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All news in May 2019

News

May 2019
News > People > Obituaries

Geoff Cox (1946-2019)

‘If any reference is made to me then my faults and failings must be faithfully mentioned, and any qualities and achievements must be attributed to the grace of God.’ With these words, Geoff Cox instructed those who would conduct his funeral and thanksgiving service. It was truly characteristic of the man who over 200 family and friends gathered to remember and thank God for on 14 March. Welcome Hall Evangelical Church in Catshill, near Bromsgrove, was packed as those leading the service gracefully pushed the boundaries of Geoff’s request! John Parker, Geoff’s brother-in-law, reflected on his family and work. Geoff had experienced two careers: one...

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News

May 2019
News > Church news

Dewsbury Connected conference focuses on the role of apologetics

The Connected conference is an annual gathering of church officers, workers and future leaders of independent fellowships in the North, taking place in Dewsbury Evangelical Church. Apologetics was the theme, specifically engaging with the secular beliefs of modern society. We were well served by Dan Strange, our speaker for the day. Dan is director of Oak Hill Theological College and elder of East Finchley Baptist Church. Starting from Peter’s exhortation of the believer to be ‘always prepared to give an answer’ (1 Peter 3:15), Dan talked through various texts which help us to give answers which are both faithful and effective. He spoke with wisdom...

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News

May 2019
News > Church news

History lectures on Joseph Herrick and the Primitive Methodists

The Christian Heritage Centre in Rowley Regis recently hosted two lectures on church history. The first, by Martin Wells, focused on Joseph Herrick: a 19th century dissenting minister in Colchester. Martin highlighted Herrick’s bravery in the face of opposition, even from his own congregation. Herrick ministered to his church for 51 years, despite ambitions to oust him. Once, the chapel’s trustees even had the roof removed in order to precipitate Herrick’s departure! The ploy worked and Herrick was forced out of the building. However, his congregation remained loyal and they secured a new building. Opposition persisted. Herrick’s detractors sought to regain control of the trust...

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News

May 2019
News > Church news

Three lectures on men of the Reformation held near Leicester

Little Hill Church, near Leicester, recently held the first of a series of lectures on the Reformation. This follows the well-received series which took place in 2018. Three talks will focus on different men living between 1560 and 1660. Their responses to being within the ‘partially reformed’ Church of England will be explored. The first lecture took place on 25 February; Dr Lesley Rowe spoke on Arthur Hildersham and his sufferings for conscience’ sake. She began by contextualising Anglicanism in late Elizabethan England. The queen had insisted that no further reformation was permissible. However, many godly ministers took issue with Archbishop Whitgift’s ‘Three Articles’ –...

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News

May 2019
News > Church news

Middlesbrough church may pull out of needy area unless funds are raised

An FIEC church serving four social housing estates in Middlesbrough may pull out of the area unless money can be raised to buy the building it currently rents. New Life Church, Middlesbrough, has been meeting in Ormesby Methodist Church Hall since 2014 but the owners no longer need the site and are putting it up for sale. New Life’s pastor, Ian Williamson, said: ‘Apart from the local library, the hall is the last remaining public building in the area. Although our church is quite small, with around 25 regulars on Sundays, we have contact with almost 100 people each week through our outreach activities.’ If...

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News

May 2019
News > International

Australia: Rugby star ‘sacked’ for expressing biblical beliefs

Rugby authorities in Australia have terminated Israel Folau’s contract after a social media post in which he bluntly expressed the Bible’s teaching. The rugby star, regarded as one of the best players in the world, posted an image with a message on his Instagram account. The words in the image said, ‘Warning: Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolaters, hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.’ He accompanied the image with his own comment, ‘Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and...

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News

May 2019
News > International

Germany: Home-school family to appeal to Europe’s top court

A home-schooling family from Germany has asked the European Court of Human Rights to refer their case to the Grand Chamber – the top human rights court in Europe. In January, the Fifth Chamber ruled that the Wunderlich family’s rights had not been violated in 2013 when more than 30 police officers and social workers raided their home and forcefully removed the children from their parents. The children have since been returned, but the family have taken legal action to redress the injustice they suffered and to ensure they don’t face further sanctions in Germany for home-schooling their children. In this latest development, the family...

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News

May 2019
News > International

Netherlands: Amsterdam bans tours around red-light district

Amsterdam is to ban guided tours around its red-light district from January 2020. The city’s Deputy Mayor Udo Kock said it is no longer appropriate to see prostitution ‘as a tourist attraction’. Prostitution was legalised in the Netherlands in 2000, but for more than a decade Dutch policy makers, police and citizens have admitted it has failed to curb crime or protect women. British author and anti-prostitution campaigner Julie Bindel said that under this regime, ‘trafficking and pimping has increased, organised crime is rife, and the women are not protected from violence’.

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News

May 2019
News > International

Brunei: Draconian new laws affect Christians as much as gay people

Strict new Islamic laws in Brunei which make homosexual activity an offence punishable by stoning to death have received much condemnation in the media and by celebrities. But the laws also affect the Christian community, with conversion from Islam and insulting the Prophet Muhammad both carrying the death penalty. Some have questioned why the media are focusing on the LGBT community while ignoring the impact on Christians. Open Doors USA told the Christian Post, ‘The newest and third phase of the law is difficult news for Christian converts who are expected to have to go into deeper hiding.’ The first phase, which rolled out five...

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News

May 2019
News > International

China: Cash rewards for turning in Christians

The Chinese government is offering cash rewards to people who inform on underground churches. One city, Guangzhou, is offering more than £1,000 to those who can identify ‘unofficial’ places of worship. The incentive is part of a nationwide effort to bring all religious groups under the control of the Communist Party. Officials within the Chinese government believe the West is trying to use Christianity to undermine the Communist regime. Religious affairs officers in Guangzhou have decided to offer cash rewards for useful information starting from just 100 yuan (£11). But helping to identify and arrest preachers and members of unauthorised religious groups will be rewarded...

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News

May 2019
News > Society

BBC presenters and journalists object to the questioning of LGBT lessons

BBC presenters and journalists have criticised the Question Time programme for allowing a debate on whether LGBT lessons should be taught to five-year-olds. Audience member Keith Broughton was picked to ask panellists on the programme: ‘Is it morally right that five-year-old children learn about LGBTQ+ issues in school?’ But some BBC staff thought the people’s concerns should not be allowed to be aired. BBC Breakfast presenter Ben Thompson said, ‘LGBT “issues”? Like what? That we exist?’ And BBC News senior foreign producer Tony Brown added: ‘Replace LGBT with black or Jewish and this question would never have been asked on national TV.’

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News

May 2019
News > Ethics > Society

Royal College of Physicians drops opposition to assisted dying

The Royal College of Physicians has adopted a ‘neutral’ position on assisted dying, after a highly controversial ‘sham’ poll of its members. The college surveyed its 36,000 members about whether the law should be changed to permit doctor-assisted dying. It found 43.4 per cent of respondents were opposed to a change in the law, little different to a finding of 44.4 per cent when the poll was conducted in 2014. The number wanting the college to support assisted dying increased from 24.6 per cent to 31.6 per cent. Just 25 per cent thought the RCP stance should be neutral, a fall from 31 per cent...

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News

May 2019
News > Religious liberty > Society

Home school registration plans unveiled

Plans to force home-schooling families in England to register with their local authority have been unveiled by the government, drawing great concern. The current law does not require parents to notify the authorities that they are educating their children at home, although some councils run a voluntary register. Many home-schoolers will be wary of increasing state regulation and unnecessary intrusion into family life. But Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the government had a duty to make sure children were ‘safe’ and receiving a ‘good’ education. Hinds said a register would also help the authorities spot young people who may be receiving a ‘solely religious’ education....

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News

May 2019
News > Education > Religious liberty

Mum sues school for forcing her child to take part in ‘gay pride’ parade

A mother, Izzy Montague, is taking legal action against her child’s former school for how they handled her complaint after her child was forced to take part in a ‘gay pride’ parade. She is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, which says Mrs Montague has filed a complaint with the County Court against the Governing Body of Heavers Farm Primary School. She is alleging breach of her parental rights, victimisation and harassment at the hands of the school. The problems began in June 2018 when the headteacher of Heavers Farm Primary School in south-east London made pupils as young as five take part in...

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News

May 2019
News > Society

Journalist investigated by police for opposition to radical gender ideology

Writer and broadcaster Caroline Farrow has been investigated by police for criticising underage ‘sex change’ surgery on Twitter. The incident followed a 2018 debate between Farrow and Susie Green, head of trans charity Mermaids, on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. Green now says she has dropped the complaint against Mrs Farrow, and Surrey Police subsequently stopped its investigation. Farrow, a Roman Catholic, said on the programme that boys identifying as female should not be allowed to share tents with girls. The debate continued on social media, and Susie Green lodged a formal complaint with Surrey Police. Mermaids CEO Susie Green evaded UK restrictions when she took...

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News

May 2019
News > Science

Transgender ‘peer pressure’ study upheld

A study which found that heavy exposure to online content about gender transition is partially behind the phenomenon of ‘rapid-onset gender dysphoria’ (ROGD) has been backed following an extensive peer review. ROGD is a term given to teenagers who suddenly express feelings of being ‘born in the wrong body’, despite never having experienced such feelings in earlier life. The study also found that gender dysphoria spread like wildfire among friendship groups where the majority of children were ‘transgender-identified’. The research was conducted by Dr Lisa Littman from Brown University in America. The results were published in August last year, but activists who disagreed with her...

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News

May 2019
News > Society

Schoolchildren given transgender badges to wear

School pupils in Brighton are getting badges saying if they prefer to be called ‘she, he or they’ with the slogan ‘gender is a spectrum’ in a bid to help transgender children. Secondary school pupils across Brighton and Hove are being handed the badges as part of the council’s ‘My Pronouns are…’ scheme that aims to promote trans inclusion and prevent ‘misgendering’. There is also a blank badge that youngsters can use to fill in their own pronouns. Wearing a badge is optional, but the scheme has drawn criticism. One online commenter said, ‘Children are not transgender. They don’t know who they are yet, and...

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News

May 2019
News > Religious liberty

Home Office says Christianity isn’t a peaceful religion in asylum letter

An Iranian Christian asylum seeker was sent a rejection letter from the Home Office which said Christianity is not the peaceful religion he claimed it to be. The claimant said in his application that he had found ‘peace, forgiveness and kindness’ in Christianity in contrast to the ‘violence and revenge’ of his former Muslim faith. But an official in the Home Office challenged his interpretation and quoted several passages from the Bible to refute his claim. The Bible passages included Matthew 10:34 where Jesus says, ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.’...

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May 2019
News

Parents’ opposition to relationships lessons in schools is spreading

An increasing number of primary schools across England are experiencing opposition from parents to new ‘relationships’ lessons. In recent months, Parkfield Community School in Birmingham has been at the centre of controversy over its ‘No Outsiders’ programme of lessons which pushes an LGBT agenda. Now parents in Manchester, Oldham, Blackburn, Bradford and other areas are also protesting against similar classes. But the Education Secretary has weighed into the row, warning that parents should not control what schools teach their children. Damian Hinds said that although it was right that parents were consulted and involved in developing how schools deliver relationships education, he insisted ‘what is...

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News

May 2019
News

Disastrous divorce plans get go-ahead

The Government has announced it will press ahead with disastrous plans to make divorce quicker and easier. The announcement was made following the results of a public consultation, even though 83 per cent of respondents were opposed to the central proposal. The Government attempted to hide the responses from the public, saying that a majority of ‘family justice professionals’ back the plans. But more than eight out of ten of all respondents were against the proposal to remove the ability to contest a divorce as a general rule. Those who disagreed with the proposal argued that it would seem unjust if one party was not...

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News

May 2019
News > International

LETTER FROM AMERICA: Southern Baptist Convention abuse scandal

In May 2018, the former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paige Patterson, came under the spotlight for mishandling cases of sexual assault at the seminary. The Southern Baptist Convention summarily terminated him from his position after investigating his role (Christianity Today, ‘Paige Patterson Fired by Southwestern’, June 2018). While this action won much acclaim (and shock) from its members, this was only the tip of the iceberg for the world’s largest Baptist denomination in its relation to the #MeToo movement. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), while having origins in the southern US, has nearly fifty thousand congregations all over the country and currently boasts...

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