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Opinions contained in The Iona Blog are not necessarily those of The Iona Institute. The Iona Blog is open to anyone who broadly shares the views of The Iona Institute. If you wish to post a comment on a relevant topic please email 200 – 400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.
Terry Mattingly at GetReligion writes about the way in which the media is missing the truly vast scale of the religious persecution currently taking place in the Middle East. He argues that while the media has finally, finally caught up with reporting on the atrocities perpetrated by ISIS towards Christians and other minorities, it's largely ignoring the bigger picture.
Over at The Public Discourse, Mark Regnerus reports some of the findings from a forthcoming study, Relationships in America. Regernus was interested in finding out what Christians who support same-sex marriage believed about other issues of sexual morality – and what makes his study interesting is that he measured the attitudes of churchgoing Christians, rather than all those who identify as Christian but do not practise. His findings were quite striking.
One of the myths about marriage most badly in need of busting is the idea that cohabiting before marriage makes you less likely to divorce – a sort of “try before you buy” effect. But cohabitation before marriage either increases the rate of marital breakup or at best does nothing to reduce it. But tell this to most people and they'll just give you a weird look, and I don't really blame them – the evidence points to a conclusion that's quite counterintuitive.
Does a child simply need loving parents (or just one loving parent) or is it a good thing to have a father as well as a mother? What seems to be particularly in doubt in certain circles these days is the need for a father. Well, some of us do indeed argue that every child needs a father, or least can benefit from having a father. Let’s say it out loud before it’s deemed a hate-crime to even think it.
The case of Gammy, a baby born through surrogacy who was abandoned by his genetic parents after they discovered he had Down Syndrome, (and is now being raised by his surrogate (birth) mother, a Thai woman named Pattaramon Chanbua) is uniquely tragic. The apparent callousness of the parents taking Gammy's twin sister but not him, the possibility that the commissioning father is a convicted sex offender – the situation is absurdly awful. But it also throws the dubious nature of surrogacy into sharp relief.
In his column in this week's Irish Independent, David Quinn asks why we don't seem to care about the murder and persecution of Christians in many parts of the world today, including Ireland.
What do people mean what they speak about the separation of Church and State? Having read Hugh Linehan’s opinion piece in The Irish Times yesterday it wasn’t clear to me. Linehan was responding to the homily Archbishop Michael Neary delivered at the top of Croagh Patrick last Sunday, Reek Sunday.
Ireland appeared before the UN Human Rights Committee and that Committee has now issued a report about Ireland that reads like a politically correct charge sheet. David Quinn writes about the biased nature of these proceedings.
When I read in the papers about a man who won a payout of €70,000 after being sacked from his job with South Tipperary County Council for repeatedly talking about his religion during working hours, I have to confess that my sympathies were initially with the Council. But when I read the full account of the case on the Labour Court website, my sympathies changed.
Lord Falconer's "Assisted Dying" bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords. The bill would legalise assisted suicide by doctors in the UK, and would seriously undermine the principle of "do no harm" as well as the protections that UK law currently gives the terminally ill. It's very bad news. But the prospect of the Bill passing has inspired passionate, intelligent, and articulate opposition, and I've collected some of it below:
It seems that no sooner was Ireland declared the country that does most good for the world (according to the first “Good Country Index”, or GCI), than our human rights record was being lambasted by the UN, and newspaper columnists here were calling us a “misogynist country” and a place where “The Irish Constitution treats (all women) as vessels.” Which is it? We can't be both the best country in the world and a rights-violating renegade – and in truth we are neither. What both of these stories reveal is that the answer you get depends on how you ask the question – and who's asking it.
“What has happened to consistent, coherent atheism?” is the question being asked by Michael Robbins, who's reviewing Nick Spencer's book Atheism: The Origin of the Species for Slate. Spencer's book examines what he calls the 'creation myth' of the orgin of modern atheism, different versions of which are embraced by most of the 'New Atheists' – Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne and others.
As we're greeted today by the news that a Christian bakery in Northern Ireland faces legal action over refusing to bake a cake with a slogan in support of gay marriage, this week's New York Times column by Ross Douthat is hugely relevant. What I like about Douthat is that e's almost never content to trot out the same old line on any given issue, instead inviting his readers to consider things from an unusual angle. His column this week is no different – in it, he argues that left-wing liberals should be fans of Hobby Lobby, the company that just won a case at the US Supreme Court exempting them from having to provide health insurance that covers abortifacients under the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.
We all think it's important to fight for what we believe in. But how do we fight, and could we do it better? Leah Libresco was an atheist blogger for Patheos who converted to Catholicism a few years ago. A Yale graduate, she's written for the Huffington Post, First Things, The American Connservative and elsewhere, and appeared on CNN and MSNBC. She recently gave a talk on "Having Better Fights", hosted by the Irish Catholic, which is essential viewing for anyone in the business of seeking the truth.
There's a new report out from the Institute for American Values and the Center of the American Experiment, which examines some of the ways that men and women's brains and bodies change when they become parents. While the physical changes that happen in women during and after pregnancy are well known, Mother Bodies, Father Bodies, by W. Bradford Wilcox and Kathleen Kovner Kline highlights the research showing that men experience changes too.
Judging by the end-times rhetoric employed by some journalists, bloggers and Twitterati in response to the US Supreme Court's decision on Hobby Lobby, one might be forgiven for thinking that contraception had been banned nationwide, fundamentalist corporation owners authorised to micromanage their employees' sex lives, and women declared second-class citizens.
Can the ‘working poor’ afford to maintain a family? Does being a member of the working poor make a person more likely to divorce? Does it make them less likely to marry in the first place? The answers are ‘no’, yes’ and ‘yes’ respectively. What is to be done? There is no easy answer, but we should look again at the concept of a ‘living wage’.
The new Bishop of Limerick, Dr Brendan Leahy explains his vision of religious freedom. The talk was delivered before an audience of almost 200 people in the Strand Hotel, Limerick on June 18.
Peter Ferguson, who calls himself ‘Humanisticus’, has replied once again on polygamy and same-sex marriage, and asked the Iona Institute a few questions. I'll do my best to answer them here, and I think it might be wise to leave our blogathon at that. In truth, these points have been dealt with in numerous previous blogs on this website, but it won't hurt to answer them in one place and save Humanisticus a bit of Googling.
Many atheists (such as Richard Dawkins, right) do not believe in free will. They don’t believe in free will because they believe we, and our thoughts, are the products of matter and energy and nothing else and therefore have no more have free will than a robot, or a dog. This belief, needless to say, has enormous implications for the idea of moral responsibility because someone who does not have free will is not responsible for their actions.
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