Category : Women

(WSJ front page) Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show

Eva Behrens, a 17-year-old student at Redwood High School in Marin County, Calif., said she estimates half the girls in her grade struggle with body-image concerns tied to Instagram. “Every time I feel good about myself, I go over to Instagram, and then it all goes away,” she said.

When her classmate Molly Pitts, 17, arrived at high school, she found her peers using Instagram as a tool to measure their relative popularity. Students referred to the number of followers their peers had as if the number was stamped on their foreheads, she said.

Now, she said, when she looks at her number of followers on Instagram, it is most often a “kick in the gut.”

For years, there has been little debate among medical doctors that for some patients, Instagram and other social media exacerbate their conditions. Angela Guarda, director for the eating-disorders program at Johns Hopkins Hospital and an associate professor of psychiatry in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said it is common for her patients to say they learned from social media tips for how to restrict food intake or purge. She estimates that Instagram and other social-media apps play a role in the disorders of about half her patients.

“It’s the ones who are most vulnerable or are already developing a problem—the use of Instagram and other social media can escalate it,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Women

Congratulation to Emma Raducanu, Winner of the US Open Women’s Tennis Final

The 18-year-old Raducanu was being hailed Sunday as the new queen of British sport — and perhaps the architect of one of the most unlikely sporting achievements of all time — by winning the U.S. Open as a qualifier.

Her 6-4, 6-3 victory over Leylah Fernandez, broadcast on free-to-air TV in Britain, was in a primetime slot on Saturday evening, allowing the nation to savor a superstar in the making.

Among them, apparently, was the British Prime Minister.

“What a sensational match! Huge congratulations to Emma Raducanu,” read a tweet from Boris Johnson’s official account. “You showed extraordinary skill, poise and guts and we are all hugely proud of you.”

The queen also sent her congratulations.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Sports, Teens / Youth, Women

(NYT) A remarkable US Open tournament now features 2 unseeded teenagers in the women’s final

Two teenage women who were barely known to anyone other than the most devout tennis fans before this U.S. Open will vie for the singles championship on Saturday in what has to be the most improbable matchup for a Grand Slam final since the modern era of tennis began more than 50 years ago.

On a Thursday night that would have been shocking had Emma Raducanu of Britain and Leylah Fernandez of Canada not been pulling rabbits out of their hats for the better part of two weeks, the two teenage sensations once again knocked off seasoned pros who exist in a different stratosphere in the world rankings.

First, Fernandez outlasted the second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, in three sets, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, in a nervy, error-filled match that saw both players let go of chances to put the battle away long before Sabalenka finished herself off with one last flurry of double faults. It was Fernandez’s fourth consecutive three-set win over one of the top 20 players in the world.

Then Raducanu took the stage at Arthur Ashe Stadium and did what she has been doing for more than a week — blitzing players far more accomplished and making them play their worst matches of the tournament. Raducanu ambushed the 17th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece, 6-1, 6-4.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, England / UK, Sports, Teens / Youth, Women

(NBC) Team USA’s Regan Smith Helping Lead Next Generation Of Swimmers

“Among the 11 teenagers swimming for Team USA is Regan Smith, who set three world records in backstroke when she was just 17. Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, she spoke with NBC News’ Vicky Nguyen about her journey to the pool, how the pandemic affected her and what it takes to become an Olympian.”

Watch it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Japan, Sports, Women, Young Adults

(NBC) Boko Haram Kidnapping Survivors Now Pursuing Graduate Degrees To Help Others

“Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu were among the hundreds of girls kidnapped in 2014 by Boko Haram in Nigeria. After escaping, both women have now graduated from Florida’s Southeastern University and plan to pursue graduate degrees. They’re determined to be a voice for those still missing.”

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Posted in Education, Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence, Women, Young Adults

(CT) Whispered Prayers, Hidden Bibles, Secretly Scribbled Verses: Inside the Resilient Faith of the #BringBackOurGirls Hostages

Eventually, word of the girls’ indiscipline reached Malam Ahmed. The girls were singing, he learned, and were hiding a Bible. He was furious. His guards arrived, a mass of men descending on them all at once, shouting orders and demanding to search the area. The girls stood to the side while the men rifled through the piled-up clothes and kitchen utensils they kept under a tree. The militants confiscated medicine, mainly basic painkillers the girls had been hiding. They found a cellphone. But the girls had already buried their diaries and a Bible, marking the spot with a stone.

“We were no longer afraid,” Naomi told us.

It wasn’t until May 2017 that she and 81 of her classmates were ordered to march to the side of a dirt road, where a row of white Red Cross Toyota Land Cruisers were parked. One after the next, the young women were invited to cross the road by a lawyer, who had been working with the Swiss Foreign Affairs ministry to help negotiate their release. The cars rumbled off, and as the schoolmates cracked open juice boxes, the men who’d held them hostage for three years became small figures on the horizon. The journey had barely begun when the passengers broke into a song from Chibok, loud enough that the entire convoy could hear and join in. Their voices arched and lingered over the a in happy, reaching for a note at the top of the melody.

Today is a happy day!
Everybody shake your body, thank God! Today is a happy day.

Years later, Naomi began to recount these anecdotes to us, recalling a story of courage in the face of horrors that sounded fantastical in their depravity. Nevertheless, after many hours of interviews with the young women held in captivity, it became clear that her account often understated the schoolgirls’ bravery. Naomi and her friends had no reason to believe they would survive their ordeal and every expectation that each challenge to their captors’ worldview would result in physical and mental punishment. They stuck to their principles all the same, staging a rebellion that signaled their determination to persevere.

“We stood our ground,” as Naomi later told us.

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Violence, Women

(NYT) Why American Women Everywhere Are Delaying Motherhood

Luz Portillo, the oldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, has many plans. She is studying to be a skin care expert. She has also applied to nursing school. She works full time, too — as a nurse’s aide and doing eyelash extensions, a business she would like to grow.

But one thing she has no plans for anytime soon is a baby.

Ms. Portillo’s mother had her when she was 16. Her father has worked as a landscaper for as long as she can remember. She wants a career and more control over her life.

“I can’t get pregnant, I can’t get pregnant,” she said she tells herself. “I have to have a career and a job. If I don’t, it’s like everything my parents did goes in vain.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Theology, Women

(WSJ) Adam O’Neal–Kazakhstan’s efforts at rehabilitation and reintegration put Europe to shame

“Kazakhstan made a very bold move by being the first country to repatriate large numbers of its nationals,” Chris Harnisch, a Trump State Department official who worked on the issue, said in an interview. “They were not dipping their toe in the water. They went all in.” The Kazakh government repatriated 607 citizens through a program called Operation Zhusan. Most were women (157) and children (413). Thirty-seven adult male fighters faced prosecution upon arrival. Another 32 women and 89 children returned themselves.

The Kazakh government sends women and children to rehabilitation centers, where they undergo a long process to help them reintegrate into society. Some return completely jaded, while others remain committed to ISIS: One woman tried to smuggle the group’s propaganda into Kazakhstan in a child’s toy.

“We are trying to bring them back to normal,” then-Deputy Foreign Minister Yerzhan Ashikbayev told me earlier this year. “We would like to see them as ordinary people.” This created controversy domestically, but the government held firm.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Kazakhstan, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Women

(CEN) The Bishop of Gloucester campaigns on women released from prison to ‘no fixed abode’

The Bishop of Gloucester, commented:

“It is shocking that thousands of women each year leave prison without anywhere safe and secure to live or the support they need. “Without safe and supported housing, we cannot expect vulnerable women to turn their lives around.”

“This crisis is entirely preventable but we need urgent well-funded, cross-Govt action to address this issue. I implore the Government to adopt the measures outlined in our letter today to ensure that no vulnerable woman leaves prison to No Fixed Abode.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Women

(NYT front page) China Targets Muslim Women in Push to Suppress Births in Xinjiang

When China’s government ordered women in her mostly Muslim community in the region of Xinjiang to be fitted with contraceptive devices, Qelbinur Sedik pleaded for an exemption. She was nearly 50 years old, she told officials. She had obeyed the government’s birth limits and had only one child.

It was no use. The workers threatened to take her to the police if she continued resisting, she said. She gave in and went to a government clinic where a doctor, using metal forceps, inserted an intrauterine device to prevent pregnancy. She wept through the procedure.

“I felt like I was no longer a normal woman,” Ms. Sedik said, choking up as she described the 2017 ordeal. “Like I was missing something.”

Across much of China, the authorities are encouraging women to have more children, as they try to stave off a demographic crisis from a declining birthrate. But in the Xinjiang region, China is forcing them to have fewer, tightening its grip on Muslim ethnic minorities and trying to orchestrate a demographic shift that will diminish their population growth.

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Posted in Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Women

(NYT) Marriage Records in England and Wales Will Now Include Mothers’ Names

Marriage certificates in England and Wales have traditionally left space for the names and professions of just one parent: the fathers of the couple tying the knot.

That changed on Tuesday, with couples now allowed to add mothers’ names to their official marriage record. The change corrects “a historic anomaly” and is part of a larger overhaul of how marriages are registered in the two nations, the British government said. Unions will also now be recorded in a single electronic registry instead of in registry books.

The changes are the biggest to the registration system since the Marriage Act came into effect in 1837, the Home Office said, and they have been in the works for several years. In 2014, David Cameron, then the prime minister, said the system did not reflect “modern Britain” and pledged to make modifications.

But the final stages of legislation to include both parents did not come before Parliament until last month, spurred by a larger bill that passed in 2019. The earlier bill included the changeover to an electronic marriage registry and the extension of the right to civil partnerships to all couples.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church History, England / UK, History, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Women

(Tablet) Welby condemns ‘sins of male violence’ amid vigils for Sarah Everard

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “Testimony after testament from women over recent days have shown us something we have known and ignored for far too long: the profound impact of the sin of male violence, intimidation, harassment, sexism and abuse carried out against women. It is these sins – and the culture that perptuates and condones them – that need our urgent repentance, our fervent prayer, and our resolute action as men.”

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme that Ms Everard’s death was a tipping point, and acknowledged the Churches’ role in fostering a culture of male dominance. “We have used scripture to make women submissive to men. . . We have contributed to that pervasive culture that women and girls are lesser than men and boys and we have got a big part to play in redressing that,” she said.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Violence, Women

(SBC) Bible teacher Beth Moore, splitting with Lifeway, says, ‘I am no longer a Southern Baptist’

For nearly three decades, Beth Moore has been the very model of a modern Southern Baptist.

She loves Jesus and the Bible and has dedicated her life to teaching others why they need both of them in their lives. Millions of evangelical Christian women have read her Bible studies and flocked to hear her speak at stadium-style events where Moore delves deeply into biblical passages.

Moore’s outsize influence and role in teaching the Bible have always made some evangelical power brokers uneasy, because of their belief only men should be allowed to preach.

But Moore was above reproach, supporting Southern Baptist teaching that limits the office of pastor to men alone and cheerleading for the missions and evangelistic work that the denomination holds dear….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Women

(NPR Goats+Soda) Nearly 1 In 3 Women Experience Violence: Landmark Report From WHO

The numbers are stark – and startling.

Around the world, almost 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization. That number has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, WHO said.

The report, which WHO says is the largest-ever study of the prevalence of violence against women, draws upon data from 161 countries and areas on women and girls age 15 and up collected between 2000 and 2018. So it does not account for the impact of the pandemic. Lockdowns and related restrictions on movement have led to widespread reports of a “shadow pandemic” — a surge in violence against women and girls around the world, as many found themselves trapped at home with their abusers.

The figures “really bring to the fore how widely prevalent this problem already was” even prior to the pandemic, said WHO’s Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno, one of the report’s authors. She says researchers won’t know the pandemic’s true impact on violence against women until they can conduct new population-based surveys again in the future.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Local Paper) This South Carolina human trafficking survivor is drawing from her past to tackle the problem

As South Carolina’s leaders pledge to end human trafficking and prosecute its perpetrators, a Lowcountry woman is pulling their focus to the survivors of such horrors.

Kat Wehunt, who survived years of sex trafficking as a teenager, knows she’s lucky to have escaped. But she worries that her peers in the Palmetto State don’t have a simple, thorough and accessible system to help them maintain a life free from abuse.

Her solution is The Formation Project, the state’s only survivor-led nonprofit dedicated to ending human trafficking. While law enforcement, legislators and faith leaders work to pull victims from their abusers, Wehunt focuses on the next step: connecting them with resources to make sure they’re able to thrive for the rest of their lives with the physical and emotional support they deserve.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Sexuality, Violence, Women

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Fanny Crosby

O God, the blessed assurance of all who trust in thee: We give thanks for thy servant Fanny Crosby, and pray that we, inspired by her words and example, may rejoice to sing ever of thy love, praising our Savior; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Women

(BBC) ‘Their goal is to destroy everyone’: Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

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Article content may not be suitable for some blog readers–KSH.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(ABC) More Chibok girls have escaped from Boko Haram almost 7 years later, parents say

Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian human rights lawyer who practices in the United States and has previously worked with some of the freed girls and their families, said a parent told him that his daughter and others have escaped their captors.

“Mr. Ali Maiyanga’s two daughters were part of the few Muslim schoolgirls taken with the majority Christian Chibok girls. Information currently available to us indicates that there are other escapees with the army whom parents are anxiously waiting to identify,” Ogebe said in a statement to ABC News late Thursday. “We spoke and confirmed from Mr. Ali Maiyanga moments ago that he in fact spoke with his daughter today, who informed him that she along with others were rescued. Her sister who escaped four years ago and is on school break was overjoyed at the news of her sibling’s escape.”

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Posted in Nigeria, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Women

(NPR) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Friday. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.

The court, in a statement, said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87.

“Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Ginsburg subsequently served 27 years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member. Her death will inevitably set in motion what promises to be a nasty and tumultuous political battle over who will succeed her, and it thrusts the Supreme Court vacancy into the spotlight of the presidential campaign.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Law & Legal Issues, Supreme Court, Women

(C of E) ‘They could hear the sound of the women singing in their cells’ how online prison services brought hope

The Covid-19 pandemic has made us think creatively and this was the first time that we had done anything like this. We wanted different prisons to take part and the service was broadcast from HMP Stocken in Rutland, HMP Low Newton in Durham – all women – and HMP Pentonville in London, a men’s prison.

We wanted the voices of the people who work in prison to be heard and for people to be given some idea of their largely hidden ministry. Prison staff, including chaplains, are Hidden Heroes and we must take every chance to celebrate them, like through this service, and the upcoming Hidden Heroes day on September 29.

During the service, there were readings by staff inside Pentonville prison and you could hear the background noise of prison life. The service heard reflections written by two prisoners, read by chaplains on their behalf.

Prisoners spoke of their joy at knowing their families had been watching and listening to what they had written. It was hugely exciting for them to feel heard. There was prisoners’ art displayed throughout the service and prayers were read that had been written by the women in Low Newton.

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Posted in Prison/Prison Ministry, Women

(CT) Karen Marsh–The Demanding Faith of Flannery O’Connor

One cannot get through a Flannery O’Connor story without encountering the strangeness of God. As she said, the greatest dramas involve the salvation or loss of the soul. Her short story “Revelation” startles with its final vision of a field of living fire. The vast hordes of souls rumbling toward heaven, the battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs, are a queerly beautiful sight. And then the words, “In the woods around her the invisible cricket choruses had struck up, but what she heard were the voices of the souls climbing upward into the starry field and shouting hallelujah.” Here is a spiritual reality, glorious and disturbing, which my comfortable Christian categories cannot contain.

Flannery lamented that our secular society understands the religious mind less and less, that people who believe vigorously in Christ are wholly odd to most readers. It becomes more and more difficult in America to make belief believable, yet this is what she wanted to do.

My husband, Charles, has always been a Flannery O’Connor fan, and he introduced me to her personal correspondence. Flannery’s letters reveal a warm, witty, probing woman—nothing like the stern author I’d imagined from her violent stories. She discusses manuscripts she’s rewriting, the books she’s reading, a funny encounter with the telephone repairman, a promise to send more peacock feathers, news of Cousin Katie, complaints about the “idiot legislature,” and an account of a funeral. Throughout the 596 pages, there is a great deal of theology. Flannery insists that she is not a mystic and does not lead a holy life, yet she unapologetically displays her faith: a life of continually turning away from egocentricity and toward God.

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Posted in History, Poetry & Literature, Theology, Women

(Reuters) New hotline helps families survive abuse in Congo

Four days after the Congolese government shut down Kinshasa’s pulsating nightlife, her husband knocked out some of her teeth and went to live with his mistress, leaving her bleeding and naked on the floor. Their three children saw it all.

A policy aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus meant that case K1B1 – whose name Reuters is withholding for her safety – had been locked down with her abuser.

“When Marie came to visit me I was still vomiting blood from the beatings,” she told Reuters, referring to Marie Lukasa, who set up Congo’s first domestic abuse hotline a year ago.

During the coronavirus crisis, it’s a service in increasing demand in a country ill-equipped to deal with such abuse.

Read it all.

Posted in Marriage & Family, Men, Republic of Congo, Violence, Women

(IFS) Rob Henderson–Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Ended the Tinder Era of Relationships?

In December 2019, the height of the Tinder era, women and men were setting up multiple dates on the same day. People were sexually carefree, spinning the digital slot machine in their hands, wondering who they would match with next.

Fast forward to December 2020. People will be more careful about who they date because, now, they have to be more careful.

As I wrote in the recent IFS symposium, new relationships and casual hookups will likely decline during this pandemic because of the difficulty to enter the dating scene as bars, clubs, and restaurants have closed. But even after social distancing practices ease up, many people will continue to be vigilant about their sexual partnerships.

When people feel safe, they are willing to take more risks. But when safety is threatened, such as during a disease outbreak, people become more cautious. Indeed, research led by evolutionary psychologists Mark Schaller and Damian Murray found that in countries where pathogens are more pervasive, people are less extraverted and less open to new experiences. They also more strongly urge one another to adhere to social customs.

Furthermore, experimental evidence by Laith Al-Shawaf at the University of Colorado and his colleagues showed that people who read about a parasitic infection expressed less willingness to sleep with someone they just met compared with a control condition. In the world we lived in until very recently, more people were willing to jump into bed with a stranger. In this widely-read Vanity Fair piece about Tinder, for example, a man tells the author that he slept with “30 to 40 women in the last year.” But a recent study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine discovered that people are reporting a decline in the number of sexual partners, as well as a decline in sexual frequency. Additionally, they found that “most individuals with a history of risky sexual experiences had a rapid reduction in risky sexual behaviors.”

In the future, people may be more vigilant about coming into sexual contact with an unknown person. At least for now, Coronavirus has killed the era of ‘Netflix and chill.’

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Men, Psychology, Women, Young Adults

(FT) Behind closed doors: modern slavery in Kensington, featuring the C of E parish Saint John’s, Notting Hill

….the domestic worker from Mindanao in the southern Philippines ended two years of overwork, underpayment and underfeeding by slipping through a throng of people and into the street. As she headed between the elegant Victorian apartment blocks of Harrington Road, she asked for God’s help.

“As I’m walking, I’m praying, ‘Lord, bring me to your people,’” Canuday recalls.

Her prayer was answered. After a little more than two miles, Canuday, a slight, round-faced woman who is now 50, heard Filipino religious music coming from a west London church. When she followed it, she found herself at a service being conducted in Tagalog, the country’s most widely spoken language.

Members of the congregation sat her down, gave her coffee and food and offered reassurance. Today, Canuday remembers the event as an act of divine providence. “God took me to beside people who took care of me,” she says. “They said, ‘Don’t worry; don’t worry — relax.’”

Canuday’s reception at St John’s, Notting Hill — a prominent Gothic-revival building that houses London’s only Tagalog-language Church of England congregation — represented a rare nugget of good fortune for an overseas worker fleeing an abusive employer in the UK.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Violence, Women

Bishop [of Maidstone] Rod Thomas’ letter after the Archbishops’ statement following the earlier release of the ‘Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships for Opposite Sex Couples’

I thought I should write following the statement that was issued after the conclusion of the College of Bishops yesterday. The statement can be found here.

My understanding at the College was that the statement was needed for two reasons. First, it was felt that the Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships for Opposite Sex Couples which had been released on 22nd January was pastorally insensitive in the way it was framed and released to the press. Secondly, there was concern that as a result, some of the necessary participation in the discussions which will follow the publication of the Living in Love and Faith materials could be jeopardised. Yesterday’s statement therefore apologised for the release of the Pastoral Statement.

However, it was also my clear understanding that nothing in yesterday’s statement should be taken as a retraction of the doctrinal teaching of the Church of England on marriage and sexual relationships. While some of that teaching may well come into question during the discussions about the LLF materials, it remains the current teaching of the Church. The position set out in the Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships for Opposite Sex Couples, and which was agreed by the House of Bishops, therefore continues to apply.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

Congratulations to Sofia Kenin, 2020 Women’s Title winner of the Australian Open

Posted in America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Sports, Women

(CT) For Christian Women, Persecution Looks Like Rape

Dali’s work serves but a tiny number of the millions of women around the world who suffer from persecution. Of the 245 million Christians attacked for their faith last year, many are women and girls who are specifically and most frequently targeted through forced marriage, rape, and other forms of sexual violence. These are the findings of Gendered Persecution, an Open Doors report that examined the differences in persecution by gender in 33 countries for women and 30 countries for men. (An updated report will be released this March.)

While forced marriage is the “most regularly reported means of putting pressure on Christian women” and “remains largely invisible,” when analyzing the data on female persecution, researchers Helene Fisher and Elizabeth Miller found that

Among all forms of violence… the one most often noted [for women] was rape. The research found it to be a common characteristic of persecution of Christian women in 17 countries, with other forms of sexual assault being listed for exactly half of countries with available data. There are no mentions of this form of violence against men, nor is domestic violence one of the pressures mentioned as a tactic used against Christian men.

Not only must Christian women like the Boko Haram captives deal with their own trauma, they often can’t find sanctuary within their faith communities when they come home.

“Unfortunately, it is all too common that Christian communities do not distinguish themselves from their surrounding cultures and, as a result, will stigmatize their women and girls who have been victims of violence,” Fisher and Miller, the authors of the report, wrote in a statement to CT.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Sexuality, Violence, Women

([London] Times) Joyful and triumphant, cathedral choirgirls finally overtake the boys

After more than a millennium of male dominance choirgirls now outnumber choirboys in England’s cathedrals for the first time.

The tradition of boys singing in cathedral choirs dates back at least 1,110 years with the first boy choristers singing at Wells Cathedral in the year 909.

There are now 740 boy and 740 girl choristers in English cathedrals, according to church statistics, but The Times has learnt that both of these figures have been slightly rounded up. There are, to be more precise, now 739 girls and 737 boys, marking the first time that choirgirls have outnumbered choirboys.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Women

(CEN) Civil partnership changes to become law next month

MPs were told that there are over three million opposite-sex couples that cohabit but choose not to marry for personal reasons. While these couples support a million children, they do not have the security or legal protection that married couples or civil partners enjoy.

The instrument extends civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples in England and Wales, by amending the definition of civil partnerships and the eligibility criteria for registering as civil partners in the 2004 Act, to remove the same-sex requirement.

It also amends Part 5 of the 2004 Act so that certain opposite-sex relationships formed in other countries, which are not marriages, can be recognised as civil partnerships in England and Wales.

The instrument also provides specific protections for religious organisations and persons acting on their behalf. The religious protections recognise the potential for diversity of religious views in this area, particularly whilst some religious organisations may choose not to be involved in any civil partnerships, others may be content to host only civil partnerships between same-sex couples, and others may prefer only to be involved in civil partnerships between opposite-sex couples, the paper explains.

The instrument also introduces a new ‘non-compulsion’ clause so that religious organisations and persons acting on their behalf cannot be compelled to do specified acts (such as allowing religious premises to be used for civil partnerships, or participating in civil partnerships on religious premises), where either the organisation, or the person, does not wish to do so.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology, Women

(NYT) First Comes Snapchat, Then the Bachelor and Spinster Ball

“It’s hard finding love,” Rippy said, noting that his wife of 30 years was somewhere nearby. “I’d hate to be single again. It’s scary, dead set.”

But that’s why the balls matter, he added. Along with the awkward singles, the free-flowing beer and the backfiring pickup trucks, or “utes,” turned on and off to create fiery explosions called key bangs, there are people who connected at balls and come back to socialize.

“Who here is a couple?” Rippy yelled, meandering through the crowd.

Within a minute, Jess and Matt Chown emerged. He works on sheep farms; she works at an aged-care home for veterans.

“We met at a ball in 2011,” Ms. Chown said. “I laid eyes on him and it was love at first sight.”

“You know why I come? To do things I can’t do in church,” Mr. Chown said. Standing at least 6-foot-3 and wider than a tree cut for timber, he kicked a trash bin, making a loud clang.

Everyone laughed, including his wife.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Australia / NZ, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Women