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In the Press

  • An Indonesian court found the Christian governor of Jakarta guilty of blasphemy against Islam on Tuesday, sentencing him to two years in prison in a case widely seen as a test of religious tolerance and free speech.

    The governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was defeated last month in an election in which the blasphemy case, and religion, became a major issue.

    Blasphemy is a crime in Indonesia, a secular democracy with the world's largest Muslim population.

    Read more.

  • An Irish police investigation into allegedly blasphemous comments made by Stephen Fry has been dropped after detectives decided there were not enough people who had been outraged by the remarks.

    Police launched an investigation into the presenter, author and comedian after he described God as "capricious", "mean-minded", "stupid" and an "utter maniac" during an appearance on Irish television show "The Meaning of Life" in February 2015.

    The comments were widely reported but did not become a legal matter until a man complained last year, prompting a police enquiry.

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  • A child abuse charity has called for police to be given more resources to tackle indecent web images, after The Times exposed an online paedophile network with up to 10,000 British members.

    Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said that the Freedom Hosting II network was likely to be "the tip of the iceberg".

    The network operated on a clandestine part of the internet designed to frustrate attempts by the authorities to identify website users and operators. It hosted at least a dozen forums where users exchanged images of abuse and was free to operate for almost two years before being shut down by hackers.

    Read more.

  • For decades traditional hymns such as Abide with Me and The Lord Is My Shepherd have been staples at British funerals.

    But their popularity is waning as more people opt instead for cheerier secular songs.

    A shift to more balanced ceremonies which involve celebration as well as mourning has driven an increase in pop songs and poems.

    Read more.

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury has dismissed claims among Conservative supporting newspapers that the Church of England has shifted to the right as 'absolutely' not the case.

    He spoke to Christian Today after he and the Archbishop of York were criticised for a three-page letter sent to all clergy and parishes about the issues in next month's general election.

    Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu said in their letter that 'stability' should be one of the key reference points when people were considering how to vote.

    Read more.

  • A political party in Norway has voted to ban the ritual circumcision of boys under the age of 16 and several other measures which have been blasted as an attack on minorities.

    In its national annual conference over the weekend, the anti-immigrant and libertarian Progress Party (FrP) voted to also ban hijabs in public schools, as well as forbidding the religious ritual of circumcision for young men.

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  • Just a few decades ago, people believed, as is the scientific consensus, that among humans there are only two genders: male and female.

    In 2017, however, progressives argue there are dozens of human genders, including being gender-less or even "gender-fluid," meaning a person's gender changes periodically based on how he feels. They argue that gender isn't tied to scientific study and research but instead to how someone "identifies."

    But a recent scientific study conducted by the Weizmann Institute of Science is tearing holes into the progressive narrative that sex and gender aren't tied to science.

    Read more.

  • They're worse than the members of the Boko Haram terrorist group, as far as Nigerian authorities are concerned.

    These are the radical Fulani Islamic herdsmen who have killed more people in Nigeria than any other terrorist and insurgent groups in the African country, according to a Lagos-based intelligence consulting firm in 2014.

    Considering the atrocious record of this Islamist group, it came as a big surprise when more than 400 Fulanis in Nigeria recently converted to Christianity and vowed to promote peace in their country.

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  • Just 30 per cent of Britons feel that their religion or faith is important to them, according to the 2017 Ipsos MORI survey of global trends. That puts us at the bottom of the international table: only Swedes (29 per cent), Belgians (27 per cent) and the Japanese (22 per cent) are more secular than we are, according to this poll.

    The global average, meanwhile, is 53 per cent. Muslim Indonesia heads the list with 93 per cent. Christian America is on 68 per cent, despite a recent slump in church attendance. (I'm always a bit suspicious of what Americans tell pollsters about their faith.) Even Australia – hardly a nation that flaunts its piety – is on 42 per cent.

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  • The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed concern that the UK's impending exit from the European Union could make legal widespread but currently illegal religious discrimination against current and potential teachers by religious schools. The issue, which exists across England, Wales, and Scotland, follows on from the conclusion of a long-running investigation by the European Commission into the matter, which concluded earlier last year.

    Currently, the UK is bound by the European Employment Directive, an EU law that says employers may only discriminate against employees on the basis of religion or belief where there is 'a genuine, legitimate and justified occupational requirement' (GOR) that such discrimination occurs – for example, requiring clergy to share the faith of the church.

    However, domestic legislation goes further than this, providing a specific exemption for 'faith' schools in England and Wales to require every single teacher to share the faith of the school, regardless of whether a GOR can be claimed or not. Similarly, in Scotland, a religious school can require every member of staff to be endorsed by a religion or belief body, again regardless of whether a GOR could be claimed. Last year, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) concluded that this discrimination is 'arbitrary', goes beyond what is permitted by European legislation, and should be reviewed.

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