Category : Politics in General

(Economist Erasmus Blog) A look at America’s latest report on religious persecution

Lobbying for human rights, in a universalist spirit that holds all countries to the same standards and avoids singling out any particular group or country for attention, is not something that comes naturally to the Trump administration. Civil-liberty advocates were disappointed back in March, when Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, failed to turn up in person to present his department’s annual survey of human rights all over the world. But they were pleased to observe that he did make a personal appearance this week to deliver another encyclopedic document: an annual survey of freedom of religion and belief, taking in more than 190 countries and territories.

Mr Tillerson’s strongest words were reserved not for any recognised government but for an ultra-militant movement, the so-called Islamic State (IS). Both in the report he unveiled and his own remarks, he stated that it was “clearly responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled”. The terrorist faction was also deemed responsible for “crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing” (that is, misdeeds which do not fit the term “genocide”) against fellow Sunni Muslims, Kurds and other groups.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

Sen. Tim Scott: Fight hatred, fear and domestic terror with American ideals

There is nothing “right” about racism and hate. It’s a learned disease, and the best antidote is unity. This weekend’s events involving white supremacist groups are as disturbing and disgusting as they are heartbreaking. The attack was a stark reminder of the darkness of hate. We must come together, as we have before, to confront the issues that chip away at the very foundation of who we are and what we stand for as a country.

Unfortunately, the people of South Carolina know this type of domestic terrorism all too well. Our response to the events in Charlottesville, Va., should mirror our response to the murders at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston. Condemnation of racism. Swift justice for a terrorist. And unity for the community that grieves. It starts with calling the attack in Charlottesville by its name. This was an act of domestic terror, perpetrated by a hate-filled person attacking his fellow citizens….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Senate

(CEN) Andrew Carey–Disestablishment is now the only option

It was around the time of the same-sex marriage legislation that it finally became clear that the establishment of the Church of England had become harmful. The very fact that the state had to legislate the so-called quadruple lock, which banned the Church of England from being bound by the state’s redefinition of marriage, highlighted the absurdity of the arrangements.

In turn, politicians themselves are endangering the establishment by their attitudes. Theresa May has every right as a communicant member of the Church of England to an opinion on the theology of same-sex marriage, but no right to use her position as a Prime Minister to prevail or persuade the Church of England. In spite of the headlines, she probably has not overstepped the mark but her colleagues have.

Justine Greening, Equalities Minister, in her enthusiasm for transsexual rights, positively advocates the Church to change its position. Her religious illiteracy was trumped, though, by the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, who famously urged the Church to ‘get with the programme’. Cameron once compared his faith to the dodgy radio reception in the Chilterns – ‘it comes and goes’. And it was Cameron who presided over the ever-building pressure for a change in the Church’s relationship.

By interfering in the Church of England’s own decision-making with his indefensible ‘lock’ he made it impossible to defend the Church’s establishment. His breezy, braying Etonian interventions were representative of religious illiteracy that is now widespread in the Palace of Westminster.

In a matter of five years or so, conservative religious attitudes to marriage are now regarded as extremism or hate speech. The Church of England has no choice but to flee the relationship it has with the state. To stay is to risk having a relationship like the official Chinese church has with the Communist Party.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

(Daily Post) Bishop James Oladunjoye–Why president Buharia must resign+allow someone else takeover

The Bishop of Owo Diocese, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Rt. Revd. James Oladunjoye, has admonished President Muhammadu Buhari to vacate his office for someone else if his health is continuously failing him.

Speaking at the second session of the Twelfth Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Owo, on Friday, the Bishop also berated the Presidency for refusing to disclose Buhari’s health status.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(CEN) Disestablishment is now the C of E only option

Justine Greening, Equalities Minister, in her enthusiasm for transsexual rights, positively advocates the Church to change its position. Her religious illiteracy was trumped, though, by the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, who famously urged the Church to ‘get with the programme’. Cameron once compared his faith to the dodgy radio reception in the Chilterns – ‘it comes and goes’. And it was Cameron who presided over the ever-building pressure for a change in the Church’s relationship.

By interfering in the Church of England’s own decision-making with his indefensible ‘lock’ he made it impossible to defend the Church’s establishment. His breezy, braying Etonian interventions were representative of religious illiteracy that is now widespread in the Palace of Westminster.

In a matter of five years or so, conservative religious attitudes to marriage are now regarded as extremism or hate speech. The Church of England has no choice but to flee the relationship it has with the state. To stay is to risk having a relationship like the official Chinese church has with the Communist Party.

We need to beware the temptation of becoming a tame, domesticated state Church that desperately yearns for official approval and gains influence by supporting the short-term interests of politicians. The other danger is to be forced by the state to change doctrine because of the pressure to conform to new secular orthodoxies.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

White House opioid commission to Trump: “Declare a national emergency” on drug overdoses

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued a preliminary report on Monday stating that its “first and most urgent recommendation” is for the president to “declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.”

“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day,” the report notes, “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”

The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, states that the goals of such a declaration would be to “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”

Read it all and see also this report which says nearly 40% of Americans use opioids to manage pain, according to a federal government study, with deaths more than quadrupling between 1999 and 2015.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Office of the President, President Donald Trump

(National Affairs) Alan Jacobs–When Character No Longer Counts

These leaders have replaced a rhetoric of persuasion with a rhetoric of pure authority — very like the authority that Trump claims for himself. (“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”) Consequently, their whole house of cards may well collapse if the Trump presidency is anything other than a glorious success, and will leave those who have accepted that rhetoric bereft of explanations as well as arguments. Presumably the most fervent supporters of Trump will argue (as Trump himself will argue) that his failures have occurred because others have betrayed him, have rejected the man that God raised up to rescue America, but this will require the replacement of the Cyrus analogy with another one yet to be determined. We can only hope that no one compares a failed Trump to an American Jesus betrayed by American Judases.

If all this sounds like a strange fantasyland of narrative, an imaginative world of what members of the Trump administration have taken to calling “alternative facts,” that’s because it is just that. The larger, and longer-term, effect of accounts like this is to encourage Christians to abandon the world of shared evidence, shared convictions, and shared possibilities, and such abandonment is very bad news for Christians and for America.

What is required of serious religious believers in a pluralistic society is the ability to code-switch: never to forget or neglect their own native religious tongue, but also never to forget that they live in a society of people for whom that language is gibberish. To speak only in the language of pragmatism is to bring nothing distinctive to the table; to speak only a private language of revelation and self-proclaimed authority is to leave the table altogether. For their own good, but also for the common good, religious believers need to be always bilingually present.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Patheos) Roger Olsen–Is There Any Solution to the Transgender Controversy?

Apparently, some self-identified transgender people want to use restrooms and locker rooms designated for the sex that they are not yet physiologically. In other words, they have not yet undergone, and perhaps do not plan ever to undergo, sex change surgery. So, to be very specific, a person with “male parts” who identifies as female wants to use the locker room designated for females….

…I do suspect the source of controversy is the idea of a person with “male parts” using a locker room designated for girls and women. (I suspect few men really care about females using restrooms or locker rooms designated for boys and men.) To be very specific: I suspect many men and women care about anyone with “male parts” using the same restroom or locker room as their daughters and granddaughters.

So let us please look at the controversy through that lens in order to clarify it.

I propose that we distinguish between gender and sex in this controversy and insist that a person use the locker room (restrooms are really less a problem because women’s have stalls) designated for the sex he or she still is—until he or she has completed sex change hormonally and surgically. Otherwise, the specter (realistic or not) of sexually male persons claiming to be women walking around naked (locker rooms have showers) in women’s locker rooms is unavoidable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Tablet) The Australian R Catholic Church opposes Victoria euthanasia legislation

Archbishop Hart commended efforts to strengthen and better resource Palliative Care but said that was a minimum necessity.

“While the report recommends what it calls safeguards, the truth is that these safeguards are never going to be enough and that there are no flawless medical procedures,” he said. “All procedures and interventions can have complications. I have watched supporters of this proposal and they are going out of their way to convince us that assisted suicide is acceptable, seeking to lessen our human, moral and natural distress because of suicide.

“It seems that on the one hand we are seeking to lessen suicide in our society – an admirable aim – but here we have this report looking to normalise it. When viewed from the perspective of the whole Victorian community these two objectives cannot be reconciled.”

The archbishop said the legislation would impose extraordinary and unreasonable responsibilities on medical professionals, who would be called upon to determine which patients were eligible and how the safeguards were to be applied. This then became a matter for decisions by medical practitioners and not the patients for whom they were required to care.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Globe+Mail) As our Northern Neighbors See us-The Trump administration is at war w/ itself, +Trump loves it

Why Can’t He Be Our President?” is the question Rolling Stone slapped on the cover of their most recent issue, featuring Justin Trudeau. Given who’s currently occupying the White House, leading an administration powered by a combustible mix of chaos and malice, the headline is understandable. No, it’s inarguable. The editorial sentiment would have been the same if America’s northern neighbour were led by Andrew Scheer or Tom Mulcair or anyone, really, other than the current President.

Yes, Donald Trump has yet to appoint his horse to the Senate. Then again, we’re only one-eighth of the way through his first term.

Mr. Trump made his name as a builder, but his presidency has so far been more of a demolition project. Sometimes he’s swinging a wrecking ball at adversaries. Sometimes it’s allies. Sometimes it’s his own administration, his own agenda and his own reputation. Sometimes it’s all of the above.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, President Donald Trump

([London] Times) [Editor of the New Statesman] Helen Lewis: A man can’t just say he has turned into a woman

Transgender people face discrimination at work, casual abuse in the street and long waits for NHS care. None of those problems will be addressed by the government’s plan to change gender reassignment to a matter of simple declaration. It’s hard not to see Justine Greening’s proposal for “self-identification” of gender as a few rainbow sprinkles from a government that is struggling to pass any substantial legislation.

I’m not even sure that some of the politicians involved understand what they are proposing. The way I see it is this: everyone has a biological sex, and for most of us it’s unambiguously male or female. On top of that, we’ve built a whole cultural edifice that we call gender: girls like pink and can’t read maps; boys shouldn’t cry but at least they are good at parallel parking.

Many people find these roles restrictive and are trying to shake up our categories. A smaller group find that they are so unhappy in the role and body decreed at birth that they wish to transition to the other gender. The legal process currently requires a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and is signed off by a panel after two years living in your “acquired” gender.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(Spectator) Melanie McDonagh–Justine Greening should keep out of the C of E’s business in the area of Gender and Identity

There’s no nice way of saying this: Miss Greening should mind her own business. When parliament legislated for gay marriage the then Equalities minister, Maria Miller, went out of her way to make clear that the CofE would not be obliged to conduct gay marriages; indeed just to prove it, she went out of her way to bar it from doing so. End of, people thought at the time, though some wondered why they would need a safeguard. Which didn’t, I have to say, stop some blessings of gay marriage in various CofE churches turning into something indistinguishable from a trad, heterosexual kind of wedding.

It turns out that Anglicans were wrong to think that this was the end of the story. For it’s a short step from Miss Greening’s assertion that ‘people do want to see our major faiths keep up with modern attitudes’ to enabling the church to conduct those marriages and then obliging them to do so. It’s the authoritarian aspect of modern liberalism, outside the church and in it. I remember Yvette Cooper, at the Home Office, saying when civil partnerships were introduced that there was no possibility that this would end up turning into marriage for gay people – but it did. When Harriet Harman introduced the Equality Act it turned out that non-discrimination in the provision of goods and services ended up driving Catholic adoption agencies (which did a manifestly good job) out of business because they were obliged to treat homosexual couples the same as married heterosexuals. They refused, closed up shop, and children needing homes are the poorer for it.

That’s the inevitable progression in liberalism: first toleration, within strict limits, followed swiftly by the marginalisation or proscription of the opposition.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Interesting Look Back in History–President Woodrow Wilson’s April 1917 Speech to Congress urging them to join the allies in World War I

We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend; and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world. We are now about to accept gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.

Just because we fight without rancour and without selfish object, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, France, Germany, History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President

(CEN) Foreign Office report ‘could cause threat to evangelicals’

Christian aid agency the Barnabas Fund haslodged a formal complaint against the Foreign Office over concerns that implementation of recommendations in a report may cause a ‘threat’ to evangelical churches.

The report, Opportunities and Challenges: the intersection of faith and human rights of LGBTI+ persons,’ was the result of a meeting convened by Wilton Park, an executive agency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in September 2016.

Barnabas Fund has claimed that the report ‘describes evangelical Christians in disparaging terms’.

The report, a result of a roundtable discussion between 64 people from 27 countries including faith communities,sought to focus on practical ways to promote greater understanding of, and tolerance for, sexual minorities in the context of faith and the inter-face between LGBTI rights defenders, religious leaders and LGBTI people of faith.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, England / UK, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(Telegraph) Prime Minister May: The Church should ‘reflect’ on allowing same-sex couples to marry

The Church of England should “reflect” on allowing same-sex couples to marry in church, the Prime Minister has said.

Theresa May also said her father, the Reverend Hubert Brasier, would have supported church blessings for gay couples.

In an interview for radio station LBC, the Prime Minister said she believed her father “very much valued the importance of relationships of people affirming those relationships and of seeing stability in relationships and people able to be together with people that they love”.

Asked whether she herself would like to see the law “evolve” she said it “had to be a matter for the Church”, adding: “the Church of England has itself come a distance in terms of looking at these issues, and obviously they will want to reflect as attitudes will generally change as society changes.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture