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In the Press

  • A SYDNEY school has adopted a policy allowing Muslim schoolboys to refuse to shake hands with women.

    At a recent awards ceremony at Hurstville Boys Campus of Georges River College, female presenters were told by one of the two principals that some students would not shake their hands because of their Muslim faith, The Australian reported.

    The boys were instead permitted to place a hand across their chest to show they would not be taking the hand of the women, many of them well-known figures from the local community.

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  • Diversity in schools is a good thing. Indeed, one of the weaknesses of education in the UK is that schools are too similar. Secondary schools in particular tend to be uniformly large, with a uniformity of teaching style, when many pupils would benefit from being in smaller groups and from a wider range of teaching methods. 

    Schools should also offer variety in their culture and value systems, the intangible quality of a school known as its ethos. Most people recognise a strong ethos when they come across it, but struggle to define it. Which may be why governments have so often in the past looked to religious institutions as a way of taking a school ethos off the shelf.


  • (Last Wednesday Wilberforce Publications and Christian Concern published their latest book - Talking about Dying which can be purchased here. Kathy asked cancer doctor Elaine Sugden, one of its four authors, what prompted her to contribute to it.)

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  • At the end of the recent General Synod when an alliance of orthodox Christians and pr0-gay progressives defeated the Bishops’ report on Marriage and sexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a rallying cry to a perturbed and divided Synod and whatever part of the wider Church was listening in.

    It had three elements:

    1. "We need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church."
    2. "It must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual."
    3. "The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion."

    The problem these words present, is that they involve a distortion of Christianity. They preference a non-Christian ideology that gives us a sub-Christian or even perhaps an anti-Christian version of the faith.

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  • In their youth, brothers Shaun and Lee did what they describe as the usual things: "getting wrecked" – drink, drugs, clubbing, gambling. "The party was always at our house, put it that way. And I was the host," said Shaun.

    But Shaun has since become Abdul, a convert to Islam whose life is governed by his devotion to Allah and the strict demands of his faith. Meanwhile, Lee travelled around the country to anti-Muslim rallies organised by the English Defence League. The brothers have taken starkly different directions. But Abdul told the Observer: "I know Lee loves me and I love him."

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  • former president of the National Union of Students and chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips was once a leading member of what might be called the metropolitan liberal elite. He had the ear of everyone who mattered in the Labour party, and on matters of race and equality he was the go-to guy.

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  • A leading girls' school has drawn up a "gender identity protocol" that allows pupils to be called by boys' names and to wear boys' clothes if they request it.

    The move by St Paul's Girls' School in west London, whose alumnae include such famous names as the actress Rachel Weisz and the MP Harriet Harman, is a response to the trend for young people to question their gender identity and in some cases to change it, according to the high mistress Clarissa Farr.

    Requests are considered from the age of 16 and there are understood to be up to 10 girls in the sixth form who have gone through a formal process to be known within the school either as boys or as gender-neutral.

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  • Norma McCorvey, whose test case made abortions legal in the United States, has died aged 69.

    She was represented under a pseudonym in the Roe v Wade case, in what ended up being a landmark and controversial Supreme Court judgement in 1973.

    Having turned to religion, McCorvey then said being part of the decision to legalise abortion "was the biggest mistake of my life".

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  • The much vaunted 'radical inclusion' vision of the two Archbishops as an attempt to enable those who seem to be implacably opposed to each other in the Church of England does, it seems, have historical precedent according to a recently discovered Near Eastern scroll dating from the 9th century BC. Entitled, 'Baal and Yahweh a creative inclusion' the document appears to be a genuine attempt to hold together what was an increasing fragmentation of the northern Kingdom of Israel due to the recent introduction of popular Sidonian worship from beyond its borders.

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  • On February 24th the Gender Identity (Protected Characteristic) Bill 2016-17 is expected to have its second reading debate in the House of Commons. The purpose of the Bill is "to make gender identity a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 in place of gender reassignment and to make associated provision for transgender and other persons; and for connected purposes."

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