Update from 'Christian Concern for Our Nation'.
Latest: Ruth Kelly delays publication of the the regulations: 'The consultation process undertaken by the Government received an unprecedented response and has forced the Minister for Equality, Ruth Kelly to delay publication until further research can be undertaken into the impact that these regulation may have upon faith groups.' [CARE] 8/9/06
Since the end of the consultation process on the SORs in June this year, the political issue went quiet over the summer. However, with only a week to go before Parliament is recalled, the issue has again leapt to the fore amid concern that in only a few weeks time the Government are going to try and push through a version of the Regulations which does not offer sufficient protection to guarantee Christians' freedom of conscience. We therefore urge everyone who is concerned by the SORs to write to or visit their MPs to explain that Christians must be given the freedom to live in accordance with the Bible's teaching: so that we are free to accurately convey the message that Jesus loves homosexuals and yet hates the sin of sex outside marriage. Full details of the issues involved and how to lobby on this issue are contained below. Back in May and June, Christian Concern for our Nation called the Christian community to respond to the Government consultation in order to stand up for our right to conduct our lives according to the Bible's teaching. We were amazed at the time, effort, sensitivity and thoughtfulness that people put into responding on this issue. When delegates from the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship met with civil servants at the Home Office, we were told that the Government had been surprised by the numbers who had responded to the consultation: almost 3000 formal responses. The civil servants also said that the majority of responses (around 3/5) were 'faith-based'. We are certain that many of those were from CCFON subscribers.
Unfortunately, since the consultation closed on the 5th June, the Home Office have not made it very clear about what is happening with the SORs. We do know that they have now finished analysing the responses to the consultation, and are some way to drafting a version of the Regulations which they hope to put before Parliament in mid-October. From the limited information the Government will give us, we think that despite the strong and principled arguments made by Christians in response to the consultation, they are not intending to address some of our key concerns. It does look like the Government might provide an exception from the Regulations for 'organised religion'. If this is the case, churches would not be required to provide goods, services, facilities etc to someone, if to do so would promote, assist or encourage that person to continue in sexual practice outside marriage. However, the Government seem determined not to provide that same protection for 'individual' Christians. This is extremely worrying. What it would mean is that Mr A, a vicar, would not have to give a blessing to practicing homosexual Civil Partners in his church, but if he also conducts ceremonies in, for example, a Christian convention centre, he would have to give the blessing. This is just one of thousands of possible examples.
As you can tell, to fail to give individual Christians the right to refuse to assist, encourage, promote or facilitate homosexual practice, is extremely worrying for all Christians. So, it is clear that this issue is far from over, and Christians need to be active in praying and lobbying, in order to safeguard our freedom of conscience: our freedom to act in accordance with the Bible. Because the SORs are Regulations, not a full Act of Parliament, the SORs when put before Parliament, will not have a full debate. Neither do they need to have the usual 3 'readings' in the House of Commons and House of Lords. It is a much quicker, more straightforward process. The expectation is that with Regulations Parliament will simply 'rubberstamp' and give the go ahead. It is over 30 years since a Regulation was defeated once it was put before Parliament. For this reason, if you want to do something to influence this law, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT! We urge everyone to pray and call on the Lord. In order to try and make sure sufficient protections are added to the Regulations, pressure needs to be put on MPs and ministers so that they understand that even if they do protect 'organised religion', this is not enough. One of the main problems with the SORs is that there is very little awareness in Parliament that they even exist, and even where MPs have heard of them, they have little understanding. This is where you can make a real difference. We urge everyone who is concerned by the SORs to write to or visit their MPs to explain that Christians must be given the freedom of conscience to live in accordance with the Bible's teaching. A leading QC, acting on behalf of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, has drafted a change to the SORs which we believe would offer substantial protection to Christians to guarantee their freedom to act with integrity according to the Bible's teaching. The proposed amendment is attached to this e-mail and we urge everyone to put a copy of it before their MP When considering this issue it is good to remember that when Christians were called to act over the Religious Hatred Bill, many thousands campaigned and lobbied their MPs and local members of the House of Lords, and the hearts of many of those politicians were changed. As Christians all we can do is pray that the truth will be made known, do what we can to tell others about that truth, and trust God to use our efforts for His glory. To help you pray and act on this issues, we have produced a number of resources, all of which are available
For an example of a submission to the consultation process, see here.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Update from 'Christian Concern for Our Nation'.
Monday, September 25, 2006
"The UN's 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child has not been implemented for all children. The convention is often unjustly reinterpreted to limit its scope just to children who have been born. Amnesty International is currently consulting its members all over the world on the question of whether to campaign actively to make abortion a human right. The Amnesty for Babies campaign is promoting the rights of unborn children through a petition to the international community. "
For a direct link to sign the petition, click here.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Currrent status: complaints, please.
For an example of the BBC's reports, see here
To make a complaint to the BBC use the website here.
(NB you will need to refer to specific BBC web pages containing unbalanced reporting when making your complaint.)
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Schools: Promotion of contraception, abortion, and homosexuality
Current status: background information from recent news stories.
Current status: background information from recent news stories.
See here for commentary from Joanna Bogle.
See here for commentary from Joanna Bogle.
This is an issue of ever-greater concern. Please be aweare of what is going on in your local school and diocese. Catholic schools are not excempt from government pressures.
The Vatican has c onsistently reiterated the right of parents as the first educators of their children. ThePontifical Council for the Family has reiterated that the only acceptable form of 'sex education' is one in which explicit sexual info rmation is not given to pre-pubescant children later education is conducted one-to-one, by a parent of the same sex as the child, unless it is absolutely necessary for another person to fulfill this function. (See quotations at the end of this post.)
The Vatican has c
onsistently reiterated the right of parents as the first educators of their children. ThePontifical Council for the Family has reiterated that the only acceptable form of 'sex education' is one in which explicit sexual info
rmation is not given to
pre-pubescant children(unless to correct errors picked up from other sources), and
later education is conducted one-to-one, by a parent of the same sex as the child, unless it is absolutely necessary for another person to fulfill this function. (See quotations at the end of this post.)
New laws could force homosexual lessons on schools. Primary and secondary schools throughout the UK may be forced to promote homosexuality as part of the curriculum. The Government is set to introduce new laws that ban discrimination against homosexuality in, amongst other things, education. Unless changed, the laws will apply to the content of the school curriculum. It is feared that homosexual rights groups will use these new laws to insist on lessons that promote homosexuality. There are already attempts to push pro-homosexual resources into the classroom. A report published jointly by the Department of Education and aged from five upwards, Government departments recommend 12 books including Daddy's Roommate, Hello Sailor, and The Sissy Duckling.the Department of Health has recommended a number of resources to help challenge 'homophobia' in schools. For children Amongst the four books recommended for secondary-aged children is the sexually explicit novel, Strange Boy, in which a ten-year-old boy has a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy. Schools are currently able to refuse to use these materials and, despite the materials being promoted by the Government, it is believed that not many schools are using them. However the proposed Sexual Orientation Regulations could change this. Schools could be required to use books like these if the curriculum is not exempted from these laws. Homosexual rights groups could use the laws to litigate against any school that doesn't use pro-gay resources, especially if those resources are recommended by a Government website for schools. Homosexual rights groups in Canada have used similar laws to threaten schools in this way. In a public consultation on the regulations several homosexual groups made it very clear that they want these laws to apply specifically to the curriculum. If the current list of Government-approved resources is anything to go by, parents ought to be deeply concerned about what may lie in store. Pray, and write to your MP. NB See for yourself: see here and download item 10 [Christian Institute]
Morning-after-pill has no effect on abortion statistics
'Evidence continues to grow that state-sponsored promotion of birth control is counter-productive in reducing abortions among teenagers. The government's strategy of promoting the morning-after pill is proving to be a disaster, especially for young people and above all for the embryonic unborn children who may be aborted by the pill. Promoting morning-after pills may also encourage risky sexual behaviour and appears to be fuelling the explosion in sexually transmitted infections among young people. Over the past five years the numbers of abortions on under-16 year-olds each year has not declined. The number has increased slightly overall in fact. ' [SPUC]
New reports are backing up the contentions pro-life groups have been making for months saying that the morning after pill will fail to reduce both abortion and teen pregnancy rates even if it's made available for sales over the counter. New British figures back up those from Scotland showing it's not the case. Figures show abortion rates in England have risen from 11 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in 1984 to 17. 8 per 1,000 in 2004. In the past five years since the morning-after pill was made available over-the-counter, hundreds of thousands of women have used it but the number of British abortions has also risen steadily from 186,300 in 2001 to 194,400 last year. Professor Anna Glasier, director of the Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust in Edinburgh, wrote an article in the British Medical Journal showing that, while the morning after pill had been called a solution for both abortion and teen pregnancies, it failed to deliver. 'Despite the clear increase in the use of emergency contraception, abortion rates have not fallen in the UK,' she wrote. [LifeNews] Free morning after pills will be handed out to pupils under the age of consent at every school in England, it emerged this week. School nurses are to be told to dish out contraception and could even arrange secret abortions for teenagers without their parents' knowledge under a controversial push by Tony Blair to tackle teenage pregnancy. The Prime Minister launched the massive expansion of the Government's sex education policy by vowing 'better access to contraceptives' for under-18s. And he defended his provocative call for nuisance children to be identified 'pre-birth' by declaring: 'Their fate is our business.' There are currently 2,409 nurses who work in groups of primary and secondary schools across the country, but the new plan would be a massive extension to every school. The teenage pregnancy plan outraged family campaigners who warned it would only fuel soaring rates of conception among teenagers. Ministers have promised to halve teenage pregnancy rates - the highest in Western Europe - by 2010. But shocking figures last month revealed that the number of teenage pregnancies in England has risen by nearly 12 per cent in ten years. Details of the plan will be outlined next week in the Government's new teenage pregnancy strategy paper. It is understood it will focus on encouraging boys to use condoms by making them more freely available at school. School nurses and visiting GPs will be told to help pupils get the morning-after pill, pregnancy tests and terminations without their parents' knowledge. Guidance for schools was launched by the Departments for Education and Health earlier this year. But the new campaign headed by Mr Blair will hammer home to teachers and nurses of their 'obligations' to freely distribute contraception to schoolchildren. Mr Blair said: 'We will focus efforts on teenage pregnancy on those areas where rates are rising against the overall downward trend with improved social and relationships education. We will begin an expanded media campaign and offer better access to contraceptives, where appropriate.' The move followed his plan trailed last week to intervene in problem families at an early age, and even identify unruly children before birth - a move promptly dubbed 'Fasbos' or Asbos for foetuses. The Government has already ploughed £138 million of taxpayers' money into the problem. Tax on condoms and other contraceptive products such as the morning-after pill was slashed by Gordon Brown this year as part of a drive to improve sexual health. Official guidance to primary and secondary school heads says that nurses will be able to 'provide contraceptive advice to pupils and emergency contraception and pregnancy testing to young women'. School nurses are told to 'support young women to access services to make timely choices about emergency contraception, pregnancy or abortion'. Rising numbers of clinics based at secondary schools already offer free condoms and the morning-after pill to pupils or arrange fast-tracked doctors' appointments. Thousands of 13-year-old girls have been handed the morning-after pill by health service staff without their parents' permission. Last year it emerged that as many as one in three children has easy access to condoms and emergency contraception at secondary school. Among 302 primary care trusts across the country, around 2,400 girls aged 13 or younger received the morning-after pill on the NHS last year. They are able to get hold of the morning-after pill and other contraception without their parents' knowledge. Some schools now have clinics on site which are staffed by health professionals or visiting GPs who can give out condoms and prescriptions for the morning-after pill. Other services simply refer pupils on to doctors and family planning clinics during school time or provide information about where they can get help. Boys as young as 11 can get so-called 'C Cards' which entitle them to free condoms from chemists or family planning clinics. Girls can receive 'U Cards' - meaning urgent - which are supposed to give them fast-track GP appointments for the morning after pill. A controversial scheme involving health workers visiting teenage girls in their homes could also be expanded nationwide. The plan introduced in Gateshead six years ago was condemned after a nurse revealed she had given a contraceptive jab in a McDonalds toilet to a girl who had unprotected sex following a drinking binge. [Daily Mail] 1287.30
See the Daily Mail story here.
Child abuse in the classroom
'Children at primary school are being shown explicit animations of human sexual intercourse, accompanied by detailed verbal accounts of sex and masturbation', writes John Smeaton in Issue 34 of Pro-Life Times. 'These are just some of the elements in the Channel Four series Living and Growing which is being used for sex and relationships education at St William of York RC primary school in Forest Hill. As well as animated sequences showing sex and ejaculation, the series includes distressing sequences of a live childbirth, and treats alternative lifestyles as comparable to marriage. The programme also encourages primary school age children to investigate and discuss lurid magazines and TV soaps. Speaking publicly for the first time about their two-year struggle to protect their children from such inappropriate material, Stan and Patricia Wocial want to warn other parents about what can happen in the classroom. 'This type of material can undermine a child's natural sexual reserve whilst giving them a dread of childbirth,' Mr and Mrs Wocial told the Pro-Life Times. 'We know of little girls saying they never want to have children after seeing the birth scene. At one time parents could assume that their children would be safe from inappropriate sex education in school. This is not the case now. Parents need to reclaim their right to teach their children individually about sex and childbirth without being pre-empted by the school. They should make sure they see all the sex related materials used in the school, including science.' Mr and Mrs Wocial withdrew their seven-year-old daughter from, sex and relationship education classes at the school when they found out about Living and Growing. They feel that parents should not be afraid to withdraw their child from any lessons that use inappropriate material. Mr and Mrs Wocial have been frustrated in their repeated attempts to get the head teacher, school governors, the diocese, and their education authority to recognise the social and spiritual damage that may result from this kind of programme. Antonia Tully of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, which supports parents facing such problems, said: 'It is government policy to promote sex education in primary schools to reduce teenage pregnancy. Yet the figures for teenage pregnancy and abortion are not declining significantly. Indeed, evidence suggests that more school-based sex information means more precocious sexual activity, not less. In Birmingham, schools are now being given expert help to deal with seven-year olds who are acting in a sexualized manner. We cannot ignore the influence of this sort of insidious sex education on young children. Concerned readers who would like to take action should contact Antonia Tully at the Safe at School campaign on email@example.com or telephone 020 7222 5845 or write to Antonia Tully, Safe at School, 5-6 St Matthew Street, London SW1P 2JT. [Pro-Life Times Sept06; CFNews]
Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy Free condoms should be handed to children - possibly as young as 12 - in sports halls, shops and swimming baths, Government advisers suggested on Thursday. They also called for five-year-olds to have compulsory 'relationship lessons' to drive down the number of pregnant youngsters. The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy, which provides advice to ministers and monitors Government strategy, does not specify the age group that should receive the condoms. But condoms should be 'easily accessible to young people' and 'new and creative approaches of getting condoms into the community would be the next logical step', it says. Robert Whelan, of the Civitas think-tank, was scathing in his criticism. 'Up until now we have always taken a dim view about people who go to swimming baths to talk to little boys about sex. Now it seems to be Government policy. This is not progress. '
Other critics said that the Government's teenage pregnancy strategy - based on education and the availability of contraceptives - had clearly failed, with rates of sexually transmitted infections among teenagers remaining high. Gill Frances, of the National Children's Bureau, who leads the independent advisory group, said: 'No sensible person would give a small child a condom. ' However, she added: 'We are not specifying an age. ' Asked whether the plan could include 12- or 13-year-olds, she said: 'If a young person is having sex, he or she needs advice or support. ' She envisaged a youth advisory service within a sports facility, town hall or a school issuing the condoms. The panel's report says that longer-lasting contraceptives, such as injections and implants, should also be widely available. The panel's recommendations come amid a debate about how to cut the teenage pregnancy rate, the highest in western Europe. The panel's report says it is 'critical' for the Government to 'be brave' and make sex education - personal, social and health education - compulsory in schools 'at all key stages'. The youngest primary school children should be taught about 'relationships and friendships'. By 10, pupils should know about menstruation, physical changes in puberty, and correct names for reproductive organs. Detailed discussion of sex would be compulsory for children of 11 and over and there should be lessons on abortion. Current lessons left pregnant teenagers ill-equipped to 'assess abortion as an option', the report says.
On Monday, the Social Exclusion Action Plan is published. It will spell out the latest Government plans for tackling teenage pregnancy. Recent figures show a drop in the teenage pregnancy rate. However critics say the fall in the 'rates' - the number of pregnancies per thousand - can be attributed in part to an increasing population. This includes a large number of Muslim families where teenage pregnancy is rare. Behind the 'rates', official statistics show a rising number of girls under 14 becoming pregnant and the Government missing its target for cutting the under-18 pregnancy rate by 15 per cent from its 1998 level. [Telegraph]
See here for the Department of Health report.
See here for the Telegraph article.
A sinister cocktail of junk food, marketing, over-competitive schooling and electronic entertainment is poisoning childhood, says a group of British experts in a letter to The Daily Telegraph. The letter is signed by 110 teachers, psychologists, children's authors and other experts who call on the government to act to prevent the death of childhood. They express deep concern 'at the escalating incidence of childhood depression' and say children's developing brains cannot cope with 'ever more rapid technological and cultural change'. 'They still need what developing human beings have always needed, including real food (as opposed to processed 'junk'), real play (as opposed to sedentary, screen-based entertainment), first-hand experience of the world they live in and regular interaction with the real-life significant adults in their lives.' The group complains that the primary school curriculum is test-driven, and that children are 'pushed by market forces to act and dress like mini-adults and exposed via the electronic media to material which would have been considered unsuitable for children even in the very recent past.' [Telegraph]
Parents' primordial rights cannot be transfered
Archbishop Luis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona reminded parents this week that the education of their children is their primordial right and that teachers complement them in that task but are not substitutes.'Parents cannot transfer to teachers and to schools their own unique responsibility of educating their children. This also means that teachers cannot substitute for the parents, but rather they must help them and complement them in their educational task,' the archbishop wrote in a letter entitled, 'Parents and the School.' Archbishop Martinez Sistach explained that parents 'entrust the education of their children to the school and its teachers without renouncing their principal responsibility,' which they have as a 'logical consequence of their fatherhood and motherhood.' For this reason, he added, parents should choose a school whose values 'coincide with those of their own family.'The archbishop also said harmonious relations between parents and schools are necessary for excellence in education, and he warned that when there are conflicts between teachers and students, serious problems arise when parents automatically take the side of their child against the teacher.'The beginning of a new school year is an invitation to all of society to turn its gaze towards schools, to appreciate them and give them the support they deserve for the role they have in providing formation,' the archbishop said in conclusion. [CNA] 1291.14
Pontifical Council for the Family: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines For Education Within The Family December 8, 1995
See here for the full text.
23. Other educators can assist in this task, but they can only take the place of parents for serious reasons of physical or moral incapacity. On this point the Magisterium of the Church has expressed itself clearly, in relation to the whole educative process of children: "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to find an adequate substitute. It is therefore the duty of parents to create a family atmosphere inspired by love and devotion to God and their fellow-men which will promote an integrated, personal and social education of their children. The family is therefore the principal school of the social virtues which are necessary to every society".
65. 1. Each child is a unique and unrepeatable person and must receive individualized formation. Since parents know, understand and love each of their children in their uniqueness, they are in the best position to decide what the appropriate time is for providing a variety of information, according to their children's physical and spiritual growth. No one can take this capacity for discernment away from conscientious parents.
66. Each child's process of maturation as a person is different. Therefore, the most intimate aspects, whether biological or emotional, should be communicated in a personalized dialogue. In their dialogue with each child, with love and trust, parents communicate something about their own self-giving which makes them capable of giving witness to aspects of the emotional dimension of sexuality that could not be transmitted in other ways. 78. It can be said that a child is in the stage described in John Paul II's words as "the years of innocence" from about five years of age until puberty — the beginning of which can be set at the first signs of changes in the boy or girl's body (the visible effect of an increased production of sexual hormones). This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex.