Saturday, 25 February 2012

Church 'does not own marriage'

The Church does not "own" marriage nor have the exclusive right to say who can marry, a government minister has said.

Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone said the government was entitled to introduce same-sex marriages, which she says would be a "change for the better".

Her comments come as ministers prepare to launch a public consultation on legalising gay marriage next month. [...]

Ms Featherstone, a Liberal Democrat minister, responded to comments made by Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, who said that "not even the Church" owns marriage.

She said: "(Marriage) is owned by neither the state nor the Church, as the former Archbishop Lord Carey rightly said.

"It is owned by the people."

Ms Featherstone also appealed to people not to "polarise" the debate about same-sex marriages.

"This is not a battle between gay rights and religious beliefs," she said.

"This is about the underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms."

Read more

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Hundreds attend Rev John Suddards memorial service in Witham

HUNDREDS of people attended a service in memory of an "inspirational" Witham vicar.

The service was held on Monday night at a packed St Nicolas Church in Chipping Hill, Witham. More than 500 people attended, many of whom were forced to stand.

The Bishop of Colchester, Christopher Morgan, led prayers, while the Bishop of Chelmsford was also in attendance and the Reverend Simon Garwood preached to the congregation.

"We got as many chairs in as we possibly could but some people still had to stand," said Rev Garwood.

"We estimate it to be well over 500 people – maybe even 550 – and a lot of people from John's previous parish also turned up.

"A lot of people were upset but it was a very good service and very fitting for such a good man." Read more

Abortion investigation: doctors filmed agreeing illegal abortions 'no questions asked'

Doctors at British clinics have been secretly filmed agreeing to terminate foetuses purely because they are either male or female. Clinicians admitted they were prepared to falsify paperwork to arrange the abortions even though it is illegal to conduct such “sex-selection” procedures. [...]

Acting on specific information, undercover reporters accompanied pregnant women to nine clinics in different parts of the country. In three instances doctors were recorded offering to arrange terminations after being told the mother-to-be did not want to go ahead with the pregnancy because of the sex of the unborn child.

One consultant, Prabha Sivaraman, who works for both private clinics and NHS hospitals in Manchester, was filmed telling a pregnant woman who said she wanted to abort a female foetus: “I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination”. Read more

Urgent inquiry called after investigation uncovers doctors 'agreeing to abort babies for being the wrong sex'

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley last night launched an urgent investigation after it emerged that doctors were offering mothers abortions based purely on the gender of their unborn child. 

Doctors working for NHS and private clinics were said to be agreeing to carry out the terminations despite the fact that ‘sex-selection’ is against the law.

They were also allegedly recorded admitting they would falsify paperwork to arrange the illegal abortions.

An investigation by the Daily Telegraph saw undercover reporters accompany mothers-to-be to nine clinics in different regions. On three occasions doctors were reported to have offered to arrange abortions after the pregnant women said they did not want the baby because of its sex.

Mr Lansley has now instructed officials to investigate.

Friday, 10 February 2012

£1.2m funding for girl gang member rape victims

The government has announced £1.2 million of funding to help girls involved with gangs who are raped by male members.

A network of people will support victims of sexual violence or exploitation or those at risk of becoming victims, the Home Office said.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said the violence girls and young women in gangs experienced was shocking. Read more

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Bishop of Salisbury backs gay marriage

[...] “I think same-sex couples that I know who have formed a partnership have in many respects a relationship which is similar to a marriage and which I now think of as marriage.

“And of course now you can’t really say that a marriage is defined by the possibility of having children. Contraception created a barrier in that line of argument. Would you say that an infertile couple who were knowingly infertile when they got married, weren’t in a proper marriage? No you wouldn’t.”

Bishop Holtam acknowledged the importance the Church has given to marriage producing children, but said he saw perception changing, and argued that children could not be “the single defining criteria” of marriage. Read more

Chelmsford 'Transforming Presence' Website running

View the website, including feedback from the 'Time to Talk' day, here.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Revealed: angels say Giles Fraser 'not on our side'

Dr Giles Fraser, the self-appointed National Spokesman for Right-on Christians, has dismissed Lord Carey as a Thatcherite "yesterday's man" and "a one-man band" for supporting the Government's welfare reforms. It's an unpleasant attack – another one carried by the New Statesman. The former Archbishop of Canterbury said that the welfare state has rewarded “fecklessness and irresponsibility”, a fact which most Britons agree with. So Fraser instructs him: "George, do us all a favour – take up golf." (He's old and retired – gedditt?!?!?)

This represents "a slightly creepy attempt to please his audience at the expense of a monumentally disrespectful and personal attack on another clergyman," says Daniel Finkelstein at the Times. I agree: and it's incredibly badly judged. What is going on here? Is Giles Fraser trying to impress his new mates at The Guardian, where he's been given a job as a leader-writer? Read more

Why women (including me) say 'no' to Question Time

... I can only answer for myself, of course but here are some of the things that flash through my mind when yet another invitation comes along. Do I want to travel to Aberystwyth (yes, that was the last location I was offered) on a Thursday afternoon, to arrive home at maybe two or three am on Friday which is my busiest working day of the week? Do I want to spend the previous week preparing answers for every conceivable whimsical question that might be asked when I actually need to be concentrating on the one or two issues that are my chief journalistic concerns of the moment? Do I want to compete for a few seconds airtime with a handful of maniacally ambitious politicians who are determined to hog the show? (On one memorable programme, a very senior LibDem figure cut across me every single time that I was called on to speak.) Do I want to be bayed at by a well-organised crew of political axe-grinders in the audience?

So, generally speaking, I am afraid that I find myself thinking, "Who needs it?" Read more