Blogroll Category: Current Affairs
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 535 posts from the category 'Current Affairs.'
Disclaimer: Reproducing an article here need not necessarily imply agreement or endorsement!
Aotearoa New Zealand faith leaders have met with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Epidemic Response, to discuss Level 2 restrictions on public worship. Many faith groups say the limits have caused real hardship, especially for grieving families and communities unable to mark major religious commemorations in person.
Among faith leaders that presented to the Epidemic Response Committee yesterday was Anglican Bishop of Tai Tokerau, Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu, who shared his peoples’ experience of Alert Level 4, 3 and 2 restrictions on worship – alongside leaders from Sikh, Jewish and other Christian denominations.
The virtual Select Committee meeting with religious leaders was called after ongoing requests from churches and other faith communities to be allowed to gather for worship in higher numbers – while adhering to all the required COVID-19 safety requirements such as handwashing or sanitising, physical distancing and gathering contact-tracing details.
Last week, (before the new 50-person limit on funerals and tangihanga) Archbishop Don Tamihere, Archbishop Philip Richardson and Cardinal John Dew, Catholic Archbishop of Wellington wrote to the Prime Minister and Cabinet asking for clarity and change on the Level 2 church service numbers cap.
The Catholic and Anglican Archbishops pointed out that 10-person limits placed on churches stand in stark contrast to the gathering sizes allowed in commercial outlets like malls and shopping centres, or even in professional contact sports,
“ …we do not understand the rationale that regards churches as ‘uncontrolled environments’ by comparison with public venues, or playing professional sports, which are ‘controlled environments’.” the Archbishops wrote.
“Many permitted activities are much higher risk than attendance at worship, or attendance at a carefully attended funeral service.”
In yesterday’s Epidemic Response Committee meeting, Bishop Kito made it clear that Anglican churches respect and welcome the Government’s authority to set what are safe gathering practices based on scientific advice. Echoing the Archbishops’ earlier letter, Bishop Kito acknowledged that churches respect and understand limits have been put in place to protect kuia, kaumatua and the most vulnerable in our communities from COVID-19.
He shared with the Select Committee how pāriha in the North had responded by innovating ways to connect with people online with both worship services and pastoral care. And he explained how the Pihopatanga o Te Tai Tokerau minita had also worked to provide isolated people in the North with the digital devices and training they needed to connect with the church’s online pastoral care and worship.
The Archbishops’ letter highlighted many other churches’ online ministry that has blossomed in response to lockdown needs.
“ We are very aware of the innovative ways our people have sought to worship, pray and gather virtually during this crisis, providing much needed support and pastoral care not only to our own members,” they wrote.
However, the Archbishops questioned the Government’s choice to prioritise the needs of business activity over spiritual needs when it came to setting number limits on gatherings.
“The impression is being given [by the Government] that because faith is not regarded as a contributor to economic activity it is thus discounted.”
“We now find ourselves in a situation where people across the faiths will be denied the opportunity to gather to express their faith and gain from that contribution to their wellbeing that is essential.” they wrote.
The Archbishops referred Government decision-makers back to Sir Mason Durie’s well-known model of holistic health; ‘Te Whare Tapa Wha,’ which identifies Te Taha Wairua (the spiritual dimension of health) as one of the essential needs of human wellbeing.
“We request an urgent response as to why the ability of faith communities to contribute to that aspect of wellbeing remains so severely and unfairly constrained,” they concluded.
This afternoon, Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed in the daily COVID-19 response briefing that the Government has not expanded the numbers allowed at worship this weekend beyond 10, with the only exception being funeral services and tangihanga that have been granted a limit of 50 people.
The post Govt meeting for NZ church leaders on COVID-19 lockdown measures appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
In response to the latest round of feedback from members of the Province, The Governance Task Force has refined the proposed Constitution and Canon changes for 2020.
The American Anglican Council, in service to the Anglican Church in North America, produced the following second video on the changes to the ACNA Constitution and Canons, to be voted upon this coming Provincial Council, 2020.
The period for this review is from May 15-29. It will follow the same procedure as in Round 1: all comments will go to The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey (firstname.lastname@example.org), and he will direct them to the working groups responsible for each Title.
These working groups will respond directly to each inquiry and will submit any further changes to Canon Ashey so that the final Report to all delegates to Provincial Council can be published by the first week of June, God willing.
A PDF of the changes, 2nd draft, is attached. Many thanks to ALL of the Governance Task Force members, and especially to the Rev. Dr. Travis Boline who carefully pulled together the track changes and edited for grammar.
Note: This is the second video from the Governance Task Force, and focuses only on the updates. The first video, shared in March, provides an overview and greater context. It can be found at the link below, and should also be reviewed by all delegates.
This is the letter Bishop Scott Mayer wrote in the wake of the Supreme Court of Texas decision issued on May 22, 2020.
On May 22, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court’s decision went against us. This decision is a disappointment to us all, but as followers of Jesus Christ, we live in hope.
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry joins me in acknowledging our disappointment and urging all of us to be gentle with one another during this trying time, with the important goal of continuing our worship of God and our ministries in this diocese in as uninterrupted manner as possible.
Now I, other diocesan leaders, and our legal team have to make decisions about our next steps.
For now, we all must don the mantle of patience and forbearance. I ask for your prayers and urge us all to stay focused on the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and on our mission and ministries in the days ahead.
I remain convinced that we are right in our affirmation that we are the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and that I am its bishop.
When we began this litigation in 2009, we did so as heir and steward of the legacy of generations of faithful Episcopalians. In the wake of this decision we remain committed to preaching the gospel as we worship, care for those in need, and strive for justice and peace.
Let us move forward together with grace and love, guided by the Holy Spirit.
The Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
The post Bishop Mayer letter to the diocese in the wake of Supreme Court decision appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
Page two of the opinion says in part, Applying neutral principles to the undisputed facts, we hold that 1) resolution of this property dispute does not require consideration of an ecclesiastical question, 2) under the governing documents, the withdrawing faction is the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and 3) the trial court properly granted summary judgment in the withdrawing faction’s favor. We therefore reverse the court of appeals’ contrary judgment. In its opinion, the Court found that the Diocese had not violated any Episcopal Church charter in withdrawing from association to TEC in 2008, and that the actions of the Diocese and Corporation were consistent with our own charters and with the state’s trust and unincorporated association statutes, and it upheld the dismissal of the Dennis Canon as determinative in Texas church property disputes.
Plaintiffs may exercise their rights of appeal, after which a mandate will go to the trial court for implementation.
We are grateful for the Court’s hard work on this decision and for the clarity with which it was rendered. We give thanks to the members of our legal team – Shelby Sharpe, Scott Brister, and David Weaver – for their sound counsel, expertise, and perseverance throughout these proceedings.
We give thanks for our visionary founding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. A. Donald Davies, and for those who assisted him in setting the legal and temporal foundations of the Diocese and Corporation. We stand on their shoulders.
We praise God for the steadfast faith and leadership of our third Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, a true shepherd of the flock, who made many sacrifices throughout his episcopate for the sake of Christ’s holy Church.
The post Statement from the Diocese of Fort Worth on today’s Supreme Court ruling appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
Anglicans who departed the Episcopal Church (TEC) in 2008 are the legally recognized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and control its corporation, according to a ruling issued this morning by the Texas Supreme Court. As a result, Anglicans will likely continue to hold tens of millions in real estate and other ministry assets.
“We are grateful for the Court’s hard work on this decision and for the clarity with which it was rendered,” read a statement issued by the diocese. “Above all, we thank God for his eternal provision and protection for his Church and the people he has called to serve him.”
In THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF FORT WORTH v. THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, Justice Eva M. Guzman writing for the court finds that the withdrawing (Anglican) faction of the splintered Episcopal diocese is the rightful Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:
“Applying neutral principles to the undisputed facts, we hold that (1) resolution of this property dispute does not require consideration of an ecclesiastical question, (2) under the governing documents, the withdrawing faction is the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and (3) the trial court properly granted summary judgment in the withdrawing faction’s favor. We therefore reverse the court of appeals’ contrary judgment”.
The 30-page unanimous opinion from Texas’ top judicial body reinstates a trial court ruling that had been earlier overturned by an appeals court. The ruling winds down litigation between the departing diocese and the Episcopal Church that was set in motion more than a decade ago after the national church filed suit against departing Anglicans. Lawyers for the Episcopal Church maintained that elected officers of the diocesan leadership were no longer the Episcopal diocese and that dioceses hold property in trust for the national church under the denomination’s 1970s-era Dennis Canon.
Today’s court decision focused narrowly on Texas corporate law, and if the majority faction controls the legal corporation. Justices zeroed in on Texas’ understanding of trusts, finding that only express trusts have legal weight. Episcopal Church attorneys had argued that based on diocesan affiliation with the denomination, Episcopalians in Fort Worth entered into an implied trust holding property for the denomination.
Approximately 80 percent of diocesan membership remained within parishes that separated from the Episcopal denomination. A smaller “renewing” Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was reconstituted for those parishes that remained affiliated with the national church. Data from 2018, the most recent reporting year, lists 3,804 members in the reconstituted Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, down from 17,457 members (-78.2%) in 2008, the year of the split. Data provided by the Episcopal Church Office of the General Convention reports that not only membership, but also attendance, marriages and baptisms have been significantly reduced in recent years.
“Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry joins me in acknowledging our disappointment and urging all of us to be gentle with one another during this trying time, with the important goal of continuing our worship of God and our ministries in this diocese in as uninterrupted manner as possible,” wrote the Rt. Rev. Scott Mayer, provisional bishop of Fort Worth in a letter to the Episcopal Church-affiliated diocese. “Now I, other diocesan leaders, and our legal team have to make decisions about our next steps.”
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth became a founding jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and is the second largest diocese by membership. The diocese, which holds to an Anglo-Catholic form of churchmanship, disagreed with the direction of the Episcopal Church in matters of scriptural authority and human sexual expression.
Episcopalians and departing Anglicans have been in legal conflict in several parts of the United States as churches and five separate dioceses disaffiliated with the denomination in the mid-2000s onward. A court case involving the denomination and the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is ongoing, as churches await a district court ruling to interpret five separate opinions handed down nearly three years ago by the state Supreme Court.
Written request for comment from Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Curry had not yet been returned as of the time of publication. This report will be updated over the Memorial Day weekend as comments are made available.
The post Texas Supreme Court Rules in favor of Fort Worth Anglicans appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
The editors of The Babylon Bee have a podcast, and they invited Bob on to discuss the economic situation. Then, they asked a series of fun questions, against the backdrop of their shared Christianity.
I’d like to discuss some of Nozick’s comments on time preference in his paper “On Austrian Methodology,” but there is an obstacle to doing so. Nozick is fond of intricate arguments, and the section of the paper on time preference is especially difficult. For that reason, I’m going to concentrate on only a few of the many points he addresses.
Nozick criticizes this passage from Human Action, which he rightly recognizes to be vital for Mises’s argument for time preference:
Time preference is a categorial requisite of human action. No mode of action can be thought of in which satisfaction within a nearer period of the future is not—other things being equal—preferred to that in a later period. The very act of gratifying a desire implies that gratification at the present instant is preferred to that at a later instant. He who consumes a nonperishable good instead of postponing consumption for an indefinite later moment thereby reveals a higher valuation of present satisfaction as compared with later satisfaction. If he were not to prefer satisfaction in a nearer period of the future to that in a remoter period, he would never consume and so satisfy wants. He would always accumulate, he would never consume and enjoy. He would not consume today, but he would not consume tomorrow either, as the morrow would confront him with the same alternative. (p. 796)
Nozick raises three objections to what Mises says. First, “a person might be indifferent between doing some act now and doing it later, and do it now. (‘Why not do it now?’) So action now can show time-(weak) preference, but it need not show time-(strong) preference.” By “weak preference,” Nozick means that if you prefer A to B, either you prefer A to B or you are indifferent between them. This notion is standard in neoclassical economics.
The problem with this objection is straightforward. Mises denies that indifference can be demonstrated in action. According to him, if you choose A over B, then your choice shows that you prefer A to B. Your “preference scale” exists only at the moment of choice. Your “demonstrated preference” is just what you do in fact choose on a given occasion. Nozick is well aware that Mises holds this view but nevertheless criticizes him on the basis of a view that Mises explicitly rejects.
And Mises is right to do so. We have a commonsense understanding of choosing something because you would rather have it than any available alternative of which you are aware. If you don’t have this understanding, you are clearly missing something, and it turns out that Nozick’s concept of preference doesn’t allow him to articulate this understanding. This best he can offer is “strong preference,” where you strongly prefer A to B if and only if you weakly prefer A to B and it’s not the case that you weakly prefer B to A. But “strong preference” doesn’t tell us what it means to prefer something. Indeed, “weak preference” is parasitic on that very notion, since you have to understand what it means to prefer A to B in order to understand the definition: you weakly prefer A to B if you prefer A to B or are indifferent between them.
Nozick’s next point fares no better. He says:
A person might act now to get a particular satisfaction, not caring whether it comes sooner or later. He acts now because the option of getting the satisfaction is a fleeting one which will not be available later. Thus, a person can have a reason, other than time preference, to act now; to prefer something sooner rather than later is not necessary in order to act now.
Here the problem lies in a simple oversight. Mises is talking about “nonperishable goods,” which in this context means goods that the actor has a choice of consuming now or at a later time. Satisfactions that are either “now or never” are outside the scope of the argument.
Nozick’s final point rests on a more fundamental misunderstanding. He says:
The fact that we act constantly cannot show that we always have time-preference for all goods, At most, it shows that when a person acts (and the option also is available later) he has time-preference then for the particular good that he then acts to get. This is compatible with an alternation of periods of time-preference for good G, and periods of no time-preference for good G. The person acts to get G during one of the periods of time-preference for G. This is considerably weaker than general time preference.” (Emphasis in original.)
Nozick is of course right that when you prefer getting a good now to later, you are demonstrating time preference only for that particular good now. But for Austrians preferences exist only for actions that occur at particular times. When Nozick says that we prefer G now to G in the future when we act, but maybe we have no time preference for G when we don’t act, this is from the Austrian perspective vacuous. We don’t have preferences when we aren’t acting.
Nozick has more to say about time preference. He offers an evolutionary account of how time preference might have arisen and uses this account to raise a problem of “double discounting” for the standard Austrian position. I hope to address these points in another article, but I ought to issue a warning. Nozick’s discussion is even more convoluted than what I’ve been talking about in this article.
I’d like to conclude by underlining a basic difference between Nozick, on the one hand, and Mises and Rothbard, on the other. Nozick is usually concerned with counterfactuals. Preference, for example, involves not just what you do choose but what you would choose in various hypothetical circumstances. For Mises and Rothbard, by contrast, it is the individual act that matters. As Goethe says, “Im Anfang war die Tat!” (In the beginning was the deed.)
The post Decision handed down in the Forth Worth property cases appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic, and resulting government response, has created one of the greatest disruptions to daily life in modern American history. With much of the country now focused on “reopening,” pundits and policymakers have focused their attention on what the “new normal” of a post-COVID America looks like. Although much of the attention has been focused on the future of massive public gatherings and changes to American work environments, the most significant change to American societies may be faith in our governing structures.
The policy response to the coronavirus has already led to dramatic changes to policy. In the positive, both federal agencies and state governments have waived or altered many traditional regulatory requirements to bypass disastrous delays in medical testing and to better facilitate delivery of services. In the negative, the Federal Reserve has massively escalated its interventionist policies, highlighting how radical these institutions have truly become.
Beyond specific policies, however, the most significant change may be the degree to which the COVID response changes the public view of centralized political power. In particular, there are three relatively unique aspects of this pandemic that may be the precursor to significant realignments going forward.State Governments Have Taken the Lead in Public Policy
In spite of rhetoric from President Trump about the White House having “full authority” over state governments, the current administration has been largely content with allowing governors to lead the way in responding to the pandemic. This has led to significant differences in the severity of economic lockdowns, testing behavior, and even authorized treatments between states.
Given the hypertribalism of modern politics, it’s easy to simplify this into a typical “red state-blue state” division, but this overlooks significant differences in approach from governors and state legislatures within the same party. For example, although Michigan, New York, and California are high-profile examples of blue states with strong lockdown policies, Colorado is an example of a state with a Democratic governor who has largely followed the reopening guidance promoted by the Trump administration.
The significant differences in policy between states (such as New York and Florida) has meant greater attention, from both the press and the voters subjected to unprecedented restrictions, toward their state capitals and away from the usual circus of Washington. Many governors have seemed to relish this move, such as Governor Gavin Newsom of California, who proudly declared himself leader of a “nation-state.” The power of state governments has even led to some governors engaging in the sort of executive overreach that has become the norm in the national level, such as Colorado governor Jared Polis taking control of federal aid money against the wishes of the state legislature.
The stark contrast between state responses, coupled with differences in outcomes—both in terms of economic and public health measures—is an important lesson in the power of federalism that has been eroded in American politics. The precedents being set today may further embolden the growing trend of state rejection of federal authority that we’ve seen with such issues as drug laws and immigration enforcement. When we factor in the hyperpartisan environment, and a predictably polarizing presidential election later this year, the future of American politics may increasingly be defined by a battle of federal and state authority.The State Battle over a Federal Bailout
As Ryan McMaken has noted, state budgets are going to face major shortages as the devastating impact of lockdowns limits tax revenue. Although no state will be spared from the economic fallout, this revenue shock will be particularly devastating for those already on particularly unsound economic footing.
Already we’ve seen this begin to play out in Washington, with Republicans pushing back strongly against Democrat calls for a $195 billion bailout of state and local governments. The Wall Street Journal this week summarized this growing conflict with the question, “Why Should Florida Bail Out New York?,” highlighting the differences in governing philosophy and economic health between the two similarly sized states.
Although it’s obvious that Congress has no stomach for any sort of fiscal restraint when it comes to national economic aid or stimulus programs, the more the debate focuses on state—and partisan—differences, the more we are likely to see the federal representatives of fiscally prudent states hunker down against bailouts in their own interest. Already we’ve seen blue state leaders like Governor Newsom threaten their own version of Washington Monument syndrome, stating that police and first responders will be the first victims if Washington doesn’t bend to his bailout demands.
This could easily erupt into the sort of state-on-state legislative battle we haven’t seen play out in Washington in a long time.Shared Experience and National Unity
Lastly, one of the aspects of the coronavirus that has driven a lot of the radical differences in narrative and policy between states has been the difference in its severity around the country. In past national tragedies, there has usually been a trend toward national unity, as the event created a common experience among all Americans. Although New Yorkers dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 or Gulf Coast residents during Hurricane Katrina experienced these events in a more personal and intimate way, everyone witnessed them on television and with a similar appreciation for their significance.
This is clearly not the same with the coronavirus.
I recently had a good friend who is a nurse in northern Louisiana visit, and he was shocked at how laxly residents of north Florida were taking the virus. Although the city he currently lives in is very red and culturally Southern, it was an early hot spot for COVID-19, and the scars from that had majorly impacted much of the community. In Panama City Beach, Florida, the greatest fears in the last few months came from the impact that lockdowns were having on a local economy so dependent on tourism and the service industry.
Considering that common experiences can shape national unity far more powerfully than government institutions can, it’s possible that the cultural consequences of the coronavirus will fuel divisions between states in a way that disagreements on marijuana laws never could. It is both reasonable and natural for a resident of New York City, which has suffered nearly twenty thousand coronavirus-related deaths, to be far more traumatized by the virus than residents of Houston, which has suffered fewer than two hundred.
Considering that a major question for political fallout going forward will be the degree to which the economic damage inflicted on this country was “justified” by the threat of the virus, the differences in experience make it unlikely that the coronavirus will build anything resembling a national consensus.
The lasting impact of the coronavirus going forward—alongside the devastating economic consequences that we have yet to truly face—could be deepening a regional, cultural, and political polarization that has been building in recent years. These are also precisely the sort of differences that are only escalated by centralized political power, and that will only be fueled by the upcoming theater of the 2020 presidential election.
Although national tragedies tend to bring a country together, it seems clear that the coronavirus will leave America as divided as it has been in modern history.
The Coronavirus lockdown will lead to a spike in violence against women, the Archbishop of Uganda warned last week. The Most Rev. Stephen Kaziimba, who also serves as chairman of the Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU, on 6 May 2020 told reporters gathered at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala the social consequences of the virus could claim more victims than the disease.
“Fellow Ugandans, we have witnessed an increase of cases of Gender Based Violence during the lockdown. As religious leaders, we therefore appeal and encourage to work together to prevent GBV in our homes and communities and provide psycho-social support to victims during the COVID-19 lockdown,” he said.
“When there is no food in the house,” the archbishop said, “men tend to get mad and resort to beating their wives. But there are also women who are busy abusing their husbands because their husbands do not have money and this has further intensified anger among the couples. I ask all men to desist from beating their wives, but women should also respect their husbands,” he said.
The Archbishop also asked the national COVID-19 task force to prioritise food distribution to HIV/Aids patients, many of whom have not been able to access their anti-retroviral treatment due to the lockdown. “We call upon HIV/AIDS service providers to avail at least three months’ supply drugs (ARVs) to people living with AIDS during this time,” he said.
The archbishop was briefing reporters on Uganda’s May 17th Candlelight Memorial to remember those who had died of AIDS. This year’s celebration, he explained, would take place “scientifically”, with individuals observing the memorial from their homes and on-line.
Installed as archbishop in January, Dr. Kaziimba, has prioritized the fight against gender based violence as a priority of his tenure as primate of the Church of Uganda.
The post COVID-19 leads to spike in wife-beating in Uganda says archbishop appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
Some claim "the rich" will be fine—or even better off—after the COVID panic destroys the economy for most of us. But there's a problem: the wealthy depend heavily on an economy fueled by the production and consumption of all workers and entrepreneurs.
This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Millian Quinteros.
Original Article: "We’re All in This Together. But Not in the Way You Think."
On Wednesday the Organ Donation Act came into force: "force" (the government's words, not ours). This means that, based on a consultation of 17,000 individuals, the government has chosen to nationalise the organs of its citizens rather than gain their explicit consent.
The nationalisation is clear. On death, the person, after consulting with family, will be presumed to have consented to have their organs harvested:
Firstly, the body should not become state or communal property on death. There are strong bodies of common law guidance, along with the cultural practice, in relation to the disposal of the body. The government stepping in and assuming the body is their's for the taking because the individual concerned did not check a box is a frightening reach of government power.
Secondly, the consultation of the family does not mean that the family may do with the body as they please. Tacit consent is cited here for funeral arrangements, and often there is a great deal of preparation beforehand including with wills and powers of attorney, but this should not happen with the harvesting of organs. Again, the government cannot simply step in here and take what is not theirs.
Thirdly, the sick do not have the right to the organs of the dead. There is no obligation to transfer ownership of organs from one individual to the other just because they are not in usage anymore. This may sound heartless, but there are two parties to this, and a Burkean conception of presence post-mortem is still important. Why else is there the veneration of the dead in British Culture?
Fourthly, the naming of the Act is wrong. This is not organ donation but organ seizure. A donation requires active consent, this quite simply is not. One must be confronted with the choice rather than have it decided in absentia. The use of this spin and misuse of wording is all the more sinister.
A lot of this revolves around Nudge Theory (Thaler and Sunstein) and resolving policy problems through the manipulation of choice architecture. However, this is not the manipulation of choice architecture but the manipulation of the legal status of one's self-ownership. Yes, there are not enough organs being harvested to fulfil demand, but there are different ways of presenting opportunities to donate organs that do not involve nationalising the bodies of citizens. They can present organ donation cards in more places and more frequently, such as on top of tax or GP-feedback forms. This would gain active consent rather than tacit.
This act will not even be guaranteed to increase the rate of organ transfers. Presumed consent, as it is officially known, has not been statistically demonstrated to increase transfer rates (Hitchen, 2008). This has been demonstrated in Wales, Sweden, Singapore, Chile, and Brazil (Arshad et al, 2019). In order for even critics to be satisfied, they have argued that the government must first approach the public to inform them of the change in the law (Bramhall, 2011). This has not happened, bar a single tweet from the Department for Health and Social Services.
For presumed consent, the ends do not justify the means as it completely deforms the rights of the living. The government exists to uphold property rights, not to deprive us of them for the purposes of viewing us a 'waste' if we are put into the ground without giving up organs. No sane individual would baulk at seeing less people on waiting lists and more people living happy, fruitful lives. Yet, the method of getting here must be ethically sound. Hence, the government should not cut corners and fully consult the Behavioural Insights Team on how to fulfil their policies without infringing on the consent of those they govern.
We hope the government reforms this law to remove this legal, social, and philosophical problem before it creates a lasting change with our relations of the state for the worse.
Max Marlow is a past ASI intern and current President of the LSE Hayek Society
Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Americans have been told countless times that public policy was based on Science (with a capital S) and that the public should just obey the scientists.
But the accuracy of their predictions and the consequent appropriateness of policies seems to have been little better than Ask Dr. Science and the 0 percent accuracy rate of its answers.
In fact, the massive errors in measurement that have been part and parcel of the scientific COVID Kops show should bring us back to what Lord Kelvin said about science and measurement: “If you cannot measure it, then it is not science” and “your theory is apt to be based more upon imagination than upon knowledge.”
To get an idea of how serious the COVID measurement problems are, one need only look to the two medical experts most commonly appearing on our TV screens. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently testified his belief that its death toll is “almost certainly higher” than reported, because “there may have been people who died at home who did have COVID, who were not counted as COVID because they never really got to the hospital.” In contrast, the Washington Post recently reported that Deborah Birx believes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) accounting system is double counting some cases, boosting case and mortality measurements “by as much as 25 percent.” And what could be a clearer statement of the measurement problems than Birx’s assertion that “there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust”?
The mangled measurements have been with us from the beginning of the COVID crisis.
Mild cases were (and still are) frequently undetected. That means that we have undercounted how many people have (or have had) the disease. It also means that we have overestimated the risk of contagion, which is perhaps the most crucial determinant of COVID’s risk to others.
Early on, there were a very limited number of tests and many of the first ones were faulty. So, as increasing numbers are being tested, especially systematically, rather than just targeting those who are already suspected of having COVID, we must disentangle the portion of the uptick of reported cases, and the implied downward adjustment of the odds of death and the risk of spread, caused by testing more of the population to determine whether there is an increasing incidence of the disease. When tests for COVID antibodies started to be done, it also suggested that more had already been exposed, changing the critical numbers again. And then there are questions about herd immunity, including whether sheltering at home actually undermines its development. Similarly, the constantly updated numbers of COVID cases in particular areas overstated the risk to others, since those who have gotten better and are not a potential source of contagion are still included in those counts.
This continuing evolution of what Science tells us reveals that what we are being told at any given time is highly likely to be revised, if not reversed, soon, and perhaps repeatedly. That should make us leery of all claims, including forecasts, premised on the truth of current Science. And if that weren’t bad enough, even the accuracy of the basic data has been compromised.
In some places, reported COVID deaths have included everyone who has it when they die, overstating (to a degree that we can’t know without more detailed information than we now have, and may ever have, for many cases) COVID risks. The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, illustrated the problem when she said, “if you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death….[E]ven if you died of clear alternative cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death.” Further, the miscounting is often not due to judgments about shades of gray. For instance, Colorado counted a man who died of acute alcohol poisoning (his blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.55, when 0.30 is considered lethal) as a COVID death. And when the state recounted to include only deaths caused by COVID, its total fell from 1,150 to only 878.
New York has also counted as COVID deaths cases involving flulike symptoms, even when postmortem COVID tests have been negative. CDC guidance explicitly advises that “suspected” cases, even in the absence of test evidence, can be reported as COVID deaths. That is why the New York Times could report that on April 21 the city death toll was augmented by “3,700 additional people who were presumed to have died of the coronavirus but had never tested positive.”
Then there is also lots of evidence that bears on appropriate COVID policy. For instance, Charles Murray has demonstrated that “The relationship of population density to the spread of the coronavirus creates sets of policy options that are radically different in high-density and low-density areas,” so that “too many people in high places, in government and the media, have been acting as if there is a right and moral policy toward the pandemic that applies throughout America. That’s wrong.”
Randal O’Toole has also cited studies finding that “mass transportation systems offer an effective way of accelerating the spread of infectious diseases,” that “people who use mass transit were nearly six times more likely to have acute respiratory infections than those who don’t,” that New York City subways were “a major disseminator—if not the principal transmission vehicle—of coronavirus infection,” and that there is “a strong state‐by‐state correlation between transit and coronavirus,” to ask why mass transit systems were not shuttered to stop the harm. Elsewhere, he noted that “The head of New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority was infected by the virus and the head of New Jersey Transit actually died from it.”
All this evidence reveals that the COVID Science and conclusions Americans were supposed to follow unquestioningly have been incredibly incomplete or wrong, with the stability of quicksand. Such Science is too frail a reed to depend on in making policies with multitrillion dollar price tags. What it does support is much more humility, reflecting Kelvin’s recognition that:
When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science.
The only limitation on the coming flood of articles shouting that the government should borrow more is how fast people can type. Perhaps allied with the willingness of editors to publish them. For if the government can borrow at negative rates then the government should borrow more, right?
The new government bonds, known as gilts, were issued with an effective negative interest rate of 0.003 per cent and found ready takers, with investors prepared to lend £8.1 billion on those terms, according to the Debt Management Office.
The government can borrow at a profit and create such wonders! Of course, this presupposes that government allocating resources within the economy is an efficient manner of resource allocation, an idea we reject after the certain basic minimum of things that government must do. But let us remain agnostic, for our purposes here, on the desirability or not of more borrowing.
The argument will be put forward that market prices are indicating that such borrowing is profitable - thus the market is demanding more such. The problem here being that the Bank of England already owns just shy of £700 billion of such gilts, or soon will do. That is, that yield, that market price, is not actually a free market price, it’s a highly manipulated one.
In itself this is fine for the point of quantitative easing is to distort the free market price. That’s actually the aim. But this then conflicts with the general injunction that prices are information within the economy. A distorted price is distorted information, it tells us things which aren’t quite true.
We should therefore reject that coming flood of pieces. For if we are to use the argument that market prices tell us what to do we do have to then insist that it is free market prices, not deliberately distorted ones, that do.
Think on it for a moment. The Venezuelan government distorted the price of toilet paper with the well known effect of there being none available. A distorted price was not, thus, a good guide to the supply and demand of toilet paper, was it? The same is true of the QE distortion of the price of money, we should not argue from that incorrect price.
The diocese of Kajo-Keji of the episcopal church in South Sudan and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) country program in Uganda are exploring joint work across the border, to support South Sudanese refugees in Uganda.
The diocese, through its development department Faith, Development and Relief Agency (FADRA), and LWF Uganda are exploring joint work on capacity building, trauma healing, and empowerment of communities to support South Sudanese refugees now living in Northern Uganda.
The bishop of the Kajo-Keji diocese, the Right Reverend Emmanuel Murye, recently joined LWF Uganda on an awareness-raising campaign on COVID-19 in Palorinya refugee settlement in Northern Uganda. On a so-called road drive, he spoke about the risk of unofficial cross-border movement. Some refugees have gone back to check on houses and family members who stayed. In addition to risking losing their refugee status, food rations, and other help in Uganda, they now also risk spreading the COVID-19 infection in the highly vulnerable refugee settlement.
“We greatly appreciate the bishop’s collaboration in the recent awareness-raising and sensitization campaigns. The voice of faith leaders has a lot of authority among refugees. They know him, they are his people, so his advice on how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is likely to be followed by many.” says Jesse Kamstra, LWF country representative in Uganda.
The signing of the Cessation of Hostilities (COH) document, the basis for a lasting ceasefire, in December 2017 and the revitalized peace agreement in September 2018 have renewed hope for lasting peace in South Sudan, particularly among the more than 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees in neighboring Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
LWF has been working in refugee camps and settlements in those countries, and in the past year has intensified cross-border cooperations, with other LWF country programs (link: https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/lwf-country-programs-east-africa-plan-joint-approach-humanitarian-crises), but also related agencies and faith-based partners. The diocese of Kajo-Keji is located in the South Sudanese state of Equatoria, bordering Northern Uganda. It was the site where hostilities sparked in 2016 and the origin of many refugees whom LWF Uganda serves in Palorinya and Moyo refugee settlements in Uganda.
The post Anglican-Lutheran outreach to Sudanese refugees in Uganda appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
The Bishop of Manchester has approved the proposal to amalgamate 20 deaneries of the Diocese of Manchester into seven, and to seek to appoint a full time Area Dean to each, following an extensive consultation between November 2019 and February 2020.
Bishop David’s decision was communicated to the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee and members of Bishop’s Council earlier this week. Bishop David has written a report setting out the basis for his decision together with his reflections on the most substantial issues raised during the consultation. Access report here.
Bishop David considered whether the coronavirus situation provided grounds for delaying a decision, and concluded that the missional drivers behind the proposals are if anything strengthened by the issues that will need to be addressed as we emerge from the pandemic. He noted that 94% of responders to the survey recognised a need for change to the way we are organised, and felt that delaying a decision would prolong uncertainty in addressing these issues.
In his report, Bishop David recognises the need for further work to embed the new deanery arrangements in the wider plans for the diocese before moving to implementation, as we assess the immediate impact of coronavirus. He has therefore asked for further work on the future shape of the diocese to be undertaken over the summer, ahead of any recruitment to the new posts of full-time Area Dean and the move to the new deanery structures. Progress with this piece of work will reported back to Bishop’s Council in July.
Bishop David concluded “The coronavirus epidemic has itself demonstrated that we can move quickly and show flexibility when called to worship and witness, nurture and serve, in a very changed situation. The new deanery structures and full time Area Deans will have a major part to play in helping us to achieve the necessary changes so that we can ever more fully inhabit our calling to be God’s Church for a Different World.”
The principal of a Church of England secondary school in Hull, the Archbishop Sentamu Academy, has apologized to the parents of its students after pupils in a Personal, Social and Health education class were assigned pornography for homework.
The students, aged 11 to 14, were asked by their teachers to “define” pornography, soft pornography, hardcore pornography and transsexual pornography, female genital mutilation, wet dreams, trafficking, male circumcision, breast ironing and other deviant sexual practices as a homework assignment. Additional questions addressed the topics of alcohol, narcotics and smoking.
The Hull Daily Mail quoted one parent identified as “Mrs. Taylor” who complained of the impropriety of the church school’s actions. “My daughter is still very much a child,” she said. “We’ve still got magic elves, her bedroom is done in My Little Pony. She is very innocent and naïve.”
She thought the school would offer a religious ethos to its pupils. “[H]ow can they say they are a religious school but condone writing something like this in the book? I can’t get my head around it. …”
School principal Chay Bell said he was “genuinely sorry” if “parents or students have unnecessarily researched any of these phases and for any offence caused.”
He said she would ensure that parents would be informed of any “future materials” that had “any potentially sensitive content” would be disclosed before their being assigned to students, and he would make sure “all materials are fully age-appropriate.”
However, the school principal said the PSHE materials were produced “in line with government guidance” and also “cover the Equality Act of 2010.” He further stated the preteens “were not directed” to under take independent research into pornography and deviant sexual behavior, as the “answers to the questions students posed were contained in the teacher-produced materials we shared.”
The mission statement of the Sentamu Academy states: “Through Christian principles, we aim to offer an education that transforms lives and communities. Everyone in our academy community deserves to be cared for unconditionally and valued equally as a unique creation, made in the image of God.”
The statement said the school was “committed to valuing”:
The work and person of Jesus Christ, his example and his teaching;
The equality of every young person in our academy, as being created in the image of God;
Good relationships, based on mutual respect, trust, forgiveness and a fresh start every day;
The importance of accepting the responsibility to make good choices, irrespective of the circumstances we may face;
The contribution made by families, community groups and others to the well-being, education and nurture of our students and;
The pursuit of excellence in every area of our lives, so that we can all reach our full potential.”
The vicar of St John Newlands Church of England parish in Hull, the Rev. Melvin Tinker, told Anglican Ink:
“Whilst the teachers and Principal of Sentamu Academy saw no difficulty in assigning children as young as 11 years old with the task of exploring issues of pornography, alert parents armed with good common sense did. There was no question in their minds of how totally inappropriate this ‘educational’ material is for school children of any age.
“It was naïve in the extreme to think that children wouldn’t use the internet to look up these terms. The school’s gross carelessness has risked exposing pupils in their care to hardcore pornography. It may have apologised but frankly that was the very least it could do for this grossly irresponsible act.
“The Principal has promised to ensure all materials are fully age appropriate. What does that mean? When is ‘hardcore pornography’ an age-appropriate topic for school-children at all? The answer, of course, is that it is not.
“The question in the minds of most people is: Why were children being taught this material in the first place? There is simply no need for it (and much to be said against it). The law certainly doesn’t require it and it is disingenuous of the Principal to intimate that it was.
“Statutory guidance requires parents to be consulted about relationships and sex education. In this case, it seems parents were left completely in the dark which is a serious dereliction of duty on the part of the Academy.
“However, the guidance recommends that by the end of secondary school, students are taught the impact of viewing harmful content and that pornography’s distorted picture of sexual behaviours is highly damaging. What it doesn’t do is encourage schools to start teaching it to their students. The Academy’s own ‘Sex and Relationships’ policy states, ‘Children/Young people should be made aware of the way in which advertising and the media and pornography influences their views about sexuality.’ Why, then, were these young children being put at risk of having their own views about sexuality influenced by such pornography?
“The Academy needs to stop listening to the self-appointed ‘experts’ at the Sex Education Forum and start paying a lot more attention to local parents, to the wellbeing of the children and to its legal duties.”
The post Church of England secondary school assigns pre-teens pornographic homework appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
An Iranian Anglican Church member has been reconvicted of membership of a “Zionist Evangelical Christian” group “hostile to the regime” at his retrial, and convicted of the additional charge of “propaganda against the state”.
Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, 65, was informed of the verdict on Saturday, 16 May, following his retrial the previous Saturday at the 1st Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz.
Judge Seyed Mahmood Sadati reached the same verdict as in his initial February ruling by giving Ismaeil a two-year sentence for “membership of a hostile group”, but added an additional year in prison for “propaganda against the state”.
While it is likely that Ismaeil will only have to serve the longer sentence of two years, he also faces an additional three years in prison for his January conviction at a civil court for “insulting Islam”, which he would have to serve separately.
Ismaeil, who is appealing against all three convictions, initially faced four charges after his arrest in January 2019 – also “apostasy”, for which he could have faced the death sentence.
That charge was dropped during a November 2019 hearing, but the other three charges were found “applicable”, although the charge of “propaganda against the state” was not cited in his 27 February conviction, so it appeared that it had been combined with the other charge of “membership of a hostile group”.Why the retrial?
Judge Sadati called for the 9 May retrial himself, saying he had been unhappy with his initial verdict and wanted to make some “corrections”, giving hope to Ismaeil and his family that the judgment may be quashed.
However, despite the protestations of his lawyer, Farshid Rofoogaran, that Ismaeil had “in no way, shape or form been a member of any hostile organisation”, he was given an even stiffer sentence.
In his ruling, Judge Sadati referred to the findings of the intelligence agents of Iranian armed forces, who were responsible for his arrest, and Ismaeil’s alleged “admission” of guilt – for acknowledging that a Bible verse from the book of Philippians had been sent to his phone by a Christian satellite TV channel.
A printout of the verse was shown to him in the court, which he acknowledged, after which he was dismissed from the room.
His lawyer, Mr Rofoogaran, proceeded to argue that the court had not been presented “with one single reason, piece of evidence or document that would justify the verdict issued”.
He added that the indictment was “very vague” and “lacked any supporting statement”, and that Ismaeil’s only “crime” had been to receive a message from a Christian satellite television channel; he hadn’t even forwarded it to anyone.
“Even if those groups that have Telegram or WhatsApp channels are accepted as ‘hostile’,” Mr Rofoogaran said, “receiving messages without forwarding them to anyone else does not constitute membership of that organisation.”
Mr Rofoogaran went on to criticise the way the case had been handled, noting that the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” had not been observed.
Article18’s advocacy director, Mansour Borji, pointed out that “Ismaeil’s arrest took place without any prior evidence being found against him. Instead, the intelligence agents went through his personal belongings and tried to dig up evidence against him. The charge that didn’t stick they had to drop; the charges that remain have no legal basis.”
The post Iranian Anglican jailed for his faith by Revolutionary Court in Shiraz appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
Alan Bartley asks why General Synod has relinquished voluntarily its independence
In the light of the cancelling of General Synod, may I point out that under its previous name and constitution: Church Assembly, it continued to meet during the Second World War, and that in fact Church House was formally opened by George VI at its meeting in June 1940.
Perhaps more importantly, great care was taken to prevent General Synod, formerly known as Church Assembly, from being seen as a creation of the state.
The Church was careful to exclude Parliament from its creation, and when both Convocations, which incidentally pre-date Parliament, had fixed upon its proposed constitution, they appealed to King George V for permission to establish this National Assembly of the Church of England, a request which he granted, and allowed its independent creation.
Only after it had thus been independently established was Parliament then prevailed upon to give it additional civil powers by the passing of
the Enabling Act, that is The Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919. Among other things, this gave privileged access to Parliament for the passing of Measures for those matters requiring, in addition to its own inherent powers, the exercise of Parliament’s powers.
Thus in changing its name, altering its constitution and receiving from the Convocations, powers formerly exercised by the Convocations, it
sought Parliament’s ratification by the passing of the 1969 Synodical Government Measure, to ensure its civil powers and privileges continued unchallengeable.
Again, these were not changes imposed upon Church Assembly, but changes first agreed upon in Church Assembly, to which, to remove any future doubt, the Queen and civil authorities then gave their support.
Given all this, will it not set an unfortunate precedent should General Synod allow some of its members to influence Parliament or the Privy
Council to unilaterally impose alterations in its constitution without them first being proposed and agreed upon by a free meeting of General
Synod itself? Especially as we are now moving back to more normal times?
The post Letter to the editor: Is General Synod a creation of the state? appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.
The Anglican Centre in Rome opened on Monday 18 May for the first time since Italy went into lockdown. But it will be months before life will return completely to normal, with only limited numbers of visitors, limited access to religious services, and no courses for the time being. The Centre’s Director Archbishop Ian Ernest reassured friends and supporters of the Centre that these were the first steps of re-opening and that this is a time “to seize opportunities” and to “develop a greater sense of creativity.”
Strict public health protocols will have to be followed at the Centre to help ensure that Rome and the rest of Italy does not endure the further spread of the coronavirus. By Sunday night, Italy was reporting an increase of 875 new cases and 153 deaths on the previous day’s figures, increases of less than 0.4% and 0.5% respectively, marking a significant decline in the spread of the disease and of fatalities.
For the foreseeable future, only visitors with appointments will be able to enter the Anglican Centre, based in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, and only those who are Covid symptom-free and have not been in contact with people with the disease. Anybody with a body temperature of 37.5 degrees C or higher will not be allowed in, even if they have an appointment.
Although churches in Italy have been allowed to re-open for services, the small spaces of the Centre’s Saint Augustine’s Chapel mean that the Tuesday Eucharist cannot be held with worshippers present for the time being. The usual community lunch will also not take place for the moment. From this Tuesday, May 19, Archbishop Ernest will celebrate the Tuesday Eucharist from 12.45 to 1.20pm and worshippers can attend via Zoom.
Then from June 1, the Tuesday Eucharist will be held with worshippers present but according to the new protocols. Holy Communion will be offered but distribution will made according to strict regulations decided by the Churches and the Italian Government. Those who are distributing Communion will wear a mask and disposable gloves. The Centre’s protocol says that “the celebrant and any extraordinary minister …will take care to offer the bread without coming into contact with the faithful” – which is likely to mean dropping the host into the communicant’s hand.
From that day, the community lunch will be replaced by a takeaway meal offered by staff and volunteers.
Visitors will also have to be especially careful, with the Centre asking them to abide by the strict measures required by the Italian state’s public health officials:
- Visitors should wear masks
- They must respect social distancing, each keeping 1.5 metres apart from others
- They should avoid touching doors and handles, and to help with this, the entrance door will be kept open
- There will be sanitiser available for use
- Visitors are asked to arrive just before their meeting and to leave immediately afterwards.
The Centre’s Director, Archbishop Ian Ernest, said:
“It is sad that most of our plans and projects for this year are postponed. The projects to raise funds seem to be more challenging but our faithfulness and commitment to our vision and mission are being reaffirmed as the world needs, more than ever, the guidance of the Church. The Church has, over these past two months showed, how it could bring people together even at a distance. It has kept its calling as the Body of Christ to be a light to the world and salt to the earth. Whatever be our church tradition, the Church in its ensemble, is now called to support, in a Christ like manner, a new way of life which hopefully will marginalize our greed and self-centred motives.”
On Friday 15 May, Archbishop Ian represented the Association of English Churches when he signed a protocol concerning the measures for the reopening of Churches drawn up by the Italian Government. Signing took place at a meeting arranged by the Ministry of the Interior at the Palazzo Chigi, with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte present (6th on the left to Archbishop Ian in the main photo). Representatives of other Christian denominations were also present, together with Muslim, Jewish and Sikh leaders.
The signed protocol at the Palazzo Chigi for the gradual reopening of Anglican, Evangelical and Protestant Churches can be read here
During lockdown, Archbishop Ian has continued to celebrate the Tuesday Eucharist and has sent orders of service and reflections to those who regularly attend as well as other supporters. The Order of Service for these virtual Tuesday Eucharists can be found here. He has been maintaining contact with the Centre’s Board of Governors, Lambeth Palace, the Anglican Communion Office and Vatican officials. Lockdown has also given him time, he said, to study the Centre’s archives and fully understand the Centre’s history.
“Now, as we are looking forward to celebrate the fifty-fifth anniversary of its existence in 2021 and to renew our commitment to our vision, it is proper that new strategies be designed in order to adapt ourselves to the new challenges and realities emerging from this unparalleled situation we are living in,” he said.
Churches in Rome and throughout Italy have also been re-opening, as well as shops and museums. The Italian army was drafted in to help disinfect churches in time for the re-opening. The Anglican Centre will also be regularly disinfected to help combat Covid-19.