Blogroll Category: Christian Resources

I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 59 posts from the category 'Christian Resources.'

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The abortion lobby’s proposals would harm women

Christian Concern - Thu, 07/12/2023 - 12:34
Independent health consultant Kevin Duffy analyses pro-abortion campaigners’ priorities for legal reform

In June 2023, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) published a position statement from a coalition of 33 organisations calling for reform of the abortion law in England and Wales.

The two amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill (CJB), tabled on 28 November 2023 by Dame Diana Johnson and Stella Creasy MP, are consistent with the action plans outlined in the position statement.

In an earlier post, I outlined why we think these amendments, which call for abortion decriminalisation, are the wrong solution.

The RCOG’s position statement outlines six priorities for reform, which are listed below with our responses.

1. Women must be removed from the criminal law for ending their own pregnancies.

The CJB amendments proposed by Johnson and Creasy are intended to do exactly this, to ensure that no woman faces prosecution or jail time for ending her pregnancy, at any gestation, outside the provisions for legal abortion in a healthcare setting. In our response last week, I noted that the recent prosecution of Carla Foster would not have been necessary had she attended an in-person consultation with BPAS before the abortion pills were prescribed. We think the law should stand, that women need to know boundaries exist and they should feel the threat of prosecution, though we might expect the courts to show compassion in such cases.

2. Healthcare professionals must be able to provide abortion care without the threat of criminal sanctions which do not apply to any other healthcare procedure.

Healthcare professionals must comply with all relevant laws and regulations; they should feel the threat of sanctions when considering stepping beyond these proper boundaries. As an example, when they are prescribing abortion pills-by-post, they are legally obliged to have enough evidence to justify forming a good faith opinion that a woman’s pregnancy is below the 10 week limit. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has warned doctors that failing to meet this requirement could be a criminal offence.

3. The requirement for two doctors’ signatures to authorise an abortion should be removed.

It is worth noting that last week, Dame Diana Johnson stated clearly that her proposed CJB amendment would not mean any change to the existing abortion laws and regulations, including the 24-week time limit, the requirement for two doctors’ signatures and the grounds for abortion provision. This either means that the RCOG position paper needs to be updated or, more likely, that they intend to pursue these other changes after they first win a change in the law removing women from the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929.

In any case, it is essential to retain the safeguard of having doctors certify that women are giving their own fully informed consent and that abortions are medically safe and compliant with all laws and regulations. Doctors should continue to be required to complete and submit the abortion notification to the Chief Medical Officer.

4. Women should be able to make their own decisions about accessing an abortion.

In practice, abortion is already available on the simple request of the woman, up to 24 weeks’ gestational age. She is not asked to reveal any intimate details that she wishes to keep private or to justify her abortion decision. We know from our Mystery Client Investigation that a woman can give any reason, or none, and the abortion provider will facilitate her request by selecting Ground C as the legal reason.

The proposed Criminal Justice Bill amendments would mean that a woman who self-manages her abortion after the legal time limit of 24 weeks would not face prosecution. However, is this what Johnson and Creasy are asking for, are they really supporting self-managed late-term abortions? Do they not recognise or not want to acknowledge the trauma that these later medical abortions inflict on women, never mind the developing baby who is now beyond the age of viability? Are they deaf to recent polling in which only 17% of the UK public are in support of abortion on demand after 24 weeks?

5. Women’s personal data should stay private.

Any personally identifiable information recorded on the medical notes already remains confidential, and rightly so. BPAS states one of the reasons why it needs to share either the woman’s NHS number or some of her personal data with the NHS is to “identify NHS funding and process the payment for services”.

Is this position paper suggesting that providers should not be required to submit identity and demographic information on the abortion notifications that they must send to the Chief Medical Officer?

From the 85 calls we made during our Mystery Client Investigation, we know that the abortion providers do not insist on women giving their NHS numbers. The RCOG and its co-signers on this position paper want abortion to be regulated as healthcare, in the same way as any other medical procedure. If this is the case, they should include the NHS number as they would do for any other medical procedure. Doing so would enable anonymised, comprehensive longitudinal studies into the long-term impact of abortion on women’s health; or is that something that these activists are trying to avoid?

6. NHS-funded abortion care must be supported by adequate funding and resourcing.

99% of all abortions in England and Wales are funded by the NHS.

BPAS, the largest private provider and a co-signatory on this position statement, now manages 95% of all its abortion clients by telephone only. Recent analysis showed that the average fee paid to it by the NHS was higher in 2022 than in 2018, even though there is little doubt that its operating costs are now significantly lower than before the move to pills-by-post.

Many of these contracts come up for renewal in 2024, presenting an opportunity for those managing procurement for the ICSs (integrated care systems) to ensure that future fees reflect the lower cost of providing telemedicine abortion.

These reforms do not stand up to scrutiny

Those who have signed this position paper are working together. They share strategic plans and have agreed tactics that include private members bills, amendments to government bills, parliamentary questions and legal challenges. In similar fashion, we must take every opportunity to lobby and work with MPs and Peers to strengthen the abortion laws and regulations, ensuring better care for women and their developing babies.

These reform priorities do not stand up to basic critical scrutiny. They will not help women – they will harm women. Women deserve better from the co-signatories, the Royal Colleges and national organisations that were established to serve and protect women.

The post The abortion lobby’s proposals would harm women appeared first on Christian Concern.

‘If you can’t challenge someone’s beliefs … what’s the point of education?’

Christian Concern - Thu, 07/12/2023 - 12:17

Bernard Randall joined Camilla Tominey on GB News to explain why he has launched legal action against the headteacher of a Christian school that sacked him for a sermon he gave in a chapel service.

He pointed out that Trent College could have taken the opportunity to educate students on freedom of expression. This would in turn cultivate resilience going into adulthood.

“I’m Christian wholeheartedly, and that allows you to be wholeheartedly whatever your belief system is. If we say you cannot challenge someone’s beliefs in an educational context, what is the point of education?”

GB News
3 December 2023

The post ‘If you can’t challenge someone’s beliefs … what’s the point of education?’ appeared first on Christian Concern.

Get your free copy of The Ambassador Magazine

Christian Concern - Fri, 01/12/2023 - 17:07
The latest edition of The Ambassador Magazine is now available. Your free copy is waiting for you!

The Ambassador Magazine shows how God is at work through the Christian Concern community – and how to think about some of the pressing issues of the day.

Don’t miss out on inspiring stories and insightful analysis – send us a message below and ask for your free copy of our latest edition – remember to tell us your address!

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Abortion decriminalisation is the wrong solution

Christian Concern - Fri, 01/12/2023 - 15:02
Independent health consultant Kevin Duffy writes on the abortion lobby’s latest proposals to decriminalise abortion

On 28 November 2023, Dame Diana Johnson and Stella Creasy MP both submitted proposed amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill.[i] Whilst they have taken two different approaches, both want changes made to ensure that no woman faces prosecution or jail time for ending her pregnancy, at any gestation. These amendments had been widely advertised by them and their supporters, which include BPAS, MSI Reproductive Choices and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Amendments will not change existing laws and regulations

In response to objections raised when they and their supporters had previously trailed this in the press and social media, they both stated that their amendment would not change any of the existing laws related to the provision of abortion services in healthcare settings across England and Wales, explicitly confirming that there would be no change to the gestational time limits for an abortion, as prescribed in the Abortion Act 1967.

In a related press release, Dame Diana Johnson states that her amendment would not change the laws that govern how doctors, nurses and midwives provide abortion services, and that any medical professional who assisted a woman in obtaining an abortion outside the law would be liable for prosecution.

Amendments only affect self-administration after 10 weeks

The protections that these amendments would bring will only apply to women who self-induce their abortion at home, or in any other place, after their pregnancy has reached the start of the tenth week. In tabling their amendments, both MPs mentioned recent legal cases including Carla Foster, who was convicted for a late abortion when she was 8 months pregnant, and six others who are awaiting trial. They spoke in emotive tones about the tragedy of these cases and implored their fellow MPs to join with them in removing the Victorian laws that are used to punish these women.

What they and their supporters have failed to address is how a woman might be able to self-induce her abortion after ten weeks. We are long past the days when a woman would need to seek out an illegal provider in the backstreets or resort to the agony of using a wire clothes hanger or knitting needle. Now, all they need to do is phone BPAS or Marie Stopes and ask for the abortion pills to be posted to a convenient address.

Some might do this intending to proceed within the legal time limit but for various reasons do so sometime after the start of their tenth week; there have been CQC and DHSC reports of such cases.[ii] [iii] A few will set out to deliberately mislead the abortion provider and lie about their gestational age; we know that this is what Foster did when obtaining pills-by-post from BPAS.

Medical guidelines recommend that the abortion pills should not be self-administered by a woman outside a healthcare setting after her pregnancy enters the second trimester.[iv] Whilst the pills can used to induce an abortion at any gestation, it is accepted that these later abortions need to be clinically observed and any complications arising from a failed or incomplete abortion must be managed before the woman is discharged.

The rate of these complications increases significantly with each passing week of gestation. A recent report from the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (OHID) shows that complication rates in the second trimester can be six times higher than before twelve weeks, rising to ten times higher in the third trimester. Untreated complications can prolong bleeding and carry the risk of infection.

Self-managing your medical abortion after week 10 is not like having a heavy period. This is not a simple, effortless, process; it can be traumatic, especially when passing and seeing the developing baby.

There are physical and metal health risks for the woman; this is a procedure that is best managed in a clinical setting. But this is not something that concerns Johnson and Creasy; their concern is simply that the woman should not be prosecuted.

Johnson and Creasy also fail to address the issue that doctors working for their supporting organisations, BPAS and MSI Reproductive Choices, might find themselves being prosecuted for prescribing abortion pills to women who then use these to induce their abortion after the legal time limit of ten weeks. Maria Caulfield, answering a parliamentary question, warns that doctors will not be able to rely on a ‘good faith’ defence if they do not have enough evidence to justify their opinion that the woman’s gestation was less than ten weeks.

These amendments are not necessary

The best resolution to these serious issues is simple: mandate an in-person consultation before the abortion pills are prescribed and stop the current sole reliance on a remote discussion by phone, telemedicine. Had Foster attended an in-person consultation there would never have been a case to prosecute, nor would BPAS have been complicit in prescribing the abortion pills beyond the legal time limit.

Rejecting these amendments is different from saying that we want women to be prosecuted and jailed. Laws are essential, sending a clear message to society. If we remove abortion from the criminal law, as is being requested in these amendments, women will think that it must be okay; that we approve of what they might consider doing, even in the extremes of cases such as Foster’s.

The law should stand. Women need to know that boundaries exist and they should feel the threat of prosecution.

That said, we might expect the courts to show compassion in such cases, ensuring the woman receives any necessary professional help and a non-custodial sentence.

[i] All publications related to this Bill can be found at this link, including the Amendment Papers and the Hansard record of the 2nd Reading on 28 November:

[ii] On 06 January 2021, the CQC responding to an FOI request stated that in the period April to November 2020 it had been notified of 19 early medical abortion (EMA) cases in which the gestational age (GA) of the pregnancy was greater than the legal limit for EMA of 9-weeks-6-days, including four cases in which the GA was beyond 24 weeks. You can read more and access a copy of the FOI response here:

[iii] In its published Abortion Statistics 2020, the DHSC reported eight cases in which women accessing pills-by-post were confirmed at greater than the legal 10-week limit. See tab ‘13-01-2022’ of file ‘Abortion statistics 2020: freedom of information and other data releases’ at

[iv] The WHO ‘Abortion care guidelines’, published on 08 March 2022, state on page 72, “Medical abortion for pregnancies at gestational ages ≥ 12 weeks has been practised and researched as a facility-based procedure during which women should remain under observation until the process is complete.” Importantly it also recommends using only 400 µg of misoprostol, which is half the dose used in EMA under 10 weeks gestational age. Accessed from

The post Abortion decriminalisation is the wrong solution appeared first on Christian Concern.

Indi’s father pays tribute to his ‘beautiful warrior’

Christian Concern - Fri, 01/12/2023 - 11:30

The father of Indi Gregory has made a moving tribute to his daughter at her funeral today at Nottingham Cathedral.

He said:

“My Beautiful Warrior Indi Gregory.

“I honestly and truly feel, deep in my heart, that Indi was not only beautiful, strong and unique. I just knew, from the start, she was very special. 

“Nonetheless, I could never have imagined the sort of journey we and Indi would have to go through to fight for her life. She didn’t only have to battle against her health problems, she had to battle against a system that makes it almost impossible to win. Yet, it was her weakest point, her health problems, that distinguished Indi as a true warrior. 

“Indi overcame so much: she had seizures, 2 operations, sepsis, ecoli, including other infections, that even another child would struggle to beat. 

“But, Indi’s determination to fight for a chance of life really inspired me. The strength she had for an 8-month-old child was incredible. And this is one of the reasons I would have done anything for Indi to have the chance to live which was denied her.

“She had to fight to live from day one of her life. I was even willing to go down into the pits of hell to fight and to protect Indi. In a way I did, because the court system itself felt like being in hell to me.

“Yet, Indi was an 8-month-old baby that had the power to touch millions of people’s hearts around the world! She inspired love, and nowhere more than Italy. In fact, I’m sure Indi is as proud as I am for the amazing support and love shown by the Italian government, the Italian prime minister and the Italian people. I strongly believe they were Indi’s guardian angels during the legal battle to save her.

“I would also like to thank all the many people involved in Indi’s legal battle including my lawyers and Christian Concern. You have all been a true inspiration and I truly believe it has been a battle of good versus evil.

“I have now reached the conclusion that this was indeed Indi’s destiny. God put Indi on this earth with the mission to expose evil in the world. He chose her because she was strong, beautiful and special. But, now this chapter of Indi’s destiny is over. Her legacy, however, has only just begun. I wanted to make sure Indi would be remembered forever and she will live on in our hearts and through our voices.

“But, my greatest comfort at this difficult time is knowing where Indi is and with whom she is with now. I had Indi baptised to protect her and so she would go to heaven. It gives me peace to know she is in Heaven and God is taking care of her.

“I thank the Catholic Church of Nottingham and Bishop McKinney for celebrating Indi’s funeral and all those who helped me prepare this beautiful farewell.

“I will love you always, Indi. From Dad x.”

The service was also attended by a delegation from the Italian government, including Minister of Families, Eugenia Roccella and Minister of Disabilities, Alessandra Locatelli.

Former Italian senator and lawyer, Simone Pillon, also attended and Jacopo Coghe, Vice President of Pro Vita and Famiglia Onlus.

During the legal case Mr Coghe helped generate a petition of 50,000 signatures in Italy calling on the UK government to allow Indi to be transferred to the the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital in Rome for specialist treatment.

Throughout the legal battle the family was supported free of charge by the Christian Legal Centre.

The post Indi’s father pays tribute to his ‘beautiful warrior’ appeared first on Christian Concern.

Christians in the Firing Line 2 launched by livestream

Christian Concern - Fri, 01/12/2023 - 08:51

After ten years in the making, Christians in the Firing Line 2 has officially hit the shelves.

In the live online book launch, our Chief Executive, Andrea Williams and Head of Public Policy, Tim Dieppe had an uplifting conversation with Author Dr Richard Scott. Together they endeavoured to answer viewers’ questions, making these stories of faith truly come alive.

Dr Scott’s foremost reason for writing the sequel was to “pay testimony to the brave souls involved in the cases, who have really suffered for their faith in the UK.” He himself is a client of the Christian Legal Centre, who faced investigations from the General Medical Council and NHS England for offering prayer to patients as a GP in Margate.

We delved into four broad categories within which the 21 cases fall: sharing faith at work, same-sex relationships, pro-life and street preachers. These stories paint a remarkable picture of Christians in the public sector who have held fast to their faith and continue to fight the good fight.

Andrea Williams said: “Ultimately, these stories tell the big story, the universal story, the one true historical story of a Saviour that loves, that died for every individual in that book. And they love him so much that they will stand in the moment when they’re tested.”

We hope you are as encouraged by Christians in the Firing Line 2 as we were putting this sequel together. You can order your copy from Amazon and from

The post Christians in the Firing Line 2 launched by livestream appeared first on Christian Concern.

Bernard Randall launches legal action against headteacher

Christian Concern - Tue, 28/11/2023 - 12:22

An ordained Church of England (CofE) chaplain has launched legal action against the headteacher of the school that sacked and secretly reported him to the government’s Counter-Terrorism watchdog for a moderate sermon he gave on identity politics.

Rev. Dr Bernard Randall, 51, has made the claim against the headteacher of Trent College, Mr Bill Penty, for victimisation, continued harassment, and discrimination on the grounds of his Christian beliefs.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, the action follows what has been described as a ‘malicious’ referral made by Mr Penty to the Teaching Regulation Authority (TRA) aimed at barring the former Cambridge college chaplain from the profession.

In 2019, Dr Randall was sacked by Trent College, an independent school with a CofE ethos, for a moderate sermon he gave that reflected the CofE’s teaching on marriage in the school’s CofE chapel.

The sermon encouraged debate on identity politics and told pupils that they did not have to agree with LGBT teaching.

Dr Randall had given the sermon after discredited LGBT group, Educate and Celebrate, were invited into Trent College to help embed an extreme gender identity agenda into the moral fabric of the school, including the nursery.

Educate and Celebrate’s leader, Ellie Barnes, got staff to chant ‘smash heteronormativity’ during a staff training day.

With full cooperation from the Bishop of Derby, Rt. Rev. Libby Lane, and her diocesan safeguarding team, Dr Randall was removed from his role as chaplain at the school. An investigation by the local diocese followed with a risk assessment concluding that Dr Randall was a ‘risk to children’ and that the Bible and the CofE’s own teaching on human sexuality is ‘a risk factor’.

Dr Randall has been blacklisted by the CofE as a result, and thereby prevented from giving a public sermon since 2020.

Dr Randall took Trent College to a full employment tribunal. However, in February 2023, a judge ruled against his legal claims.

Dr Randall is now appealing this ruling.

Following the judgment, headteacher Bill Penty referred Dr Randall to the TRA, calling for an investigation and misconduct hearing which could have led to him being barred from the teaching profession indefinitely.

Mr Penty signed the referral which said: ‘I would like the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) to investigate the above allegation of serious misconduct potentially leading to the imposition of a prohibition order’.

It was also revealed that Mr Penty referred Dr Randall to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which would see Dr Randall banned from working with children altogether, and even working as a vicar.

The referrals were made despite Mr Penty having no problem allowing Dr Randall continuing to work with children at the school after the 2019 sermon. In his referral he also cited a sermon that had ‘offended’ a handful of students and staff as far back as 2016, even though the school took no action at the time.

Dr Randall had never had any concerns raised in regard to his classroom teaching, or extracurricular activities, during his time at Trent College. The School’s DSL had referred him to the LADO and Prevent, but both had confirmed his conduct did not require investigation.

Allegations and investigation

In a letter from the TRA received in March 2023, however, Dr Randall was told: ‘In executing this role as the regulator for the teaching profession, on behalf of the Secretary of State, the TRA has considered the referral and has decided that a formal investigation should be started in relation to the following matters.’

The allegations outlined against Dr Randall accused him of being ‘guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and/or conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

It was alleged that the 2019 sermon, which had resulted in the Prevent referral, was ‘offensive’ for suggesting that ‘pupils did not have to accept views and/or ideologies of LGBT+ activists.’ This allegation was made despite the legal obligations on teachers not to promote partisan political positions.

On the 2016 sermon, Dr Randall was accused of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ and ‘offensive dialogue’ for suggesting to pupils that ‘marriage can only exist between a man and a woman’ and ‘that it is sinful to alter your body according to Christian teachings.’

The letter informed Dr Randall that if the allegations were found to be proven he could be found guilty of demonstrating ‘a lack of tolerance and/or respect for the rights and/or beliefs of others’ and that his actions were ‘contrary to fundamental British values.’

If the TRA had decided to take a professional misconduct case against Dr Randall, it would have been the latest in a string of referrals to the TRA targeting Christian teachers for expressing their beliefs in UK schools.


Dr Randall submitted a response to the allegations saying that he was merely describing Christian beliefs, and that he was actually modelling and upholding the fundamental British values by showing the value of free speech and freedom of religion.

Following this, the TRA decided to not take forward a case against him. A decision from the DBS is still pending.

The TRA letter said:

[The] ‘Decision Maker is of the view that, if proven, it would be open to a Professional Conduct Panel to find Reverand [sic] Dr Bernard Randall guilty of Unacceptable Professional Conduct … and that a prohibition order may be appropriate.’

However, ‘the Decision Maker took into account that the Teacher, who is a Chaplain, was speaking about LGBT topics from the perspective of Christian thought and Bible teachings within a Chapel setting in a religious school. The Decision Maker did not consider the sermons contained notions of hatred or complete intolerance.

‘With this in mind the Decision Maker considered the conduct was managed at a local level, and the Decision Maker considered the conduct described is unlikely to result in a Professional Conduct Panel making a recommendation of a prohibition to the Secretary of State.

‘Therefore, there is no case to answer and the case is closed.’

Following the TRA referral, Dr Randall has now launched legal action against Mr Penty for continuing to harass and discriminate against him. A full hearing is expected in 2024.

Malicious referral

Dr Randall said“When I found out about the referral by the Headteacher, it felt vindictive and malicious to say the least. Once the college had the ruling from the tribunal they were not satisfied and wanted to seek to dismantle my life entirely and go for the jugular.

“I am relieved that the TRA has decided to not bring a case against me, but I am horrified that it has got this far.

“Prevent and TRA referrals appear to be being weaponised to intimidate and silence anyone who dares speak against the prevailing secular orthodoxy on human sexuality and identity.

“It is deeply concerning that the school has also tried to use my freedom to speak to the media about what has happened to me to justify a referral.

“What has happened sends a message to Christian teachers, and any professional who does not celebrate and promote gender identity in schools, that not only will you be sacked, but you could be barred from the profession indefinitely if you fail to comply.

“You can no longer teach or encourage debate among children or adults that there are any viewpoints other than embracing full-on LGBT+ ideology. This is untenable in a truly free and democratic country, and every teacher, pupil and parent should be concerned about the ideology being forced onto schools, often without parents having any knowledge of it.  

“I’d love to move on with my life, but now have no choice but to continue to fight for justice.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “It should be of concern to everyone when a mild-mannered vicar ends up being reported as a safeguarding risk for saying you can believe marriage is between a man and a woman. If Bernard Randall is deemed not fit to work with children by the Church of England and school authorities, then none of us are safe.

“To throw him out of the vocation he loves, report him to the local authority for safeguarding and stop him working with children, is to wreck his life. He has not been allowed to preach a sermon for over  four years. There’s nothing good or kind about this.

“Bernard’s case shows vividly the intolerance of tolerance. We need more teachers and chaplains, like Bernard, working with children, not less.”

The post Bernard Randall launches legal action against headteacher appeared first on Christian Concern.

Christian dance group in Barbados to launch legal action after disqualification

Christian Concern - Mon, 27/11/2023 - 16:48

The Barbados dance and theatrical group, Praise Academy of Dance Barbados, will launch legal action after being cancelled for a performance in a national competition which challenged ‘gender identity’ teaching.

The decision to disqualify the group was ‘unconstitutionally’ backed by Senator Gregory Nicholls, the Arbiter of the NCF, without referring the matter to the Island’s Supreme Court.

The case is believed to be the first time that a group has been cancelled for the expression of traditional Christian beliefs in Barbados and brings into question whether the LGBTQ agenda is being brought in through the back door.

Praise Academy of Dance Barbados was disqualified by the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) in October for allegedly breaching Section 9b of the rules by exceeding “the bounds of good taste, and making ‘‘defamatory claims.’’

The Praise Academy of Dance Barbados is a registered Premiere Arts School with affiliations to schools in Jamaica and Trinidad. For the last 20 years it has produced dances and theatrical productions which specifically deal with various relevant social issues.

They had never been disqualified from any performance due to their Christian beliefs. The group has reached out to the UK’s Christian Legal Centre for support.

For this year’s NIFCA performing arts competition, the group had produced a performance entitled ‘Speak Life’.

The piece presented a Christian viewpoint of gender identity and sexual orientation and declared the Christian worldview that there are only two genders.

The performance, which can be viewed on the group’s website, rejected progressive gender education and instead promoted the protection of parental rights and the freedom to bring children up in line with Christian beliefs and not LGBT ideology.

The piece is abstracted from a show about a 15-year-old girl who struggles with gender identity, but finds her true identity in God and through reading the Bible.

It features a scene in a classroom involving songs and dialogue discussing biological facts and how chromosomes decide whether we are born male and female. A part of the dialogue said: ‘it’s not a choice, you don’t get to pick, that’s the science, period!’’

The stage had banners with verses Genesis which read: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Following the disqualification, the group faced no alternative but to raise an official complaint with the arbiter for the National Cultural Foundation.

They argued that the decision of the NCF and NIFCA judging panel was illegal and unconstitutional. They said it was unclear what exactly in the production had contravened the rules and what was ‘‘bad taste.’’

Senator statement

Acting as arbiter for the dispute, Senator Gregory Nicholls, however, upheld the decision to disqualify the group without referring the matter to the island’s Supreme Court.

Furthermore, despite Senator Nicholls admitting in his role as arbiter that he had no jurisdiction to rule on the constitutionality of the decision by NCF/NIFCA, he released a ruling to the local media on November 17 which said: “there is no basis to interfere with the prior decision of the judges of the entry Speak Life which was disqualified under rule 9B of the NIFCA rules.”

On the rationale of his decision, he said: “The NIFCA judges are experienced practitioners in their respective fields and are carefully chosen by NCF to judge in its competitions. The judges determined that the entry was in breach of the rules, more specifically, in that it exceeded the bounds of good taste. The entry was adjudged to have denounced various gender identities of the LGBTQ community via raging characterizations and expressions. This was a determination that the experienced panel of judges were entitled to make.”


The academy is now considering bringing legal action as it believes the move by Senator Nicholls to make a ruling without referring to the Supreme Court has deceived and mislead the Barbadian public and media.

Attorney Davida Maynard-Holligan, who is representing Praise Academy of Dance Barbados, said the group had been “Excluded in the name of inclusivity” from the competition and that the ruling from Senator Nicholls sent “a chilling message to Christians on the island, especially young students, who do not believe in and refuse to conform to confusing and harmful gender identity ideology and extreme teaching.”

“The message is that you can no longer disagree with or criticize LGBTQ ideology without being cancelled, marginalized and excluded.

“The ruling issued publicly amounts to an LGBTQ takeover of our legal rights and freedoms in Barbados and cannot go unchallenged.

“The piece “Speak Life” is a piece based entirely on science and Holy Scripture. The piece explores the different biological, chromosomal makeup of male and female. It presents a Christian viewpoint of gender identity and sexual orientation and on this basis declares from a Christian world view that there are two genders only.

“The disqualification by NCF/NIFCA of this piece on the grounds of discrimination therefore amounts to a ban of the expression of the Christian faith. The show was performed on a government owned, tax funded stage and marks one of the first known instances of the Christian faith being oppressed in Barbados in public.

“The decision to disqualify and the ruling issued discriminates against Christian beliefs on these issues and if left unchallenged, has serious ramifications for freedom of religion and expression in Barbados and across the Caribbean.

“This matter should have been left to the Supreme Court to rule on but instead the public and the media have been misled by a statement that the arbiter “has not found any basis to overturn the decision of the judges.

“It is a shameful day for the National Cultural Foundation, and the Praise Academy faces no alternative but to consider its legal options.”

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Abortion complications – new official statistics

Christian Concern - Mon, 27/11/2023 - 15:23
Independent public health consultant, Kevin Duffy, comments on the statistics that reveal a higher percentage of abortion complications than many have been led to believe

On 23 November 2023, the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (OHID), part of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), published new official statistics reporting the rate of complications arising from abortions in England. Previous reporting from the DHSC relied solely on data gathered from the HSA4 forms that are routinely submitted by abortion providers to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), this is known as the Abortion Notification System (ANS). Acknowledging the limitations of the ANS data when reporting abortion complications, the OHID set out to explore whether Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) could be used as a supplementary source for abortion complications data.

HSA4 forms must be submitted to the CMO within 14 days of an abortion procedure and are used to report any complications arising before the patient is discharged. This works well when the procedure is completed at the abortion facility. However, in 2021, 70% of all abortions were self-managed by women at home (52% using both mifepristone and misoprostol, and 18% using misoprostol at home after taking mifepristone at the provider’s facility).[i] In these cases, the HSA4 form would have been submitted after the early medical abortion treatment was prescribed or when the woman left the facility, and thus before self-administration of the tablets and before any complications were suffered. This is the key limitation of the ANS and why the OHID is considering supplementary use of HES data.

The Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) is a system recording details of all attendance and admissions at NHS hospitals across England. For this report, the OHID used only the data related to inpatient admissions for an abortion related complication. They explain how these records do not include, and are not conflated with, admissions for women suffering complications from a miscarriage, though they explain that some women might choose to report a miscarriage rather than admitting to having used the abortion pills, which in turn would lead to under-reporting of abortion complications.

Importantly, HES can be used to report on complications arising from an incomplete abortion, when parts of the placenta and/or embryo remain within the uterus, referred to as retained products of conception (RPOC). An incomplete abortion causes complications such as bleeding and pain, with a risk of infection, and can be treated surgically by an evacuation of retained products of conception (ERPC). The HSA4 states that an ERPC is not a complication and thus these cases are not included in the ANS.

The OHID considered data from both systems for the years 2017 to 2021. It reports the average rate of abortion complications per 1,000 abortions from each as follows:

  • Abortion Notification System (ANS) – 1.5
  • Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) – 18.2

It is remarkable that the HES reported rate is almost twelve times higher than that from ANS.

The HES data for 2021 shows an abortion complication rate, including incomplete abortions, of 19.3 per 1,000 abortions, a rate of almost 2%. This report only includes the cases in which the woman was admitted as an inpatient, typically for an ERPC, it does not report any women who presented with abortion complications and were treated in A&E or any other outpatient department.

Retained products of conception can be treated in one of three ways:

  • Expectant management, in which the woman is told to do nothing, wait for a few days longer, giving her body a chance to deal with the problem (outpatient).
  • Additional doses of misoprostol (outpatient).
  • A surgical evacuation of retained products of conception (inpatient).

Commonly, each of these three treatments might be used in broadly equal numbers, often depending upon the perceived severity of bleeding/pain and on the availability of trained medical staff able to perform the ERPC and of inpatient beds. If these three treatments are used in broadly equal numbers then the 2% complication rate which relates only to inpatient treatment would translate into a roughly 6% complication rate allowing for the other two treatment paths. A 6% complication rate matches the known complication rate from other independent data, including the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists online information for those considering an abortion.

This comparison of the abortion complications data available for reporting from the ANS and the HES is very welcome. The OHID has shown very clearly the significant gap in the reporting of abortion complications when relying solely on the HSA4 forms and the ANS. We hope that this new approach using additional data from the Hospital Episode Statistics will be quickly adopted as an official routine publication. Having taken this important first step towards assuring the completeness of abortion complications reporting, we ask the OHID to explore further how it might also include data about the visits and treatments managed at A&E and other outpatient departments.

[i] Tab ‘T2’ in the spreadsheet ‘Abortion statistics 2021: additional tables (revision)’, accessed from on 24 November 2023.

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali turns towards Christianity

Christian Concern - Fri, 24/11/2023 - 14:34
Carys Moseley comments on the recent conversion of Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Christianity

The most famous ex-Muslim in the western world, if not the entire world, has publicly declared that she has embraced Christianity. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born advocate for women and girls who left Islam having gained asylum in the Netherlands and initially turned to the New Atheism for moral guidance. Two weeks ago, she wrote an article for Unherd magazine sharing some of the reasons for her turn towards Christianity. Here I shall consider the significance of her turn for handling abuse of women, Islamic revivalism, Christian mission among Muslims and how this affects the Islamophobia narrative.  

Escaping a forced marriage  

Ali herself escaped a forced marriage, having previously undergone FGM as a five-year-old child in Somalia. These experiences would later prove central to the nature of her advocacy for women and girls. When she first surfaced, the problem of forced marriage and honour-based violence had only recently been aired publicly in western countries.  

In 1998 the murder of Rukshana Naz helped bring the issue of forced marriage into the limelight in the UK. An inquiry was led by two Muslim peers, Baroness Uddin and Lord Ahmed. One year later Mehmet Goren, a Kurdish man who had fled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and gained refugee status in the UK, murdered his daughter Tulay because she had a Christian Lebanese boyfriend. Goren was eventually convicted and sentenced to imprisonment ten years later in 2009.   

Christian leadership in opposing FGM 

Hirsi Ali’s turn to Christianity, and her support of a Christian basis for civilization, is significant given that she is a strong critic of FGM. She endured the practice as a child in Somalia. The historical record shows that Scottish missionaries in Kenya initiated opposition to FGM in the early twentieth century.  

Marion Scott Stevenson was a missionary with the Church of Scotland Mission in British East Africa (Kenya) between 1907 and 1929. Her service was extraordinarily wide-ranging, including Bible translation, teaching hygiene, working in a hospital and establishing a school for girls. A new study on the effect of historic Christian opposition to FGM in Africa published by three Swedish researchers in the Journal of Development Economics has recently been published. They looked at surveys of 410,000 respondents in 14 African countries over the period 1990 to 2020. They found that respondents who lived close to where a historic Christian mission had existed were less likely to have undergone the practice (which they termed ‘Female Genital Cutting’). The relationship was found to be ‘especially strong’ for women living in areas where it was done before the missionary era, or if their own ancestors practised it.   

Islamic revivalism – deceptive and deadly 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali left the Muslim Brotherhood’s Somali branch, which she had joined as a teenager in Nairobi in the 1980s. The fact that she left provides invaluable first-hand insight. The reason is that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to Islamise non-Muslim countries. In the west in particular this would be by deceptive means, appearing to do so non-violently from below.  

Ali published a book about her struggles to live as a woman under Islam in the Netherlands in 2004. (This was published in English as ‘The Caged Virgin’ in 2006.) The script for the film ‘Submission’ came out of that book, criticising how women are treated under Islamic law, and its director was Theo Van Gogh. For this Van Gogh was murdered by a man called Mohamed Bouyeri in the same year. He left a note pinned to Van Gogh’s chest warning that Ali was the original target. Indeed she was already a high profile figure due to being an elected member of the Dutch Parliament. This forced Ali to flee the Netherlands for the USA. A few years later she was revealed to be on the Al-Qaeda hit list. As a result, she has to live with round-the-clock protection from bodyguards. This surely has been a major test of character. In 2005, Hirsi Ali was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world

Encouraging Christian mission among Muslims 

Even before her personal spiritual turn, Ayaan Hirsi Ali had encouraged western churches to evangelise Muslims. Part of the motive seemed to be concerned that women should be able to find a better quality of life and sense of meaning by adhering to a religion.  

We can talk about whether this is too utilitarian a view of faith. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that even her pragmatic advocacy of Christian mission to Muslims shows up the reality that Christians and Muslims do not in fact worship the same god.   

Western churches and Muslim converts 

The news that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has turned towards Christianity and started attending church weekly raises some uncomfortable questions for churches in the western world. How many actually reach out to and welcome people who want to leave Islam or who have left Islam? The fact is that not all do, as the cost can be high if the person involved is a target for persecution.  

More Christians need to be familiar with Christian apologetics on Islam, and with the Qu’ran and other texts deemed authoritative in Islam. More Christians also need to learn about Islamic campaigners’ real intentions, namely to Islamise non-Muslim societies. This would have a disastrous effect on the treatment of women and girls among other things.  

The predictable taunt of Islamophobia 

Unsurprisingly, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been attacked relentlessly on the grounds of Islamophobia. In her case it is important to realise how cruel this is, given that she was put on an Al-Qaeda hit list. Her critics should pause to reconsider whether their accusations collude with her enemies.   

Interestingly in 2015 Christian journalist Mike Dobbins apologised for smearing Ayaan Hirsi Ali as an Islamophobe. He had looked more deeply into the topics she was tackling and concluded that she and other critics of Islam were right.  

The best story for Islamophobia Awareness Month 

By sheer coincidence Ayaan Hirsi Ali has shared her story during Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM). Admittedly Ali lives in the US and Islamophobia Awareness Month is a British movement. This year’s IAM theme is ‘Muslim stories’, where British Muslims share their personal stories. The purpose of this movement is to normalise Islam in Britain. It is therefore suitably ironic for Unherd, a British magazine, to publish the latest part of Ali’s personal story at this time.  

This really matters because Ali spent many years calling for a reform of Islam to remove the seeming divine sanctioning of violence and control, especially against women. She tried to do this by writing autobiographical books about her personal life story and the people she met and worked with. One of her recent books is called “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now”.  She had become an advocate for female victims of abuse in the Netherlands, and most of those were Muslims. I reviewed her recent book “Prey: Immigration, Islam and the Erosion of Women’s Rights.”  After emigrating to the USA she continued her advocacy work through her own charity, the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation

Looking to the future 

It is clear that Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s journey from Islam to Christianity has been a very slow one, via the New Atheism. A key turning point was 9/11, specifically facing up to the fact that those responsible believed in the same god as she did. This only encouraged her to wrestle more broadly with her life as a woman in the Islamic faith. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has become famous as an advocate for ex-Muslims especially women. The publicity surrounding each controversy in which she has been involved has helped raise awareness and support for such people in the west, but at a very high price.  

Because she had to flee the Netherlands and even now lives under 24/7 protection, it is easy to forget that she was able to leave Islam and live because she came to the West. For most people this cannot happen, indeed it would be totally impractical. The big question then is; how can Christian mission not only touch but transform people’s lives for good in Islamic countries?  

Relevant resources from Christian Concern 

Tim Dieppe and Beth Peltola, Questions to Ask Your Muslim Friends. London: Wilberforce Publications, 2022.  

Sam Solomon with Atif Debs, Not the Same God: Is the Qur’anic Allah the Lord God of the Bible? London: Wilberforce Publications, 2016.  

Is Islam a Religion of Peace? 

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Theologian launches legal action after unfair dismissal from lecturing role

Christian Concern - Fri, 24/11/2023 - 11:20

A Christian theology lecturer with five young children has launched legal action after being sacked and threatened with a Counter-Terrorism referral, by a professedly evangelical Methodist Bible college, for a tweet on human sexuality.

In March 2023, Dr Aaron Edwards, 37, who is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, was sacked for alleged misconduct by Cliff College in Derbyshire for ‘bringing the college into disrepute‘ on Twitter (now called X).

The CEO of Twitter/X, Elon Musk, announced recently that he would support any user treated unfairly by their employer for posting or liking something on the platform.

On 19 February, Dr Edwards posted:Homosexuality is invading the Church. Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this b/c they’re busy apologising for their apparently barbaric homophobia, whether or not it’s true. This *is* a ‘Gospel issue’, by the way. If sin is no longer sin, we no longer need a Saviour.

Following the tweet, Dr Edwards was abused online, suspended by Cliff College and threatened with being reported to Prevent during an investigation and subsequent hearing.

The college has since tried to deny the Counter-Terrorism threat, despite minutes during the disciplinary hearing/investigation revealing the intimidation tactics used by college bosses.

During the disciplinary hearings, Dr Edwards was also interrogated on how he would pray for same-sex attracted students who approach him for prayer.

He believes as a result of the sacking and subsequent controversy that he might not be able to work in UK higher education again.

Dr Edwards is now launching legal action against Cliff College on the grounds of harassment, discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Lawyers representing him will argue that the college unlawfully interfered with his rights under Article 9 and/or Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

Dr Edwards will be seeking damages for unfair dismissal, and compensation under the Equality Act 2010. A full employment tribunal hearing is expected in 2024.

Academic and Christian freedom

Launching the claim, Dr Edwards, whose role at Cliff College was to teach students to preach, has said that: “Anyone concerned about academic freedom, Christian freedoms and free speech should be deeply concerned by what has happened to me.

The reaction to my tweet and the unjust treatment I have experienced by Cliff College and the Methodist Church in Britain completely illustrates the problem my tweet addressed.

The tweet was not defamatory; it was not an attack on any colleague or individual; it was not abusive; and it was not an extremist religious view. It was addressed to evangelicals as a point of doctrine, and it has been misunderstood by many who wish to cause personal and institutional trouble for those who express that view.

The impact on me and my family has been very significant. I have lost many friends as a result, and been slandered by people who do not know all of the details but who now see me as an unkind or hateful person.

“At the time of the suspension and dismissal I also suffered severe physical stress, culminating in symptoms of cardiac arrest. This sometimes returns, especially when I reflect on the events again. Re-reading the correspondence from the college and the various comments, is something I still find difficult as it brings it all up again. It feels like everything I worked for at the college (and for the college) over the last 7 years has gone up in smoke.

“It has, of course, been a tremendous upheaval for my homeschooled family too, given that we lived in the vicinity of the college in order to serve the college, and are now uprooted in more ways than one. At the homeschool co-op that meets every few weeks, there is a slot at these meetings where a father of one of the families comes and does a presentation about “their job”.

“I know I am unable to do that because the career that I had built over the course of a decade has been severely damaged to the extent that I no longer have a career. This is why the only way forward I can see is to pioneer something new, the uncertainty of which brings its own challenges and stresses.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, who grew up in the Methodist Church, said: A Christian theologian working for a Christian Bible college tweeting about the biblical Christian teaching on human sexuality, has been sacked and labelled as a potential ‘terrorist.’

“This is an intelligent, learned, respected, father of five children who has been kicked out of a Bible college for expressing views and beliefs shared by millions of Christians across the globe.

“It is saddening and very concerning to see the Methodist Church, and a once renowned Bible college, lose its way by no longer upholding marriage as God defines it, or supporting those who express it.

“The key to the revival that sprung up through Methodism was its passion for the truth that is contained in the Bible. I caught that passion from faithful Methodist Sunday school teachers as a young girl and it is devastating to see the movement reflecting society’s values rather than upholding true marriage.

“The Bible is clear that homosexual practice is sinful. Dr Edwards is right that if sin is no longer sin, we no longer need Jesus as our Saviour.

“God’s plan for sex is one man and one woman marriage. Every Christian should be ready to believe that God’s pattern for our lives is the best way for individuals and society to flourish. Every church denomination – including Methodists and the Church of England – should confidently proclaim this vision, rather than mirror the zeitgeist.

“This story sets a dark precedent for the Methodist Church going forward and also serves as a warning to the Church of England.

Story background

The story is a microcosm of the fall out in the Methodist Church in Britain following a June 2021 decision by its governing body to allow same-sex marriages in places of worship.

The Methodist Church globally has traditionally understood that marriage is the lifelong union of one man, one woman, to the exclusion of all others, and the only appropriate context for sexual intimacy.

Since the vote, however, Methodist Church leaders and members have found themselves in the impossible position of being compelled to affirm same-sex ‘marriage’ while also continuing to teach the biblical belief that homosexual practice is sinful.

Increasingly, under the banner of ‘tolerance’ and ‘kindness’, conservative evangelical Christians, especially in the Methodist Church and Church of England (CofE), are unable to hold or express biblical teaching, which does not affirm LGBT ideology, without fear of reprisals.

This has included being labelled ‘homophobic’, being reported as safeguarding risks, and even being referred to the government’s Counter-Terrorism watchdog, Prevent, for holding allegedly ‘extreme’ views.

The tweet

Cliff College, where Dr Edwards had worked for seven years, without any formal disciplinary issues or warnings, was founded in 1883 and describes itself as a global centre for evangelism and missiology.

On its website it says that it is: ‘grounded in the authority of Scripture… We proclaim the Gospel and invite everyone to experience the life-changing transformation of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The college also says it ‘delivers university level education from undergraduate degrees through to doctoral research. It also trains people for Christian ministry in the contemporary world and provides a community within which students are encouraged to develop as Christian disciples and leaders.

Before the incident that led to his sacking, Dr Edwards had long argued that free speech for conservative evangelicals would be threatened by the Methodist position on marriage.

Cliff College adopted this position whilst also maintaining its vision statement to uphold ‘a distinctly evangelical voice’ to Methodist churches both in Britain and across the world, where the conservative view on marriage is the majority.

In light of the recent Church of England concessions on blessings for same-sex unions and the subsequent response from global Anglican dioceses which eventually led to their breaking communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Edwards believed this to be a key moment for the evangelical voice to be heard.

The tweet was posted within this context and the ongoing debate within the Christian Evangelical community about sexual ethics; in particular, the intense debate, around the time of the Tweet, about the steps taken by the Church of England to authorise blessings of same-sex unions.

The reference to a “Gospel issue” was to a term current in the Evangelical community to identify issues which are determinative of Christian faith as opposed to issues on which Christians can legitimately agree to disagree.

The tweet sparked a debate that went viral. There were users who posted in support of Dr Edwards and his message, but also many who harassed and abused him.

Dr Edwards insists, and clarified in subsequent tweets, that the post was not ‘homophobic’ and that it was addressed to evangelicals who agree with his message, but feel they can’t say so for fear of backlash.

Furthermore, he added that the aggressive response to the tweet illustrated the problem it addressed.

He also tweeted: “That *is* the conservative view. The acceptance of homosexuality as “not sinful” *is* an invasion upon the Church, doctrinally. This is not controversial. The acceptance is controversial. Most of the global Church would agree. It is not homophobic to declare homosexuality sinful.

He added that: “I expressed the conservative view as a doctrinal issue, re. the implications for sin/the Gospel. It was not an attack on individuals, it was addressed to evangelicals. It seems that holding the view that homosexuality is sinful is only welcome if it remains ‘unexpressed’.”

College bosses, however, were soon made aware of the post and contacted Dr Edwards asking him to take the tweet down as they believed it ‘contravened the College’s Staff Social Media Policy.’

Dr Edwards refused, as he believed doing so would go against his conscience and be an admittance that he had intended to be deliberately provocative when the tweet was an expression of a deeply held belief which he believed was necessary to express.

In an email to the college he wrote:

“I do not believe the Tweet contravened the College’s social media policy. It was not defamatory; it was not an attack on any colleague or individual; it was not abusive; and it was not an extremist religious view. It was addressed to evangelicals as a point of doctrine and it has been misunderstood by many who wish to cause personal and institutional trouble for those who express that view. I cannot in good conscience take it down.

“Yesterday afternoon I added several responses and clarifications, including a clear separation between the expression of my view in the Tweet and the views of Cliff College; a reminder that Cliff College is a hospitable place to hold and discuss alternative views to mine; and a note of respect for the rights of others to disagree with my view.

“It was not my intention to cause trouble for the college and I apologise for causing the leadership unwanted problems here. My expressed view has not been received respectfully, tolerantly, or charitably. It has rather been met with harassment and personal defamation by many.

‘Tweet would impact college ‘business plan’

Cliff College bosses later revealed in a disciplinary hearing that they had an ‘initial feeling‘ that they should put out a statement to condemn and distance themselves from Dr Edwards’ tweet.

In the statement posted on Twitter, the same day, they wrote: “We have become aware that one of our lecturers posted some comments on this platform this morning regarding human sexuality. The language used is inappropriate and unacceptable and does not represent either the views or the ethos of Cliff College.

“Cliff College, with the Methodist Church in Britain, is committed to being a safe and hospitable place, where those with differing convictions are welcomed and challenged to live together as faithful disciples of Christ.

“We aim to do this with mutual respect and a generosity of spirit that springs from our biblical and evangelical conviction of God’s love for each and for all.

A wave of what appear to be coordinated correlating complaints to Cliff College followed from some of the most senior members of the Methodist church in Britain.

One senior member of staff at the Methodist Church in Britain, who holds significant influence over the missional direction of the Methodist Church, wrote that Dr Edwards’ tweet had ‘distressed’ colleagues. They added that it ‘could be extremely damaging‘ and ‘impact the college’s core work‘ and its ‘business plan.

They said that the tweet placed in doubt whether Cliff College is: ‘safe for both members of staff and of churches and circuits who participate in its programmes and activities.

Suspension and Prevent

Dr Edwards was subsequently suspended while an investigation was undertaken.

On 27 February, Dr Edwards was summoned to a meeting in which the investigation report was read to him, and where it was revealed that the college was considering referring him to Prevent, the government’s Counter-Terrorism watchdog.

On 8 March, a disciplinary hearing was held in which Dr Edwards was also interrogated, arguably seeking to accuse him of so-called ‘conversion therapy’, on what he would do if a same-sex attracted student asked him to pray for them about their sexuality.

Leading the disciplinary hearing was the Rev. Ashley Cooper, principal of Cliff College. Following the June 2021 vote to allow same-sex marriages in Methodist churches, which he voted for, Rev Cooper stated:

“We’re stronger for the gospel together if we can find a way of living with difference, because we disagree on all kinds of things.

At the time he said he believed it was right to work together with conservatives and liberals within the church to provide a new way forward and to live together despite the differences.

Following the disciplinary hearing, however, Dr Edwards was sacked and now believes he will no longer be able to work in UK higher education again.

In his appeal, Dr Edwards argued that the decision to dismiss him was disproportionate and failed to balance his freedom to express his Christian beliefs. He will say that the disciplinary procedure that has led to his dismissal has lacked ‘requisite fairness‘ and that the level of imbalance, exaggeration, and misrepresentation in the investigation was ‘astonishing‘ for what was meant to be an unprejudiced investigation.

During the disciplinary process, Dr Edwards highlighted comments from a recent LGBTQ+ student who gave feedback in relation to a module in January 2023 which said “Overall, a great lecturer. While I disagree profoundly with Aaron on a number of points, I was never made to feel that I couldn’t express a contrary opinion.”

Dr Edwards noted that not a single supportive comment was quoted in the 17-page investigation report.

Following the sacking, which was followed a week later by an eviction notice from their private rental property, Dr Edwards set up a Crowdfunder to help support his family. In it he set out plans to set up a new theological college which encourages “shamelessly Biblical” free speech for Christians.

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Hospital reporting restrictions lifted as Sudiksha’s family appeal ruling

Christian Concern - Thu, 23/11/2023 - 10:19

The reporting restrictions which prevented the naming of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham as the NHS outlet responsible for the care of 19-year-old, Sudiksha Thirumalesh, have been lifted.

The lifting of the ‘transparency’ order came as Sudiksha’s family–supported by the Christian Legal Centre–also won permission to appeal a High Court judgment which ruled that the courageous young woman was ‘delusional’ for wanting to ‘die trying to live.

Granting the family permission, Lady Justice King said: “There is a real prospect of an appeal succeeding and there are compelling reasons for these important issues to be considered by the Court of Appeal.

Sudiksha had been locked in a legal battle over her care with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust for over six months, and tragically died on September 12, 2023.

Suffering from a rare genetic mitochondrial disease, she was still fully conscious and able to communicate with her own lawyers, explaining that she wanted to pursue the opportunity of specialist treatment in Canada. The treatment was her only chance of survival.

Sudiksha’s disease caused chronic muscle weakness, loss of hearing, and damage to her kidneys, making her dependent on regular dialysis and other intensive care. It did not, however, affect the functioning of her brain.

Her tragic case was reminiscent of Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans, Archie Battersbee, and now, Indi Gregory, in that an NHS Hospital had asked the Court of Protection to authorise removal of life-saving medical treatment from Sudiksha, effectively condemning her to death.

‘Actively dying’

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham argued that while Sudiksha’s prognosis was uncertain and she could have survived for some months, her condition was deteriorating, and she was therefore actively dying.”

The NHS Trust had asked the Court to approve a “palliative care plan” for Sudiksha which would mean she no longer would be given dialysis and would die from kidney failure within a few days.

However, two psychiatric experts examined Sudiksha and told the Court that she was not suffering from any mental health illness and had the mental capacity to make decisions about her own medical treatment.

Sudiksha told psychiatrists she disagreed with the doctors and wanted them to continue to sustain her life.

She wanted to be given a chance to participate in clinical trials of nucleoside therapy, which are due to resume in Canada later this year and would have given her a chance of survival.

While she realised that the experimental treatment might still fail to save her, she said that she “wanted to die trying to live.

However, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham doctors argued that Sudiksha’s refusal to trust the judgment of her doctors and to accept her imminent death as inevitable amounted to a “delusion.

In a judgment released on the 25 August, Mrs Justice Roberts ruled that the decisions about Sudiksha’s life and death should be taken by the Court of Protection based on an assessment of her best interests, and that Sudiksha lacked capacity to have a say in the matter via her own lawyers.

The judge rejected the opinion of both psychiatric experts, and concluded that Sudiksha was mentally incapable of making decisions for herself because she did not believe what Hospital doctors said about her condition.

Justice Roberts concluded: “In my judgment … Sudiksha is unable to make a decision for herself in relation to her future medical treatment, including the proposed move to palliative care, because she does not believe the information she has been given by her doctors.”  [para 93]

Sudiksha grew up in a tightly knit Christian family who spent all their savings to pay lawyers to resist the legal proceedings brought by the NHS to end her life.

Despite her illness, she attended a regular school, achieved good GCSE results and was studying for her A levels when her health deteriorated after catching Covid in August 2022. She was taken to an Intensive Care Unit and remained there until her death.

In November 2022, Sudiksha issued Lasting Powers of Attorney to authorise her parents to make decisions on her behalf in the future if she was to lose mental capacity to do so.

In February 2023, the Hospital asked the Court of Protection to set aside the document on the grounds that she did not have mental capacity to sign it.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham then made a further application to approve a palliative care plan, said to be in Sudiksha’s ‘best interests’, which would lead to her death within a few days.

Like the family of Charlie Gard, Sudiksha’s only hope of cure was the experimental treatment known as nucleotide therapy, which is only available abroad. Her family wanted to appeal to the public to raise funds to enable her to participate in a clinical trial in Canada, scheduled to start in late 2023.

Transparency order

However, in March 2023, the Court made a “Transparency Order” which, opposite to its title, imposed draconian restrictions on reporting any information which might lead to identification of Sudiksha, members of her family, or the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

This prevented Sudiksha and her parents from giving any direct media interviews or making any appeal for funds. The Transparency Order was made at the request of the NHS Trust without any justification.

Days before her tragic death on 12 September, Sudiksha was able to tell her anonymised story to the media.

Despite her death, the family were still unable to name their daughter as anything other than ‘ST’. They even feared telling family members that she had died due to the threat of criminalisation that the Court Order still posed.

On 22 September, Mr Justice Robert Peel, at a hearing at the High Court, however, lifted the restrictions on her being named and at another hearing allowed the naming of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

It was revealed that week that a BBC investigation had found that the same Trust has a ‘toxic’ and ‘mafia-like‘ working environment and is the lowest performing in the country.

Mr Justice Peel, however, stopped short of lifting the restrictions on the naming of the Hospital and the clinicians involved in Sudiksha’s care, granting an 8-week ‘cooling off period.’

On November 17th the final restrictions were lifted, allowing Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham to be named, along with treating clinicians.

The family will now also have the opportunity to appeal Mrs Justice Roberts’ ruling at the Court of Appeal, with a date yet to be confirmed.

Unfairly gagged

Sudiksha’s father, Thirumalesh Chellamal Hemachandran, said: “We are relieved to have the opportunity to appeal Mrs Justice Robert’s ruling. The ruling and restrictions left us and Sudiksha powerless and trapped. It was clear overreach from the NHS and courts, and we are determined to do everything we can for it to be overturned.

“Sudiksha had capacity until the end, and it was cruel for her to be told she was ‘deluded’ for wanting a chance to live. She was in a race against time to escape ‘the system’ and the certain death it wished to impose on her. The system succeeded, but we were determined for it to not be the end in fighting for justice for her.

“This system urgently needs to change, and we pray no one else will ever have to go through what Sudiksha and we as a family have been made to suffer this last year.

“We are relieved that the transparency order has been fully lifted and that we can tell the full story of what happened to us and Sudiksha.

“If it was not for those restrictions, our daughter might well still be alive. We were very disappointed that the Court decided to continue to gag us for another eight weeks to keep the identity of the Hospital and the clinician’s secret.

“We could not name the people who, in our darkest hour, made an already unbearable situation worse for Sudiksha and the whole family. When we needed help the most, these clinicians took us to court and secured a gagging order against us. A society and health service that is compassionate and truly accountable does not behave like this.

“We want some good to come out of what has happened to us. Yes, we want justice, but we also want there to be real and lasting reform to the system so that clinicians, backed by the courts, are not able to silence families and hide from the decisions that end the lives of the most vulnerable.

“Sudiksha said she wanted ‘to die trying to live’. This is what she did. We are so proud of her.

Justice done in the light

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Justice is done in the light. Open justice ensures the best outcomes for all. 

“The public is rightly concerned to know the truth about Sudiksha’s disturbing case and death. Now these restrictions have been lifted the case can be brought fully into the light.  

“The attempt to justify those restrictions by fears of harassment or violence against the clinicians does not hold water. There is no evidence of such a risk in cases of this kind – certainly not in this case.

“The frequent use of court orders in end-of-life cases, which threaten families in the middle of tragedy with being criminalised if they break them, are being weaponised to silence criticism and accountability of hospitals and the NHS.

“We are pleased that the family now have the opportunity to appeal the ruling from Mrs Justice Roberts.  The ruling rejected expert evidence backing that Sudiksha did have capacity to make her own decisions and ruled that she was ‘delusional’ for wanting to take the only chance she had to live.

“We will continue to stand with Sudiksha’s family as they pursue full justice for their daughter.

The post Hospital reporting restrictions lifted as Sudiksha’s family appeal ruling appeared first on Christian Concern.

The Demographic Trilemma and Baby Bust

Christian Concern - Wed, 22/11/2023 - 17:34
Independent public health consultant Kevin Duffy writes on the impact of declining fertility rates, and the need to support young families to choose life

Britain is facing a “baby bust”, we are not having enough children and unless we fix this our country will need significantly higher immigration or suffer economic ruin. This is the stark message being delivered by Miriam Cates MP and her colleagues at the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship – and they are not wrong.

In summary, we need to reverse the decline in our fertility rates and reset our average completed family size back to more than 2.1 from the current 1.9. We need to address the real and perceived barriers that increasingly prevent younger women from starting their families or having their second child. We need our government to enact new, pro-natal policies that will help to overcome the financial difficulties preventing many from becoming new parents. Unless we start having more children, the balance in numbers between those in work and those dependent on them will become unsustainable unless we resort to mass immigration.

When addressing the “baby bust” or a “more children” scenario, we must start talking about the very real impact that elective abortion is having on these numbers. Pro-natal policies need to support and encourage women to choose motherhood rather than further increasing the ease by which they can access an abortion. This might be achieved through changing who pays and mandating better counselling for women considering such a decision, many of whom often feel that there is no other choice.

We should stand with Miriam Cates, calling on our MPs and lobbying government to start addressing this issue, to prioritise and ensure improved financial support for our young families and those yet to become parents.

But let us not wait for the government to act, we need our churches to step up now and to ensure that young families are not just welcome but proactively encouraged and supported. Surely, we should be the ones taking a lead in driving and delivering this “more children” future.

For those who are interested in the details, you can read more below.

Quantifying the Demographic Trilemma – ARC

The Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC) was founded in June 2023 by Canadian psychologist and author Jordan Peterson and British Conservative Peer Baroness Stroud. A key initiative is ARC Research which “exists to advance education, promote research, and develop ideas about the keys to human flourishing and prosperity.” At the beginning of November 2023, ARC published a set of research papers including “Migration, Stagnation, or Procreation: Quantifying the Demographic Trilemma” written by Paul Morland and Philip Pilkington.

The problem being presented by demographer Morland and economist Pilkington is the shifting balance between the numbers of people in work and the increasing numbers of those above the State Pension Age. If we can for a moment excuse the rather derogatory terms ‘old age’ or ‘elderly’, especially given that this is anyone aged just 66 and above, this perceived problem is measured by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as the Old Age Dependency Ratio (OADR). Demographers and economists worry that an increasing OADR will in turn lead to economic stagnation, as employers find it more difficult to recruit, productivity and innovation slump, and the tax burden becomes unbearable as increasing demands are made by an older population on public services and support. This problem is exacerbated by our falling fertility rates, the number of children born to each woman, that, so far, we have held in balance through increasing immigration.

Morland and Pilkington frame this as a trilemma, in which they suggest that we can only choose two out of three desired outcomes, but we cannot have all three; they list these desired outcomes as low fertility, growth in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and an absence of rapid immigration. The various combinations of these pairs of desired outcomes are presented as three competing scenarios, “economic stagnation”, “mass migration” and “more children”.

Japan is presented as the archetype of the “economic stagnation” scenario. For decades now it has had low fertility whilst at the same time choosing to restrict immigration, the result being an ageing society and a total population that has been in decline for at least the last ten years. Eschewing immigration has ensured that its population is still more than 98% ethnic Japanese. However, its OADR has been rising steeply and is now above 500 people of pensionable age and over, for every 1,000 people aged sixteen to pension age, more than doubling in just the last twenty years. By all measures, Japan’s economy has been in decline for decades and the government has been spending much more than it receives in taxes, resulting in it having the highest debt-to-GDP of any developed country, more than 250%. Senior politicians and commentators speak of impending social collapse, and there will be, unless Japan’s government can find some way to turn this around, quickly.

In outlining their “mass migration” scenario, Morland and Pilkington point to the UK and show that in the early 1970s our OADR was 250 and now, notwithstanding our low fertility, it is just over 300 (using OECD data); some might have concerns about the potential negative economic impact of this level, but it is far below that of Japan. They suggest that this increase would have been significantly more if our working population had not been added to by legal immigration. They use the ONS’s Immigration Ratio (the percentage of the population made up of first-generation immigrants) to show the changing proportion of our population who were not born in the UK; in 1981 this was 6%, in 2001 just over 8% and in 2021 more than 14%, so an increasing trend.

The authors chose Israel as the country to illustrate their “more children” scenario. Israel has a total fertility rate (TFR), the average number of children born to each woman, of just under three, almost double that of the UK. Using World Bank data, they show that Israel has no need to encourage immigration, it has sufficient young people of its own, and since 1997 its economy has thrived compared with that of the UK or Japan; in the last five years its annual GDP growth has been more than 4% compared to less than 1% here and a below zero, slightly negative, growth in Japan.

Morland and Pilkington undertook this study and their modelling of the trilemma to provide data and talking points for the UK’s policymakers. In the second half of their report, they model each of these three scenarios specifically for the UK, using OADR, the Immigration Ratio and TFR as the key variables.

In their “economic stagnation” model, they assumed that the UK will be able to severely restrict immigration, such that the Immigration Ratio continues to rise from the current 14%, peaks at 16% by 2040 and then falls sharply to about 4% in 2083, sixty years from now. They consider that our already low TFR will continue to fall, much as it has in South Korea, from the current 1.6 to just under 1.0 by 2083. The result is an OADR of more than 525 by 2083, like that in Japan today and no doubt causing the UK similar economic woes.

Their “mass migration” model assumes that the UK can maintain TFR at about the current 1.5 and that an OADR of 350 to 400 is acceptable, even though this is up by about one-third from an ONS stated 280 in 2020. This would result in the Immigration Ratio increasing steeply from the current 14% to at least 37% in 2083. The authors note that they consider these assumptions to be too optimistic, suggesting that TFR is most likely to continue falling due to the increasingly lower birth rates of Generation Z. When they modelled using a TFR of 0.8, equivalent to that in South Korea, they found an Immigration Ratio of 54% by 2083. Based on these more radical assumptions, the authors made a statement that was always destined to be picked out as headline material, setting them up as easy targets for those who want to brand them, and ARC, as racist or at the very least scaremongering.

“In order to keep the economy on a sustainable path, and to reconcile economic growth with low fertility rates, the United Kingdom relies on a high level of immigration. Those who identify as “white British” [sic] are predicted to become a minority group in the United Kingdom around 2070”.

They argue that these much higher rates of immigration would in turn lead to a society stratified by new levels of income inequality and beset with cultural tensions and instability. Thus, painting their “mass migration” scenario as not particularly desirable.

The third model, “more children”, paints a scenario in which the UK reduces its Immigration Ratio from the current 14% to 8% in 2083, whilst also keeping the OADR below 400 during the coming years and reducing this back to below current rates reaching less than 250 by 2083. The essential detail in this model is the authors’ assumption that the UK can raise its TFR immediately to the replacement rate of 2.1 and that this will continue to increase year-on-year to just over 3 by 2083.

The authors conclude that the only path to a thriving society is to have more children, especially when compared with either the cultural breakdown caused by mass immigration or a failing economy due to uncontrolled OADR. They suggest that if we cannot get our fertility rates up, then we and many other countries are headed for troubled waters. With a nod towards the huge challenge that this might present us in contemporary society, they call for government to quickly enact pro-natalist policies and for individuals to step up and assume their responsibility to have more children.

“Baby bust” poll – Miriam Cates

On 06 November, Miriam Cates, Conservative MP for Penistone & Stocksbridge, wrote in The Telegraph about what she called a “baby bust” and highlighted the key issues addressed by Morland and Pilkington in their Trilemma paper. In one of her related tweets, Cates said:

“After a post-war baby boom, Britain now faces a baby bust. Unless we reverse fertility rate decline the economic consequences will be stark. The good news is that the shortage of babies is not due to lack of demand.

Polling shows that 92 per cent of young women want children and that the average number of children desired is 2.4. In other words, if women were able to have the number of children they actually wanted, we wouldn’t have a problem.”

Cates is referring to the findings from a poll conducted by Whitestone Insight on 21-25 September 2023; the poll was commissioned by the New Social Covenant Unit (NSCU) (also referenced to the New Conservatives) to find out more about the barriers preventing women from having the number of children that they would otherwise want. The poll was of 1,502 women aged 18-35 living in the UK, and the responses were weighted to be representative of all UK women aged 18-35. (Miriam Cates and Danny Kruger MP established the NSCU as an initiative focused on promoting public policies that strengthen families and communities.)

In the polling, when women were asked for reasons why they were delaying starting a family, or having fewer children, many of the top reasons given related to the economics of having children; the impact on household finances, wanting to move into a first or larger home, needing to feel financially secure before becoming a mother and worries about losing out on future career progression and salary increases if taking a career break or needing to reduce working hours to fit better with available childcare arrangements. Respondents also expressed worries about their ability to be good mothers and finding a partner who will be supportive when starting a family.

Cates and her colleagues at the NSCU and ARC, want government, the media and policy makers to recognise that the declining fertility rate is a severe problem that needs to be addressed quickly. They lean into the polling results that tell us most women want to have more children but feel unable to do so, on average they want to have 2.4 children, but circumstances overcome that desire, resulting in an overall average fertility rate at just 1.5 currently. When discussing these fertility rates, they express concerns about the possible continued decline as Generation Z starts to replace women of childbearing age from the earlier generations.

Miriam Cates wants new pro-natal policies enacted by government to remove the above mentioned economic and career barriers, whilst also calling for those in public life to start talking-up the positive aspects of motherhood and family.

Analysis of modelling assumptions

We should welcome any public debate about the potential impact of falling birth rates on our economy, culture and society. There is no doubt that this is a significant issue that must be addressed, and quickly. Saying that women need to have more children and that the country needs to control immigration, are not easy matters to raise on a public platform, and those that do, often face accusations of privileged moralising or racism.

The trilemma framework offered by Morland and Pilkington is insightful and will be helpful in shaping and informing further discussion. It is not necessary though to present the three scenarios as competing, with only one being the preferred, the future will probably be a blended version of these. The authors, perhaps deliberately, have chosen to model with assumptions at the extremes, which is bound to provoke debate. We should bear in mind how difficult it is to make future projections for these key indicators and how the underlying assumptions often change.

As an example, the ONS is changing how it measures the OADR to take a fuller account of the changing working pattern of people after they reach the state pension age. A considerable proportion are now choosing to continue working, earning income and paying tax, long after the current age 66. Previous projections modelled by the ONS were assuming that the SPA would rise to 68 in 2035 but the government is now saying that this will not change before 2044. Our immigration systems changed in 2021 to replace the prior free movement when we were members of the EU. The ONS and expert demographers are considering how to improve the accuracy of how we count annual immigration and how this is projected into the future; methods of counting are likely to move away from the International Passenger Survey to one that draws not just on entries and exits at the border but also e.g., changes in tax and benefits records.

When modelling their “more children” scenario, Morland and Pilkington used an assumed TFR of 2.1 for 2023, rising slowly over the next sixty years to just over 3.0. They made no more than a polite nod towards acknowledging how challenging this might be. In the past eighty years, our TFR has never reached 3, it peaked at 2.85 in 1965, and is currently at a new low of just 1.55; there has been a steady downwards trend over these past eighty years.

TFR is a snapshot in time, measuring the average fertility across all women aged 15-45 in any particular year, and it can be helpful when considering trends; an alternative measure is the completed family size (CFS), indicating the total number of children that a woman has had in her reproductive lifetime. The ONS provides data for CFS by age cohorts, as shown in this graph.

The most recent cohort is that for women born in 1975 and their completed family size is measured after they reach age 45, in the year 2020. The graph shows an average CFS of 1.92 for this cohort and displays the proportion of women having a particular number of children, e.g., 37% of this cohort have a family of two children and 18% of the women remain childless after age 45. This graph shows a peak in CFS of 2.42 for women born in 1935 and who completed their childbearing by 1980. Comparing these two cohorts we can see that proportionally more women are now likely to remain childless and there are fewer families with 4 or more children.

The polling commissioned by Cates et al., found that younger women, aged 18-35, want on average 2.4 children, reflecting the birth rates and completed family size of earlier generations. This desired CFS stands in stark contrast to the continuing decline in childbearing of women currently in this age group, the younger Millennials and the upcoming Generation Z.

Over the last fifty years, the average completed family size of ~2 children has not really changed for those reaching age 45. However, there are clear downward trends in the number of children women have by the time they reach age 35 and younger; the graph shows a downwards tick in the last couple of years for women aged 30 and a definite downwards trend over the last five years for those aged 25. This shows that women are still having the same number of children, ~2, but they are increasingly more inclined to delay the start of childbearing until age 30+. The issue of concern, as raised by Cates et al., is whether this younger generation will prioritise childbearing in their thirties to catch up and still reach the prior average CFS of 2.1, never mind their stated desired 2.4.

Notwithstanding any instinctive enthusiasm we might have for preferring the “more children” scenario, we must at least agree that the authors have been extremely optimistic when using a starting TFR of 2.1 and assuming that this will continue to rise year-on-year to more than 3.0.

Pro-natal policies

The polling commissioned by Cates and her Conservative colleagues provides some clear indicators of the targets for any new pro-natal policies. These must aim at reducing the financial burden on young families, making it easier for young couples to establish the family home, reducing the cost of childcare (whether paying for nursery placements or loss of earnings when a parent chooses to stay at home) and ensuring adequate protection of employment rights for much longer than the current statutory maternity leave. We should stand with Miriam Cates in lobbying our MPs to support and promote such policies.

It is noteworthy that the ‘A’ word cannot be found in either the Trilemma paper, the polling results, or in any of the pieces written by Cates about these; that seems shortsighted, especially when the core topic is the issue of falling birth rates. We must address the impact of abortion, otherwise the preferred “more children” scenario will remain out of reach.

The completed family size for the most recent cohort, as noted above, is 1.92. It is often reported and widely accepted that one-in-three women will have had at least one abortion in their lifetime. Those abortions have in effect reduced the CFS from at least 2.25 to the current 1.92. Had CFS been 2.25, as Cates notes elsewhere, we would not be facing this crisis and women overall would feel more fulfilled in their desired family size.

Whilst fully supportive of the above listed pro-natal policies, I think we should add the following to the overall mix:

  • Remove the NHS funding for all abortions that are for reasons of choice and not medically indicated, those currently certified under Ground C. These could still be available on request in the private sector but paid for directly by the woman herself.
  • Mandate in-person counselling for all women electing for an abortion and ensure that the reasons why each woman is considering an abortion are fully explored and that she is made aware of alternative options and any available family support (financial and practical).

Our churches need to step up, we should not wait for the government; we need to be much more encouraging and supportive of young families, now. This would satisfy what Cates is calling for when she encourages those in public life to start talking-up the positive aspects of motherhood and family. Our church families should not be struggling with childcare, and none should feel that their only choice is abortion when worried about not being able to afford their new baby.

It is time to start talking about “more children” and playing our part in making this a near-future reality.


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Preacher arrested for protesting Islam wins chance to appeal

Christian Concern - Mon, 20/11/2023 - 15:27

On 20 November, a Christian preacher won permission to appeal a ruling which upheld his arrest outside Southwark Cathedral, London, after his displaying of placards which protested against Islam in the wake of terrorist attacks.

Following one complaint from a member of the public, Ian Sleeper, 57, was surrounded by four officers and arrested on 23 June 2017 for displaying placards which read “Love Muslims, Hate Islam, Jesus is love and hope.

Another placard read: “Love Muslims, Ban Islam, the religion of terror.

Mr Sleeper maintains, and explained clearly to officers at the time, that he was “not attacking people; I’m attacking an idea.

Weeks earlier, on 3 June 2017, on London Bridge and at Borough Market, which is adjacent to where Mr Sleeper was protesting, Islamic terrorist attacks had taken place, killing eight people and injuring 48.

For holding the signs, Mr Sleeper was arrested under Section five of the Public Order Act for causing harassment, alarm and distress; and allegedly causing “religious and racial aggravation.” The arrest was captured on police body cam footage.

He was held by the police for 13 hours in a cell, released on bail and then banned from entering the London Borough of Southwark for over six months. Charges against him were subsequently dropped.

Launching legal action against the police, Mr Sleeper claimed for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, assault and that his rights were infringed under articles 9, 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

However, at a court hearing in February, a judge upheld the actions of the police. Yet on 20 November 2023, Mr Sleeper was given permission to appeal this ruling by Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson.

His lawyer, Iain Daniels, had argued previously in court that: “The displaying of the placards was not and could never be threatening or abusive, nor was it likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress,” and that it was “apparent from the text of the placard that the Claimant was not motivated by a hostility to Muslims.

The appeal comes after weeks of antisemitic and pro-Hamas protests in London, where monuments have been desecrated, people wearing poppies have been intimidated, and multiple calls for Jihad and violence have been made, without interference from the police.

Protestors have held signs calling for the genocide of Jews in Israel, but the police have repeatedly taken no action.

On Remembrance Day, 11 November 2023, there were reportedly 300,000 protestors marching against Israel and in support of Hamas on the streets of London.

Mr Sleeper’s case brings into question whether some religions and philosophical beliefs are more equal than others in the eyes of the Metropolitan police.

Police body cam footage

On 23 June 2017, in police body cam footage, Mr Sleeper can be seen standing harmless, quiet and alone holding the sign. He is confronted by officers and he said: “I’m not attacking people; I’m attacking an idea.

Officers, however, told him that they were going to “take this off you and I’m going to rip it up because you are not allowed to show this.

An officer questioned him about the sign he is holding, and Mr Sleeper responded by saying:

The message is ‘love Muslims’, recognising that Muslims are just a people. ‘Ban Islam’, the ideology that the Muslims are following. It’s not against Muslims the people, it’s against the ideology they are following. And we recognise it as a religion of terror.

The police officer said: “The issue we have got with this is that Islam is not a religion of terror, the terrorists make it a religion of terror … you can’t display this … it’s committing an offence … under a criminal law, you cannot display this.

Mr Sleeper, who was calm and polite throughout the exchange, disagreed with the officer and said that under human rights law he could display the sign.

The officer continued: “I’ll tell you the reason why we are here. Someone has come to us and they have complained. And when that happens it becomes a police criminal matter. Because what they have said you have put on [the sign] is not right … it breaks the law.

Mr Sleeper insisted that the Human Rights Act allowed him to be there.

The officer then aggressively said: “I am going to take this off you and I’m going to rip it up because you are not allowed to show this … it has the word hate on it as well.

Mr Sleeper said that under Article 11 of European law, his right to assemble and display the sign was protected.

Mr Sleeper then rang his lawyer and the officer then rang his sergeant to clarify his position.

The Officer then read section four of the public order act and said that because one person had complained, Mr Sleeper had caused “harassment, alarm and distress.” He added that “you are allowed to write a sign, but you are not allowed to write what you have written on it.

The officer said that on this occasion, Mr Sleeper would not be arrested for causing “religious and racial aggravation.

Mr Sleeper said: “I’m not going to take your advice; I’m going to take my lawyer’s advice.

You are going to have to take that advice from the prison cell then. We will have no option but to take you into custody.

While Mr Sleeper was on the phone to his lawyer, the officer said: “Is he aware that a member of the public has come up to us and therefore a crime has been committed?

When Mr Sleeper had finished the phone call, the officer said: “We are going to take these signs off you and we are going to destroy them. And if you come back then we are going to arrest you.

Mr Sleeper then picked up the sign, and showing it to the officer, said: “Is there anything you do like?

“Love Muslims,” the officer replied, “Love Muslims, ban terrorists, that’s ok … but when you start saying ‘hate Islam’ that’s when the problems start you see.

Another officer then said: “You said that people have gone to court and got off with it. Just because people have gone to court and got away with things, doesn’t mean that it is law … it doesn’t mean it isn’t an offence … someone could go to court after shop lifting and get way with it.

Another officer then persuaded the lead officer that he needed to arrest Mr Sleeper. The officer again rang his sergeant to check his position and then said to Mr Sleeper: “I don’t have the power to take these [the signs] … but based on your belief on the law about them not being harmful … I can’t guarantee that you won’t show them anywhere else, so the only way we can deal with this is that we are going to have to arrest you … the necessity for the arrest is to stop you from re-offending.

Mr Sleeper was then arrested and put inside a police van.

Inconsistent policing

Mr Sleeper said: In light of recent events in London, what happened to me following the terrorist attacks in 2017 is still hugely relevant and was a clear indication of what was to come.

When I went to Southwark, I was appalled by the violence that had been seen on London’s streets weeks earlier and it was clear that Islamic ideology motivated the violence. I was peacefully and calmly protesting the ideas behind the attacks and pointing to Jesus as the only hope in the middle of the tragedy and fear.

How I was treated was completely wrong. The police have never apologised and continue to believe that what they did was right. Recent events in London following the conflict in the Middle East has exposed that anyone protesting Israel and calling for violence would not be treated as I was by the police.

There is no consistency in policing over these matters and what has happened to me and on our streets in the past month should be of grave concern to many.

I will continue to pursue justice on this matter for as long as it takes and am pleased to have the opportunity to appeal the previous ruling.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

The police body cam footage reveals the clear inconsistency of how Islam and other beliefs are policed in London and throughout the UK.

What happened to Mr Sleeper in 2017 has been prophetic for what we now see on London’s streets during pro-Hamas protests. The police are upholding the right for Islamic protestors to call for genocide without interference, and anyone who counter-protests and disagrees faces the full force of the law.

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Indi Gregory’s tragic death calls for an urgent review into end of life rulings

Christian Concern - Fri, 17/11/2023 - 16:01
In this article that was published by Christian Today, Andrea Williams calls for an urgent and comprehensive reform of the system that prevented Indi Gregory from seeking life-saving treatment.

The series of judicial decisions which have led to the tragic death of little Indi Gregory this Monday night have a number of deeply disturbing features.

Mr Justice Peel has described the medical evidence as “unanimous and clear” in saying that Indi’s condition was hopeless. However, that unanimity and clarity was achieved artificially by excluding any dissenting expert evidence. Indi’s father was refused permission to instruct his own medical experts. He and his lawyers nevertheless obtained opinions of several eminent experts, including those with experience and expertise in Indi’s extremely rare mitochondrial disease which Queens Medical Centre lacked, and who disagreed with the hopeless prognosis given in Nottingham.

Having examined all medical records, a cardiologist expert said that Indi’s clinical problems were caused by her treatable heart condition, and could be fixed by a non-invasive, pain-free procedure, a right ventricular outflow tract stent, which would enable her to live without life support. A neurologist – the only neurologist who considered the case – agreed that “the existing damage to Indi’s brain is not such as to deprive her of a reasonable quality of life”.

All that evidence was summarily brushed aside. The Courts even refused to admit it, on the grounds that it already had the evidence of the treating consultant, who had widely consulted with those he thought appropriate, so the opinions of any external experts were “unnecessary”.

This view of fair trial (strongly endorsed by the Court of Appeal while refusing permission to appeal) reduces the role of the Court to a mere formality of rubber-stamping the decision of the treating doctor.

Secondly, the Courts have once again usurped the parental right to choose the doctors for their sick child. Nobody was trying to force the doctors in Nottingham to act contrary to their judgment. However, a different – and more expert – paediatric hospital, Bambino Gesu in Rome, proposed an alternative treatment plan, fully funded by the Italian government, which gave Indi a chance to survive and to improve.

The Courts decisively refused that, in favour of withdrawing treatment and an inevitable death in Nottingham. The question raised in the case of Charlie Gard six years ago, and a number of families since, remains unanswered: what right does the British state have to interfere in the parental choice of a hospital for their child at all, let alone to do so with the inevitable consequences of enforcing death?

Thirdly – again, not for the first time – the Court of Appeal has chosen to disregard this country’s international law obligations. In Archie Battersbee’s case, the Court decided to ignore the interim relief granted by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to proceed to withdraw life sustaining treatment without waiting for the UN to consider the case, as required by the UN Convention.

This time, the same Court, two of the three judges being the same (Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan), volunteered a derisive attack on the Italian judicial decision to transfer Indi to Rome, and the request made by the Italian authority under the 1996 Hague Convention, which forms part of UK law as well as international law.

Indi had been granted Italian citizenship in addition to her British citizenship; an Italian hospital offered her treatment while a British hospital offered her a pathway to death; British and Italian judges had reached opposite conclusions about her best interests.

One would think it entirely right and proper to resort to a Convention specifically designed to resolve situations of this kind by cooperation. Yet the Court of Appeal (who did not even have jurisdiction to consider that request) attacked it as “wholly misconceived” and “clearly contrary to the spirit of this important international convention”. Is this really upholding the rule of law?

Fourthly, the final judgment of the Court of Appeal included what can only be described as an intemperate attack on Indi’s father and his lawyers for attempting to challenge the original decision on Indi’s best interests in a series of appeals and applications, and the delay in removal of life support resulting from “the parents exercising their legal rights to the very fullest extent, at least”.

Then there was a thinly veiled threat expressly directed at the lawyers: “The highest professional standards are rightly expected of lawyers practising in this extremely sensitive area. The court will not tolerate manipulative litigation tactics designed to frustrate orders that have been made after anxious consideration in the interests of children, interests that are always central to these grave decisions.”

Serious allegations of professional impropriety are insinuated here in a very nebulous form; but criticism of this kind by three Court of Appeal judges may amount in itself to serious professional trouble for the parents’ lawyers involved. What can be wrong with exercising one’s legal rights to the very fullest extent?

Most parents defending their child’s life would naturally want to do that. Their lawyers’ job is to help them to do that. Yet the Court of Appeal is suggesting that, in a case of this kind, high professional standards require parents’ lawyers not to persevere but to give up the struggle at an early stage; and makes a threat of severe censure for doing anything different.

The ‘high professional standards’ of the legal profession in fact require lawyers to represent their clients’ interests “fearlessly”. With these words the Court of Appeal appears to be pressing for the opposite. The ‘legal speak’ of the judges is carefully chosen and the judges know the impact their words will have on the lawyers in the room.

Finally, perhaps the common denominator of all these problems is the extreme haste with which the courts press to conclude every stage of the process. Initially, the NHS Trust tried to persuade the Court to make an urgent decision within just a couple of days after the application was first served on the parents.

There followed a series of short adjournments to avoid manifest unfairness of leaving the family without lawyers, and after the decision was made, short ‘stays of execution’ to enable appeals. Yet, the system appears to begrudge the family every extra day of Indi’s life. That is something that does not go well with justice.

The system of ‘end of life’ decision-making in this country has gone terribly amiss, resulting in trauma and injustice to families in one case after another. An urgent and comprehensive reform of that system should now be a priority for the Parliament.

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Synod round up: Church of England to proceed with same-sex blessings

Christian Concern - Fri, 17/11/2023 - 14:55

This week, the Church of England’s General Synod met in London, deciding to move ahead with plans to introduce blessings for same-sex couples on a “trial basis.”

We’ve selected key moments from members of Synod who unveiled the discrepancies between these blasphemous “blessings” and the time-honoured doctrine of marriage, the bishops’ legal obligations, and most importantly, what the Word of the Lord says. 

“These blessings are curses”

Christian Concern’s Benjamin John delivered a truthful, convicting speech on God’s glorious pattern for marriage, and the Church of England’s rebellious undermining of the authoritative word of God. He also appealed to the testimonies of X-Out-Loud members who were in attendance at Synod, and the transforming work of God in their lives.

Bishops must provide legal advice on same-sex blessings

Christian Legal Centre’s Rebecca Bensted raised vital points about the lack of basic transparency and legal process in proposing to commend prayers for same-sex couples. Legal advice on the legality of proposed blessings was not shared with the houses of clergy and laity.

“We know it’s not really about same-sex marriage. It’s instead about the authority of scripture”

“It is no easy thing to stand against the tide of Western culture, with the pressures of social media and political correctness waging against the ancient, abiding text of God’s Word.”

Rather than “loving, well-intentioned sophistry” to have “unity at all costs” and “live in our differences,” Rev. William Pearson Gee turned our eyes to John 17 where Jesus prayed that the church down the centuries would believe the “same truths, obey the same teaching, and look forward in the same hope as the apostolic church.”

“We disagree about what is sinful; that is the pain we are caught in” 

Although the motion suggests that CofE doctrine on marriage and sex is not changing, Charlie Skrine stated it “proposes a pastoral step that is simply at odds with it.”

“To say that a practice is sinful is not opposed to a Saviour who came to save us from sin, is all of our discovery that we are sinful – and that it is pastoral to be told how, and to be called to change.” 

“The LLF proposals threaten unity of the Anglican church around the world” 

Neil Barber rightfully pointed out that “the watching world sees that the Church of England is dumping its doctrine, even though we assert that legally, we are not. But they know that we are not doing nothing. They see that we are changing doctrine.” 

“Jesus our Great Shepherd never separated his pastoral care and love for people from his teaching” 

Ian Paul observed that this proposal brings to light the need to integrate pastoral advice with legal and theological thinking. If we love God, we will keep his commandments.

“What the world actually wants to see from us is things like transparency, honesty, integrity. They don’t admire an organisation that makes powerful decisions amongst the powerful behind closed doors.”

“Good governance is being sacrificed in bypassing Synod for the sake of forcing through a seemingly predetermined outcome”

As a minister to children and young people, Anna De Castro from Sheffield expressed a desire for “consistency between the Church’s confessed and lived doctrines.” 

Anna wondered why doctrine had not been debated under Canon B2 if bishops are “saying that God’s Word is not clear on these matters, and that the Church Catholic has been remarkably united in its misunderstanding in what scripture says for all these years.” 

“The proposition does not make sense. It is not intelligible in a form where all of us can be confident as to what it actually says and means”

Daniel Matovu raised concerns that there was no timescale indicated for the motion passed by Synod in February 2023, except for “monitoring and reporting back in five years.” His gracious request for clarification by the chair was spurned. 

Synod votes in favour of amended notion

The three houses of Synod voted on blessing same-sex couples, in the following way:

Bishops: For – 23; Against – 10 against; Abstentions – 4

Clergy: For – 100; Against – 93 against; Abstentions – 1

Laity: For – 104; Against – 100; Abstentions – 0

God’s teaching on marriage and the place of sexual intimacy is absolutely clear. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul warned the Church of those who claim to be God’s own but reject him: 

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  

“They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 

“But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 

Please pray for leaders in the Church of England to exercise wisdom and keep the faith, as they now respond in their own churches. Pray for the liberals who have departed from sound doctrine, who walk the broad path to acceptance from culture and damnation from God. 

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
Matthew 5:13

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Ben John on CofE same-sex prayers: ‘These blessings are curses’

Christian Concern - Thu, 16/11/2023 - 13:17

Christian Concern’s Benjamin John delivered a truthful, convicting speech at Synod on God’s glorious pattern for marriage, and CofE bishops’ rebellious undermining of the authoritative Word of God.

“Did God really say?”

Alluding to the serpent’s deceit in Genesis, Benjamin calls Synod’s recent motion what it is – blasphemy.

Contrary to canonical teaching, the Church of England will soon introduce special services asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples, on a trial basis.

“We’ve needed faithful and clear leadership proclaiming the beauty of marriage – the glorious picture of Christ laying down his for his bride, the church. It’s a wonderful truth. We have a beautiful gospel. We have a glorious hope.

Instead we have contradictory hopes. We have ‘pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty’.

Instead of proclaiming the will of God clear in Scripture we say, ‘What is God doing?’, ‘What is the Spirit saying?’.”

You can watch and read Ben’s speech in full below.

Read the transcript:

Living in love and faith can be summarised in four words:

“Did God really say?”

As Canon B30 says:

“The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is
in its nature a union […] of one man with one woman.”

We’ve had years of sowing doubt about the goodness and beauty of God’s pattern for marriage.

We’ve lost confidence in the Bible and what it teaches.

We’ve doubted whether this really was our Lord’s teaching. Did. God. Really. Say?

We’ve needed faithful and clear leadership, proclaiming the beauty of marriage.

The glorious picture of Christ laying down his life for his bride, the church. It is a wonderful truth.

We have a beautiful gospel.

We have a glorious hope.

Yet instead we have “contradictory hopes.”

We have “pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty.”

Instead of proclaiming the will of God clear in Scripture, we say, ‘What is God doing? What is the Spirit saying?’.

This is a blasphemy — against the holiness and power of God.

I’ve been struck speaking to a group outside from X-Out Loud who have described to me the transforming work of God in their lives and they said, ‘These blessings are curses’.

Bishops, at the end of your ministry, do you want to be able to say ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’?

Or will you reject it and make a shipwreck of your faith?

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians [4:2-3, 7-8]:

“For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality […] For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God […].”

Thank you.

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Resist Scotland embedding LGBTQI as a whole school approach

Christian Concern - Wed, 15/11/2023 - 16:48

As in Northern Ireland, there is a consultation on how the Scottish government will further develop what it calls its Relationships, Sex, Health and Parenting (RSHP) curriculum for schools.

Please respond by 22 November.

The plans strongly encourages schools and other local authority organisations that work with young people to develop an approach to embed LGBTQI teaching throughout all kinds of lessons – not just in standalone sessions.

The detailed guidance has some seemingly positive statements for Christian parents, but trends towards a state driven moral agenda to shape school culture with a strong LGBT emphasis.

‘Embed LGBT inclusive education’

The new guidance promises to:

“…embed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusive education across the curriculum and to review the delivery of Personal and Social Education (PSE).”

And to be:

“…providing more detail on the process for withdrawing a child or young person from relationships, sexual health and parenthood education.”

In addition, there are new sections on the following five topics: consent and healthy relationships; faith and belief; gender inclusive education; inclusion of understanding about differences of sex development (DSD)/variations in sex characteristics (VSC)/intersex people; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusive education.

Although faith and belief seem to be more recognised in the new guidance in section 3, the ongoing emphases continue to be of huge concern. This includes a ‘sex positive’ or consent-based approach and ‘inclusive’ transgender ideology infusing many of the RSHP.Scot resources.

The clear prioritisation of sexual orientation and gender identity teaching is exemplified in the following statement:

To enable LGBT inclusive education across the curriculum, there should also be an emphasis on the importance of interdisciplinary learning, including but not exclusively, through Expressive Arts, Languages, Literacy, Health and Wellbeing, Numeracy, Religious and Moral Education, Sciences and Social Studies’

Parents acknowledged as ‘primary educators’

The new consultation documents themselves make the case for the importance of parental views.

They state: “As the primary educators of their children, it is important for parents and carers to offer their views on the content of the revised guidance.”

It is good that this is acknowledged. Christian – and indeed all parents in Scotland – must take the opportunity to reinforce the nature of their primacy as educators of their children and their desire for their children not to be encultured into ideological perspectives contrary to their faith.

If you are a parent in Scotland, please read through the document and consider contributing your own views in answer to the consultation questions.

Suggested key points for your responses:

Most questions are asked about ‘clarity’ of different parts of the guidance, and wherever you have concerns, you should answer that there is no helpful and practical clarity unless these points are clearer:

      1. That the embedding of LGBT inclusive education as a whole school approach is not appropriate and unnecessarily sexualises and politicises topics, subjects and even the wider culture of Scottish schools.
      2. That instead of recommending resources and providers that are ‘sex positive’, others materials and groups should be listed that encourage abstinence from sexual activity and from viewing pornography. These can and should be chosen by schools (examples given below)
      3. That it is impossible for any teaching on Relationships and Sex to be morally neutral, and that even the decision to teach about these topics is a moral and ethical decision, which should be left to parents to decide for their sons and daughters.
      4. That it should be emphasised that the resources do not present a balanced perspective and are not mandatory to use.
      5. That there should remain a right to see all curriculum resources used and a right to remove a child from any aspects a parent deems unsuitable regarding any teaching of LGBT issues or sexual behaviour, especially where it becomes embedded across other subject areas.
More specific responses recommended by question:

Question 1:  Is the draft introduction clear on the status and application of the guidance? Are there further additions required?

The wholesale acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Inclusive Education Working Group’s recommendations can be criticised as being unclear in its approach and inappropriate in nature. In the introduction, the ‘thematic outcomes’ being suggested to become embedded are phrased vaguely. You can say you believe there is lack of clarity and even a deliberate attempt to camouflage the broader introduction of gender identity ideology. Examples include the guidance using phrases such as ‘terminologies and identities’ to explain what should be taught as part of a whole school approach. Express your own opinions in line with the 5 key points above.

Question 2:  How clear is the purpose of the RSHP education section?

You should state there is a lack of clarity about the teaching of children to become ‘empowered and active bystanders’. The expressed purpose in the guidance is to encourage children to challenge each other without adult oversight and intervention. It seems to aim at promoting alignment to one ideological perspective through the children themselves. This is inappropriate, especially when used as part of Religious and Moral Education (RME) as stated in 2.5. It is also wrong to suggest pupils should codesign the curriculum in this sensitive and controversial area, where no upper limits are stated of what is or isn’t deemed age appropriate.

Question 3: Is the guidance sufficiently clear in relation to the rights of parents and carers; is the process for withdrawing a pupil sufficiently clear?

It is especially important here to indicate that paragraphs 2.13 and 2.14 are not strong enough. The word ‘must’ should replace the word ‘should’ in both, to ensure parents are free to remove children and to see resources. Also, it could be appropriate for parents to remove their children from the school site when requesting withdrawal, but there is no reference to schools’ ability to agree to this. You should also explain that even if embedded elsewhere, you should have a right to remove your child from any form of sexual teaching with which you disagree, even if it is not in the ‘sexual health’ component.

Question 4: How effective is the guidance in explaining the key issues to be highlighted to teachers in delivering RSHP education? How does this help bring consistency to learning?

You should say that the guidance is not effective as there is an expectation that all teachers must espouse a unified view on these controversial topics. This will potentially lead to a discrimination of Christian teachers’ viewpoints where they may be in the minority. You could cite Christian Concern cases such as that of Glawdys Leger, Joshua Sutcliffe or ‘Hannah’.

Question 5: Is the guidance sufficiently clear in supporting consent and healthy relationships having a greater focus in RSHP education?

The consent approach is deeply opposed to Christian teaching. You should emphasise that to prioritise abstinence, rather than consent would provide for healthy relationships for children. Sex between children is illegal and should be stated as such. Consent is, of course, relevant to adult relationships – with sexual relationships taking place within a covenant of marriage. But there is no evidence that such a ‘sex-positive’ or consent-based approach results in healthier relationships for children and young people. Emphasise point 4 above.

Question 6: Is the guidance sufficiently clear in ensuring faith and belief is accurately captured in RSHP education?

Welcome and reinforce the importance of this statement in 3.9 with relation to your Christian beliefs about sex and relationships: ‘Learners can feel excluded from learning if only one set of values or a theme has dominated learning, while their own beliefs, values and views are excluded.’ Emphasise the dangers of this not being clear in Scotland’s schools. Faith is protected in law and should have at least as high priority as the protected characteristic of sexual orientation.

Question 7: Is the guidance sufficiently clear in ensuring gender inclusive language is used to deliver RSHP education?

You should emphasise here your concerns about any embedding of gender identity ideology through the encouragements to explore gender related issues in school. Gender is a deeply contested term, and you should ask that the guidance should make clear that gender identity concepts are unscientific and harmful.

Question 8: Is the guidance sufficiently clear in explaining and including VSC/DSD/intersex people in RSHP education?

You should indicate the importance of clarity that biological conditions are distinct from psychological conditions (e.g. gender dysphoria). It is helpful that it is confirmed that these biological conditions affect under 0.02% of the population.

Question 9: Is the guidance sufficiently clear in ensuring RSHP education is LGBT inclusive?

Take your time to outline your personal concerns regarding children having ‘LGBTI inclusive’ education prioritised across all the subjects such as Expressive Arts, Languages, Literacy, Health and Wellbeing, Numeracy, Religious and Moral Education, Sciences and Social Studies. Sexual orientation is only one of the Equality Act’s protected characteristics and is significantly overemphasised through the proposed embedded teaching. This overemphasis gives it an elevated status over religion and other protected characteristics. You should say that the recommendations seem to be wholly directed by the LGBTI Inclusive Working Group, influenced by Stonewall, and indicates bias of Scotland’s education towards a political agenda.

Question 10: Are these key learning points sufficiently clear in explaining the requirements for RSHP education?

There are some summary points made here. You can reiterate any arguments you wish to here, using the 5 points above and your other answers.

Question 11: Is the guidance sufficiently clear in explaining the requirement for pupils with Additional Support Needs to have RSHP education?

You should state that this is not clear as neither the particular importance of parents, nor the increased potential for confusion is recognised in the guidance. Link in your responses to question 2 regarding parents’ involvement.

Question 12: Does the guidance provide sufficient resources and signposts to support teachers in delivery of RSHP education, if not, which resources do you think are missing?

You should state that having Stonewall’s resources linked to in the guidance is inappropriate due to their political and gender-ideology based activism. Other resources which you may want to recommend include: Respect Me from the Message Trust, Lovewise, Love for Life, CVE Scotland, or the resources on the website

Please respond by the end of Wednesday 22 November.

The post Resist Scotland embedding LGBTQI as a whole school approach appeared first on Christian Concern.

Bishops must publish legal advice on same-sex blessings

Christian Concern - Wed, 15/11/2023 - 16:05

In her speech at the General Synod, Christian Legal Centre’s Rebecca Hunt raised vital points about the lack of basic transparency and legal process in proposing to commend prayers for same-sex couples.

“We are not able to be sure that the proposals to commend the prayers are lawful because we have not seen any updated legal advice on the matter. As part of our responsibilities as legislators we do need to be satisfied that any proposals are lawful.”

The General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England, which considers and approves legislation affecting the whole of the Church of England.

“It’s recognised that the Church’s teaching on sexual activity is also part of the Church’s doctrine on marriage. It’s acknowledged in GS 2328 that the bishops have now been advised that ‘it would be difficult to say that making the Prayers of Love and Faith available for same sex couples without there being an assumption as to their sexual relationships was not indicative of any departure from the Church’s doctrine’.”

Bishops have argued to include these prayers for same-sex couples on the basis that their proposed departure from doctrine would not be “in any essential matter.”

As the Church has been deliberating these issues since 1978, it is hard to accept this conclusion. Rebecca noted that the doctrinal difficulties which arise in contrary to the Book of Common Prayer’s teaching of the proper context for sexual intercourse within marriage, were also not acknowledged in February.

Synod is thus unable to make a legally and theologically-informed decision at this point.

You can watch and read her speech in full below.

Read the transcript:


The legal advice provided in advance of the passing of the motion in February indicated that the Prayers of Love and Faith were not indicative of a change in the doctrine of marriage under Canon B30.

On that basis Synod felt able to vote the motion through.

However, it is now clear from *Annex A to GS 2328 that it is recognised that “the church’s teaching on sexual activity is also part of the church’s doctrine on marriage.”

It is acknowledged in GS 2328 that the Bishops have now been advised that “it would be difficult to say that making the PLF available for same-sex couples without there being an assumption as to their sexual relationships was not indicative of any departure from the Church’s doctrine.”

The Bishops however tell us that they have concluded that in the circumstances such a departure would not be “in any essential matter.” This is apparently on the basis this would be a “small change in matters which are regarded as doctrinal” and that they would still be safeguarding the essential doctrines of the Church of England.

This is despite the fact that GS2328 clearly accepts that the Book of Common Prayer teaches that marriage “is the proper context for sexual intercourse” and that it is the Church’s “understanding” that “the place of sexual intimacy [is] within marriage.”

This all raises many questions, not least why the doctrinal difficulties were not acknowledged in February, and whether the Bishops are correct in this new argument that their proposed departure from doctrine would not be “in any essential matter.”

Bearing in mind the church has been considering issues around this since 1978, this appears a most surprising conclusion to come to. It is also inconsistent with statements made by the House of Bishops as recently as 2019. It was also confirmed this morning by the representative of FAOC (The Faith and Order Commission) that they consider the doctrine of marriage (which includes the place of sex) NOT to be a “matter indifferent.”

As such the conclusion of the Bishops seems open to serious doubt.

Friends – there must be transparency and proper process in this matter. I am sure that you will agree that it is essential that synod is not encouraged to try to pass proposals that are in fact ultra vires their powers as a legislative body. We are not able to be sure that the proposals to commend the prayers are lawful because we have not seen any updated legal advice on the matter. As part of our responsibilities as legislators we do need to be satisfied that any proposals are lawful. In the words of the Bishop of London, we ourselves need “full and frank legal advice in confidence.”

The legal office themselves said in February that the full suite of prayers and the full pastoral guidance needed to be presented before they can provide a final view on their legality.

I therefore do not believe we have been provided with what we need in order to make this decision. I urge you to vote for the amendment.

*Annex A to GS 2383
In considering those questions, we have had careful regard to the theological rationale for the making of pastoral provision which includes the following:
• that it is not intended to change the Church of England’s doctrine of marriage;
• that the Church’s teaching on sexual activity is regarded as part of that doctrine;
• that the PLF are intended to recognise and respect that doctrine;
• that the PLF affirm the goods in same-sex relationships, including stability, faithfulness, exclusive, lifelong commitment etc.;
• that the PLF say nothing about sex but many same-sex couples will be in active sexual relationships.

The post Bishops must publish legal advice on same-sex blessings appeared first on Christian Concern.

Indi Gregory dies during the night

Christian Concern - Mon, 13/11/2023 - 10:13

Indi Gregory died in the early hours of Monday 13 November, after having her life-support removed.

The 8-month-old baby, who was denied an offer of specialist treatment in Italy by the NHS and UK Courts, was transferred from the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham to a hospice with a security escort and police presence.

“I knew she was special”

In a statement released by Indi’s father, Dean Gregory said: Indi’s life ended at 01.45am. Claire and I are angry, heartbroken, and ashamed. The NHS and the Courts not only took away her chance to live a longer life, but they also took away Indi’s dignity to pass away in the family home where she belonged.

They did succeed in taking Indi’s body and dignity, but they can never take her soul. They tried to get rid of Indi without anybody knowing, but we made sure she would be remembered forever. I knew she was special from the day she was born.

Claire held her for her final breaths.”

Treatment in Italy blocked

Indi’s passing came after a ruling made by Court of Appeal judges on Friday 10 November. Lord Justice Peter Jackson, Lady Justice Eleanor King and Lord Justice Andrew Moylan denied Indi’s parents their final wish to take Indi home for extubating, and described the intervention of the Italian government, to try and save Indi’s life, as “wholly misconceived” and “not in the spirit of the convention.”

It is understood that Indi was transferred from the hospital to a hospice in an ambulance, with a security escort. At the hospice she had her life-support removed and was provided with invasive ventilation, before passing away in the early hours of the morning on Monday 13 November.

Furthermore, Lord Justice Peter Jackson, Lady Justice Eleanor King and Lord Justice Andrew Moylan refused the family permission to appeal a ruling which said Indi’s life-support could not be removed at home.

Instead they ordered that Indi’s life-support should be removed immediately.

The ruling was made despite Indi being granted Italian citizenship and her Italian guardian making an urgent application to the UK High Court, calling on Mr Justice Robert Peel to cede jurisdiction of the case to him. The application appealed to Article 9§2 of the 1996 Hague Convention.

It was also revealed that the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, urgently wrote to the UK’s Lord Chancellor, outlining the urgent application and calling for the two countries to officially collaborate on facilitating Indi’s transfer to Rome.

The Italian consul in Manchester, Dr Matteo Corradini, in his capacity as guardianship judge for the 8-month-old, made the order due to the imminent danger to the life of Indi.

The Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome had agreed to accept Indi for treatment and to carry out the right ventricular outflow tract stent procedure that had been put forward by medical experts. The Italian government also offered to fund the treatment at no cost to the NHS or UK taxpayer.

The UK government refused to comment on the case.

The family were supported by the Christian Legal Centre throughout the legal battle, which began in September.

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