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In the Press

  • RE has hit the headlines again this week, with Derek Holloway, the Church of England's lead RE officer, stating that parents should be banned from removing their children from RE lessons. A number of reasons are given, which contain some very broad, and false, assumptions.

    Parts of the reasoning are, frankly, sinister. There are oblique references to far right political groups, religious fundamentalists and minority faith groups, all lumped together and all creating a 'dangerous' precedent. This is exactly the kind of hysterical rhetoric that fans the flames of suspicion, hatred and distrust. If you're going to make inflammatory accusations, at least have the courage to name these 'dangerous' people. Surely the Church, of all institutions, should be engaging in dialogue to promote understanding and trust?

    Read more.

  • The British public backs the right of politicians to say that "gay sex is a sin", a new survey has found.

    An opinion poll by ComRes for The Christian Institute found that a clear majority of people support the right of politicians with traditional views to express them.

    Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has been bullied on his views concerning homosexuality in recent days. On Tuesday, he told the BBC that homosexual practice is not sinful.

    Read more.

  • The final message left by Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood on messaging service WhatsApp has been uncovered by security services.

    The message, sent minutes before he began his attack, Masood reportedly declared he was waging jihad in revenge against Western military action in Muslim countries in the Middle East.

    The recipient of the message was extensively questioned by police but released without charge after the security services concluded that he was not complicit in the plot and had no prior knowledge of the attack, the Independent reported.

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  • An Inverness man has spoken of his decision to end his own life in a clinic in Switzerland.

    Colin Campbell, 56, has primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

    He said his health had rapidly deteriorated over the last two years and he wanted to choose to die before he was not in a fit state to do so.

    Read more.

  • The National Secular Society has said that Religious Education must be fundamentally reformed before the existing right to withdraw children from RE can be removed.

    The Society was responding to a statement released by the Church which said "the right of withdrawal from RE should be repealed."

    The Church has expressed its concerns that parents are withdrawing their children from lessons on Islam, partial withdrawal is currently permitted. It also said there were concerns that religious fundamentalists were withdrawing their children from lessons on other religions.

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  • The Church of England has called for a blanket end to the right of withdrawal from Religious Education (RE) – the law allowing parents to opt their children out of the subject to avoid faith-based teaching when it conflicts with their own beliefs – claiming that the right is being 'exploited' by certain 'interest groups'.

    Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association (BHA) Andrew Copson has responded:

    "The Church of England is fond of saying how inclusive its schools are, disingenuously referring to them not as "faith schools for the faithful, but church schools serving the community". But the fact of the matter is that Church schools have specific exemptions from equalities legislation allowing them to deliver faith-based RE, not to mention to religiously discriminate in their admissions and employment policies. The Church lobbied to have these exemptions introduced, and on no occasion has it ever called for them to be removed. We should all be very wary of an organisation that claims not to act in a certain way, but continues to defend its freedom to do otherwise. Indeed what we hear from parents about teaching within Church schools indicates that many schools do teach faith-based RE. The church cannot have its cake and eat it too."

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  • Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to shelve plans to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, reports indicate.

    Britain would therefore be part of the ECHR until the next general election, keeping in place a key piece of LGBT rights legislation.

    Article 14 of the ECHR, which affords protection from discrimination, has been used in many legal cases to argue for protection for LGBT people, most notably securing an equal age of consent in the UK.

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  • Barry Trayhorn claimed he was discriminated against because of his Christian faith when he was disciplined by Littlehey Prison for explaining a Bible passage during a Christian chapel service.

    In March 2016, an employment tribunal ruled there was no discrimination and that the prison, in Perry, had acted properly in disciplining him.

    Mr Trayhorn, an ordained Pentecostal minister, worked as a prison gardener and volunteered in the chapel at HMP Littlehey, a prison for sex offenders. He started work at the prison as a gardener in May 2011, and in 2012 started to assist at some chapel services on a voluntary basis.

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  • Felix Ngole, a 39-year-old father of four, caregiver and supply teacher, knows he's never going back to the University of Sheffield's social work college.

    But he will get his day in court to argue that he was wrongfully expelled because he quoted on Facebook a passage from the Old Testament condemning homosexuality.

    Ngole and his legal counsel provided by the Christian Legal Centre argued Tuesday in the British High Court for the right to a full judicial review of the Sheffield decision. They won. Deputy High Court Judge James Lewis said Ngole and the CLC made enough of a case that his expulsion was disproportionate to his offense to warrant a judicial review. The trial will be held in the fall, according to the Metro news organization.

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  • A Christian prison worker in Cambridgeshire will on Thursday challenge a ruling that he was not discriminated against because of his faith.

    Rev Barry Trayhorn, who resigned from HMP Littlehey Prison, said his treatment after he spoke about forgiveness during a chapel service made it impossible for him to return to work.

    An Employment Tribunal ruled the ordained Pentecostal minister had spoken about forgiveness in an "insensitive" way, which "failed to have regard for the special nature of the congregation in the prison".

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