Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Christian health worker Margaret Forester faces sack over anti-abortion booklet

A Christian mental health worker is facing the sack after giving two colleagues a leaflet warning of the physical and psychological damage some women suffer after having an abortion.

Margaret Forester passed the booklet to family planning staff at the health centre where she works because she felt that the NHS was not offering patients enough information about the risks associated with terminating a pregnancy.

But Ms Forester, 39, said she was suspended from her job as a psychological wellbeing practitioner based in Westminster because managers at Central North West London Mental Health Trust disagreed with her personal beliefs.

She will appear in front of an internal disciplinary committee on Wednesday, charged with “distributing materials some people may find offensive”. Read more

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Lawyers cry foul over leak of Julian Assange sex-case papers

(Ed: You do have to laugh, though.)

LAWYERS for Julian Assange have expressed anger about an alleged smear campaign against the Australian WikiLeaks founder.

Incriminating police files were published in the British newspaper that has used him as its source for hundreds of leaked US embassy cables.

In a move that surprised many of Mr Assange's closest supporters on Saturday, The Guardian newspaper published previously unseen police documents that accused Mr Assange in graphic detail of sexually assaulting two Swedish women. One witness is said to have stated: "Not only had it been the world's worst screw, it had also been violent."

Bjorn Hurtig, Mr Assange's Swedish lawyer, said he would lodge a formal complaint to the authorities and ask them to investigate how such sensitive police material leaked into the public domain. "It is with great concern that I hear about this because it puts Julian and his defence in a bad position," he told a colleague. Read more

Stockholm bomber: banned extremists recruit near Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly's Luton home

The outlawed Islamist group al-Muhajiroun is openly recruiting near the home of the suicide bomber who blew himself up on a Stockholm street last week, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

MI5 and anti-terrorist police are attempting to unravel what transformed the father of three into an extremist.

But moderate Muslims in Luton, where Iraqi-born Taimour Abdulwahab lived for almost 10 years, claim the authorities are to blame for turning a blind eye to the activities of hard-core jihadi sympathisers.

Unimpeded by the police, the group, now calling itself The Reflect Project, is accused of mounting a campaign of intimidation and violence against those who disagree with it.

The group's members are followers of the radical cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad, who is being held in jail in Lebanon on terrorism charges, and are led locally by Ishtiaq Alamgir or Sword of Islam – a former inland revenue accountant.

Earlier this year, Mr Alamgir helped to organise a protest at a homecoming parade in Luton for troops who had served in Afghanistan. The demonstration ended in violence and arrests. Read more

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The British Army Blog: The silent liturgy of our farewells

In this blog, Padre Robin Richardson writes from Camp Bastion about the death of Private John Howard on 5 December.

I’m writing this entry back at Camp Bastion; I don’t get back here that often, and this time my reason for being here is a sad one. Private John Howard was killed in action this week, serving with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force and making the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle to give the people of Helmand Province, and Afghanistan, the future they’re asking for at every meeting I’ve been to. ‘If we can have security, if you can keep the Taliban away, then things will be better for us.’ I’m not a commander and I’m not a reporter or a spokesman for anyone other the Church who have loaned me to the Army, and yet I hear the same thing again and again. So, as I sit here having to accept the death of one of our bravest and best, I know that Jack (it’s how John was known) was making both a difference to the lives of people who for decades have been largely voiceless and a measurable mark in the history of ISAF’s support of the people, government and security forces of Afghanistan. Read more

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Switzerland considers repealing incest laws

The upper house of the Swiss parliament has drafted a law decriminalising sex between consenting family members which must now be considered by the government.

There have been only three cases of incest since 1984.

Switzerland, which recently held a referendum passing a draconian law that will boot out foreigners convicted of committing the smallest of crimes, insists that children within families will continue to be protected by laws governing abuse and paedophilia.

Daniel Vischer, a Green party MP, said he saw nothing wrong with two consenting adults having sex, even if they were related.

"Incest is a difficult moral question, but not one that is answered by penal law," he said. Read more

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sepp Blatter: Christians new enemy of World Cup soccer

[...] It has been reported that just prior to the vote by the 22-man committee, Blatter (who does not cast a vote unless there is a tie) reminded his charges about “the evils” of the British media. A BBC show recently alleged widespread corruption in FIFA’s ranks.

The humiliating vote was a clear reprisal on Blatter’s part.

But in his reaction to English outrage, he may have overstepped.

It was one thing for him to tell the Swiss weekly magazine Weltwoche that England are “bad losers.” They are. They have every reason to be. But they still are.

It was another thing to cast this controversy in the divisive terms of race and religion.

“I really sense in some reactions a bit of arrogance of the western world of Christian background. Some simply can’t bear it if others get a chance for a change,” Blatter told the magazine in an issue that will be published Thursday.

For the record, Blatter is a western Christian. But his power-base within FIFA has always come from cliques within the developing world. Read more

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

How should Christians think about sex? Jesus take me as I am

Ed: Part of a Guardian 'Comment is Free' discussion to which I have been asked to contribute. The writer of this first piece is Stephen Tomkins, contributing editor of and deputy editor of Third Way magazine.

[...] Augustine believed that this was how original sin was passed on from one generation to another. By being conceived in an act of passion, we are born damned. So, in order for the Mother of Christ to be free from sin herself, her parents were miraculously enabled to do the deed without physical pleasure. The obvious corollary is that the church should embrace in vitro fertilization as a way to create sinless humans (with complete mental willy control in men). I can't understand why it hasn't.

Not all western Christians today would take Augustine's word for all that, of course, but it's still a pretty dysfunctional spiritual heritage for us to have to deal with. Then again, secular society has the same ancestry if you go that far back, and its own sexual obsessions, though different to the churches', are evidently forbidden fruit of the same family tree.

Protestantism has escaped from much of the sex phobia of Catholicism, but not from the obsessive policing of private relationships, and putting sexual rules at the centre of right living.

If only western Christians could rediscover Augustine, and see that our whole sexual ethics is based on a man who was more scared of his plonker than he was of talking like one, and who wished he could work it like a finger puppet. Maybe we could clear away some of these obsessive regulations and get back to basics. Read more