in grades 5 through 8, for a total of seven hours of daily instruction. Public schools have less than six hours a day of prescribed instruction. Private-school teachers will also be required to submit to evaluation by school districts.

At a press conference announcing the new guidelines, a reporter asked Ms. Elia what would happen if a yeshiva didn’t alter its Jewish-studies emphasis to conform to her mandate. She responded that parents “would be notified they need to transfer students” in as little as six weeks. And if they didn’t? “They’d be considered truant, and that’s another whole process that gets triggered.”

Government may have an interest in ensuring that every child receives a sound basic education, but it has no right to commandeer our schools’ curricula.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, State Government

The Diocese of Birmingham Response to Channel 4 News story this week

In response to the news report and interview with Jo Kind on Channel 4’s news programme (Weds 5 Dec 7pm) we believe that it is important to clarify a number of elements of the story as reported in that instance.

Most importantly, we need to make clear that the Church of England – Birmingham has never restricted, or sought to restrict Jo from telling her story. This is not the purpose of the NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). It was and will always be her story to tell. The decision with regards to the NDA was made to protect the many contributors to the report, some of whom wish to remain unidentifiable, along with the many others whom this situation affects. The suggestion of asking Jo to sign the NDA was also made by the independent reviewer once the report had been finalised. We encouraged Jo to seek legal advice, which she did, before signing the NDA, rather than ‘forcing it on her’ as reported.

It is important to understand that Jo was not asked to sign a ‘confidentiality clause’. Such a clause would have prevented her from disclosing information contained within the reports that she was already aware of, or where elements were already in the public domain. Jo was asked to sign an NDA with the intention to prevent from sharing information not belonging to her that she was not previously aware of (for example elements within the report that refer to information provided from or by other individuals, along with factors that could lead to the identity of the contributors and others who have been affected by this from being identified).

Simply put, Jo is and always has been free to tell her story, but we need to protect others who do not want their story to be told….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Economist) Chip wars: China, America and silicon supremacy

Although the chip battle may have pre-dated Mr Trump, his presidency has intensified it. He has made a national champion of Qualcomm, blocking a bid for it from a Singaporean firm for fear of Chinese competition. Earlier this year an export ban on selling American chips and software to zte, a Chinese telecoms firm in breach of sanctions, brought it to the brink of bankruptcy within days. Startled by the looming harm, and (he says) swayed by appeals from Mr Xi, Mr Trump swiftly backtracked.

Two things have changed. First, America has realised that its edge in technology gives it power over China. It has imposed export controls that affect on Fujian Jinhua, another Chinese firm accused of stealing secrets, and the White House is mulling broader bans on emerging technologies. Second, China’s incentives to become self-reliant in semiconductors have rocketed. After zte, Mr Xi talked up core technologies. Its tech giants are on board: Alibaba, Baidu and Huawei are ploughing money into making chips. And China has showed that it can hinder American firms. Earlier this year Qualcomm abandoned a bid for nxp, a Dutch firm, after foot-dragging by Chinese regulators.

Neither country’s interests are about to change. America has legitimate concerns about the national-security implications of being dependent on Chinese chips and vulnerable to Chinese hacking. China’s pretensions to being a superpower will look hollow as long as America can throttle its firms at will. China is destined to try to catch up; America is determined to stay ahead.

The hard question is over the lengths to which America should go.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(Channel 4 News) Church of England gags abuse victim with NDA

A woman who claims she was abused by a vicar has told Channel 4 News she was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) – before she was allowed to read an official review accusing the Church of England of mismanaging her complaints.

Channel 4 News has seen a copy of the report, which makes a series of damning criticisms of the way a serving bishop handled her allegations.

Read it all.

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

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell–Church in Wonderland: the Clergy Discipline Measure shoves victims down a rabbit hole

What is missing in all this is the option of an ‘Admonishment’. By that, I mean that the Church of England does not currently accompany a ‘no action’ outcome with a plain unequivocal finding that ‘this was wrong’. Vindicating the victims complaint is immensely important to them, regardless of the sequelae.

Surely we need such an option in a revised system, preferably published and accompanied by a victim impact statement, and perhaps even an agreed statement of reconciliation in which the wrongdoer can offer an acknowledgement of error and a proper apology and, if possible an (entirely voluntary) acceptance. Closure on such a basis might be attainable with all parties able to move forward.

As it is, the Bishop is untouched, the Deputy President emerges as a humane judge constrained by an insufficient legal structure, and the role of the Chaplain has slipped under the radar. The Archbishop has been affirmed in his procedural propriety and judgment, and does not have the embarrassment of having to find against his fellow Bishop. Everyone within the church wins.

The only one… the only one for whom the whole prolonged process has offered nothing whatsoever is the poor victim, who has received no justice, no closure, and no apology whatsoever from anyone involved. On what basis do we in the Church suggest that this kind of outcome is anything other than a disgrace?

Talk to victims and they speak of an Alice in Wonderland world where injustice is justice, and due process means just what the church says it means: episcopal clothing is metaphorically rent, yet no apology escapes their lips. No wonder that victims increasingly advise each other not to disappear down this particular rabbit hole.

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

A Transcript of Exchanges this past week in Parliament on the Establishment of the Church of England

Lord Lexden (Con): Does my noble friend agree that one of the reasons why an established Church should be retained is that its prelates are needed in this House, not least in order to be held to account for the occasional serious lapse, such as the destruction after a deeply flawed investigation of the reputation of the great Bishop George Bell, who died 60 years ago—an investigation castigated by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, in a report published a year ago, to which the Church has yet to make any redress?

Lord Young of Cookham: Well, without getting drawn into the second half of my noble friend’s question, I agree with the first half that it is important that the ​bishops are represented in your Lordships’ House. They add a spiritual dimension to our discussions. They speak with a moral authority that escapes most of us, and they are the only Members of your Lordships’ House with a specific geographical remit.

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his affirmation. When the country came together to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice earlier this month, the Church of England led events of solemn remembrance and thanksgiving in pretty much every community up and down the land of England. The convening power of the Church in bringing together people of different faiths and none is a central feature of its established status that is greatly valued by those of other faiths, who appreciate such a hospitable establishment. Does the Minister agree that at a time when healing divisions must be a priority in our society, the established Church is a significant force for good?

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues

(Arda) David Briggs–Faithful man walking: Science finds multiple benefits of religion for justice system

Several studies of religion and mental health have shown religious beliefs and practices and positive relationships with a divine being can be powerful resources helping people cope with major challenges such as illness and unemployment.

More recent research also suggests faith may help individuals deal with intense, lasting anger.

Scholars in the developing field of religion and criminal justice are finding evidence that suggests practical ways faith may turn lives around even in the depths of prison.

One of those new findings: Organized religion matters.

A study of 571 prisoners in Oregon found those who identified as religious and spiritual were less likely to reoffend in the 13 years after an initial 2004 survey than spiritual but not religious inmates. More frequent service attendance and the greater likelihood of spending time in private thought and prayer partially explained the differences.

The results highlight the importance of ensuring support for persons in prison in the process of making meaning, in addition to supporting the work of prisonchaplains and religious volunteers,” researchers reported in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(VN) Australian RC Bishops oppose efforts to remove religious freedoms

On Tuesday, Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne, the spokesperson for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on religious freedom, responded to an announcement by the Shadow Attorney General of the introduction of a bill by the Opposition. The bill seeks to repeal exemptions in place in the Sex Discrimination Act.

The exemption is not used by Catholic schools to discriminate against students or to expel students based on “sexual orientation or gender identity”, the Archbishop said. Rather, “these exemptions are important to us because schools want to maintain the capacity to teach a Christian understanding of sexual ethics and marriage according to our faith tradition. Our right to continue to teach Catholic beliefs is threatened by proposals to repeal existing faith-based exemptions for religious schools and institutions”.

Furthermore, having the exemption in place protects the Church against claims that its beliefs are discriminatory. “We need to have the assurance that we can pursue our religious mission without legal risk”, Archbishop Comensoli said….

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Metro UK) Belgian Doctors face possible jail after ‘diagnosing woman with autism so she could get lethal injection’

Three doctors will face a criminal trial in Belgium accused of certifying a woman as autistic so she could die by euthanasia.

Tina Nys died after claiming to be autistic to two doctors and a psychiatrist. She was euthanised after telling officials her suffering was ‘unbearable and incurable’, however her sisters have said that her suffering was caused by a broken heart, not autism.

In the first such case since it was decriminalised in 2002, the officials face trial accused of failing to comply with the legal conditions for euthanasia. Ms Nys’s sisters have accused the doctors of making a rushed decision without treating her for autism.

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Posted in Belgium, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics

(NYT Op-ed) Meek Mill: Prisoners Need a New Set of Rights

But I know I’m the exception to the rule — a lucky one. It’s clearer than ever that a disproportionate number of men and women of color are treated unfairly by a broken criminal justice system. The system causes a vicious cycle, feeding upon itself — sons and daughters grow up with their parents in and out of prison, and then become far more likely to become tied up in the arrest-jail-probation cycle. This is bad for families and our society as a whole.

We, as a free and democratic society, must do better. Since my release, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with several lawmakers such as Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, and I’m determined to use my platform to help those without the resources to make their voices heard.

We all need to hold our lawmakers accountable for supporting unfair or inhumane policies and all practices that perpetuate injustice, especially for the blacks and Latinos who fall prey to them most frequently. The reality is African-Americans and Latinos who come from poverty-stricken neighborhoods are assigned public defenders too overburdened to do anything in most cases other than negotiate the most favorable plea deal, regardless of guilt or innocence.

Soon, some friends and I will be announcing a foundation dedicated to achieving real change. In the meantime, if you’re interested in joining us and lending your support to solving what is the moral crisis of our time, please visit www.reformnow.com and sign up.

 

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Theology

The New TEC Diocese in South Carolina Press Release on Yesterday’s Court Proceedings in Orangeburg

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Latest Development In the Highly Contentious Court Battle Between the new TEC Diocese and the Historic Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

Judge Dickson Will Determine What the Supreme Court Opinions Mean

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (November 19, 2018)  –  Today, in the Orangeburg County Courthouse the honorable Edgar W. Dickson, heard arguments from the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church on motions directed to the ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The judge began by asking, “Who thinks this case will be resolved today?” When one person in the courtroom raised a hand the judge indicated he hoped they were pulling for South Carolina in their upcoming game against Clemson, and concluded, “Six judges have heard this case. I’m number seven. I hope that’s a lucky number.”

While five motions are presently before the court, Judge Dickson said, “the motion I’m most interested in” is the issue of what he has to decide.

Alan Runyan argued for the Diocese that given the lack of clarity in the five separate opinions, Judge Dickson had to first decide, what, if anything, the Supreme Court decided. The slide presentation summarizing his argument may be found here. Mr Runyan noted at the beginning of his argument  that the last statements by half the Supreme Court were that “We have given little to no coherent guidance in this case” and “The Court’s collective opinions give rise to great uncertainty” in “this matter of great importance.”

Tom Tisdale, counsel for TECSC and Mary Kostel, Counsel for TEC, presented their arguments which essentially repeated their prior assertions that “the decision has been made,” by the South Carolina Supreme Court, and all that was left was enforcement of the results.

It was obvious that Judge Dickson had problems with the argument that it is clear what the Supreme Court decided.

Addressing Mr. Tisdale, he asked, “How many times have you seen a Supreme Court decision with five separate opinions?” Mr. Tisdale acknowledged that it had never happened in the history of the court.

When counsel for TEC continued to assert that the result was clear, the judge replied,  “Like through a glass darkly.”

In commenting on the present ruling he observed, “Usually when I get something remitted it’s clear what I’m supposed to do.” In this case, however, interpreting the Supreme Court ruling will entail “trying to ferret out what they meant.”

In concluding he observed, “I have to decide and whatever is decided will be appealed by one side or the other.”

The Judge indicated he would be sending follow up questions by email for both sides.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Observer) Bullying claims at Oxford ‘medieval fiefdom’ take toll on reformist dean

It is a quintessential institution of the establishment, producing 13 British prime ministers, 10 chancellors of the exchequer and 17 archbishops. Among its former students are King Edward VII, Albert Einstein, Lewis Carroll and WH Auden. One fictional alumnus, Lord Sebastian Flyte, came to personify its privileges in the pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

But Christ Church, one of Oxford’s most venerable colleges, was plunged into turmoil last week when its dean was suspended from duties and barred from taking services at his own cathedral after being challenged under archaic and opaque rules.

A formal complaint has been filed against the Very Rev Martyn Percy with the college’s governing body. Few people know details of what is being alleged, or who is behind the move. Even Percy is largely in the dark, according to his friends.

The complaint is believed to centre on issues of governance; no one is suggesting improper personal conduct. It will be heard by a tribunal, which could dismiss Percy. A date for a hearing is yet to be set.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Mene Ukueberuwa–The Vatican prevents American prelates from addressing clergy sexual abuse

Ahead of the conference, the bishops coalesced around two proposals to impose accountability. The first is a simple code of conduct extending to bishops the zero-tolerance policy for sex abuse enacted for priests in 2002. The second is an independent review board to investigate claims against bishops and refer credible cases directly to the Vatican. “Each bishop would have to agree to allow himself to be investigated by the committee,” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told me last week. He described the bishops’ shedding of immunity as “a covenantal sort of relationship” that would allow them to police each other better.

Yet the Vatican’s surprise announcement means the new covenant will have to wait. The Holy See barred the conference from voting on new sex-abuse protocols until after a summit in Rome this February. Naturally, the bishops were shocked when they received the news Monday morning. Instead of returning to their dioceses with a concrete agreement, they’ll bring nothing but assurances of future reforms. More than 15 years after the sex-abuse crisis first surfaced in the U.S., such promises do little to quell public anger or ease prosecutorial pressure.

The delay shows that the Vatican simply doesn’t place the same value on speed and openness with the public that the U.S. episcopate does. American bishops are closer to the schools and parishes where abuse actually takes place. When one leader fails to respond appropriately to abuse, they all take on the stench of corruption. And unlike the pope, local bishops generally are seen as dispensable by their followers—shepherds to be discarded if they fail to protect the flock.

Despite the imprudent delay, U.S. bishops can continue cleaning their own pastures ahead of the Rome summit.

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Posted in Children, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

Archbp Glenn Davies–Real freedoms will end the broken chain of exemptions

The Sex Discrimination Act was introduced by the Hawke Government and, regrettably, relegated religious freedom to the unsatisfactory category of an exemption. In other words, it legislated the rights of schools to discriminate. This was never asked for by church leaders and has always been considered by us as tantamount to marginalising religious freedom. Worse, it placed us in the invidious position of being described as those who discriminate against students and staff, rather than being put positively, where a school had the right to employ staff who were committed to the Christian ethos of the school. A fundamental community expectation recognises the rights of organisations to hire staff who uphold their values. You wouldn’t expect the Liberal Party to hire a communist any more than the Labor Party would hire someone who was anti-union.

In 1984, the categories for the exemptions were ‘sex, marital status and pregnancy’. However, in 2013, the Gillard Government decided to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex and relationship status’ as new protected attributes. There was good reason for inserting these new areas of prohibited discrimination in the body of the Act, but the way it was done was inept. The fact that the Sex Discrimination Act has, on average, been amended by Parliament once every year for over thirty years, speaks volumes.

So when the Heads of our Anglican Schools wrote their Open Letter, the subject at hand–stated quite clearly–was religious freedom, the right to run a school in accordance with its tenets, beliefs and values. They pointed out that schools never used these exemptions in the area of sexual identity and orientation. They neither wanted them nor requested them. To do so would have gone against the very ethos of an Anglican school, which welcomes all students….

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture