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In the Press

  • On Thursday, Washington's Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Barronelle Stutzman, a local florist, couldn't deny service to a gay couple because of her religious beliefs under the state's anti-discrimination law, CBS News reports.

    Although Stutzman had sold flowers to the couple before, she refused to sell flowers for their wedding back in 2013, claiming that it would go against her Christian beliefs. Lower courts ruled against her and Stutzman was fined, but she and her lawyer took the case to the Washington Supreme Court. The court sided with the lower courts in a 9–0 landslide, saying that refusing to sell flowers to a gay couple is discrimination and not protected under free speech laws.

    The court sided with the couple's lawyer, Michael Scott, who argued that providing flowers for a same-sex marriage isn't the same thing as an endorsement of the practice: "She's selling what she sells."

  • Wednesday's vote in Synod was not a victory for the LGBT lobby. In whatever way that vote in synod is spun, the real issue is not about same-sex marriage but about the authority of the Bible in the Church of England.

    The effect of the vote is that there is no change in doctrine or practice. Marriage remains, as it has for all Christendom, a lifelong union between a man and a woman.

    This moment presents a great opportunity for the House of Bishops to embrace that truth and to act to uphold it firmly within the Church, disciplining those who would seek to abandon the authority of the Bible, and whose actions will eventually bring down the Church by actively denying that truth.

    Read more.

  • France is becoming an increasingly hostile environment for people who think babies in the womb deserve a right to life.

    On Thursday, the French legislature passed a new law that could jail people who operate pro-life websites that they claim give women "misleading" information to discourage them from having an abortion.

    Read more.

  • The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to members of the General Synod setting out the next steps following the vote on General Synod not to take note of the paper on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations.

    Read more.

  • A Labour activist has said UKIP are "enemies of Islam", warning Muslim voters they will go to hell if they fail to vote Labour at the upcoming Stoke by-election.
    Navid Hussain said that voting for any party other than Labour would result in the electing of "an anti-Muslim and anti-Islam MP", in a text message sent to Muslims in Stoke-on-Trent Central.

    "Will you be able to answer for this in the Grave and on the Final Day??? ‘I helped the Enemies of Islam because…", he wrote in the message, which was circulated via SMS and WhatsApp among the constituency’s Muslim community.

    Read more.

  • A few years ago at a conference, I held a large banner that read: "Azerbaijanis: God’s gateway people to the Muslim world." One quizzical individual pondered a few minutes before asking me whether this was a real place.

    Azerbaijanis get that a lot.

    They are one of the few peoples that span numerous countries with different linguistic and cultural contexts. The Republic of Azerbaijan is home to 9 million Azerbaijanis, but its low profile on the world stage leads many to underestimate its significance. While the exact number of Azerbaijanis worldwide is unknown, it ranges from 30 million to 50 million. Their largest concentration is found in Iran, where estimates range from 18 million to 30 million.

    Read more.

  • Tough new laws that make it a criminal offence for an adult to send sexually explicit messages to a child under 16 are still not being enforced almost two years after they were passed by parliament, child protection campaigners have said.

    The offence, which updated existing laws to include sexting and other online communications, was made a criminal act under section 67 of the Serious Crime Act in March 2015.

    However, the NSPCC, which campaigned for the law, said no start date has been set to bring the new law into force, meaning police cannot charge anyone with the offence.

    Read more.

  • Church of England clergy have appeared to signal support for gay marriage after they rejected a bishops' report which said that only a man and woman could marry in church.

    The report recommended that the bar on same-sex church marriages continue but that a more welcoming attitude towards homosexuals should be shown by congregations.

    However, the motion was rejected by clergy at the General Synod who voted 100 to 93 against. Sources said they believed the recommendation had been rejected by the more liberal members of the clergy who thought the Church should ultimately drop its opposition to gay marriage.

    Read more.

  • If Jenny ever gets married, there will be no dad walking her down the aisle and, if she gets her way, no mention of him on her marriage certificate either.

    This is because, according to the twenty-something professional, the man who sexually abused her for 18 months from the age of seven "lost any right to be called my father".

    Despite his horrific betrayal of the relationship between father and daughter, under current law it is only his name and occupation that can be recorded on her future marriage certificate - not that of her mother "who has been mum and dad all wrapped up in one".

    Read more.

  • Gay rights campaigners have welcomed the rejection by the Church of England's Synod of a call for continued opposition to same-sex marriage.

    The House of Bishops's report maintained church marriages should be between men and women, and same-sex relationships cannot be blessed - but the House of Clergy dismissed it.

    Campaigner Peter Tatchell said it was a "victory for love and equality".

    Read more.

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