AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER
- BRITISH GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR CHRIST TO BE PUT BACK INTO CHRISTMAS
- PRIMARY SCHOOL TORN APART BY EXTREME GENDER THEORY
- DUTCH MP CONVICTED OF DISCRIMINATION FOR CRITICIZING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION
- EGYPT COPTS MOURN AFTER DEADLIEST ATTACK IN RECENT MEMORY
- IN AMERICA MORE CHRISTIANS WANT STRAIGHT BACK TO BASICS BIBLE TEACHING
- SCHOOL APOLOGISES TO CHRISTIAN TEACHER WHO OPPOSED SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
BRITISH GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR CHRIST TO BE PUT BACK INTO CHRISTMAS
British officials have encouraged the country to put Christ back into Christmas, even in their workplaces. “There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to dealing with religion at work. I want to put the record straight: It is OK to hold a party and send Christmas cards,” said David Isaac, chairman of the national Equality and Human Rights Commission prior to Christmas. Christians and politicians alike welcomed Isaac’s assurance following the growing prevalence of more generic terminology in public and office celebrations, such as “season’s greetings” and “Winterval.” “We have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of,” Prime Minister Theresa May responded.
May said “We all want to ensure that people at work feel able to speak about their faith and also to speak quite freely about Christmas.” The equality commission also released a new report on anti-discrimination law for British workplaces. The report assessed current government policies, finding most reasonable, balanced guidelines for religious expression in the workplace, though employers don’t always follow them. The assessment highlighted examples of Christian employees who were wrongfully discriminated against at work, including a day-care worker fired for responding to a question about homosexuality and a British Airways employee banned from wearing a cross necklace at the check-in desk. The report concluded that courts rightly ruled in their favour and against their employers.
In other cases, including a local government employee who used her work account to send emails criticizing homosexual Christian groups and a nurse banned from wearing a crucifix for health and safety reasons, the commission found the employers’ restrictions were reasonable and lawful. “In our assessment, these judgments are consistent with one another and appropriate given the facts,” the report said. “Courts have balanced the right to manifest a religion or belief with other factors. What the cases show is that each situation is different, and the outcomes in individual cases are sensitive to the particular facts in each instance.” The review of anti-discrimination policies follows a series of high-profile cases that led to concerns that Christians in particular have been unfairly penalized in British workplaces.
Christian legal advocates applauded the equality commission’s defence of religious rights, but disagreed with the report’s conclusion that Britain’s 2010 anti-discrimination law, the Equality Act, provides sufficient workplace protections. “It’s a relief to see the commission stand up for freedom of religion as a fundamental right and recognize that it should not be suppressed through fear of offending. However, the Commission is quite wrong to say that the current law does not need to be amended,” said Simon Calvert, spokesman for the Christian Institute. “We have long argued that equality law needs rebalancing so that courts have to take time to weigh up competing rights to see if both sides can be reasonably accommodated.”
Employers should consider all religious and belief-based requests seriously, and beyond what is required by law, try to accommodate unless they have objective reasons for refusal, according to the commission. For example, the report noted that a controversial decision by a theatre chain to turn down Church of England ads including the Lord’s Prayer was lawful, but not in the spirit of free expression. “Businesses should avoid taking decisions based on an overly broad view of what might cause offense, which could limit freedom of expression for religious or belief organizations,” it said. The report reviewed policies for taking time off or opting out of duties for religious reasons, using the example of a Christian registrar in Britain who requested not to oversee same-sex civil partnerships.
The registrar and a counsellor who declined to provide therapy for gay couples lost their case in European human rights court, due to employers’ “legitimate aim” to not discriminate against citizens or clients. “Opting out of work duties may be permissible where there is no actual or potential detrimental impact to other staff or to service users,” the report added. The commission affirmed the rights of religious organizations and affiliated institutions to implement faith requirements or restrictions against LGBT individuals that reflect their core convictions. Such rights however are not granted to commercial enterprises, such as a Christian bed and breakfast owner who turned down a same-sex couple.
“These cases raise the question of whether the exceptions should be widened so that commercial organizations that claim a religious ethos due to the owners’ religious beliefs can restrict employment or goods, services and facilities to reflect religious tenets,” the report said. “We consider that such an approach would be deeply flawed.” One area the commission suggested the law could be improved was employment policies at religious schools. It urged the government to lessen restrictions around positions that do not require religious instruction or conviction. “The faith requirements applied to all teachers in (Catholic or Anglican schools), regardless of whether they are teaching religion, also seem to go beyond what is lawful in the EU Employment Equality Directive,” it stated.
The report described an atheist teacher who won his discrimination case after being denied a promotion to a pastoral care position at a Catholic school: “The tribunal found it not essential for the position to be filled by a Catholic, since only a few responsibilities of the job required knowledge of Catholic doctrine.” While the equality commission does not see the need for additional “reasonable accommodation” protections for religious expression, another report released by British think tank ResPublica came to a different conclusion. The group is lobbying to include reasonable accommodation, a legal provision that requires employers to make adjustments to allow people to do their jobs effectively (typically, employees with disabilities), added to a new British Bill of Rights to protect people of faith.
ResPublica wrote: Employers should no longer compel individuals to behave in ways that would contradict their sincerely held religious beliefs. We believe that the proposed Bill of Rights provides a unique opportunity to include a duty on employers and service providers to demonstrate reasonable accommodation towards those that wish to express their religious convictions in public.
Source: Christian Institute
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PRIMARY SCHOOL TORN APART BY EXTREME GENDER THEORY
A school, Nova Classical Academy in Minnesota, has been changed forever. The School website says that parents are considered to be “the primary educators of their children”, but have been “ridiculed, mocked, and accused of hatefulness and ignorance” for questioning new policies forcing gender inclusion on their students. The principal of the school sent out an email to parents announcing the arrival of a “gender non-conforming” student. School principal Brooke Tousignant defined the term “gender non-conforming”, saying it “describes children whose identities, appearances, behaviours, or interests do not fit traditional societal expectations associated with their sex assigned at birth. This expression of gender is ever-changing as students are constantly exploring many different aspects of their identity.”
In order to “support” the child, the school would begin teaching students in years K-5 about “the beauty of being themselves” by requiring them to read the book “My Princess Boy”, which “tells the story of a boy who expresses his true self by dressing up and enjoying traditional girl things.” The inclusion of this resource was not subject to the school’s strict policy when it came to curriculum changes. The five-year-old boy’s parents pushed for him to be “accommodated.” His father, who has a PhD in educational psychology, researches “the creation and implementation of gender inclusive policies and practices in public schools.” The child’s mother said she realised her son was gender non-conforming when he danced to the music of Beyonce one day in front of the TV.
Understandably, other Nova parents were concerned. They had a variety of political views, but they still had concerns about whether providing an inclusive environment for a gender non-conforming student necessitated teaching issues of “gender identity” to children as young as five. But their legitimate questions were shouted down in an orchestrated attack by activists. According to one Nova parent Emily Zinos, LGBT activists “mobbed the meetings, brought their lawyers, protested, and compelled their sobbing transgender kids to talk about bullying and suicide attempts.” Tom Lynn, parent of four Nova students, said anyone questioning the policy changes in the school were branded as “bigots”. “We were ridiculed, mocked, and accused of hatefulness and ignorance.”
The school hired a psychologist, and LGBTI activist, to lecture on transgender issues at a “parent education” night. Dissenting parents hired a lawyer to speak on the medical and legal aspects of transgenderism, but the school’s lawyer told the school board not to attend. Why? Because the mere presence of board members could be construed as bullying. It was further reported that school officials argued that they were “legally obligated” to meet the parents’ demands under Minnesota’s 2014 anti-bullying law, called the Safe and Supportive Schools Act. Nova’s board of directors approved an interim “gender inclusion” policy in January 2016, which later became permanent. Under this policy, students can choose their own gender without medical approval.
The school is required to work with transgender students to “create a tailored gender transition plan”. Parents and students are leaving the school in droves, and children’s physical and mental health is at risk. Accusations of bullying, silencing freedom of speech, risks to children’s physical and mental health, these are all on the table when radical gender ideology is enforced in our schools.
Source: Marriage Alliance
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DUTCH MP CONVICTED OF DISCRIMINATION FOR CRITICIZING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION
He advocated for a more hard-line stance on Muslim immigration, and now he’s been convicted for it. Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, the PVV, in the Dutch House of Representatives and a likely contender to become the next prime minister when voters go to the polls in 2017, has been found guilty of “inciting discrimination” and “insulting a group” for saying the Netherlands would be safer with fewer Moroccans. A panel of three judges deemed Wilders’ remarks, which he delivered during a 2014 post-election speech, to be “demeaning and thereby insulting towards the Moroccan population,” according to the Guardian.
The judges said Wilders’ comments were clearly aimed at a specific ethnic group. Neither Wilders nor his lawyer, Geert-Jan Knoops, were present in the court when the verdict was read. Nevertheless, the Dutch politician announced that he plans to challenge the ruling, which he described as “a great loss for democracy and freedom of expression.” The public prosecutor decided to press charges against Wilders after receiving almost 6,000 complaints about a speech he gave following elections in March 2014. During the address, Wilders asked a gathering of his supporters if they wanted “more or fewer Moroccans” in their country. When the crowd shouted back enthusiastically “fewer!”, the right-wing leader said, “Well, we’ll take care of that.”
While the court said those words “singled out an entire group of citizens” with a message that “came through loud and clear,” Wilders has argued from the beginning that the move was nothing more than a political calculation. “While the day before, scores of Moroccan asylum seekers terrorized buses in Emmen and did not even have to pay a fine,” Wilders explained in a video posted to his Twitter account, “a politician who asks a question about fewer Moroccans is sentenced.” “The Netherlands has become a sick country,” he continued. “I have a message for the judges who convicted me: You have restricted the freedom of speech of millions of Dutch and hence convicted everyone. No one trusts you anymore.”
Wilders also blasted the court for not only convicting him but for also waging a political war with “half of the Netherlands,” who he says agree with him. This is not Wilders’ first foray into politically controversial commentary. In 2011, he was acquitted of discriminating against Muslims when in various interviews he called Islam a “fascist” religion. The court cleared Wilders of the charge of hate speech on this latest issue and ordered no fine or jail sentence because they believed the conviction to be punishment enough for a politician of Wilders’ standing. Currently, opinion polls show the PVV in the lead in the coming election with 24 percent of the vote. Wilders has enjoyed a bump that pulled him ahead of the Liberals, which is led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, since Trump won the U.S. presidency.
Source: The Caleb Report
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EGYPT COPTS MOURN AFTER DEADLIEST ATTACK IN RECENT MEMORY
Egypt’s Christian community is in mourning following what the BBC has referred to as the “deadliest attack on the Coptic community in recent memory”. Last month twenty-seven people were killed and more than 60 injured during the bomb attack on a chapel adjacent to the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo. All but three of those who died were women and children. “Traditionally, women and children sit on the right side of the church; on the left side are the men,” a local source said. “As it was a public holiday, the church was full. A woman carrying a heavy bag walked into the church, sat on the women’s side and put her bag on the floor. After a few minutes, she stood up and walked out, leaving the bag behind. A few minutes later there was a huge explosion.”
“This sent shock waves across the Christian community all over Egypt. Is this the beginning of another wave of violence against Christians?” Eye-witness video footage shows the interior of the church littered with broken and scattered furniture, its floor spattered with blood and torn clothing. “There were children. What have they done to deserve this?” a witness told the Associated Press news agency. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a three-day period of national mourning. Egypt’s Christian minority has often been targeted by Islamist militants. In 2013 the Egyptian military removed President Mohammed Morsi, the elected leader, who had connections with the Muslim Brotherhood. Some of Morsi’s supporters blame Christians for supporting his removal.
A month after he was unseated, 82 churches were burned and hundreds of Christian homes and businesses were looted and burned in a two-week period of violence in August 2013. Discrimination and violence against Egypt’s Christian minority goes back centuries. Blasphemy cases against Christians are frequent. Building or even repairing a church is difficult, if not impossible, and Christians find themselves placed at the end of the queue when it comes to things like education and welfare. Converts from Islam, as in many countries, are especially at risk, often from their families, who may punish them for abandoning Islam with beatings or expulsions from the home.
Source: World Watch Monitor
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IN AMERICA MORE CHRISTIANS WANT STRAIGHT BACK TO BASICS BIBLE TEACHING
Barna Research, the Christian pollster organisation, says there are ‘more followers of Christ’ in our suburbs who do not attend a church than do. In other words, Christian people who have a commitment of some form ‘to the Lord’, are deserting the bricks and mortar of church life, and the reasons are myriad. Certainly church politics is a major factor. Moreover, many of these non-church attending Christians give money to mission agencies. Another reason is an overt emphasis on social issues rather than core solid evangelical theology. Moreover not two weeks ago another survey demonstrated that the fastest growing churches have modern Gospel music and sound conservative literal bible believing congregations.
What we therefore have is this dichotomy, more followers of Jesus are not attending a church than do, and those that do, the growing congregations are big on modern Gospel music and believe the bible, word for word. Many are saying that the political world is following suit, and the evidence is overwhelming as the ordinary people of Britain (Brexit) and the ordinary people of America (Presidential election) have voted with their feet, back to basics. The same with western Christianity. Forget the liturgy, forget the radical progressive ideology disguised as theology, forget the lefties in their elitist ‘we know better’ carry-on squarely hoodwinked with political correctness, it’s back to the bible.
Source: Barna Research
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SCHOOL APOLOGISES TO CHRISTIAN TEACHER WHO OPPOSED SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
A Christian teacher in the UK has received an apology from the school where she works after disciplinary action was taken against her for her opposition to gay marriage. 51-year-old Victoria Allen a teacher at The Brannel School in Cornwall County was asked by one of her students to share her views on gay marriage. Allen explained to the student that she believes gay marriage goes against God’s plan. Although the student was reportedly not offended by Allen’s response, the student’s mother still filed a complaint with the school. The school then took disciplinary action against Allen for allegedly violating the equal opportunities policy. Allen took the case to court, saying that she was made to “feel like a criminal” simply for expressing her “personal biblical beliefs.” The case was eventually settled out of court.
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