Monthly Archives: March 2014

Kevin Rudd on Same-Sex Marriage

 

from “Upworthy”

What do you do when you’re a politician live on television and a pastor who is against marriage equality asks you why you support marriage rights for all? You take note from Australia’s prime minister, Kevin Rudd, a devout Christian, and do exactly what he does in these amazing four minutes.

At 2:00, he sets a righteous trap, and by the end you’ll be giving him a standing ovation.

 

a  Jed Bartlet moment!  

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March 26, 2014 · 16:28

Change and Decay 3: The Religious Right

AlterNet / By CJ Werleman
Christian Right Has Major Role in Hastening Decline of Religion in America
Soon, there will be more atheists and agnostics than Christians.

March 22, 2014

Of those aged 18 to 35, three in 10 say they are not affiliated with any religion, while only half are “absolutely certain” a god exists. These are at or near the highest levels of religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the 25 years the Pew Research Center has been polling on these topics.

As encouraging as this data is for secular humanists, the actual numbers may be significantly higher, as columnist Tina Dupuy observes. “When it comes to self-reporting religious devotion Americans cannot be trusted. We under-estimate our calories, over-state our height, under-report our weight and when it comes to piety—we lie like a prayer rug.”

Every piece of social data suggests that those who favor faith and superstition over fact-based evidence will become the minority in this country by or before the end of this century. In fact, the number of Americans who do not believe in a deity doubled in the last decade of the previous century according to both the census of 2004 and the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of 2008, with religious non-belief in the U.S. rising from 8.2 percent in 1990 to 14.2 percent in 2001. In 2013, that number is now above 16 percent.

If current trends continue, the crossing point, whereby atheists, agnostics, and “nones” equals the number of Christians in this country, will be in the year 2062. If that gives you reason to celebrate, consider this: by the year 2130, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Christian will equal a little more than 1 percent. To put that into perspective, today roughly 1 percent of the population is Muslim.

The fastest growing religious faith in the United States is the group collectively labeled “Nones,” who spurn organized religion in favor of non-defined skepticism about faith. About two-thirds of Nones say they are former believers. This is hugely significant. The trend is very much that Americans raised in Christian households are shunning the religion of their parents for any number of reasons: the advancement of human understanding; greater access to information; the scandals of the Catholic Church; and the over-zealousness of the Christian Right.

Political scientists Robert Putman and David Campbell, the authors of American Grace, argue that the Christian Right’s politicization of faith in the 1990s turned younger, socially liberal Christians away from churches, even as conservatives became more zealous. “While the Republican base has become ever more committed to mixing religion and politics, the rest of the country has been moving in the opposite direction.”

Ironically, the rise of the Christian Right over the course of the past three decades may well end up being the catalyst for Christianity’s rapid decline. From the moment Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, evangelical Christians, who account for roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population, identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. Michael Spencer, a writer who describes himself as a post-evangelical reform Christian, says, “Evangelicals fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith. Evangelicals will be seen increasingly as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.”

In light of the recent backlash against Republicans who supported the right-to-discriminate bills across 11 states, Spencer’s words seem prophetic. Republican lawmakers had expected evangelicals to mobilize in the aftermath of Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s veto of SB1062. Instead, legislatures in states like Mississippi, Kansas, and Oklahoma have largely backed down from attempts to protect “religious freedom” after a national outcry branded the proposed bills discriminatory.

Every denomination in the U.S. is losing both affiliation and church attendance. In some ways the country is a half-generation behind the declining rate of Christianity in other western countries like the U.K., Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, and the Netherlands. In those countries, what were once churches are now art galleries, cafes and pubs. In Germany more than 50 percent say they do not believe in any god, and this number is declining rapidly. In the U.K., church attendances have halved since the 1970s.

A recent study into thebeliefs of people living in 137 countries concludes that religious people will be a minority in many developed countries by 2041. Nigel Barber, an Irish bio-psychologist, based his book, Why Atheism Will Replace Religion, on the findings. His book also debunks the popular belief that religious groups will dominate atheistic ones because they collectively have more children. “Noisy as they can be, such groups are tiny minorities of the global population and they will become even more marginalized as global prosperity increases and standards of living improve,” writes Barber.

Anthropologists have often stated that religion evolved to help early man cope with anxiety and insecurity. Barber contends that supernatural belief is in decline everywhere for the fact that ordinary people enjoy a decent standard of living and are secure in their health and finances. “The market for formal religion is also being squeezed by modern substitutes such as sports and entertainment. Even Facebook is killing religion because it provides answers for peculiarly modern narcissistic anxieties for which religion has no answer,” observes Barber.

While some polls show roughly 9 in 10 Americans still maintain belief in a god or gods, the trend of religious young Americans is toward a mish-mash of varied religious beliefs. A 2010 USA Today survey revealed that 72 percent of the nation’s young people identify as “more spiritual than religious.”

With an increasingly majority of younger Americans accepting evolution as fact, Christianity for many under 35 is becoming a watered-down hybrid of eastern philosophy and biblical teachings. “The turn towards being ‘spiritual but not religious’ points at the decreasing observation of doctrine and strict rules and a broader relationship to sentiment and ‘Jesus and me’ on the one hand alongside the rise of yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism and a blend or smorgasbord of eastern practices with the idea of being loosely/broadly spiritual—yet not in any specific context or foundation of the Trinity, Seven Deadly Sins, Karma, Nirvana or any of the pillars or branches of belief,” writes Alan Miller, moderator of a “spiritual but not religious” event.

Young people are turning away from the church and from basic Christian beliefs. While a number of non-denominational mega-churches continue to thrive, their teachings are less dogma and more self-help. Eventually, Christianity-Lite will be replaced with Spirituality-Full Strength.

Certainly, pro-secular groups have been largely successful in removing Jesus from the public square, workplace and classroom.

All of which leaves only one self-evident conclusion: that despite the Christian Right’s well-funded and well-organized effort to transform America’s secular state into a tyrannical theocracy, Christianity will inevitably mirror the days of its origins i.e. something that is only whispered about in secretly guarded places. And that may happen sooner than you think.

CJ Werleman is the author of “Crucifying America,” and “God Hates You. Hate Him Back.” Follow him on Twitter: @cjwerleman

 

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Dinosaurs and the Ark (from “AnswersinGenesis.org”)

Looney Toons Time, Folks!

Were Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?

 April 3, 2000

The story we have all heard from movies, television, newspapers, and most magazines and textbooks is that dinosaurs “ruled the Earth” for 140 million years, died out 65 million years ago, and therefore weren’t around when Noah and company set sail on the Ark around 4,300 years ago.

However, the Bible gives a completely different view of Earth (and therefore, dinosaur) history. As God’s written Word to us, we can trust it to tell the truth about the past. (For more information about the reliability of Scripture, see Get Answers: Bible.)

Although the Bible does not tell us exactly how long ago it was that God made the world and its creatures, we can make a good estimate of the age of the universe by carefully studying the whole counsel of Scripture:

  1. God made everything in six days, and rested on the seventh. (By the way, this is the basis for our seven day week—Exodus 20:8–11). Leading Hebrew scholars indicate that, based on the grammatical structure of Genesis 1, these “days” were of normal length, and did not represent long periods of time (see Get Answers: Genesis).
  2. We are told God created the first man and woman—Adam and Eve—on Day 6, along with the land animals (which would have included dinosaurs).
  3. The Bible records the genealogies from Adam to Christ. From the ages given in these lists (and accepting that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to Earth around 2,000 years ago), we can conclude that the universe is only a few thousand years old (perhaps just 6,000), and not millions of years old (see also Did Jesus Say He Created in Six Literal Days?). Thus, dinosaurs lived within the past few thousand years.

So, Were Dinosaurs on the Ark?

In Genesis 6:19–20, the Bible says that two of every sort of land vertebrate (seven of the “clean” animals) were brought by God to the Ark. Therefore, dinosaurs (land vertebrates) were represented on the Ark.

How Did Those Huge Dinosaurs Fit on the Ark?

Although there are about 668 names of dinosaurs, there are perhaps only 55 different “kinds” of dinosaurs. Furthermore, not all dinosaurs were huge like the brachiosaurus, and even those dinosaurs on the Ark were probably “teenagers” or young adults.

Creationist researcher John Woodmorappe has calculated that Noah had on board with him representatives from about 8,000 animal genera (including some now-extinct animals), or around 16,000 individual animals as a maximum number. When you realize that horses, zebras, and donkeys are probably descended from the horse-like “kind,” Noah did not have to carry two sets of each such animal. Also, dogs, wolves, and coyotes are probably from a single canine “kind,” so hundreds of different dogs were not needed.

According to Genesis 6:15 , the Ark measured 300 x 50 x 30 cubits, which is about 510 x 85 x 51 feet, with a volume of about 2.21 million cubic feet. Researchers have shown that this is the equivalent volume of over 500 semitrailers of space. 1

Without getting into all the math, the 16,000-plus animals would have occupied much less than half the space in the Ark (even allowing them some moving-around space).

Conclusion

The Bible is reliable in all areas, including its account of the Ark (and the worldwide catastrophic Flood). A Christian doesn’t have to have a blind faith to believe that there really was an Ark. What the Bible says about the Ark can even be measured and tested today.

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Louis Theroux on the Death of Fred Phelps (from the Guardian)

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Pastor Fred Phelps: ‘An angry, bigoted man who thrived on conflict’   Photograph: Rex Features

 

What motivated the man behind the placard-waving, virulently homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, AKA ‘the most hated family in America’? And what next for the church and family following his death?
Louis Theroux
Monday 24 March 2014

Pastor Fred Phelps is gone, called to glory if you believe the teachings of his hate-spewing ministry, the Westboro Baptist Church. To me it seems more likely that his remains are mouldering away somewhere, obeying the laws of physics and biology. But, either way, it seems an appropriate moment to reflect on the man and his legacy.

I had some history with “Gramps”, as his family and followers liked to call him. I made two documentaries about his church for the BBC: The Most Hated Family In America in 2006 and America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis in 2010. In all, I suppose I spent about a month with the members of the WBC, trying to figure out what induces them to dedicate their every spare moment – when they aren’t holding down respectable jobs as lawyers, correctional officers or salespeople in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas – to flying around the country, standing as close to funeral-goers as they are legally allowed and waving hate-filled placards with slogans such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”, “Fags Eat Poop”, and, of course, “God Hates Fags”. They became notorious for picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the WBC teachings, the soldiers were being punished for fighting for a nation doomed in the eyes of God for its tolerance of homosexuality

Their main scriptural inspiration is the passage in Leviticus that mandates the death penalty for gay sex (“Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is an abomination”) though, for some reason, the adjacent verses, which proscribe astrology in similar terms, never seem to excite the WBC quite so much. Not to mention that Christ had nothing to say on the subject of gay sex or shouting at funerals and plenty to say about kindness and humility.

The WBC has tended to be a family affair, overwhelmingly made up of Gramps’ lineal descendants and their spouses. They live in suburban Topeka, in a collection of houses with connected gardens, which they call Zion. Gramps was the prime mover behind the practices of the church. He founded it when the idea of abominating sodomites was mainstream in American Christian circles. In some respects, it was the times that changed, leaving the WBC behind in their dogged adherence to old-style fire-and-brimstone Bible-thumping. But it’s also the case that homosexuality seems to have been an obsession with Pastor Phelps.

According to legend, the WBC inaugurated their anti-gay pickets when a Topeka park became a cruising ground in the 1980s. The Phelps decided to make signs and demonstrate against the practice. The WBC doctrine evolved into a belief that the whole of America was fallen and damned in God’s eyes, as was anyone who fought under the US flag – or, indeed, who wasn’t a member of the Westboro Baptist Church. We are all either “fags” or “fag enablers” – you, me, Desmond Tutu, Princess Di, Donald Rumsfeld, Billy Graham, Liz Taylor – though possibly not Robert Mugabe: Gramps had a soft spot for him. An eternity in hell is the fate of anyone who doesn’t get baptised into the WBC and travel the country waving hate-filled placards at political events, colleges and places associated – even in the most tortuously oblique way – with tolerance of homosexuality.

While I was with them, they had a regular local picket of a hardware store that sold Swedish vacuum cleaners. The Swedish government had imprisoned a pastor for homophobic preaching, and for the WBC that made the store a legitimate target for a ritualised Biblical smackdown. For the newcomer, these pickets were bizarre, not simply because of the venom of the signs, but also because they clashed with the banality of the family interaction. For the Phelpses, it was another day at the office – there was a water-cooler ambience of chit-chat. Meanwhile, everyone, even the youngest child, was carrying placards saying: “Thank God for 9/11”, “Your Pastor is a Whore” and “Fag Sweden”.

There is no question that their caravan of religious bigotry has made life miserable for thousands of people, many of them vulnerable mourners hoping to pay tribute to recently departed loved ones. Among their proposed picketing targets was the funeral of young Amish children who had been shot by a deranged gunman. In the tortured logic of the WBC, those kids died because their parents weren’t out holding pickets denouncing homosexuality. In the end, the WBC called off the event only after they were promised airtime on a local radio station, effectively holding the community to ransom.

But the WBC also made life miserable for themselves and inflicted a distorted and poisonous view of the world on the youngest members of their own family, holding over their heads the threat that any deviation or failure of commitment (not going to a picket or socialising with outsiders) would result in a lifetime of banishment. Ex-members – of whom there are quite a few – can have no contact with the church.

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Louis Theroux with members of the Phelps family during the making of his first documentary. Photograph: BBC

Given their eagerness to court controversy, it’s not surprising that there are misapprehensions about the WBC. Unlike hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the WBC members never claim to hate gay people themselves, only that God does. I’m pretty sure there was at least one gay man in the congregation of the WBC. Even on the pickets, the Phelps family members could be civil. For most of the Phelpses, the hostility they expressed was a role that they enacted, dictated by a doctrine they had imbibed from their church leader and paterfamilias. You can find videos on YouTube of counter-demonstrators having cordial chats with Phelps picketers. I don’t doubt that, if you knocked on the door of one of the second generation of the family, said you had some questions about Jesus, they’d let you in and maybe offer you a glass of water. Pastor Phelps was a different story: he was a hater by instinct.

I’m proud to say he took against me from the moment we met. I asked him how many children he had. He disliked this question – I think he found me trivial. The interview was cut short. Over subsequent days, we continued filming but I hardly saw him. I had the feeling he was hiding from me. We eventually crossed paths again, in church one Sunday after his sermon on the subject of America’s coming tribulations, in which he bellowed: “You’re going to eat your babies!” One-to-one, Gramps still had the remnants of a folksy, plainspoken charm, but underneath was a bitter contempt for humanity in general and me specifically. I asked him how he could possibly know that the WBC members were the only people bound for heaven. “I can’t talk to you – you’re just too dumb,” he said. It seemed that I was a hellbound sinner. Well, at least I was in good company.

I’ve heard people speculate that Phelps had repressed gay leanings or that perhaps he was sexually assaulted when he was young, leading to a lasting animosity to homosexuality. Personally, I doubt it. I think there may be a small clue to his mindset in his having attended West Point military academy: I suspect he hated it there and had a lasting dislike of the military, which partly explains the picketing of funerals. But there may be no simple explanation for his behaviour. He was just an angry, bigoted man who thrived on conflict. There are credible reports from his disaffected offspring (four of his 13 children left the church) that he was physically abusive to his wife, Marge; he was violent to his children and had an intermittent problem with pills. He was also a lawyer and won some civil-rights cases, receiving an award from the NAACP. But he liked going against the grain.

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Members of the Phelps family protesting outside Arlington National Cemetery. Photograph: MCT via Getty Images

The members of the WBC like being attacked for their activities. They thrive on the presence of counter-demonstrators – the patriotic bikers who would sometimes turn up and rev their engines to drown out the WBC’s songs at military funerals and also the students who turned out in droves to sing and register their dissent when the WBC held pickets near their campus. For the church, this meant they were getting a reaction and they would quote Bible verses to the effect that being hated by the world was a sign of godliness. Indifference was harder for them to deal with, although they have faced plenty of that as well without being much deterred.

It has been reported that Pastor Phelps had been “excommunicated” from his own church before he died (probably this doesn’t mean much more than being prevented from preaching; I doubt he was out wandering the streets). In 2010 I heard a similar rumour. Then, the word was that Gramps was panicking about a multimillion-dollar lawsuit brought against the church by the family of a dead soldier whose funeral they had picketed. (The WBC won the case on appeal.) The rest of the church viewed Gramps’ failure of nerve as evidence of lack of faith in God’s plan and they put him on the naughty pew for a time-out.

The truth is, despite being its founder and main preacher, Gramps had been a marginal figure within the WBC for some years. When I made my documentaries, the dominant force was Fred’s daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, a gifted organiser who could sling religious obloquy while holding four separate placards and wearing a bandana with a message of religious hate – in a different context, it would have been impressive. In fact, underneath her programming, and despite all the pain she inflicted in the name of her religion, she is basically a kind person.

 

Shirley Phelps-Roper on a demonstration with her son, Luke.

Shirley Phelps-Roper on a demonstration with her son, Luke. Photograph: Sipa Press

But my sense is that Shirley has been pushed aside by an axis of WBC men, among them her brothers, Tim and Jonathan, and also the WBC convert Steve Drain, with Steve possibly in the driving seat. This is speculation on my part, but it struck me when I spent time among the WBC members that Steve was the most likely to take over the church. Steve had originally come to the WBC to make a documentary (called Hatemongers) and ended up moving in and bringing his wife and two daughters from Florida. It was striking that he too called Pastor Phelps “Gramps”. He had become disconnected from his own parents and found a surrogate family in the Phelps clan. Steve is an intelligent man but arrogant. In personality, he is closer to Pastor Phelps than any of Gramps’ natural children. I met and interviewed all three of Pastor Phelps’ sons who remain in the church: they all have the slight air of being survivors of an abusive upbringing.

Where the WBC goes from here is anybody’s guess. I haven’t been following its doings as closely in recent years. Evidently they have attracted new members from outside the family. A few years ago there was news that a US marine and his family had been baptised into the church. Just as striking was the report that a British man had moved to Topeka from England, joined the church and married Jael Phelps. A few weeks ago I found a photo on Twitter of Jael at a picket holding a tiny baby. In its abundant procreation, the family has a guaranteed supply of future recruits.

I don’t expect huge changes with Gramps’ death. The church has always operated according to the dynamics of a large family rather than a cult. Cults don’t typically excommunicate their charismatic leaders. Families do: they put their ageing parents in a granny annex and take away the keys to the car. Maybe, as with other families, the bereavement will bring them together. In another context, that might be a comforting thought. In this case one rather wishes that the second generation would continue to feud and fragment – and perhaps in the process moderate their way of thinking and get in touch with some of the apostate children they no longer see.

The more chilling thought is a backward-looking one, of how one man’s legacy is likely to continue. Gramps’ offspring, and their offspring, have been raised to believe that abuse is kindness. The natural bonds of family have been braided into this twisted thinking so that children who love their parents and siblings can’t separate those feelings from their sense of obligation to the church and its creed. And when they leave they also take with them the nagging guilt and fear that haven’t just lost a family: they have lost their only chance of salvation.

 

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March 25, 2014 · 09:34

Finished?

UUTISET
NEWS
News 23.3.2014 14:22 | updated 23.3.2014 14:22
AL: Church to give up license to marry over same-sex unions?
The Tampere daily Aamulehti reports on Sunday that the Lutheran church may give up the right to perform official marriage ceremonies if a law on same-sex marriage passes parliament. Bishop of Porvoo Björn Vikström told the paper that he has considered how the church might reconcile itself with the possible new law.

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Bishop Björn Vikström Image: YLE
The church should consider giving up the right to perform marriages if a law on gender-neutral marriage passes parliament, according to the bishop of Porvoo Björn Vikström. He made the comments in an interview with Aamulehti, saying that the move might ease conflicts within the church over who it should marry.

The church would then bless unions in church. Vikström believes that same-sex couples should also have the right to see their marriage blessed in church.

“I think it should be like that, but I know that this too is a difficult question for the church,” Vikström told Aamulehti. “Maybe it isn’t quite as difficult a question as marrying gay couples.”

Even if parliament did pass a law allowing gay marriages, churches would not be compelled to host gay marriage ceremonies. Vikström says that it is in any case important to consider different options. They would be: continue as normal, with no gay marriages in churches; continue to marry couples, including gay couples; and giving up the right to officially marry couples at all.

Sources Yle, Aamulehti

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Judge Dread (Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs)

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Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills Photo: ALAMY

Telegraph.co.uk – Sunday 23 March 2014   By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor 22 Mar 2014

Islamic law is to be effectively enshrined in the British legal system for the first time under guidelines for solicitors on drawing up “Sharia compliant” wills.

Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.
The documents, which would be recognised by Britain’s courts, will also prevent children born out of wedlock – and even those who have been adopted – from being counted as legitimate heirs.
Anyone married in a church, or in a civil ceremony, could be excluded from succession under Sharia principles, which recognise only Muslim weddings for inheritance purposes.
Nicholas Fluck, president of The Law Society, said the guidance would promote “good practice” in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.

Some lawyers, however, described the guidance as “astonishing”, while campaigners warned it represented a major step on the road to a “parallel legal system” for Britain’s Muslim communities.
Baroness Cox, a cross-bench peer leading a Parliamentary campaign to protect women from religiously sanctioned discrimination, including from unofficial Sharia courts in Britain, said it was a “deeply disturbing” development and pledged to raise it with ministers.
“This violates everything that we stand for,” she said. “It would make the Suffragettes turn in their graves.”
The guidance, quietly published this month and distributed to solicitors in England and Wales, details how wills should be drafted to fit Islamic traditions while being valid under British law.
It suggests deleting or amending standard legal terms and even words such as “children” to ensure that those deemed “illegitimate” are denied any claim over the inheritance.
It recommends that some wills include a declaration of faith in Allah which would be drafted at a local mosque, and hands responsibility for drawing up some papers to Sharia courts.
The guidance goes on to suggest that Sharia principles could potentially overrule British practices in some disputes, giving examples of areas that would need to be tested in English courts.
Currently, Sharia principles are not formally addressed by or included in Britain’s laws.  However, a network of Sharia courts has grown up in Islamic communities to deal with disputes between Muslim families.

A few are officially recognised tribunals, operating under the Arbitration Act.
They have powers to set contracts between parties, mainly in commercial disputes, but also to deal with issues such as domestic violence, family disputes and inheritance battles.
But many more unofficial Sharia courts are also in operation.
Parliament has been told of a significant network of more informal Sharia tribunals and “councils”, often based in mosques, dealing with religious divorces and even child custody matters in line with religious teaching.
They offer “mediation” rather than adjudication, although some hearings are laid out like courts with religious scholars or legal experts sitting in a manner more akin to judges than counsellors.
One study estimated that there were now around 85 Sharia bodies operating in Britain. But the new Law Society guidance represents the first time that an official legal body has recognised the legitimacy of some Sharia principles.
It opens the way for non-Muslim lawyers in High Street firms to offer Sharia will drafting services. The document sets out crucial differences between Sharia inheritance laws and Western traditions.
It explains how, in Islamic custom, inheritances are divided among a set list of heirs determined by ties of kinship rather than named individuals. It acknowledges the possibility of people having multiple marriages.
“The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class,” the guidance says. “Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised.
Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir, as the entitlement depends on a valid Muslim marriage existing at the date of death. This means you should amend or delete some standard will clauses.”

It advises lawyers to draft special exclusions from the Wills Act 1837, which allows gifts to pass to the children of an heir who has died, because this is not recognised in Islamic law.
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “This guidance marks a further stage in the British legal establishment’s undermining of democratically determined human rights-compliant law in favour of religious law from another era and another culture. British equality law is more comprehensive in scope and remedies than any elsewhere in the world. Instead of protecting it, The Law Society seems determined to sacrifice the progress made in the last 500 years.”
Lady Cox said: “Everyone has freedom to make their own will and everyone has freedom to let those wills reflect their religious beliefs. But to have an organisation such as The Law Society seeming to promote or encourage a policy which is inherently gender discriminatory in a way which will have very serious implications for women and possibly for children is a matter of deep concern.”

 

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FOOTNOTE:  Scots Law is different from English; I don’t know if this will apply here (Meenister)

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Keep Clear!

Keep Clear!

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March 23, 2014 · 08:11

Whatever!

Whatever!

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March 23, 2014 · 08:09

Oh, Noah!

Huff Post : 03/22/2014

Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming Biblical drama “Noah” may be “the least biblical biblical film ever made,” as the director said, but it turns out quite a few Christian leaders enjoy the film in spite of that.

Cooke Pictures, a company that produces media programming for nonprofit and religious organizations, released a video on Friday showing Christian leaders reacting to “Noah.” Despite objections from some in the religious community saying the film took unwarranted creative license with the Bible story, not everyone is so critical.

Leaders from organizations like American Bible Society, National Catholic Register, The King’s College, Q Ideas, Hollywood Prayer Network, and Focus on the Family offer their opinions in the video — and, for the most part, they are glowing.

Here are some of the Christian leaders’ reactions:

“Darren Aronofsky is not a theologian, nor does he claim to be. He is a filmmaker and a storyteller, and in ‘Noah’, he has told a compelling story. It is a creative interpretation of the scriptural account that allows us to imagine the deep struggles Noah may have wrestled with as he answered God’s call on his life.” — Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family

“‘Noah’ is big and bold and entertaining, and without a doubt pro-faith and pro-God.” — Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

“While ‘Noah’ makes no claims to be an inerrant retelling of the Scripture, it is a great tool to draw genuine intrigue in what the Bible does say. The film draws forward the themes of obedience and its consequences, sin and judgment, and mercy and justice, all in the context of the early interaction between God and man.” — Andrew Palau, Luis Palau Association

“‘Noah’ tells a wonderful story and still points us to major truths of God: the consequences of sin, a fallen mankind, divine justice and divine mercy. God will definitely use this film in our culture and it’s our choice as Christians to decide if we want to join in the conversation or not.” — Karen Covell, Founding Direction, Hollywood Prayer Network

“‘Noah’ is nothing short of astonishing. I am confident that it will be remembered as a film that helped re-enchant a new generation with the biblical narrative. Honestly, it is path-breaking.” — Greg Thornbury, President, The King’s College

Among those who will not be watching ‘Noah’, however, are Pope Francis and Glenn Beck. In a recent video Beck called the film “dangerous disinformation”, saying that, if allowed to watch it, children will believe the film’s Noah story over the Bible’s.

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Change and Decay 2: Church of England

imageJust 800,000 worshippers attend a Church of England service on the average Sunday
Numbers in the pews have fallen to less than half the levels of the 1960s
Census evidence shows a widespread fall in allegiance to Christianity
Numbers of Christians has fallen more than four million in a decade

By STEVE DOUGHTY, SOCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
PUBLISHED: 00:06, 22 March 2014   Daily Mail

The Church of England attracts fewer than 800,000 worshippers to its churches on a typical Sunday, according to new estimates yesterday.

Numbers in the pews have fallen to less than half the levels of the 1960s, the count showed.

The signs of continuing decline in support for the CofE follow census evidence of a widespread fall in allegiance to Christianity, with numbers calling themselves Christian dropping by more than four million in a decade.

Fewer than 800,000 worshippers attend Church of England services on Sundays. Census evidence has revealed a fall in the number of people denoting themselves as Christians. Congregation levels now stand at half the level of the 1960s

The Church’s figure for ‘usual Sunday attendance’, the method used since the 1930s to measure congregations, found CofE churches had 795,800 worshippers on Sundays in 2012. The numbers were 9,000 down on the previous year.

They indicate that repeated efforts by the Church to modernise its services and its image – through a series of modern language rewrites of its prayer book, attempts by its leaders to appeal to supposed public concern with poverty, and efforts to make its government more efficient – have not succeeded in drawing young people.
Its report yesterday said that research had shown ‘there is no single recipe for growth; there are no simple solutions to decline’, adding ‘the Church must retain its young people if it is to thrive.’

Dr Bev Botting, the Church’s research chief, said: ‘These statistics for 2012 show that weekly attendance over the past decade has not changed significantly. The introduction of cleaner data and more rigorous methodological approaches and analysis means these figures provide a clearer picture of Anglican churchgoing in the decade to 2012.’

Church officials abandoned the ‘usual Sunday attendance’ method of counting as their main measure of congregations in the late 1990s after is showed numbers in the pew had dwindled below a million. It now uses for the headline figure ‘average weekly attendance’, which takes in people who come to churches on days other than Sunday.
The weekly figure averaged 1.05 million in 2012, showing ‘no significant change over the past decade.’

According to the 2011 national census, the number of Christians fell by 4.1 million over 10 years to 33.2 million – of whom only a third go to church except for wedding, baptisms or funerals.

The census found a 45 per cent rise over the same 10 years in numbers who say they have no religion, to 14.1 million in 2001.
The decline of religion is at its fastest among young people. Nearly a third, 32 per cent, of those under 25 said on their census forms that they had no religious belief.

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