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In the Press

  • A bill 'to make provision for equitable access to palliative care', introduced by senior palliative care physician and peer Ilora Finlay, will be debated in the House of Lords on 23 October.
    Baroness Finlay, who today takes over as the National Council for Palliative Care's Chair of Trustees, introduced the Bill with a view to instigating 'the beginning of a comprehensive discussion around end of life care and hopefully, ultimately a change of law' which responds to 'the problems and failings of a system that has the knowledge of what needs to be done but fails to make it happen'. Such aims were recently endorsed by 60 MPs in an open letter to The Times.
  • A council has been accused of a ‘staggering u-turn’ over the presence of a Christian cross in its crematorium chapel.
    On Tuesday, Hyndburn’s cemeteries boss Ken Moss said the religious symbol would only be available for funerals if requested by organisers.
    Yesterday, after his comments were quoted in the Lancashire Telegraph, he issued a revised statement saying a free-standing cross would be present in the chapel at Accrington Cemetery unless families asked for its removal during a service.
    Councillor Moss said his original statement was open to ‘misinterpretation’ and yesterday’s replacement was intended to clarify the position.
    Former Tory group leader on Hyndburn Council Peter Britcliffe, who originally raised the matter, said: “This is not a clarification. It is staggering u-turn.”
    Bishop of Burnley Philip North welcomed yesterday’s statement as “a sensible decision”.
  • A Cardiff-born teenager has been added to a UN sanctions list containing four other British citizens fighting with Islamic State militants in Syria.
    Aseel Muthana, 19, has been put on the same list as his older brother, Nasser, who achieved notoriety when he appeared in an Isis propaganda video entitled There is No Life without Jihad.
    Their father, Ahmed Muthana, has already described the inclusion of Nasser on the list as “crazy” after the 21-year-old and three people became the first to have UN sanctions imposed on them at the request of the UK government since 2006.
    The others are Aqsa Mahmood, 21, from Glasgow; Omar Hussain, 28, from High Wycombe; and Sally-Anne Jones, a 46-year-old Muslim convert from Chatham, Kent. All have had travel bans and asset freezes imposed on them.
  • Faith schools systematically cheat the admissions system, a new report claims.
    The British Humanist Association (BHA) report says all but one of the secondary faith schools investigated (69 out of 70) failed to comply with the School Admissions Code.
    The report, An Unholy Mess, produced on behalf of the Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC), lists a series of violations of the admission arrangements at religiously selective state schools, including a lack of clarity over the frequency and duration of religious worship required.
    A number of schools investigated required practical or financial support for associated organisations – through voluntary activities such as flower arranging and singing in choirs at churches or, in the case of two Jewish schools, paying to become a member of a synagogue.
    Many schools failed to sufficiently prioritise looked-after and formerly looked-after children, and the majority asked for information from parents that they did not need.
  • The pope’s hitherto clandestine meeting with Kim Davis, the current heroine of conservative Christianity in the US, has come as a surprise – and a blow – to those who would claim Francis as a standard-bearer of liberalism.
    But the 15-minute meeting between the leader of the world’s Catholics and the county clerk from Kentucky who went to jail rather than add her official signature to same-sex marriage licences was entirely in keeping with one of the key themes of the pontiff’s six-day US tour: religious freedom.
    Davis, a Pentecostal Apostolic Christian, met the pope at the Vatican embassy in Washington DC last Thursday after Francis had delivered his speech to Congress and before he left the capital for New York. The news of the meeting broke on Wednesday, two days after the pope landed back in Rome after a trip which delighted liberals but disappointed many conservative Catholics.
    Davis described the encounter to ABC News: “I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it, and I hugged him and he hugged me. And he said, ‘Thank you for your courage’.” She wept at the encounter: “I had tears coming out of my eyes. I’m just a nobody, so it was really humbling to think he would want to meet or know me.”
  • A Muslim man whose son was taken into care by a Welsh local authority has gone to court in a bid to see his son placed with Islamic foster carers.
    The boy's religious and cultural heritage could only “properly be safeguarded” if the child lived with Muslims, the man told a judge in the family court.
    He asked Judge Gareth Jones to order the council to make “other arrangements” for the boy’s upbringing.
  • The Church took another step forward in its efforts to build a fairer financial system last night with the commissioning of over 50 credit champions by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The event was part of the Church Credit Champions Network, (CCCN) a project which is helping congregations across London and Liverpool to take action on money and debt issues in their community. Archbishop Justin announced that the Network is on track to save more than £2 million by helping people access affordable credit from places like credit unions rather than high-cost providers such as payday lenders.

  • A Father who went to court in an attempt to force his 16-year-old daughter to leave her mother to live with him so that he could instil in her his traditional Christian values has had his case rejected by a judge who suggested he was a sexist throwback to another age.
    Judge Damien Lochrane said the man, who cannot be identified, had demonstrated an “antediluvian attitude towards women” and appeared to believe they were incapable of making “sensible” decisions on their own.
    The father also demonstrated an “arrogant” disregard for the teenager’s own wishes after she made it clear she did not want to live with him.
    It was, the judge said, “difficult to imagine” how the man, from Cheshire, functioned in 21st-century Britain “while harbouring such attitudes”.
    The judge detailed how the father, a successful professional, wanted the girl to move hundreds of miles away from her mother.
    He wanted to take over responsibility for her education, teach her about her paternal heritage and promised he would “ensure that she goes to church”. The judge said the mother and father were never involved in a “proper relationship and that the father had never played a part in his daughter’s care”.
  • Kim Davis, the Kentucky county court clerk who spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is reported to have had a private meeting with the pope during his historic US tour.
    According to a statement posted on the website of Christian lobby group the Liberty Council, Pope Francis met Davis and her husband, Joe, at the Vatican’s Washington DC embassy on Thursday. The statement carries the stamp of the Liberty Council’s founder and chairman, Matt Staver, who is acting as Davis’s lawyer in her dispute with the court.
    The statement, which is based on a report from Inside The Vatican, says that the pope thanked Davis for her “courage” and told her to “stay strong”. He then said he would pray for her and presented both her and her husband with a rosary, the Liberty Council claimed.
  • Six churches have been burnt down in northwest Tanzania within the past week.
    First, on 23 September, three churches were torched – the Living Waters International Church, Buyekera Pentecostal Assemblies of God, and Evangelical Assemblies of God Tanzania churches, which are all located in the Bukoba region, on the shores of Lake Victoria.
    Then, during the night of 26 September, three more churches – also in Bukoba – were torched: the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kitundu Roman Catholic Church and Katoro Pentecostal Assemblies of God Church. All are located in the Katoro region of western Bukoba. 
    “The people woke up on 27th Sep to find their sanctuaries burnt down,” an anonymous source told World Watch Monitor. “The scenarios are the same; unknown people broke in, piled things onto the altar, poured petrol over it and set it alight. They fled before anyone could respond and so remain unknown.”


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