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All news in February 2019

News

February 2019
News > Ethics > Persecution > Religious liberty > Society

Christian magistrate can challenge his dismissal over gay adoption comments

A Christian former magistrate has won the right to legally challenge his dismissal over remarks he made about same-sex couples adopting children. Richard Page, from Kent, lost his role after saying in a BBC interview that a child would be better looked after by a man and a woman rather than a gay couple. His comments came after Mr Page, along with two other Magistrates, considered an application by a same-sex couple to adopt a child in Kent in July 2014. He was later sacked for ‘serious misconduct’ by the then Justice Secretary Michael Gove and Lord Thomas, who said his comments suggested he was...

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February 2019
News > People > Obituaries

Obituary: Reverend Timothy Alford 1933-2018

Rev Timothy Alford went to be with the Lord on 6th December 2018, aged 84. Raised in Colerne, Wiltshire, Timothy believed from an early age under the influence of his family and Colerne Evangelical Church. His pastor, Harry Matthews, brought Timothy to a turning point as he challenged him with Scripture. While still a teenager, he dedicated himself to serving God. For years, Timothy was heavily involved in child evangelism. During this time, he married his beloved wife, Pansy (also from Colerne). In the 1950s, Timothy was called to a pastorate at Saltford Evangelical Church, Somerset. While there, his two daughters, Sharon and Deborah, were...

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February 2019
News > Church news

Two churches in Coventry merge

Two Coventry churches have merged to further the gospel in a needy area. Described as an ‘enfolding process’, a small church with diminishing resources has been lovingly taken in by a neighbouring congregation to form one new fellowship across two locations. Lower Ford Street Baptist Church, founded in 1857, has been experiencing growth in recent years. Two Sunday morning services are needed to accommodate attendees during term time. More space was a pressing need. In contrast is Hillfields Evangelical Baptist Church. Ten minutes’ walk from Lower Ford Street, it recently celebrated its centenary. Recent years have seen a decline in attendance. This has followed a...

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February 2019
News > Church news

New building in Ealing for the International Presbyterian Church

The International Presbyterian Church recently opened a new building in Ealing. The IPC was founded in 1969, having emerged from the work of L’Abri. In 1979, it acquired St Helena Chapel which provided a wonderful home for the next 25 years. In the course of time, plans for redevelopment were needed but were slow in coming. The plans were first mooted in 1990 but the building committee was not formed until 2005. Once appointed, the architect needed to factor in the listed status of the old chapel. The end result has been well received. The total cost of the project was about £3.2 million, but...

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February 2019
News > Church news > Conferences

Reformation and Revival Fellowship Conference

Every year, in mid-November, about 70 people make the journey to Swanwick in Derbyshire for the annual conference of the Reformation and Revival Fellowship. There were two speakers this year, Geoff Thomas and George Macaskill. Both men were faithful to Scripture and warm in the delivery of the messages that the Lord had laid on their hearts. Geoff expounded the first seven verses of Zechariah 3. The glory of forgiveness and salvation was seen as Joshua’s rags were removed and he is clothed. Geoff also looked at the commission given to Joshua, reminding us all of the calling to serve God in our day and...

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February 2019
News > Church news > Conferences

Westminster Conference 2018

December 4-5 witnessed two days of excellent ministry at Regent Hall, London. Six papers were read on a variety of subjects. Paul Wells opened with a treatment of Amyraldism. He analysed Amyraldism in conflict as well as the nature of the divine decree and election. It was a technical, balanced paper prompting helpful discussion. Geoffrey Thomas spoke warmly on A.W. Pink. He covered his life, conversion and pastorates. Pink’s magazine, Studies in the Scriptures, was discussed and reference made to the industrious support of his wife. Pink was a gifted expositor, exemplified in such works as The Sovereignty of God, The Life of David and...

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February 2019
News > Ethics > Family > Society

‘There was no way we could kill our babies’

A mother has explained how she refused to consider abortion when doctors told her that her triplets were not developing as expected. Katie Johnson and her husband Patrick were told at a twelve-week scan that their babies, Oscar, Aurelia and Oliver, had life-threatening growth problems. Doctors advised Katie to abort one or two of them to give the others a better chance of survival. She said: ‘There was a risk to all of them. Oliver was 25 per cent smaller than his brother, and the blood flow wasn’t getting to him properly. If Oliver died, Oscar could have died too. ‘But there was no way...

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February 2019
News > Ethics > Society

Ealing censorship zone to be reviewed by Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal a High Court decision that upheld a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) around an abortion facility in the London Borough of Ealing. The Ealing PSPO, which took effect in April last year, imposed a censorship zone that criminalised a wide range of conduct, including prayer, peaceful protest and the offering of leaflets. The PSPO was subject to a legal challenge shortly after coming into force in April of last year, but in July the High Court found that Ealing Council’s PSPO was lawful. However, the Court of Appeal has now agreed to hear an appeal. Laurence...

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February 2019
News > Ethics > Society

Abortion rate highest in 10 years, Down’s abortions up 50%

Revised abortion statistics published by the Department of Health (DoH) show that the number of abortions carried out in England and Wales is at its highest in ten years. The DoH revealed that in 2017 more than 197,000 abortions were carried out, the highest number since 2008. The statistics also revealed a large increase in abortions among women over the age of 30. The abortion rate for 30 to 34-year-old women has climbed the highest since 2007, to a rate of 18.5 abortions per 1,000 women, up from 15.1. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said: ‘Showing the extent to which abortion is...

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February 2019
News > Society

Scottish teachers advised to break law by ‘outdated’ Named Person advice

The Scottish Government has again come under fire for its controversial Named Person scheme, and Education Minister John Swinney has been advised to drop it altogether. The No To Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign says teachers are being encouraged to break the law by ‘outdated’ guidance on sharing pupils’ information. The group wrote to the Education Minister to point out that sex education guidance referring to Named Person is yet to be updated, despite being ruled unlawful in July 2016. The guidance claims teachers must share a pupil’s private information with the child’s Named Person if it ‘affects or is likely to affect’ the child’s wellbeing....

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News

February 2019
News > Persecution

Jeremy Hunt calls for review into global persecution of Christians

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged the ‘dramatic rise in violence’ against Christians globally, and launched an independent review to investigate. An estimated 215 million Christians faced discrimination and violence last year, and an average of 250 were killed for their faith each month. Mr Hunt says Britain ‘can and must do more’ to help persecuted Christians and has commissioned the review to determine how it can do that, with the report expected by Easter. Led by the Bishop of Truro Rt Rev. Philip Mounstephen, the review will focus entirely on Christian persecution. Its aims are to map the persecution of Christians in the Middle...

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February 2019
News > Society

Professor says Wales smacking consultation ignored research

An academic who contributed to the Welsh Government’s consultation on criminalising parents who smack their children says his research has been misquoted and ignored. Professor Robert Larzelere called on politicians not to introduce a smacking ban in defiance of the ‘relevant evidence’. He said: ‘The consultation document also failed to summarise all of the most important studies, before claiming that it provided an evidentiary base for a smacking ban’. Welsh Assembly Member Darren Millar said: ‘The Welsh Government seem determined to implement their unpopular smacking ban in the face of a lack of public support and opposition from esteemed academics’.

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February 2019
News > Society

NHS staff told using ‘he’ or ‘she’ could offend transgender people

NHS staff in Lothian have been told to refer to patients as ‘they’ to avoid offending transgender people. Managers have been offered training courses to show them how ‘gender neutral’ language can be ‘normalised’ in the health service. NHS Lothian is running courses for staff in conjunction with the Scottish Trans Alliance and LGBT Health and Wellbeing. A handout advises staff: ‘Don’t assume you know which pronouns and titles people prefer — ask what they prefer’. Staff are being encouraged to use gender neutral language at home in their personal lives, as well as at work. A senior figure at NHS Lothian who attended an...

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February 2019
News > Society

Gym under fire for asking man to leave woman’s changing area

A gym has been criticised after it asked a man, who self-identifies as a woman, to leave the women’s changing area. Female customers told staff at PureGym that they felt ‘uncomfortable’ getting changed in the same room as the man. The transgender customer rejected PureGym’s offer of an alternative, gender neutral changing area. The gym’s customer told BuzzFeed News, ‘The manager said that men weren’t allowed in the women’s locker room. ‘The manager said ‘I’m afraid you have to leave’ because someone was made uncomfortable by me being in there.’ Staff told the customer that he was welcome to use the disabled changing room, which...

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News

February 2019
News > Society

£1m lottery grants given to transgender lobby groups

Lottery grants totalling about £1millon have been awarded to two lobbying groups to push transgender campaign issues. On the face of it, the grants appear to break the rules about lottery grants not being given to support political campaigning. The Big Lottery Fund (BLF) was set to award £500,000 to Mermaids, a transgender charity. And it was set to award a further £494,000 to gay rights group Stonewall to ‘empower trans leaders and organisations’. But the Sunday Times criticised the grants, questioning whether other causes were missing out on funding. The newspaper polled its readers, asking whether BLF is supporting the right causes, and found...

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News

February 2019
News > Society

Mother threatened by social workers after she raised transgender concerns

A mum who raised concerns that her daughter, 14, was being encouraged to change her gender has been threatened by social services. The 45-year-old mother has been told that her daughter could be placed under the care of social workers. It came after the mother lodged complaints that her daughter was being ‘encouraged’ to change sex by a therapist and her teachers. The mother gave an interview to the Mail on Sunday, who protected her identity for the sake of her daughter. The mother told the newspaper that an NHS psychotherapist had told the girl she could take hormones to stop her periods and give...

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News

February 2019
News > Society

Gender-confused schoolgirls sent breast binders by trans group

A publicly-funded transgender group has been sending breast binders to schoolgirls as young as thirteen and hiding the practice from parents, a newspaper investigation has revealed. Trans organisation Morf were found to be sending the binders to schoolgirls in unmarked packages after a Mail on Sunday journalist posed as a 13-year-old girl. Critics have branded the practice as self-harming. Breast binders are used by an increasing number of young girls to disguise their chest to make them look like boys. A 2015 study revealed that using them could have physical consequences, including broken ribs, collapsed lungs, back pain, spinal compression, blood clots and breathing difficulties....

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News

February 2019
News > Ethics > International

Netherlands: Dementia patient euthanised despite saying she ‘didn’t want to die’

A doctor has been charged with unlawfully ending a patient’s life in the first case of its kind since euthanasia was legalised in the Netherlands in 2002. The nursing home doctor, who remains anonymous, administered a lethal injection to a 74-year-old dementia patient despite the fact that her will was ‘unclear and contradictory’. Prosecutors have said that the doctor had ‘not acted carefully’ and ‘overstepped a line’. Though the dementia-sufferer had earlier expressed a desire for euthanasia when ‘the time was right’, in the days before she was killed, she had said she did not want to die.

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February 2019
News > International

Germany: Court upholds removal of children from home-school family

The German state acted within Convention law in removing children from a home-schooling family, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled. The Wunderlich family are considering a potential appeal to the Grand Chamber of the court. In August 2013, more than 30 police officers and social workers stormed the home of the Wunderlich family. The authorities forcibly removed the children from their parents and their home, leaving the family traumatised.       The children were ultimately returned to their parents but their legal status remained unclear as Germany is one of the few European countries that penalises families who want to home school. After domestic courts...

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February 2019
News > International

Greece: Court rules against the forced application of Sharia law

The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Greece in a case involving the forced application of Islamic Sharia law in an inheritance dispute. The case centred on a Muslim Greek man’s will in which he bequeathed all he owned to his wife. But it was deemed invalid after it was challenged by his sisters. However, the man’s widow appealed to the European court in 2014, having lost three quarters of her inheritance. She argued she had been discriminated against on religious grounds as, had her husband not been Muslim, she would have inherited his entire estate under Greek law. The European court agreed. In...

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News

February 2019
News > International > Persecution

China: Police given quotas for arrests of Christians

The religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter is reporting that police stations in the major port city of Dalian (a population of 6.6 million) in northeast China are being evaluated based on the number of Christians they arrest. A police officer from Dalian, the second-largest city in Liaoning Province, near the North Korean border, told the magazine that his station had received a notice from the National Security Bureau which, as part of a performance-assessment plan, set out how many Christians they would have to arrest. The officer said that all stations in the city had received a similar plan, assessing the station’s performance with a...

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News

February 2019
News > International > Persecution

Iran: More than 100 Christians arrested amidst Govt crackdown

More than 100 Christians have been arrested in Iran in just one week and ordered to cut all contact with religious groups and house churches. They were detained by Iranian authorities, questioned on their involvement in Christian activities, and told to expect a call from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence. Christian charity Open Doors UK, which speaks out against persecution of believers, has described the news as ‘highly concerning’. Many of the 114 believers were converts to Christianity from Islam who were accused of proselytising. Conversion to Christianity is an offence punishable by more than ten years’ imprisonment. The recent events are part of a growing...

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News

February 2019
News > International

Vietnam: Napalm girl testifies, ‘Those bombs led me to Christ’

In 1972, at the height of the Vietnam War, a picture of a young girl shocked the world. She had torn her burning clothes from her skin, and was screaming in agony as the napalm continued to burn into her flesh. But Kim Phuc Phan Thi survived the napalm attack and has now explained how her horrific experience brought her to Christ. Aged just nine at the time of the attack, she awoke in a morgue, and was rescued by her parents, but her agony would continue. She was also ostracised when she returned to her village because of her disfigurement. She initially prayed to...

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News

February 2019
News > International

US: Christian teacher fired for not using preferred pronouns

A Christian schoolteacher has been fired from his position at West Point High School, in the US state of Virginia, after he refused to use a student’s preferred pronouns. Peter Vlaming, a French teacher, said that using male pronouns for a female student identifying as ‘male’ violated his conscience. Despite offering to use the student’s name the school board dismissed him on the grounds of discrimination. Mr Vlaming stressed that he was not intending to be offensive or discriminatory saying: ‘I’m happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I’m not here to provoke’. ‘I can’t refer to a female as a male, and...

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News

February 2019
News > Society

Schoolchildren told all genders have periods

New guidance encourages primary school teachers to tell children that ‘all genders’ can have periods. The guidance has been approved by Brighton and Hove City Council which, in a 2016 survey, gave schoolchildren 25 ‘gender options’ to choose from. Critics have said this latest move is ‘deliberately misleading children’. The schools’ guidance states, ‘Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods’ and ‘menstruation must be inclusive of all genders’. It asserts ‘language and learning about periods is inclusive of all genders’, before suggesting teachers use the phrase, ‘girls and women and others who have periods’. Sanitary-product bins must also be provided in male...

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News

February 2019
News > Society

Warning over government’s Sunday school safeguarding consultation

Warning bells have been sounded over the government’s plans to introduce a ‘voluntary’ safeguarding code of conduct for out of school settings like Sunday schools and church youth groups. Concerns are being raised that the Department of Education is hinting at regulation and the consultation has prompted fears that new controls could be foisted on church clubs. Similar plans were floated in 2015, which included proposals for Ofsted to become in effect the ‘state regulator of religion’. These were dropped after opposition from Christians and others. MP for Monmouth David Davies said: ‘Madrasas radicalising young people is something people would expect the Government to try...

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News

February 2019
News > International

US remains polarised after mid-term elections

When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, the nation, and indeed the world was stunned to see such a monumental political upset as Trump won against Hillary Clinton in 2016. The election baffled pundits and populace alike as Trump won the electoral vote whilst losing the popular vote to Clinton. Despite his political incorrectness and explosive personality, his mantra of ‘Make America Great’ won the hearts of the rural and working class population. Since his election, the country has only become more demarcated, especially in regards to race issues, foreign policy, and immigration. According to the Pew Research Center, 54 per cent...

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