Category : Ethics / Moral Theology

(NYT front page) ‘They Are Watching’: Inside Russia’s Vast Surveillance State

Four days into the war in Ukraine, Russia’s expansive surveillance and censorship apparatus was already hard at work.

Roughly 800 miles east of Moscow, authorities in the Republic of Bashkortostan, one of Russia’s 85 regions, were busy tabulating the mood of comments in social media messages. They marked down YouTube posts that they said criticized the Russian government. They noted the reaction to a local protest.

Then they compiled their findings. One report about the “destabilization of Russian society” pointed to an editorial from a news site deemed “oppositional” to the government that said President Vladimir V. Putin was pursuing his own self-interest by invading Ukraine. A dossier elsewhere on file detailed who owned the site and where they lived.

Another Feb. 28 dispatch, titled “Presence of Protest Moods,” warned that some had expressed support for demonstrators and “spoke about the need to stop the war.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Science & Technology, Ukraine

(Bloomberg) Atlanta Hospital Closes in the Midst of Poverty and Politics

The Atlanta Medical Center sits on a vast stretch of urban land, just one mile south of Ponce de Leon Avenue — the street that segregationists over a century ago designated as the dividing line between Black and White Atlanta.

That distinction was palpable on Thursday, when a group of Georgia religious leaders held a press conference outside the hospital, calling on Governor Brian Kemp to meet with them, and find a way to stop the planned closure of the 120-year-old medical center, along with others like it in the state.

“Let’s be honest, this is about devaluing Black and Brown and poor people,” said Reverend Shanan Jones, president of Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta. “Their lives are expendable. Their lives don’t matter.”

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Pzephizo) Peter Wyatt reviews Louise Perry’s ‘The Case Against the Sexual Revolution’

According to Philip Larkin, ‘sexual intercourse began in nineteen sixty-three’. Until today, this sexual revolution, brought about by more effective forms of contraception, has been hailed as an emancipation of human beings. No longer were we subject to the restraints of traditional morality as policed by religious faith, and family mores. Instead, they could act according to our desires, to find pleasure and happiness in any way they saw fit. Why should society have any opinion on what happened between the sheets, as Stephen Fry once said?

In her provocative new book, The Case Against the Sexual RevolutionLouise Perry argues that the picture is far from rosy. Instead of liberation, society has created new forms of oppression: rough sex, hook-up culture, and pornography to name a few. She argues that in all of these women have been the losers. In her view, the much-touted concept of “consent” as the answer to everything has failed and we have arrived at a situation that benefits a minority of men, at the expense of women. 

Her book is fearless in attacking the current orthodoxy, using her own experience as a campaigner in a rape crisis charity, along with extensive research, and she ends the book by quoting the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin (to paraphrase), that it is a lie to equate sexual freedom with freedom. Instead, she offers one piece of advice, ‘get married and stay married’. That is an incredible statement from a secular author! 

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Pornography, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Women

(Current) Marvin Olasky–A Wrinkle in Journalism History

As I began editing World thirty years ago I was proposing policies regarding poverty-fighting and related issues that became known as “compassionate conservatism.” The magazine reflected that viewpoint. Today, “national conservatism” or “Christian nationalism” has little room for compassion. As World resisted paranoid lines regarding vaccines, masks, and church closings—all part of a big government plot—our resistance became part of a larger conspiracy theory: World had gone woke.

American journalism history has valuable lessons on how to deal with conspiracy mongers. In 1955 wealthy William F. Buckley, Jr. started a magazine, National Review, that invigorated a conservative movement in disarray. Within a few years Buckley as editor had to fight off the John Birch Society, which asserted—among other oddities—that President Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist. Buckley said Birch founder and head Robert Welch inferred “subjective intention from objective consequences”: Because bad things had happened, U.S. policy makers must have intended them to happen.

John Birchers scrutinized book-buying decisions by local librarians and demanded that some books be removed. When National Review opposed the Birch campaign to impeach Earl Warren, the Supreme Court’s chief justice, many subscribers complained. When one donor said he had supported National Review financially and wanted it to support his concerns, Buckley said the magazine was “not for sale.”

Buckley owned the magazine and maintained his emphasis on independence even when the business side, led by publisher Bill Rusher, worried about reader and revenue loss. Rusher said a “substantial fraction” of readers “bled away” during 1962 and 1963. A direct mail campaign flopped as many on the mailing lists sided with the Birchers.

Buckley stuck with his principles and wrote to Barry Goldwater, “It is essential that we effect a clean break” with the Birch Society.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Media, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Walter Russell Mead–What if Putin Uses a Nuclear Weapon in Ukraine?

For Mr. Putin, the war in Ukraine began as what Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass has called a “war of choice.” Mr. Putin could have left Ukraine undisturbed and gone on to rule Russia for many years to come. But having chosen to start the war, he can’t afford to lose it. Radical Russian nationalists are already blaming him for the military failures in Ukraine. The Kremlin is no place for the weak, and the hard men who run Russia could turn on a politically wounded Mr. Putin in a heartbeat. Regardless of public sentiment across Russia, the people closest to Mr. Putin likely still want him to win the war.

The question is what Mr. Putin does next. If he can stabilize the military front until winter sets in, he has several months to prepare for the spring. He might use that time to organize a general mobilization, building a much larger conscript army for another year of conventional combat. But if the front doesn’t stabilize, or if he feels that public resistance to a general mobilization could endanger the stability of the regime, he might look to more drastic options, such as the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

It is anything but clear how the West would respond. Allowing Mr. Putin to use nuclear blackmail to assert his control over Ukraine would be such a craven act that the moral and political foundations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would be shaken to the core—and nuclear-armed aggressors elsewhere would take note. Yet the obvious countermove, placing Ukraine under an American nuclear umbrella, risks the greatest nuclear crisis since John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev squared off over Cuba in October 1962.

So far, American policy has aimed at avoiding the binary choice between abandoning Ukraine and provoking a nuclear confrontation with Russia….

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(ACNA) An Update On The Matters In The Diocese Of The Upper Midwest

Husch Blackwell has informed the Province that it is nearing the end of its investigation into the handling of sexual abuse allegations in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest and their report is expected to be released within the month.

On July 8, 2021 the Diocese of the Upper Midwest requested the Province take on oversight of its investigation. Husch Blackwell was hired by the Anglican Church in North America after selection by a unanimous vote of the Provincial Response Team (PRT) and majority vote of the survivors who participated in the firm selection process.

Our contract with Husch Blackwell stipulates the production of a “full public report that redacts names and identifying details to protect survivors and witnesses as appropriate.”  Husch Blackwell will deliver the report, and it will be relayed by the Anglican Church in North America through public communication channels upon reception.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(EuroIntelligence) Wolfgang Münchau–Europe maybe at the beginning of an unusually severe recession, one that won’t auto-reverse

Shouting fire in theatre is something not done lightly, unless there actually is a fire in the theatre. For Europe’s economy, I think it is time to shout. What we are about to see this autumn and winter is not your standard recession, but the kind of shock that will shape our memories and narratives for the rest of the century.

Last week, I saw a projection of a 5% GDP shock for Germany, based on energy futures prices. In case of an ongoing stop to gas flows and a cold winter, the recession could be worse. Gazprom already announced an indefinite stop of flows through Nord Stream 1, apparently because of an oil leak.

The main quality of the ongoing recession is not so much its measured impact on GDP – though it will probably be substantial. It is the fact that we have exhausted our policy options. Monetary policy in the last decade went way overboard with large-scale quantitative easing and its subsequent refusal to reverse it. The west reacted to the pandemic with the biggest fiscal stimulus package in history.

Economists keep on telling us that we need fiscal expansion in a recession. I agree with that. But what is different this century from the previous one is that we keep on doubling down with stimulus and monetary easing. And we never grow out of the debt.

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Posted in Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General

Brand New TEC Diocese Petitions South Carolina Supreme Court for a Rehearing on two parishes in the Historic Anglican Diocese of SC

(Via email–KSH)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

To file under “we-should’ve-seen-that-coming”…

…(On September 1, 2022)..the Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina filed a Petition for Reconsideration and Rehearing with the South Carolina Supreme Court asking the Court to reverse their ruling regarding the property rights of two parishes whose rights they had affirmed in their August 17 ruling.

Those parishes are: Old St Andrew’s, Charleston, and the Church of the Holy Cross, Stateburg.

Please join me in praying the Court will deny this final effort and, once and for all, put this case to rest.

Additionally, The Church of the Good Shepherd, Charleston, whose property rights the Court denied in their August 17 ruling, filed a Petition for Rehearing asking the Court to reconsider that ruling.

We’ll pray that the Court will reverse that earlier ruling and affirm the property rights of Good Shepherd.

With me, you are likely tired of the back-and-forth and wondering if this will ever end. It will. Someday, in the not too distant future, I trust these matters will be behind us, and we will move forward—whatever the outcome—into ministry without this distraction. Until then, we do well to heed St Paul’s advice to: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer.” (Rom 12.12) Never losing sight of the fact that, “…you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” That truth can never change.

Blessings,

–The Rt Revd Chip Edgar is bishop of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

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

(1st Things) George McKenna–Reclaiming A Positive Vision Of Liberty

Ryszard Legutko, a professor of philosophy at Jagiellonian University in Poland and a member of the European Parliament, has been pondering this problem for some years, sharing his thoughts in lectures, books, and journal articles, some of them in recent issues of First Things. In his view, a certain type of liberty (or freedom—he uses the terms synonymously) is indispensable to the functioning of any republic. But everything depends on the kind of liberty prevailing there. “Positive” liberty, as he notes in his most recent book, The Cunning of Freedom, is the liberty that aims at cultivating the skills and habits that enable people to live together as citizens of a flourishing community. “Negative” liberty is the kind that aims at a utopia in which people can boast, “There is no one else to hinder or stop me from doing what I want to do” or “force me to do something I do not want to do.” The reductio ad absurdum of this, Legutko thinks, would be the life of Robinson Crusoe on his desert island. He lived in absolute freedom there: He could do whatever he pleased and take orders from nobody. But it “would be more like a nightmare that we shake off with relief once we waken.”

Crusoe’s island is, of course, mythical, meant to illustrate the trap we can fall into by embracing negative freedom. Legutko uses the closer-to-home analogy of a department store.

Walk into it, behold the many items on display, and take your pick. In similar fashion, a typically modern, heterosocial community may be composed of people of all religions, philosophies, and lifestyles: “Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and atheists; heterosexuals, homosexuals, innumerable genders, nationalities, and ethnic backgrounds; conservatives, liberals, socialists, anarchists, communists, and those with other political beliefs; pornographers, priests, hedonists, and moral ascetics.” Legutko takes us through this rather comical display of lifestyles to underscore the weakness of the department store analogy. In the real world, we are dealing not with purses, pots, and pans, but with subgroups holding vastly different worldviews—differing views of freedom, of human nature, of “man’s destiny and what constitutes good political order.” For example, “freedom for Christians has always been interpreted in a way liberals found unacceptable, and vice versa.” All too often, according to Legutko, it is the Christians who cave: “Lured by the alleged virtue of open-mindedness, they adapt their language to liberal ideology, believing that by doing so they pay very little price as Christians and gain a respectable position in a liberal/multicultural society.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Theology

(Nikkei Asia) China forcing political critics into psychiatric hospitals: report

Chinese authorities are pushing political critics into psychiatric hospitals where they are subjected to electroshock therapy and forced drugging nearly a decade after the country passed laws against such abuse, a new report said on Tuesday.

The study published by Madrid-based rights group Safeguard Defenders drew on the testimony of 99 people over a period of seven years, with alleged victims saying they were also placed in isolation for long periods and tied to beds where they were forced to lie in their own excrement.

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(Church Times) Bishop Dyer is suspended from duty in Aberdeen & Orkney

The Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer, has been suspended from duty, it was announced on Wednesday, after two formal complaints alleging misconduct were made.

An official statement from the Scottish Episcopal Church said: “Due process will now follow, through the clergy disciplinary canon. . . The suspension will be kept under regular review. It does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption that misconduct has been committed.”

The Bishop of Edinburgh, Dr John Armes, will serve as Acting Bishop of the diocese during this suspension, in addition to his normal duties.

Bishop Dyer’s tenure has been troubled since early in her time in office. She is the first woman bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and was elected by the College of Bishops after the diocese failed to agree a candidate….

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Ethics / Moral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church

(UMNS) Some large Texas Methodist churches vote on disaffiliation

Texas has long been a stronghold of The United Methodist Church in the U.S., boasting the most annual conferences (five) and ranking at the top in number of local churches and prevalence of megachurches.

But this summer has seen many traditionalist congregations in the state weighing whether to leave the denomination.

On Aug. 7, in votes taken within hours of one another, The Woodlands Methodist Church and Faithbridge — both large, traditionalist churches in suburban communities north of Houston — chose to disaffiliate.

The Woodlands Methodist is among the denomination’s very largest churches, ranking fourth in membership and second in worship attendance in 2018. The church is known for its ties to Good News, a longtime traditionalist caucus within The United Methodist Church that has opposed same-sex marriage and ordination of [non-celibate] LGBTQ people.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Martin Davie–The Archbishop Of Canterbury’s Comments On Human Sexuality – Reflections Of A Critical Friend

The rewording is part of their attempt to achieve precisely this end. For them the shift from talking about ‘the mind of the Communion as a whole’ in the original Call to ‘some say, this and others say that’ in the revised version is intended to shift the Call towards the idea that departing from historic position of the churches of the Anglican Communion as Lambeth resolution 1.10 can be acceptable within Anglicanism.

Secondly on the issue of process, the archbishop promises the bishops that their feedback will be ‘submitted to the Chair of the Lambeth Calls Working Group,’ but he leaves unclear what will happen to that feedback subsequently. On such an important and divisive issue, what will happen next ought to have been clearly explained in a way that would give everyone confidence in the integrity of the next step in the process.

Thirdly, in his remarks at the session, he wrongly separates out what resolution 1.10 says about pastoral care from the rest of the resolution. The resolution does say that ‘all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ.’ However, these words have to be read in the context of the resolution’s declaration that ‘in view of the teaching of Scripture,’ the Lambeth conference ‘upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those not called to marriage.’

This context means (a) that being a ‘believing and faithful’ person who belongs to the body of Christ involves accepting the traditional Christian sexual discipline of absolute sexual fidelity within marriage and absolute sexual abstinence outside it, (b) that this discipline applies to all people whatever the nature of their sexual desire and (c) that ministering ‘pastorally and sensitively to all’ has to involve helping everyone to live in the way just described.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) SE Asia archbishop urges Anglicans to hold fast, standing on the truth of Scripture in the church’s sex wars

“I am in full agreement with my predecessor [Archbishop Yong]”, he said, reiterating that what the GSFA was seeking was not new, but a restatement of the faith. He encouraged Anglicans around the world to be a “holy remnant, and stand upon the truth” of the Lord, and not succumb to the fancies and fads of the moment.

Archbishop Tais was elected the sixth Archbishop of South East Asia at an extraordinary meeting of the provincial synod on 24 Sept 2019. He had served for over 25 years in the Diocese of Sabah as a parish priest, archdeacon, assistant bishop, and vicar-general before being elected bishop in May 2015. He is the first indigenous bishop of the diocese located on the northern coast of Borneo. He is married to Angeline Wong and they have five children.

Archbishop Tais told AI preparation on today’s resolution reaffirming Lambeth 1.10 has been in process for over three months. Though he was not on the drafting committee that worked on the document that was brought to Lambeth 2022, it has his full support. He encouraged the approximately 275 Global South bishops present at Lambeth to support the document this week, and looked forward to discussing the importance of a clear and unmistakable stand on Biblical principles during the remainder of the conference.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Southeast Asia, Theology

(CT) Ron Sider RIP, An Evangelical Who Pushed for Social Action

Ronald J. Sider, organizer of the evangelical left and author of ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,’ died on Wednesday at 82. His son told followers that Sider had suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest.

For nearly 50 years, Sider called evangelicals to care about the poor and see poverty as a moral issue. He argued for an expanded understanding of sin to include social structures that perpetuate inequality and injustice, and urged Christians to see how their salvation should compel them to care for their neighbors.

“Salvation is a lot more than just a new right relationship with God through forgiveness of sins. It’s a new, transformed lifestyle that you can see visible in the body of believers,” he said. “Sin is a biblical category. Given a careful reading of the world and the Bible and our giving patterns, how can we come to any other conclusion than to say that we are flatly disobeying what the God of the Bible says about the way he wants his people to care for the poor?”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Before Partial Lambeth Gathering, Anglicans Drop Proposal to Reaffirm Traditional Marriage Stance

According to Ian Paul, a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council, the process for drafting the Lambeth calls has complicated an already sensitive and divisive issue. He said the document with the calls came out last-minute and a member of the group drafting them said the wording had been changed without their knowledge.

“There are issues around the content, but I think there are really big issues around the process here,” Paul told PremierNews. “If you’re going to deal with something controversial amongst people who have different views, here’s the golden rule: No surprises. Put everything out in the open. Give people plenty of time. I think the real problem here is that everything’s come very, very late … that’s a guarantee to create misunderstanding and I think to create a lack of trust.”

The Lambeth Conference is convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury typically once a decade, but this is the first gathering since 2008 after the 2018 conference was postponed due to tensions over […Scripture, marriage and anthropology] and the 2020 event couldn’t be held due to COVID-19. It’s also the first to be led by Welby, who succeeded Rowan Williams in 2012.

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Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

(NYT front page) Congo to Allow More Oil Wells In Rainforests

The Democratic Republic of Congo, home to one of the largest old-growth rainforests on earth, is auctioning off vast amounts of land in a push to become “the new destination for oil investments,” part of a global shift as the world retreats on fighting climate change in a scramble for fossil fuels.

The oil and gas blocks, which will be auctioned in late July, extend into Virunga National Park, the world’s most important gorilla sanctuary, as well as tropical peatlands that store vast amounts of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere and from contributing to global warming.

“If oil exploitation takes place in these areas, we must expect a global climate catastrophe, and we will all just have to watch helplessly,” said Irene Wabiwa, who oversees the Congo Basin forest campaign for Greenpeace in Kinshasa.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Republic of Congo, Science & Technology

Living in Love and Faith Next Steps Group Statement on the [2022 Partial] Lambeth [Gathering] Calls

The 2022 Lambeth Conference has published ten draft ‘Calls’ that will form the backbone of the Conference proceedings. We, the bishops on the Next Steps Group that is overseeing the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith process on identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage, had first sight of the Calls on the day of their publication, the 20th July 2022. We understand that [some of the] Anglican Communion bishops from around the world will be invited to discuss and reflect on each Call and how each might be received and applied in their home context.

Importantly, we note that the work of the Conference will give bishops the opportunity to contribute and commit to the Calls or to ask that further work be done on the Call. In line with the Call on Anglican identity, the Calls allow for differences of views and the rights of autonomy within the Anglican Communion, recognising that Anglicans seek faithfulness to God in richly diverse cultures, distinct human experiences, and deep disagreements.

One of the Calls relates to human dignity. It calls on bishops to take redemptive action against the abuses of power that are the legacy of colonialism; to address economic injustices that unfairly disadvantage the world’s poorest communities; and it warns about the threat to human dignity of prejudice on the basis of gender and sexuality.

The Church of England is just one voice among 42 member churches of the Anglican Communion….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anthropology, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Church times) C of E asks abuse-survivors for advice on safeguarding

A national survey has been launched by the Church of England to gauge the views of victims and survivors of abuse on the development and implementation of its safeguarding structure.

Questions in the 15-minute survey, published on the C of E website on Tuesday, are largely multiple-choice, including what might motivate a respondent to participate or engage with the safeguarding work of the Church; barriers or challenges to this; the importance of varying types of participation, e.g. use of language, listening, and diversity; and how the Church should “recognise and value” this engagement.

Another question asks: “How can the Church ensure that any survivor engagement activity does not retraumatise or negatively affect you?” Beneath this is a list of “areas which are considered as being important by survivors currently engaging with the Church”.

These are: protecting rights of confidentiality, privacy, and anonymity; considering personal needs and triggers; “preventing and challenging certain attitudes that have the potential to harm and retraumatise”; being fully informed; care and human connection; setting clear boundaries and a trusted working relationship with church staff; “tackling any unfair treatment promptly and sensitively”; and feeling welcomed, listened to, and supported.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(NYT) Chinese officials apologize for breaking into homes to search for Covid cases

Local officials in the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou have issued a rare apology after community workers broke into dozens of homes to look for people who had tested positive for the coronavirus and others deemed close contacts, triggering harsh criticism on social media.

The government of the city’s Liwan district said in a statement that the workers picked locks to enter 84 units in an apartment complex. They had been searching for residents they believed were hiding to avoid being sent to quarantine centers. Under China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid, all positive cases and close contacts must be sent to centralized quarantine facilities for a number of days.

Photos on social media showed broken locks in front of apartment doors, and the government said the locks were later replaced. It added that the head of the neighborhood had apologized to the residents individually and had promised unspecified compensation.

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Church Times) C of E General Synod rejects assisted suicide by a large majority

Dr Simon Eyre (Chichester), a retired GP, moved a private member’s motion on the subject on Sunday afternoon. “Hospices are suffering from a lack of funding,” he said, and linked this to a pressure to change the law to allow assisted suicide. People might choose to end their lives prematurely rather than face suffering exacerbated by poor-quality palliative care, he said.

“Sanctity of life is central to our understanding as Christians,” he said, and cited Psalm 31: “Our times are in his hands”.

Terminally ill people with depression, and people with disabilities, including learning disabilities, would be put at risk if legislation was changed, Dr Eyre said.

The Suicide Act 1961 prohibits assisted suicide, although directions from the Crown Prosecution Service published in 2010 require that any prosecution be in the “public interest”.

Several attempts have been made in recent years to introduce legislation that would permit assisted suicide in some circumstances, most recently in the form of a Bill in the House of Lords, which failed to reach a Second Reading before Parliament was prorogued in April.

Dr Eyre conceded that palliative care “sometimes fails to deliver”, but said that “the response to this should be to improve palliative care rather than make changes to the Suicide Act.”

Read it all.

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

C of E Statement on the Telford Inquiry report

The publication of the report of the public inquiry into child sex abuse in Telford, demands a response from all organisations working with children and young people. Over a thousand girls, across decades, were subject to Child Sexual Exploitation. Not only were signs ignored, but victims went unheard and were often themselves blamed.

Church leaders and representatives can be reluctant to comment publicly on the safeguarding shortcomings of other institutions, quite simply because of the Church’s own failures to protect those who are vulnerable or to respond well to survivors and victims. But we must speak up.

There is no doubt that victims and survivors were badly failed and we should all be asking what we can learn from this important inquiry and how we can better protect children and young people in our communities.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

C of E Synod welcomes new report setting out proposals for Clergy Conduct Measure

Members voted to back the first moves to create legislation for a Clergy Conduct Measure, replacing the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) 2003.

The vote follows the publication of the report Under Authority Revisited which sets out proposals for complaints to be allocated into three different tracks, depending on seriousness.

Opening the debate, the Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, who headed the Implementation Group that drew up the report, said that the time for change was ‘overdue’.

“Whilst the critique of the CDM could be extensive, the principal failing of it as a piece of legislation lies in its inflexibility to respond to different levels of misconduct and complaint,” he told the Synod.

“In meeting our objectives the Implementation Group has sought to apply four fundamental principles – first, the process must provide for a proportionate and efficient way of dealing with a much wider range of grievances and misconduct. Secondly, the process must protect clergy from frivolous, malicious and vexatious accusations.

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Posted in Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

C of E General Synod debates what justice might look like in Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was lamented by the General Synod on Monday, after a debate that focused on the importance of justice, negotiation, and peace-making.

Several amendments were made to the motion, which had been introduced by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, on Friday afternoon. One proposed amendment — to change the call for a “negotiated peace” to a “just peace” — was rejected by a margin of ten votes.

The debate began on Friday, but was adjourned owing to the delay caused by a climate protest by the Christian arm of Extinction Rebellion (News, 8 July). It resumed on Monday morning.

On Friday, Bishop Baines said that, although there might be disagreement “about the specificity of particular policies”, this “shouldn’t dissuade us” from contributing to discussions around the war.

He referred to media comments about a discussion paper that accompanied the motion when it was published two weeks ago, and told the Synod that “contrary to what you may have read in the press recently, this paper does not articulate a fixed position”, but rather attempts to outline debates “from first principles”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Bloomberg) David Fickling And Ruth Pollard–When the Weather Gets Hot Enough To Kill

On an April day in 1905, the scientist J.S. Haldane descended hundreds of feet into a Cornish tin mine to find out if he could cook himself to death.

Amateur researchers had long known that humans have an extraordinary ability to withstand dry heat. One 18th century experimenter found he could tolerate temperatures up to 115 degrees Celsius (240 Fahrenheit), hot enough to cook steaks. But the moist, saturated air in the Dolcoath mine, dug through hot rock deep below the water table, seemed to change things. Though the temperature never climbed above 31.5C, Haldane’s body temperature and pulse rose with each minute, hitting feverish levels before he ascended after three hours. “It becomes impracticable for ordinary persons to stay for long periods” when the humid temperature rises above 31C, he wrote.

That finding hasn’t significantly changed over the years since — but our atmosphere has. As the climate warms, conditions once experienced only in saunas and deep mineshafts are rapidly becoming the open-air reality for hundreds of millions of people, who have no escape to air conditioning or cooler climes. After a few hours with humid heat above 35C — a measure known as the wet-bulb temperature — even healthy people with unlimited shade and water will die of heatstroke. For those carrying out physical labor, the threshold is closer to Haldane’s 31C, or even lower.

Brajabandhu Sahu knows the physical signs all too well. A street vendor selling foods like dosa, idli and uttapam on the corner of two busy roads in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, he’s surrounded at times by what feels like a wall of fire from which he cannot escape. When the day is at its hottest, his head spins, his heart races, his skin blisters and the waves of nausea are constant. The moisture-laden winds that blow in from the Bay of Bengal put citizens in this region at particular risk.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, India, Science & Technology

Keep up momentum on highlighting abuses of freedom of religion and belief, bishop Philip Mounstephen urges

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, told a global summit on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) hosted by the UK Government, that there had been some good progress in some areas made since the publication of the review in 2019, but ‘much’ still needed to be done.

“The challenge going forward is to keep up the corporate momentum that has developed around this issue because this is a really, really significant global issue,” he told a panel session of the Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London today.

“We must not let it sink back into the place that it was before, largely ignored and overlooked.”

Asked what his advice would be to Parliamentarians, Bishop Philip said: “My key message to Parliamentarians would be: understand what the main drivers behind freedom of religion or belief abuses are – we are looking at totalitarian regimes, religious fundamentalism, militant nationalism – these are really serious issues that must be addressed. So please Parliamentarians, make this a bipartisan issue, espouse it across the political spectrum.”

In his remarks during the panel session Bishop Philip welcomed the creation of the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Public Forum made since the publication of the 2019 report.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Economist) Who’s afraid of TikTok? The world’s most exciting app is also its most mistrusted

With its wholesome dancing and lip-syncing videos, TikTok once billed itself as “the last sunny corner on the internet”. Since launching just five years ago the app has brought a warm glow to its 1bn-plus users, as well as an icy dash of competition to the social-media incumbents of Silicon Valley. With its rise, a part of the tech industry that had seemed closed to competition has been cracked wide open.

Yet even as TikTok delights consumers and advertisers, others believe the sunny app has a dark side. ByteDance, its owner, has its headquarters in China, whose government is addicted to surveillance and propaganda—making it a worrying place for a media app to be based. As TikTok’s clout grows and as elections loom in America, there is a brewing bipartisan storm in Congress over its supposed role as a “Trojan horse”.

The hype about TikTok is justified—and so are the concerns. The app has transformed competition in social media. Yet unchecked, it presents a security risk to the Chinese Communist Party’s enemies. Finding a way for TikTok to operate safely in the West is a test of whether global business and the global internet can remain intact as us-China relations deteriorate.

Beneath TikTok’s simple interface lies fearsomely advanced artificial intelligence (ai). Its knack for learning what people like helped TikTok sign up its first 1bn users in half the time it took Facebook. In America the average user spends 50% longer on the app each day than the typical user spends on Instagram. TikTok’s revenues are expected to reach $12bn this year and $23bn in 2024, drawing level with YouTube’s. Young creators are flocking to the app—along with some older ones. This week The Economist joined TikTok (no dancing, we promise).

The effect on competition has been dramatic. In 2020 American trustbusters sued Facebook, now known as Meta, for its alleged dominance of social media. Today such worries look eccentric; Meta has been particularly hard-hit as tech stocks have taken a beating, and the firm is re-engineering its products to mimic TikTok. America often accuses China of copycat capitalism. Now the boot is on the other foot.

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Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

Protecting freedom of religion or belief protects everyone, Archbishop Welby tells governments

Thanking the UK Government for hosting the meeting, he told delegates: “Freedom of Religion or Belief matters because, when people are free to worship and express themselves, faiths work with others to bring flourishing: they answer the needs of development and reconciliation bring grassroots community transformations that are the golden hope of the soft power of diplomats and development NGOs.”

He highlighted how religious repression can often be linked with wider restrictions in societies.

“We know that, when freedoms of expression and worship are restricted, other freedoms and opportunities are limited too,” he said. “Women, minorities, many other people miss out.”

The Archbishop also cautioned against marginalising freedom of religion. “When national leaders pursue freedom of religion and belief, they have an opportunity to bring a wealth of wisdom around the table, harnessed to the common good,” he said.

Noting that religious communities can themselves be agents of repression and violence, he went on to say that billions have the kind of faith that “inspires people to care for their neighbour, to motivate work for education in schools, or in healthcare”.

He told the summit: “Leadership is never easy. If you don’t offer people freedom, safety and opportunity, or if you only offer this to some people and not to others, you are not really leading – and your people will not want to follow.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

([London] Times) Right to freedom of religion must be upheld, prince tells hundreds of faith leaders from around the world

The world stands at a “crossroads between totalitarian and liberal societies”, Prince Charles has said, declaring that freedom of religion is a right that must be “embedded” in all areas of life including on social media.

The Prince of Wales, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi and the foreign secretary were among dignitaries to address the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London today, which gathered more than 500 ministers and faith leaders from 60 countries.

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, said that President Putin believed Russia was “waging a holy war” in Ukraine. However, “innocent civilians are having to shelter from Russia’s indiscriminate bombardment in places of worship. Churches, synagogues and mosques have been reduced to rubble. Religion is proving to be collateral damage from Putin’s aggression.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said that world leaders must “hold religious leaders to account for what they do with respect to protecting the freedoms of their and other communities”, adding: “Leadership is a hard task. If you don’t offer people freedom, safety and opportunity, or if you only offer this to some people and not to others, you are not really leading.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Church Times) Foreign Secretary Liz Truss backs drive for Foreign Office to take religious persecution more seriously

The Government’s support for persecuted believers is improving, an independent review has concluded.

Five public-law academics undertook to review the implementation of recommendations contained in the report on the persecution of Christians and others around the world produced in 2019 by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen.

In a statement on Monday, the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, said: “We welcome and accept this expert review on progress and . . . accept their assessment for the need to continue to work to promote and strengthen Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) as a fundamental human right for all.

“Our work on this important human rights issue will never be complete, and we will continue to champion global efforts on FoRB,” she added.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution