Category : Law & Legal Issues

(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

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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….

Read it all.

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

(OCR) Fired Muslim awarded $3.2 million in discrimination suit against Loma Linda University Medical Center

The complaint contends Strode and Gonzalez harassed Lizarraga through 2015 because of his Islamic beliefs, at times referring to him as a terrorist and calling him other derogatory names, and complained he was “too slow” due to his medical condition..

“Mr Strode and/or Mr. Gonzalez often told the plaintiff, ‘Why don’t you quit?’ or ‘You are going to get fired anyway,’ ” the lawsuit alleges.

After Lizarraga’s work restrictions were lifted, Strode and Gonzalez increased his workload and assigned him tasks that should have been undertaken by other workers, says the complaint.

“Despite this unreasonable and unfair workload, plaintiff still completed it, ” according to the suit. “Still, Mr. Strode and Mr. Gonzalez would unjustly complain to the plaintiff that he was too slow and continued to tell him he should quit.”

Read it all.

Posted in Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

A Letter from the Bp of South Carolina seeking Prayer

The following message from Bishop Mark Lawrence was sent to the Diocese on November 7, 2018.

Dear Friends,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; and with abiding gratitude for the partnership we share in the gospel.

I write to inform you that on Monday, November 19 there will be yet another step on this long legal journey in the State case. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the State Courthouse in Orangeburg the Honorable Edgar W. Dickson will hear arguments on the various motions before him. Please pray for wisdom and clarity for our legal team, particularly Mr. Alan Runyan, Ms. Henrietta Golding, and Mr. Mitch Brown. Pray also for Judge Dickson as he decides upon the many issues before him. Indeed, pray also for those who stand opposed to us, ECUSA/ECSC, as our Lord has taught us to do.

Perhaps it will not escape your attention that this court date falls just a few days before Thanksgiving Day. In spite of the many challenges we have faced in recent months we have much for which to give thanks. Indeed, as the Holy Scriptures remind us,

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

So please note how the apostle teaches us to knit and interlace our petitions and requests with prayers of thanksgiving. It is astonishing just how enkindling of faith such grateful prayer can be.

Yours in Christ,

(The Right Reverend) Mark J. Lawrence
Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues

(The Australian) Archbishop Glenn Davies–Real freedoms will end the broken chain of exemptions

…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.

However, the publication of the open letter has poured a vat of vitrio­l upon the heads of some of the most respected schools in the country. Reaction to gossip across social media has galvanised signatures on petitions for a cause with which the heads of schools are in fundamental agreement.

The open letter’s reference to retaining the exemptions (for exampl­e, allowing single-sex schools to enrol only students of one sex) was in response to a bill from the Australian Greens, which sought to delete the entire section. Besides, for 35 years this has not been an issue in the public sphere, despite our own criticism of the lack of a positive protection for religious freedom. Yet any fair reading will reveal that the thrust of the letter was to advance the case for protecting religious freedom for Anglican schools in particular, and across the educational sector as a whole, including schools of different faiths and those of no faith.

I commend the heads for their courage in sending this message to the members of federal parliament. I also commend them for their resilience in the face of such stringent opposition and mis­understanding from some alumni of their schools, who have simply missed the point. Given the misleading nature of the “exemptions” regime, I can understand their confusion, but the landscape of Anglican education has not changed. Anglican schools neither discriminate against gay students nor do they want the right to do so.

The heads want the parliament to provide positive protection for religious freedom. When the presen­t vacuum is filled — not by rumour and misinformation but by the release of the Ruddock report — we can finally leave behind our broken mess of exemptions and move toward the positive protecti­on of religious freedom.

Read it all.

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

(Telegraph) Christian woman cleared of blasphemy barred from leaving Pakistan

A Christian woman spared the death penalty after her blasphemy conviction was overturned faces being barred from leaving Pakistan under a deal struck to appease hardliners.

Pakistan’s government on Friday night said it had reached an agreement with Islamist parties to end three days of protests which have paralysed the country after Asia Bibi was freed.

The deal included a government concession to begin court proceedings to put Mrs Bibi on the country’s no-fly list.

Pakistan’s government told the BBC it would be up to the court to decide, but the sop to extremists is likely to anger rights groups and Western countries who have been pushing for her freedom.

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NPR) Pakistan’s High Court Acquits Asia Bibi, Christian Woman On Death Row For Blasphemy

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy in a case that has roiled the country.

In the courtroom, it took less a minute for the chief justice, Saqib Nisar, to upturn a series of legal rulings that had kept Bibi on death row for eight years.

In terse remarks to the hushed, packed courtroom, he said that Bibi’s conviction and sentence had been voided.

In a 56-page verdict issued after the ruling, the three-judge bench appeared to side with Bibi’s advocates. They have maintained that the case against the 51-year-old illiterate farmhand was built around a grievance by her fellow Muslim workers, who appeared angry that she might drink from the same vessel as them. She was ordered by a local landlord to bring water to the women on a day while they were picking berries.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Local Paper front Page) Slain Florence, South Carolina, deputy was “source of hope to many’

The second law enforcement officer killed during what authorities have described as an ambush-style mass shooting earlier this month was laid to rest here on Sunday.

Mourners, more than 1,000 strong, packed into the Florence Civic Center to pay their respects to Farrah Burdette Godwin Turner, 36, who loved ones remembered by her “brilliant and courageous” smile and fierce devotion to protecting and bettering the lives of those she served, particularly children. Turner joined the Florence County Sheriff’s Office in 2006. She would go on to be named investigator of the year by the department in 2016.

Turner, a deputy with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, and Florence Police Sgt. Terrence Carraway were fatally shot Oct. 3 at a home in an upscale subdivision outside city limits.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Police/Fire

Jonathan Turley–European Court Upholds Prosecution Of Woman For Comparing Muhammad’s Marriage To A Six-Year-Old Girl To Pedophilia

The Strasbourg-based ECHR ruled that the woman’s “right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.”

The ECHR engaged in what is now an all-too-familiar effort to deny its obvious denial of free speech by saying that freedom of religion did not protect religions from criticism but they upheld the punishment of someone for doing precisely that. It simply declared that the woman’s comments “could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not worthy of worship.”

The opinion is perfectly Orwellian in saying that you cannot get away with using free speech by simply claiming the right of free speech. The court rejected that people are entitled to free speech by simply “pack[ing] incriminating statements into the wrapping of an otherwise acceptable expression of opinion and claim that this rendered passable those statements exceeding the permissible limits of freedom of expression.”

That type of circular logic would be laughable if it were not so chilling.

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

A Nice Profile in The State Newspaper of the Second member of the Police Force killed in the tragic Florence, S.C., Shooting: Farrah Turner RIP

When she was a child and early teenager Farrah Turner, better known as Maxine to her family and friends, would spend summers going to a nursing home in Lake City, South Carolina, to give elderly people company and comfort. Even in her youth, Turner felt a duty to serve her community, her cousin Britney Weaver said.

“Her goal has always been this sense of community and to bring people together and give back,” said Weaver, now an attorney. “She wore many different hats in the community because that was what was fulfilling to her.”

Turner died Monday, 19 days after a man ambushed sheriff’s deputies and investigators who went to search a home near Florence, South Carolina. Turner was one of those investigators. Family members described her as faithful, devoted and funny, who made a real impact on people’s lives.

Tributes poured in from around the country for the officer who had been in critical condition for almost three weeks since the shooting.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Police/Fire

Church use policy passes in the Diocese of Sydney

“It arose in the context of the same-sex marriage debates last year, and the realisation that the changing legal landscape had put our Anglican institutions at risk of anti-discrimination complaints and other adverse action.” Bishop Stead said.

The Bishop admitted the policy was a ‘clunky’ way to handle the problem.

“The core problem is that there is almost no positive protection for freedom of religion in Australian law. Instead, what little protection there is comes from carve-outs – exemptions – in anti-discrimination legislation. Exemptions are the wrong way to deal with this – it is a sledge-hammer to crack a peanut. However, it seems that there is no political appetite for a proper fix, and it seems we are stuck with clunky exemptions. And this policy and ordinance is the – also somewhat clunky – way to address this. “

“To rely on existing anti-discrimination exemptions, a religious institution must demonstrate that its actions conform to the ‘doctrines, tenets or beliefs of that religion’. To ensure that the courts know what “our doctrines, tenets or beliefs” are, we need a clear articulation of our doctrines.”

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) Jeremy Dys–Is a War Memorial’s Cross Illegal?

Yet after years of litigation, a three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined this year that this memorial is unlawful. According to the court, the memorial’s cross shape violates the Constitution.

Chief Judge Roger Gregory dissented from the decision to deny a review of the case before the full Fourth Circuit. “Nearly a century ago, Maryland citizens, out of deep respect and gratitude, took on the daunting task of erecting a monument to mirror the measure of individual devotion and sacrifice these heroes had so nobly advanced,” he wrote. “The panel majority says their effort violates the Constitution the soldiers fought to defend. I, respectfully, think otherwise.”

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III also understood the importance of the memorial, writing in his dissent: “The dead cannot speak for themselves. But may the living hear their silence.” Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, also dissenting, wrote that the Fourth Circuit’s decision “offends the monument’s commemoration of those soldiers’ sacrifice. Moreover, it puts at risk hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of similar monuments.”

A few miles from Bladensburg is Arlington National Cemetery. Unless the Supreme Court agrees to hear our appeal and overturns the Fourth Circuit’s decision, the Canadian Cross of Sacrifice, the Argonne Cross, and perhaps the Tomb of the Unknowns—itself originally a World War I veterans monument inscribed with language intertwining the poetic and religious—could face desecration and demolition.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CT) Free at Last: Andrew Brunson Released by Turkey After Two Years

American pastor Andrew Brunson has been released after being detained for two years in Turkey.

At a hearing this morning, a Turkish court freed him from judicial control, which lifts his house arrest and travel ban.

Despite a guilty verdict sentencing him to 3 years, 1 month, and 15 days in prison, Brunson may return home to the United States as soon as today due to good behavior and time already served.

NBC News broke the news yesterday of the expected deal between Turkey and the United States over Brunson, a North Carolina pastor who had worked in Izmir for decades and was arrested on terrorism and espionage charges in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016.

US officials and religious freedom advocates considered the charges against Brunson to be erroneous, and multiple witnesses retracted their testimonies against him during today’s hearing.

Trump administration officials were optimistic but cautious that Turkey would follow through on the deal, reported The Washington Post. The deal would likely lift recent US sanctions in exchange for Brunson’s release by being sentenced today to time already served.

Officials expect Brunson to “be handed back his passport and put on a plane to the US,” reported The Wall Street Journal….

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Missions, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Turkey

(Tablet) Supreme court rules in favour of bakery in same-sex wedding cake case

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court found in favour of an appeal by Asher’s bakery in Belfast, reversing earlier decisions made in the Belfast County Court and court of appeal, which had ruled that the bakery discriminated against Mr Lee on the grounds of his sexual orientation.

Announcing the ruling, Supreme Court president, Lady Hale, said: “It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or any of the other protected personal characteristics.”

“But that is not what happened in this case and it does the project of equal treatment no favours to seek to extend it beyond its proper scope,” she continued.

She said that freedom of expression includes the right to “not to express an opinion which one does not hold”.

“This court has held that ‘nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe’”, she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Observer) Church and state – an unhappy union?

How is it, they might wonder, in the 21st century, in a country where by every measure the number of people defining themselves as non-religious is growing and the number identifying with the C of E is shrinking, that we have a God-ordained monarchy pledging to preserve the privileges of a religious institution rejected by the vast majority of the population?

According to David Voas, professor of social science at University College London (UCL) and co-director of British Religion in Numbers, there are many ways of defining religious affiliation. “But, very clearly, we’re at a point where, under any definition, a minority of the population – in practice, single figures – is Anglican. There can no longer be a majoritarian argument for an established church.”

The most visible manifestation of establishment, which dates back to the reformation, is the monarch’s dual role as head of state and head of the church. But there are many elements: the 26 seats in the House of Lords reserved for Anglican bishops (the only other country to ringfence seats in its legislature for clerics is Iran); the formal appointment of bishops and archbishops by the monarch; the need for church laws to be approved by parliament; the requirement for the Church of England to minister to the whole population, with every inch of the country divided into C of E parishes; Anglican prayers at the start of parliamentary business each day; the legal requirement for every state school to hold an act of daily worship that is “broadly Christian in character”. The legal prohibition on the monarch marrying a Roman Catholic was lifted only five years ago.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Archbishop Cranmer Blog) Lord Carey challenges Bishops to break their silence on the ‘significant cloud’ hanging over the name of Bishop George Bell

[Bishop] Bell was more than an energetic, courageous and knowledgeable public figure. He was a man rooted in prayer and worship; a high churchman who loved the order and beauty of liturgy. In his exceptionally busy life he was supported loyally and lovingly by his wife, Henrietta. She was always alongside him, as were his chaplains who there to take some of the burden of his high public office.

And then, 57 years after his death, his own diocese which he loved greatly and served faithfully made an announcement which was likely to affect Bell’s reputation for evermore. The announcement was widely interpreted by press and public alike as an accusation that Bell had sexually abused a child between 1949 and 1953. Strangely, church leaders deny that they have ever said that Bell was guilty of the abuse, but this is surely disingenuous? In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words, a ‘cloud’ hangs over his name.

In that initial announcement, very few details were given but it was clear that an unspecified sum of money had been given to the complainant. The Church said it had decided to give this compensation on the basis of the ‘balance of probabilities’. But even on this evidential basis, arguments for the defence should have been heard. Previously, no other accusations – or even rumours – had ever been heard against Bell. And on the basis of this one unproven, and probably unprovable allegation, his name was removed from buildings and institutions named after him.

A recent detailed review of the case by Lord Carlile showed that no significant effort had been made by the Church to consider any evidence that might have supported Bell’s innocence. In particular, those investigating did not consult Bell’s biographer, Andrew Chandler, nor the living people who worked with him at that time.

George Bell’s cause was given no legal advocate. Instead, in a process which I referred to in the House of Lords in 2016 as having the character of a ‘kangaroo court’, it seems as though the ‘victim’ was automatically believed. The normal burden of proof was reversed and it was considered ‘wicked’ to doubt the veracity of the allegations.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) In England and Wales A man and a woman can now choose a civil partnership rather than Marriage

Heterosexual couples in England and Wales will be able to choose to have a civil partnership rather than get married, Theresa May has announced.

The government says the move will provide greater security for unmarried couples and their families.

And it will address the “imbalance” that allows same-sex couples to enter a civil partnership or get married – a choice denied to heterosexual couples.

The current system was found in June to be in breach of European law.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Wales, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Theology, Women

A Terrific ABC Nightline Piece on the rescue efforts in North Carolina in the midst of Hurricane Florence

Watch it all, it is a model of a news story that covers faith seriously and respectfully.

“Q:What do you need?” “A:Right now prayers. We’ve done everything man can do. Now it’s in God’s hands and we’re going to trust Him.”

Posted in America/U.S.A., Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Police/Fire, Weather

Kendall Harmon for 9/11: Number 343


(You may find the names of all 343 firefighters here–KSH).

On Monday this week, the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.

So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.

On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.

–First published on this blog September 11, 2003

Posted in * By Kendall, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Police/Fire, Terrorism

(1st Things) Hadley Arkes–Recasting Religious Freedom

The truth that dare not speak its name is that even many friends of religious freedom have been content to argue for that freedom on terms that accept this reduction of religion to “beliefs” untested by reason. They do so because they don’t wish to put themselves in the position of speaking the uncomfortable truth: that not everything that calls itself religion in this country may be regarded as a legitimate religion. And so we try to vindicate a “ministerial exception” to the laws on employment. We insist that churches must be free to determine who counts as a minister according to their own criteria and teaching. But does that freedom from the intrusion of the government apply as well to the ministers appointed under the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or even worse, does it apply to Satanists claiming the standing of a religion?

We cannot detach ourselves from judging Satanism, or radical evil, and in the same measure we cannot detach ourselves from the task of discriminating between religions that are more or less plausible, more or less legitimate, based on the substance of what they teach. No argument that seeks to explain a just regime of religious freedom—and a sweeping protection for anything that calls itself religion—could possibly offer a coherent moral account when it seeks to incorporate in its understanding a posture of indifference to radical evil. The canons of reason will ever be woven into the laws on religion—even in judging what is plausible or implausible in what is reported to us about the word of God.

Aristotle taught us that the mark of the polis, the political order, was the presence of law, and law springs distinctly from the nature of that creature who can give and understand reasons concerning matters of right and wrong. Aristotle expressed the classic understanding of the moral ground of the law in that way, and I would suggest that the freedom of religion will find firmer ground by insisting again on that connection between moral reasoning and the law—between the reasons that support our religious convictions and the religious freedom we would protect through the law. The beginning of the argument would be to remind people of that connection between the very logic of a moral judgment and the logic of law. In the strictest sense, a “moral” judgment moves beyond statements of merely personal taste or private belief; it speaks to the things that are right or wrong, just or unjust, generally or universally—for others as well as ourselves.

In a corresponding way, the law moves by overriding claims of mere private choice, personal freedom, subjective belief. It imposes a rule of justice that claims to hold for everyone who comes within its reach.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

A Former Sex Trafficking Victim Describes Her Ordeal and Rescue

You need to take the time to watch it all. If you cannot handle it visually please read the transcript there.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence, Women

In the Midst of a Campaign of Disinformation, the Diocese of South Carolina releases a Factsheet on the Current Lawsuits

Read it carefully and read it all and you can find more material and many more links to even further information there.

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

(The Exchange) Brian Stiller–Secularism and Diversity: Lessons from Canada and its Supreme Court Decision about Trinity Western

…Second, it makes short shrift of the model that within a diverse society a plurality of ideas and beliefs can exist together. This is a huge loss. And when Canada, known for its democracy and public fairness, takes this road, we lose an important example of how pluralism functions.

In today’s cultural, religious, and ethnic stew, to respect and get along with each other is as basic a formula as I can imagine. Justices opposing the majority noted,

The state and state actors [and in this case, provincial law societies] – not private institutions like TWU – are constitutionally bound to accommodate difference in order to foster pluralism in public life. . . . Canadians are permitted to hold different sets of values.

Third, it keeps faith from being public. I hear the justices saying something like, “Live out your faith within your churches, institutions, and private communities, but if you try to bring it into civic life, if we don’t see your beliefs as being inclusive with our values, we will prevent your faith from influencing our public spheres….”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(1st Things) John Waters–Choosing to refuse

Sometimes, digesting the latest news of the unhinging of the world, one is tempted to fall into despair. I experienced this feeling acutely recently, reading a report of a conservative commentator who had been questioned by the FBI because he posted a one-liner on Twitter mocking the Human Rights Campaign for seeking to persuade businesses to put rainbows in some visible place about their premises, presumably as an indicator of acquiescence in the LGBT agenda.

“That’s a nice business. Too bad if something happened to it,” tweeted Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family and Human Rights. It was an obvious riff on Mafia-style protection methodologies, but you can count on social-justice-warrior types not to get jokes. Ruse was reported by the Human Rights Campaign and as a consequence received a visit and later a phone call from an FBI officer. Luckily, the officer knew a joke from a shakedown and that was the end of it.

Ruse subsequently observed that the HRC has made a habit of attacking Christians who defend traditional sexual morality. He elaborated:

It works like this: A local restaurant is owned by a faithful Catholic who objects to the gay agenda. … Gays notice he doesn’t have the gay rainbow affixed to his window. “Why don’t you have the rainbow on your window?,” they ask. “Are you homophobic? Do you really want the local community to know about you?” You can see it spooling out from there. He is targeted by the local bully boys who proceed to make his life miserable, perhaps harming and even shuttering his business.

This kind of thing is escalating at a rate that begins to be very ominous indeed. Not only do these people brook no dissent from their agendas, but they do not rest until anyone who questions them is badly burnt toast. And officialdom everywhere plays along and treats them like jolly pranksters….

Ruse’s experience brought to mind Vaclav Havel’s story, in his essay “The Power of the Powerless,” about the greengrocer who put the sign in the window with the slogan, “Workers of the World Unite.” Havel draws us into the mindset of the greengrocer, who places the sign essentially as a gesture of obedience. The sign might as easily read, “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient”—but this would cause the greengrocer to lose face. The “Workers of the World” sign serves both the needs of the greengrocer and the needs of the regime. So it is with rainbow stickers. The sign or sticker thus becomes another kind of sign: of the operation within a culture of an ideology. This is its true function.

Read it all and make sure to read the full article in Stream from which he is quoting.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, The U.S. Government

In 2009 an Anglican church was expelled from their building in Central NY under TEC Bishop Skip Adams and it became an Islamic Center for 1/3 the price the parish was willing to pay

Former Bishop of South Carolina, C. Fitzsimons Allison, has written about this matter here and described it as follows:

…nothing in the behavior of TEC suggests their goals with departing parishes and Dioceses have changed over time. They continue to litigate in the Diocese of Quincy, Illinois despite having lost at the highest level in the state courts there. In the Diocese of San Joaquin, California, after spending $15 million to recover the parish properties, only 21 have been declared “viable” with the other 25 reported as going up for sale. In Bishop Adams’ former diocese, the people of Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY were denied the purchase of their former church, seeing it sold for 1/3 their offer to become a mosque instead. The pattern of behavior is clear. For TEC, “reconciliation” has meant, “surrender, return the property and we’ll forgive you so you can rejoin us”. That is not a viable way forward.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

(Guardian) What is the true human cost of your £5 hand car wash? the C of E provides a role in finding the Answer

Beyond checking for concrete and prices below £6, what can drivers do to avoid potentially problematic car washes? Frazer, who believes £9 is a reasonable minimum price for a basic wash, advises checking for the overall quality of a site. “If it’s being held together with bits of string, that’s another indicator,” she says. Nearby caravans or signs of on-site accommodation are a potential concern, as is an absence of receipts.

While the scale of the problem remains largely unknown, and workers themselves report being reluctant to raise the alarm, drivers are being recruited to help identify problem sites. The church is playing an unlikely role; the Anglican and Catholic churches in England have backed a new Safe Car Wash phone app. It asks drivers for a site’s location and name (if there is one), followed by a series of questions about it and its workers. It encourages drivers not to confront workers. Instead, the Church of England’s Clewer Initiative against anti-slavery, which launched the app on 4 June, shares the data with the National Crime Agency and the GLAA, among other authorities. If answers to the questions about safety gear and other observations suggests a potential problem, users are also encouraged to contact the Modern Slavery Helpline.

“Too often we rush in, you’re on your phone and see all this activity, you give your £6 and drive off,” says Alastair Redfern, the bishop of Derby, who works on anti-slavery projects in the church and the House of Lords. “We’re just saying, please stop and think first.” The Clewer Initiative says the app was downloaded more than 5,000 times in its first month, while the charity Unseen, which runs the slavery helpline, said last week that 11 cases indicating 69 potential victims had been reported to it through the app.

But concern about car washes that may be contravening one or several laws and regulations should not lead to assumptions about all such businesses, Frazer adds. There are legitimate businesses that offer competitive prices. That some car washes might have sub-standard drainage does not necessarily mean they are fronts of organised crime. “And if workers look a bit bedraggled, it doesn’t mean it’s all to do with modern slavery – you cannot generalise in that way,” Frazer adds.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture