Monday, November 01, 2010
Homosexual rights laws are 'a danger to our freedoms'
British Bishops speak out after Christian couple barred from fostering children because of their views on homosexuality go to court
Gay rights laws are eroding Christianity and stifling free speech, Church of England bishops warned yesterday. Senior clerics, including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, spoke out ahead of a High Court ‘clash of rights’ hearing over whether Christians are fit to foster or adopt children.
The test case starting today involves a couple who say they have been barred from fostering because they refuse to give up their religious belief that homosexuality is unacceptable.
Supporters hope their legal challenge will set a precedent for the rights of Christians to foster children without compromising their faith. But senior bishops fear that if the ruling goes against them, it could have devastating consequences for those with religious beliefs. Either way, they believe the case will determine whether Christians can continue to express their beliefs in this country.
In an open letter, they warned that Labour’s equality laws put homosexual rights over those of others, ‘even though the Office for National Statistics has subsequently shown homosexuals to be just one in 66 of the population’.
The letter is signed by Lord Carey, the Bishop of Winchester Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Chester Rt Rev Peter Forster, and Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester.
They wrote: ‘The High Court is to be asked to rule on whether Christians are “fit people” to adopt or foster children – or whether they will be excluded, regardless of the needs of children, from doing so because of the requirements of homosexual rights. ‘Research clearly establishes that children flourish best in a family with both a mother and father in a committed relationship. ‘The supporters of homosexual rights cannot be allowed to suppress all disagreement or disapproval, and “coerce silence”.’
The couple in the High Court test case, Eunice and Owen Johns, said Derby City Council’s fostering panel rejected them as carers because they would never tell children a homosexual lifestyle was acceptable. Mrs Johns said: ‘The council said: “Do you know, you would have to tell them that it’s OK to be homosexual?” ‘But I said I couldn’t do that because my Christian beliefs won’t let me. Morally, I couldn’t do that. Spiritually I couldn’t do that.’
The Pentecostal Christian couple from Derby, who have fostered almost 20 children, are not homophobic, according to the Christian Legal Centre, which has taken up their case. But they are against sex before marriage and do not recognise as marriage civil partnerships between gay couples.
Their beliefs are at odds with Derby City Council’s equality policy, which was drawn up under the terms of the Sexual Orientation Act brought in by Labour.
The Christian Legal Centre, which campaigns for religious freedoms, said in a statement: ‘The case will decide whether the Johns will be able to foster without compromising their beliefs. ‘The implications are huge. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of Christian foster carers and adoptive parents hangs in the balance. ‘It may not be long before local authorities decide that Christians cannot look after some of the most vulnerable children in our society, simply because they disapprove of homosexuality.’
However Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights charity Stonewall, said: ‘Too often in fostering cases nowadays it’s forgotten that it is the interests of a child, and not the prejudices of a parent, that matter. ‘Many Christian parents of gay children will be shocked at Mr and Mrs Johns’s views, which are more redolent of the 19th century than the 21st.’
The case is due to be heard in the High Court sitting at Nottingham Crown Court.
British fox hunting ban set to stay as repeal campaign 'falls off political agenda'
A ban on hunting with dogs is likely to remain despite the change in Government because worries about the nation’s finances have forced the issue off the political agenda, campaigners admitted. The impact of the economic downturn has meant attempts to change the controversial law have become a low priority, the Countryside Alliance acknowledged.
As the traditional start of the season gets under way today, the Alliance conceded it was keeping a low profile because it was foolhardy to make hunting a priority issue when country was just recovering from a recession. Officials admitted that for many living in the country, the issue was “not at the top of the agenda” as many families struggled financially.
Earlier this month, the new head of the Countryside Alliance Alice Barnard, 33, told the Daily Telegraph that David Cameron needed to “right a great wrong” by overturning the ban on hunting with dogs.
But within Tory ranks, traditionally seen as pro-hunting, dissent to overturn the ban, introduced under the Hunting Act 2004, appears to be growing. On Sunday it emerged that only a minority of MPs – 253 out of 650 – are committed to repealing the Act with at least 22 Conservative MPs are among more than 300 who would vote against repealing the law.
Opponents of hunting claim that less than one in five people would support a repeal of the ban. A YouGov poll for the League Against Cruel Sports (Lacs) found that 37 per cent believe the ban is an infringement of civil liberties while 17 per cent want to see the hunting ban properly enforced.
The Alliance contested the findings but a spokeswoman admitted that negotiations for a change in the law were now being undertaken more “behind the scenes”. “At the moment certainly with the economic situation we are facing, the countryside is more concerned about having a job and ensuring they have enough money to put fuel in their machinery than how we kill a fox,” she said.
“The priorities at the moment have changed and we understand we are not top of the pile in terms of those priorities at the moment. “But we are still actively undertaking discussion with people as to why this is a bad law and we are doing that more behind the scenes.”
She added: “Maybe if Labour had not spent 700 hours talking about this law then the economy might not be in this state in the first place.”
Douglas Batchelor, the chief executive of Lacs, claimed that attempts to reverse the ban were a "pipe dream".
Egyptian Christians in Danger as Islam Threat Grows
Egyptian Muslim mobs are seething against the country's Christians following a Al-Jazeera television report that the Christians were aligned with Israel and stockpiling weapons in preparation for attacking the Muslims.
Fears for the safety of the Christians are growing after a series of violent threats and mass demonstrations against them, according to the Barnabas Fund – a Christian advocacy and charitable organization based in Britain.
Muslim rage was ignited last month when Al-Jazeera aired the accusations against the Christians . In addition, the Barnabas Fund reported, the anger is being fueled by rumors circulated by Islamist leaders that Christians are kidnapping and torturing women who had converted to Islam.
At least ten mass Muslim demonstrations by crowds numbering in the thousands have taken place against Christians this month. A previously unknown group called “Front of Islamic Egypt” vowed that the Christians would experience a “bloodbath.”
There are reports that Egyptian authorities are behind the demonstrations, which serve them for political reasons ahead of next month’s national election for the lower house of Parliament and the 2011 election for the country's presidency. Christian human rights activists said that the authorities may be trying to channel the country's growing social discontent into anti-Christian sentiment.
Egypt has the largest Christian population of any Muslim nation in the Arab world, estimated at six to ten million.
In a separate affair, Egypt's Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs compelled a senior church leader to apologize publicly after another church leader questioned a verse in the Qur’an that accuses Christians of being “infidels.”
Australia: NSW to review weak sentencing of criminals
SUSPENDED sentences could be scrapped by the State Government because of concerns courts allow too many serious offenders to escape jail. Attorney-General John Hatzistergos has ordered a review of suspended sentences after the number handed out by judges and magistrates tripled over the past decade.
More than 6400 criminals convicted of assault, robbery and drug dealing last year received suspended sentences, in which a jail term is deferred on the condition there is no re-offending. The Government is looking to follow the lead of Victoria where the sentencing option is being abolished for all but the most serious of crimes.
The review will be carried out by the NSW Sentencing Council. It will be headed by council chair Jerrold Cripps, QC with advice from Justice James Wood, Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham and police Assistant Commissioner David Hudson.Mr Hatzistergos said suspended sentences were designed to denote the seriousness of the offence while giving offenders the chance to rehabilitate in the community.
"This review will determine whether suspended sentences are meeting these objectives," he said. "It will also examine the use of suspended sentences for offenders who would have otherwise been given a bond.
"Importantly, it will consider the views of victims of crime, for whom a suspended sentence can be a confusing outcome when they are expecting the offender to go to jail."Suspended sentences can be issued by the courts to people convicted of crimes that carry sentences of up to two years.
But evidence shows that instead of being issued as an alternative to jail, they are being handed down in place of periodic detention and community services.
Figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) show 5983 suspended sentences were handed down in the lower courts last year and 489 in the higher courts. Eleven people convicted of manslaughter and driving causing death were given suspended sentences. They were also handed down to 113 people convicted of sexual assault, eight who were involved in kidnapping, 334 for burglary, 301 for importing or exporting drugs and 1644 for traffic offences.
In about half the cases, offenders walked free from court without supervision orders.
Suspended sentences were scrapped in the mid-1970s but reintroduced under Bob Carr in 2000. Critics of the sentencing option claim suspended sentences were designed for "middle-class offenders" as the conditions simply required those being handed them to obey the law, as required by the rest of the community.
Victims of Crime Assistance League vice-president Howard Brown said suspended sentences had been handed out inconsistently by the courts and should not be given to perpetrators of violent crime. "There is a place for them, but they've been given inconsistently," Mr Brown said.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.