Dec 17

Why is Marriott so ‘gay-friendly’?

Bill Mariott: happy to go against his Mormon beliefs so long as it makes money.

Bill Mariott: happy to go against his Mormon beliefs so long as it makes money.

As a hotel chain founded and headed by Mormons, you would think Marriott Hotels would be a bastion of heterosexual, family-friendly orthodoxy.

But not a bit of it.  Whatever makes money is the guiding principle for CEO Bill Marriott, even if it means going against his Mormon beliefs:

“Our church is very much opposed to alcohol and we’re probably one of the biggest sales engines of liquor in the United States”, Bill Marriott told Business Week.  “I don’t drink. We serve a lot of liquor. You’re in business. You’ve got to make money,” he said. “We have to appeal to the masses out there, no matter what their beliefs are.”

It took until 2011 until Marriott rid their rooms of on-demand pornography channels.  The porn in Marriott’s rooms was an embarrassment for Mitt Romney when he ran for president of the United States in 2008.  But the decision to take pay-for filth off the menu ended up not being one of morality or propriety, but money.

The chain attributed the move to the hotels’ inability to compete with adult entertainment on guests’ devices—a claim supported by hospitality market research showing a dip in revenue for in-room pornography.

J Willard Marriott, the firm's founder.

J Willard Marriott, the firm’s founder.

But perhaps the strangest move of all has been Marriott’s aligning of themselves as a ‘gay friendly’ establishment.

It seems to have started when Marriott refused to donate to the campaign run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in favour of Proposition 8, the Californian measure to strike down ‘gay marriage’.

Diane Brady of Business Week says: ‘As a result, when his church actively campaigned against same-sex marriage in California, neither Marriott nor the hotel chain donated any money to the cause. Instead, he stepped into the drama by publicly reinforcing his company’s commitment to gay rights through domestic partners benefits and services aimed at gay couples’.

Then, in 2012, a Marriott hotel in Chicago hosted the “International Mr. Leather Competition,” a leather fetish pageant.  Some effort apparently went into prising the event, and its estimated 16,000 participants, away from the Hyatt Towers venue down the street.

As SunTimes put it, ‘To understand International Mr. Leather better, consider the way Chicago DJ Ron Geronimo described to Gopride.com the scene at the gatherin’s 2011 Black and Blue Ball: “Hot and sweaty sex . . . meets the best cheesecake in the world . . . meets hairy muscle daddy groove . . . meets rawhide leather.”’

In 2012, Marriott started offering discounts to homosexual guests in the US, according to Blaze, and a similar deal appears to have crossed the pond, with ‘Pride Packages‘ on a special ‘gay-friendly’ Marriott page offering a ‘promotional code’ for the ‘Out and About’ product.  Families with children need not apply.

Finally, on 2nd June this year, 2014, Marriott launched their #LoveTravels venture, complete with a pro-gay propaganda video, shamelessly targeting the homosexual traveller.  qz.com asks:

Marriott's flagship hotel in London; on the South Bank, Marriott County Hall Hotel

Marriott’s flagship hotel in London; on the South Bank, Marriott County Hall Hotel

‘Why is Bill Marriott so careful to separate faith and business when it comes to LGBT consumers? In a nutshell, $202 billion.

That’s how big the global LGBT travel market is predicted to be this year (2014 – ed), up from $181 billion in 2013, according to industry analysts Out Now Global—with LGBT spending comprising 13% of all global travel spending. That 11% rise is more than double (pdf) the increase in world travel spending overall, which is expected to rise 4% to 5% this year. The number of US 18- to 34-year-olds self-identifying as LGBT has risen by more than 60% since 2007, and … gay men spend 11% more on “nonessential purchases” than their heterosexual counterparts.’

Whether it’s out of the need not to support the heresy of Mormonism, or of making it clear that ‘gay friendly’ is not good business, or just not enriching a greedy man with no principles, it seems like Marriott Hotels are a venue Christians need to avoid.

 

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Dec 16

Briton guilty of child abuse in Kenya

Simon Harris

Simon Harris

A British former public school teacher has been found guilty of sexually abusing street children in Kenya.

Simon Harris was found guilty of seven charges of indecent and sexual assault on the youngsters in Gilgil in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

He was also convicted at Birmingham Crown Court of four counts of possessing indecent images of children.

The offences were committed while Harris was running a gap year charity he set up in the East African country in the 1990s.

Under Section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, British citizens can be tried for sexual offences committed abroad against children under 16 if it is also an offence in that country. This is the first time the relevant section has been applied to a case in Africa.

Prosecuting, Kevin Hegarty QC said Harris lured street boys to his home, known locally as “The Green House”, by offering them food and shelter.

Street children like these boys in Nakuru, also in Kenya's Rift Valley, are vulnerable to predators

Street children, like these boys in Nakuru, also in Kenya’s Rift Valley, are vulnerable to predators like Simon Harris

He told the jury: “A few years ago there was uproar in Kenya and big displacement of people, and many families were broken up and children abandoned. Many of the children made their way to a town called Gilgil.

“In Gilgil the children were living chaotic and desperate lives.

“It’s upon those children that the defendant preyed to encourage them with food, money to come to his house.

“He would drive to Gilgil in his white Land Rover and pick up boys who lived on the street in appalling conditions.”

They would stay at Simon Harris’s house for a few days, he said and “he might take a fancy to a particular one and they’d end up in his bed.”

Giving evidence via satellite link to Birmingham Crown Court, one boy described being attacked by Mr Harris, from Leominster in Herefordshire.

The victim, who was nine at the time, described to the court Mr Harris “doing bad manners” to him.

Giving evidence through an interpreter, the boy told the jury that he had been told to lie on the bed.  He then described how the former public school housemaster had removed his vest and shorts before subjecting him to a painful ordeal that lasted about 10 minutes.

Before the trial, Harris admitted six offences of indecent assault against three boys aged between 13 and 14 when he was a teacher at Shebbear College, Devon, in the 1980s.

This may be the only case which has come to light, because of the extra-territorial nature of our Sexual Offences Act, but it illustrates that predatory homosexuals from Europe and America are a real danger to African children and why African nations need to have strong measures in place to discourage them.

Dec 04

Religious Privileges in Scotland Under Audit

Religious privileges in Scotland will be examined to create a more equal society.

Religious privileges in Scotland will be examined to create a more equal society.

Religious privileges in Scotland are under audit as part of a new research study at the University of Glasgow.

This 10-month project, funded by the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS), will audit Scots law to find out how much special provision is given to religion and religious organizations.

The HSS wants to use this project to encourage talks with Scottish Government to change laws that “reduce religious privilege and make the country more equal.”

If some laws are deemed to be too favorable to Christians they will be modified or disposed of, which could potentially inhibit Christians from practicing their faith in Scotland.

No such project has been launched in over 100 years. Some of the cases might go all the way back to the 16th and 17th centuries, although many of these cases are more recent.

This project’s development is located at the Humanist Studies Hub at the University of Glasgow and is led by Professors Callum Brown (History, School of Humanities) and Jane Mair (School of Law). Dr Thomas Green is research assistant.

Researchers working on this project will do so in an attempt to see how religion influences the different aspects of Scottish law, such as in the areas of marriage, education, and equality laws that grant religious exemptions. These findings will provide a firm foundation for the place of religious freedoms when making new laws.

Included in the project will be a “detailed study of contemporary and historical legal sources.” A report of these findings will be published in the summer of 2015.

Mr Brown told the Scotland Herald that “research could range from prohibition on a Sunday through to any restrictions in employment law.

“We’re interested in religious privilege, which is by and large now being eroded by human rights legislation from the EU, Westminster and Holyrood. Recent legislation has specifically sought to create an equality between those who have a religious belief and those who do not.”

Dr Green will carry out research in cases where the law was influenced by religion. One example would be Church of Scotland clerics having positions on education boards. According to Dr Brown, Prof Green’s report will be rooted in his findings on different aspects of the law, such as education, human rights, and marriage.

Professor Mair, talking about this project, said that contemporary legal systems historically were viewed as secular institutions. She says it is only recently that “driven by a combination of different and quite separate forces religion has re-emerged in law as a complex and highly contested concept.”

She believes some of this rise in interest might be attributed to “the protection of religious thought and belief through human rights and equality legislation; by the strong sound of religious voices in public debate and political consultation and by the visible presence of migrant communities who wish to live according to their own religion.”

Mair, an expert on discrimination in employment and family law, said that these issues are becoming increasingly tested in courts. She adds that “judges are being faced with very difficult decisions: what is religion, how should it be defined and how…should it be distinguished from other forms of belief; to what extent should religious employees be permitted to wear the symbols of their belief at work; should civil courts take account of religious arbitration in resolving family disputes and how should religious beliefs be measured against the belief in equality?”

Douglas Mclellan, HSS Chief Executive, said that:

“I am delighted that this opportunity has arisen. The HSS is investing £40,000 in this project to provide an exceptional level of research into the privileges enjoyed by religion in Scots law. The HSS believes that for Scotland to progress as a fair and equal nation, it needs to be a nation with no special laws, practises or exemptions for religions or religious organisations. We are supporting this project to demonstrate where religion currently has privileges which will then allow us to work with the Scottish Government and MSPs in the Scottish Parliament to take opportunities to amend legislation and reduce religious privilege.”

Prof Brown said: “This is a most important research undertaking. No complete guide to religion in Scots law has been compiled since the Victorian period, and there have been so many changes in church, religion and the law since then that there is a need to provide a one-stop resource for lawyers, Humanists, church people, journalists and academics. We are delighted with the funding HSS is providing, and hope this will expand into a wider relationship between the University and Humanist organisations.”

Reverend David Robertson, the soon-to-be Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, called this project “anti-Christian propaganda, dressed up as research.”

Commenting further, Rev Robertson said that “the Humanist Society, whose membership could fit into a phone box, has paid £40,000 to a humanist to investigate religion.

“I could have saved them the money because I can tell you now this particular investigation will say religion is privileged. Frankly it’s laughable.

“Personally I’d like to see a study of the privileged status of humanists and why they think their principles should be the only ones allowed in Scotland.”

However, the Church of Scotland also responded, saying it “works for and welcomes moves to make Scotland a more equal society.”

Church and Society Convener at the Kirk, Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, had a slightly different take on the issue:
“One of the greatest strengths is our diversity and Scotland is not a blank-slate, but is composed of a number of institutions and groups, from within politics, business and civil society that make up its DNA.

“As one of these groups, religious organisations play an important role within society through our civic engagement, our work and advocacy for the poor and marginalised, and our contribution to the cultural heritage of Scotland, all of which should be reflected within Scottish law.

“Playing our part is not about privilege, but about service. Moreover, if we truly wish to make Scotland a more equal society then money and time might be better spent tackling issues such as child poverty, financial inequality and ending the need for food banks.”

Responding to these comments, Douglas McLellan said: “We find the (Free Church) comments insulting to the academics involved. This is high-quality research.”

A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow, responding to Robertson’s comments, said they welcomed this legitimate area of research.

National Secular Society’s spokesperson for Scotland, Alastair McBay, said: “The study of privilege is well-respected and covered in countless university courses across Scotland. To object to such an academic study simply because the form of privilege under investigation is religious reflects a desperate desire to keep such privileges beyond question.”

Additionally, the professors want to research laws that are still effective today. Dr Green said this approach is “a commentary on where we think law is heading. These kinds of surveys used to be produced by ecclesiastical lawyers. We’re producing one for the 21st century.”

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Nov 20

THE PERSECUTED CHURCH: EGYPT

Muslims get angry quickly.

Muslims get angry very quickly.

By Robin Phillips

Egypt was plunged into instability following the removal of President Muhammad Mubarak after a series of “Arab Spring” protests in early 2011. As a secular president, Mubarak had been a key ally of the United States in keeping Muslim extremism at bay and protecting the ancient Christian population throughout Egypt.

ARAB SPRING TURNS TO WINTER

The American-supported uprisings culminated in the establishment of a new democratically elected government in June 2012. The new president, President Mohamed Morsi, took power amid hopes of reform and freedom. However, he quickly began to abandon democracy and leading the country towards Sharia law. He was the Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood and was accused of concentrating power in their hands. In November 2012, President Morsi passed an interim constitutional declaration granting unlimited power to himself, and also a new constitution that had strong Islamist leanings.

Coptic Christians protesting

Coptic Christians protesting

President Morsi’s power was undermined in the beginning of 2013. The army deployed troops and suspended the constitution, leading to a state of emergency in August. At this time the persecution of Christians peaked as many radical Muslims sought revenge for the removal of their beloved Morsi, using the chaos as an opportunity to unleash terror against believers. Thirty-eight churches were burned and many more were damaged. Christians were even murdered on the streets in broad daylight while the police did little or nothing to stop it.

In one typical event, radical Muslims broke into a Christian school in Bani Suef, looting the establishment and replacing the cross on the gate with an al-Qaeda flag. Female Christian workers who tried to escape were sexually assaulted.

In February this year Arabic media reported the murder of a Syrian Christian family who were living in Alexandria. The attackers stabbed to death a 44-year-old man, his 35-year-old wife, their six-year-old son and the wife’s brother.

THe Egyptian flag bears the eagle of Saladin

The Egyptian flag bears the eagle of Saladin

In another incident, reported by CNS news in April this year, a young Coptic Christian woman, Mary Sameh George, was killed while driving through the Cairo suburb of Ain Shams to deliver medicine to an elderly woman. After Muslim bystanders spotted a cross hanging in her car, they dragged Mary out of her vehicle and proceeded to maul and beat her, before finally stabbing her to death.

FORCED CONVERSIONS AND MARRIAGES

During this time the kidnapping of Christian girls reached crisis proportions. There have been over 550 cases of kidnapping reported in the past 3 years. Some of the kidnappings lead to ransom requests, but others appear to be for the express purpose of forcing Christian girls into conversion to Islam and/or forced marriage.

The Egyptian Association of Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance says many Christian girls and women are being kidnapped by Muslim men and forced to convert and marry their captors.

An Egyptian Christian woman mourns her daughter.

An Egyptian Christian woman mourns her daughter.

Their report said: “The victims are often subjected to violence and rape. The problem dates back to before the revolution but has increased dramatically since. Pre-2011, five or six girls would go missing each month, but this figure has increased nearly three-fold. The revolution and subsequent security breakdown emboldened Islamic extremists, who previously had been kept on a tight leash by strongman president Hosni Mubarak. The electoral success of the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the Arab Spring gave them further confidence.”

Pressing Christian girls into Muslim marriages is a way to systematically reduce the population of the Coptic community. These kidnappings have been largely unreported and demonstrate that, despite reduction in public persecution, Christians in Egypt remain in great danger. The Egyptian police have largely turned a blind eye to this problem, which means that Christian families in Egypt live in continual fear.

In June this year, Fox News reported on one such kidnapping case:

Fifteen-year-old Amira Hafez Wahim slipped out of the Christian church in Luxor, Egypt, where she had attended services with her mother in February, promising to dash to a nearby store and return quickly.

Five months later, she has not been seen since, although her parents immediately suspected a 28-year-old Muslim man named Yasser Mahmoud, who had tried to kidnap her before, had succeeded this time. When her father went to the Civil Status Authority for a copy of her birth certificate, his fears were confirmed. Her name had been changed and she was now listed as Muslim. She had been told that ‘apostatising’ is punishable by death.

CONTINUING CHALLENGES

Egypt's President Sisi

Egypt’s President Sisi

Egypt was run by martial law until June 2014 when President Sisi, former head of the Egyptian army, was sworn into office. President Sisi has cracked down on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and brought relative stability to the area. President Sisi has even allotted government funds to enable the rebuilding of the churches that were burned.

But as recently as 4th September the Christian Post reported:

‘Not only are the churches, monasteries, and institutions of Egypt’s Christians under attack by the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters – nearly 100 now have been torched, destroyed, ransacked, etc. – but Christians themselves are under attack all throughout Egypt, with practically zero coverage in Western media.
‘Days ago, for example, Copts held a funeral for Wahid Jacob, a young Christian deacon who used to serve in St. John the Baptist Church, part of the Qusiya diocese in Asyut, Egypt. He was kidnapped on August 21 by “unknown persons” who demanded an exorbitant ransom from his impoverished family – 1,200,000 Egyptian pounds (equivalent to $171,000 USD). Because his family could not raise the sum, he was executed-his body dumped in a field where it was later found. The priest who conducted his funeral service said that the youth’s body bore signs of severe torture.’

READ: Ex 15:1-3; Psalm 10:1-18, 44:22-26, 62:1-8, 116:15; Prov 24:11-12; Lam 1:12; Matt 10:23; Luke 21:12; Rev 12:11

PRAY: The international media covered the abduction of 300 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by the Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram. By contrast, the Christian girls kidnapped in Egypt have been ignored. Pray that these atrocities could receive increased publicity and that governments would bring pressure on President Sisi to act. Even more, pray for the girls who have been kidnapped, that they would stay strong in their Christian faith and be released.

Also pray that the increased social stability under Sisi would continue and that he would make good on his promises to help rebuild the churches destroyed by Muslims in the revolution. Many people throughout Egypt are suffering from hunger. Pray that poor Christians would be taken care of and that other Christians would be a witness by helping the poor.

WRITE: To your MP at House of Commons, LONDON, SW1A 0AA. Ask what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to support Christians in Egypt. Ask your MP to ask the Foreign Secretary what representations they have made to the Egyptian Government over the hundreds of Christian girls abducted by Muslims and what has been the response.

WITNESS: Outside the Egyptian Embassy, 26 South Street W1K 1DW, on Friday 21st November from 2pm to 4pm. South Street is off Park Lane (by the Dorchester Hotel) and is equidistant from Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch Tubes.

The Ambassador is His Excellency Mr Ashraf Elkholy.

Nov 15

Surname Controversy and the Future of the Family

Dr Sophie Coulombeau suggests that women who adopt their husband's surname lose their identity in the process.

Academic and author, Dr Sophie Coulombeau, suggests that women who adopt their husband’s surname are losing their identity.

In an article for BBC’s news magazine, Dr Sophie Coulombeau, raised the question of why a woman would want to share her husband’s last name.

In a well-researched historical survey of female name-changing, Coulombeau suggested that a woman’s very identity as a person hinges on not adopting the surname of her husband, as if changing one’s name is tantamount to becoming a different person.

The novelist and Professor of English at Cardiff observed that “For me, to adopt the surname of my partner and relinquish my own would profoundly affect how I think about my own identity.”

Later she added that “To abandon my surname and take that of my partner would mean abandoning Sophie Coulombeau, along with all the errors, achievements and resonances she created over thirty years.”

Dr. Coulombeau is not alone. Writing in the Guardian last year, Jill Filipovic suggested that adopting a husband’s surname is equivalent to allowing one’s identity to be obliterated, “subsuming your own identity into our husband’s.”

These ideas are achieving resonance with numerous women in the younger generation. In 2009, only 70% of women said they thought wives should adopt their husband’s surname.

Meanwhile, some are going to the opposite pole to suggest that a man should take his wife’s surname. Some couples are solving the problem by making up a brand new surname.

It is hard not to have some sympathy for the concerns various women have raised in the debate about name-changing. On the surface at least, there does seem to be something unfair in a tradition that insists a woman must change her name while a man is never expected to change his. Of greater concern to many women is the fact that name-changing might imply that a wife is simply an adjunct of her husband with no identity of her own. Others are concerned that this custom is simply a residual hang-over from our culture’s “patriarchal’ past – a past in which women allegedly had no rights and could be abused without consequences.

In this article I will attempt to interact with these concerns and to put forward some reasons why the custom of name-changing is worth preserving. But before getting into that, it may be helpful to explore some of the ideological origins of behind the current rejection of female name-changing.

Feminism and the Rise of Gender Equality

Despite the pervasive influence of feminism, most women still want to adopt the surname of their husband.

Despite the pervasive influence of feminism, most women still want to adopt the surname of their husband.

The growing move for women to keep their maiden names is directly tied to the rise of feminism, particularly feminist teaching about sexual equality.

Throughout the last hundred years, feminists have managed to convince the general public that equality of worth runs parallel to equality of role, with the consequence that in order for men and women to enjoy equal value, there must be sameness of function. Accordingly, feminism has left modern society without the categories for distinguishing  diversities to be celebrated from inequalities to be lamented. In theory at least, all inequalities are viewed in a pejorative light. Thus, throughout the 20th century, there was pressure from feminists to remove all vestiges of gender differentiation from as many political and social areas as possible.

Despite their gains, feminists find it irksome that most women still choose to adopt their husband’s sunames. For a woman to adopt her husband’s name strikes at the heart of the utopia of gender neutrality towards which modern feminism strives. Consequently, feminists have fixated on this issue as part of their larger ambition to eradicate all gender distinctions from society.

Even still, the modern feminist is inconsistent since there are many cases where they have no problem operating as if men and women are unequal and where approved forms of gender discrimination are routinely reinforced. But while modern feminism is happy to accept inequality in certain areas, the practice of female name-changing is one area where it cannot be countenanced.

The uneasiness about name-changing is understandable, since it is an emblem of a view of marriage that modern feminism rejects.

Feminism and the Changing Face of Marriage

In the older understanding, marriage had an institutional grounding that was bigger than the couple, and which implicitly situated each marriage within an entire context of laws, taboos, traditions and expectations. The sense of marriage as an institution larger than the individuals involved was embodied in the practice of having the couple recite marriage vows that were given to them by the society, as well as in the tradition of a wife adopting the name of her husband’s family. Under this scheme of things, it is not up to any individual to define what marriage means; rather, marriage defines us.

In the revisionist understanding of marriage, it is the individual who defines her marriage and what it ultimately means to her.

In the revisionist understanding of marriage, it is the individual who defines her marriage and what it ultimately means to her.

By contrast, in the modern understanding of marriage championed by feminism, each woman should be able to define for herself what marriage means. This is one of the reasons it is becoming widespread for a couple to invent their own marriage vows. Customs and practices for marriage that are received (even when we do not understand the rationale behind them) are viewed as a limitation to the right we all have to define our own existence for ourselves. As such, whatever makes a woman feel more fulfilled, whether it is keeping her maiden name or adopting the surname of her husband, is legitimate. It is the individual who defines her marriage and what it ultimately means to her.

The causalities in this revisionist understanding of marriage are legion, and affect everything from our willingness to accept same-sex ‘marriage’ to our society’s approach to no-fault divorce. It also means that the custom of a woman accepting her husband’s name is viewed as little more than an anachronistic relic that has survived well beyond its years from our “patriarchal” past. In this regard it is significant that Coulombeau explicitly situated the debate about female name-changing within the larger context of the same revisionism that has rejected gender normativity:

And we might well ask, in the wake of last year’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, whether a custom that depends on a gender-normative idea of marriage – a woman automatically sacrificing her name to take that of a man – is starting to look more outdated than ever.

Guardian journalist, Jill Filipovic, has also drawn a connection between wives keeping their maiden name and the revisionist innovations of same-sex “marriage.”

An Attack on Christian Tradition

In her BBC article on the subject, Dr Sophie Coulombeau acknowledges the Christian origin to the tradition of a wife taking the name of her husband’s family, noting how around the turn of the 15th century, the English appropriated the French doctrine of coverture “based on scriptural ideas, which focused not on the husband’s power over his wife but on the unity that marriage gave them.” Coulombeau continued:

The English custom of designating a married woman by her husband’s surname dignified those who had previously occupied the status of vassals.

The English custom of designating a married woman by her husband’s surname dignified those who had previously occupied the status of vassals.

“In the words of the English jurist Henry de Bracton, they became ‘a single person, because they are one flesh and one blood’. As this idea gained ground, so did the clerical habit of designating a married woman by her husband’s surname.The married woman had formerly been a vassal with no surname at all, but now, in theory, she came to share the surname of her husband as a symbol of their legal and spiritual unity.”

This is significant, because it shows that far from being demeaning, the practice of a wife adopting her husband’s surname was dignifying, lifting her above the status of a vassal and giving her legal and spiritual unity with her husband.

This practice actually goes further back than the 15th century, as the Genesis narrative records Adam naming his wife Eve. The notion is also consistent with Biblical teaching regarding the headship of the husband. Though Christian cultures have not always practiced this custom, the idea itself is consonant with Biblical teaching.

Name-Changing and Female Identity

Even those who do not share our Christian convictions have good reasons to be concerned by the growing practice of married women preserving their maiden names. This is because the assumption behind keeping the maiden name is often rooted in the dangerous idea that a woman’s identity is precariously fragile, hinging only on what she is called. Sophie Coulombeau implies as much when she writes that “Introducing myself as ‘Sophie Hardiman’ would mean that saying ‘I do’ had fundamentally changed the answer to the question ‘Who am I?’” Coulombeau goes on to quote followers of Lucy Stone, whose slogan in the 1920s was “My name is my identity and must not be lost.”

Jill Filipovic

Does Jill Filipovic really believe a woman’s identity is fragile enough to be undermined by adopting her husband’s surname?

This echoes concerns articulated by Jill Filipovic in her Guardian article ‘Why should married women change their names? Let men change theirs.’ Filipovic wrote that adopting the name of a husband “lessens the belief that our existence is valuable unto itself, and that as individuals we are already whole. It disassociates us from ourselves…Jill Filipovic is my name and my identity. Jill Smith is a different person.”

Do these feminists really want us to think that female identity is so precarious, and that the billions of women throughout history who chose to adopt the name of their husband’s family thereby ceased to be less than themselves, that their personhood was sublimated to that of their husbands?

Having said that, there is a kernel of truth to the fears these feminists are articulating. Marriage makes us whole (if we were “already whole” before marriage, then there would be no reason to get marriage in the first place?), but it also involves change, sacrificing who we were in a dynamic process of becoming, of continual renegotiation of self in relation to the other. This is as true for a husband as it is for a wife. A woman changing her name is a visible sign of this dynamic process, but there are just as many ways (if not more) that marriage requires husbands to negotiate a new understanding of self in the mutual interplay of sacrifice and new life that forms the mystery of marriage. In the past, the feminists who found this loathsome – believing, with Filipovic, that “we are already whole” – attacked marriage itself and urged women to remain single. They recognized, not without warrant, that marriage is antithetical to the principles of individual self-assertion that form the bedrock of so much feminist ideology.

Part of the problem arises from thinking of marriage as a zero-sum game where the sacrifices and adjustments made for the sake of the other are correlative to loss of self. But in reality marriage is governed by the spiritual logic where the more we give the more fully we become ourselves. This applies as much to the sacrifices a husband has to make as it does to a women sacrificing her maiden name for that of her husband.

Name-Changing and Government Intrusion

Although I maintain there are good reasons for a wife taking her husband’s name, I do not believe any woman should be forced to do this against her will. However, a day may come in the not so distant future when women will be deprived of this choice and forced to keep their maiden names.

I have read (but have not verified it for myself) that in parts of Canada it is now actually illegal for a woman to change her surname to that of her husband; the government forces her to keep her maiden name. Strange as this seems, it is a natural corollary to the notion that requiring women to change their name somehow implies that women are inferior. If the time-honoured practice really does treat women as inferior, then how is it not a species of the type of abuse that is usually forbidden in law? By asking questions like this we see that the arguments feminists are now making could be setting us on a trajectory that can only culminate in women being preventing from taking the name of their husband’s family.

The government may have its own reasons for wanting to abolish the custom I have been defending. Recognizable and traceable family structures (whether in the form of clans, tribes or extended networks of kinship) have historically proved to be one of the main hedges against the aspirations of powerful warlords and kings. Although this is less the case in the modern world, the strength of the family still functions as a significant barrier to the unrestrained power of the state. But it is hard to preserve these family structures when there is irregularity in how names are passed down. With everyone choosing their own surname, with some couples jointly taking on the wife’s surname, with other couples inventing a new surname, and with children having to decide whether to adopt their mother’s surname or their father’s surname (a choice that may be different to that of their siblings), we will increasingly have to lean towards the state to help clarify the boundary markers of each family.

If this happens, it could continue the trajectory already initiated by same-sex marriage legislation whereby the boundaries of a family are becoming increasingly less recognizable on the basis of natural law and thus require more legislation to clarify what those boundaries are. The boundaries distinguishing one family from another are increasingly matters of purely positive law.

It is significant in this regard that many who are agitating for women to keep their maiden name are appealing to a notion of family based on legal rather than natural bonds. For example, Filipovic writes that an alternative to the traditional family is to “embrace a modern vision of family where individuals form social and legal bonds out of love and loyalty, instead of defining family as a group coalesced under one male figurehead and a singular name.” This continues the trajectory of gay marriage where the boundaries of what constitute a family are becoming purely a legal fiction.

It is tempting to say that the consequence of each woman making her own choice extends no further than her own family. However, if the concerns I have registered are legitimate, then that is an overly naive and simplistic view. Without wanting to over-dramatize things, what is at stake is the future of the family itself.

Family(2)

Further Reading

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Nov 13

Faith Schools Must Promote “British Values” of Gay Rights

Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan believes it is "crucial" for all schools to promote tolerance for beliefs that are different from those the school might believe.

Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan believes it is “crucial” for all schools to promote tolerance for beliefs that are different from those the school might believe.

Faith schools must promote “British Values” such as gay rights and other religions.

The Equality Act, effective last week, gives inspectors the authority to censure schools that do not “encourage respect for lesbian, gay and transgender people, and other religions and races.”

Inspectors will look for schools that are intolerant of same-sex “marriage” or engage in practices such as forcing girls to sit at the back of the classrooms.

These new rules were inspired by Michael Gove, MP for Surrey Heath, in response to the “Trojan Horse” incident in Birmingham, which revealed that extremist views were being taught in state schools.

In response to news about the policy, the Department of Education tweeted: “Nonsense to say schools ‘must teach gay rights’. We want schools to teach broad curric based on British values.”

The tweet, which was later deleted, offended many people because it seemed to make a distinction between promoting gay rights and “British values,” which many believe are the same thing.

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt responded: “LGBT rights are British values. The Department for Education must back compulsory sex and relationship education, including LGBT rights.”

According to Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, the DfE needs to clarify whether it considers gay rights to be “British values.”

Christians have opposed the new policy, fearing that it will threaten their religious liberty. The DfE says that teachers who disagree with gay “marriage” are allowed to express their opinions in class, but they must respect gay children or parents and not discriminate against them.

Antonia Tully, national coordinator of Safe at School, a parents’ rights campaign of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, called Morgan’s announcement an “attack on every parent in the country.”

Tully said in a statement that “it’s quite clear that the new rules for schools actively to promote so-called ‘British values’ are all about indoctrinating children with a homosexual ideology. The prospect that schools will have to champion homosexuality or risk being downgraded by Ofsted strips all parents of their right to educate their own children about sexual morality.”

She added, “It is misleading to suggest that same-sex issues must be embedded in the school curriculum in order to protect children. Parents will be left powerless to keep their children safe from harmful sexual lifestyles. Nicky Morgan’s zeal to further the gay agenda is undermining every parent in the country.”

However, Nicky Morgan, secretary of education who succeeded Michael Gove, told the Sunday Times that it was “crucial” for Christian and Jewish schools to follow these rules as well as Muslim schools, despite the fact that the schools targeted in the Trojan Horse Plot were not faith schools.

Already an all-girls Jewish schools was punished last week and downgraded from good to adequate ratings for not meeting the new standards. According to inspectors who visited the school, there were “major gaps in students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Students are not provided with sufficient opportunities to learn about or understand people of other faiths or cultures. The school does not promote adequately students’ awareness and tolerance of communities which are different to their own. As a result, the school does not prepare students adequately for life in modern Britain.”

Despite this development, the DfE claims that faith schools are not being forced to teach gay rights, a notion that one spokesman declared was “complete nonsense.” Commenting further, he said that “Ofsted are rightly ensuring that schools do not indoctrinate pupils about gay people – or any other people – being inferior. The same goes for schools that do things like make girls sit separately at the back of the class. Both are practices which go directly against the fundamental British values of tolerance and respect.”

Morgan will soon begin a consultation suggesting that students taking GCSE religious education must study more than one faith, exposing students to views other than their own and offering them a more well-rounded education.

The question many parents will want to ask is this: Where will inspectors differentiate between upholding Christian beliefs, on the one hand, and teaching students intolerance, on the other? Contrary to popular belief, many Christians do not want to discriminate against others when they teach their views in faith schools. There is a big difference between teaching about other views and condoning them. Unfortunately, Nicky Morgan seems to be leaning toward making schools enforce the latter.

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Nov 08

Merkel Warns over UK Immigration Plans

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel fears that Britian’s new immigration rules could be the last straw for severing UK and EU ties.

The German Chancellor has issued a warning about David Cameron’s plans to limit “freedom of movement”, hinting that she would rather see the UK leave the EU than for immigration to be curbed.

David Cameron, who has come under increasing pressure from anti-EU voters, has attempted to reduce the free flow of immigrants throughout the 27 member states onto British soil. But the German chancellor told Cameron that his proposed quotas could accelerate Britain reaching a point of no return.

Cameron is now looking on alternatives to setting quotas, such as limiting the time immigrants can be in the country without a job.

Merkel is not the only foreign leader that has expressed concerns on the subject. Stefan Lofen the Prime Minister of Sweden, believes that EU immigration policy could result in the EU unraveling.

“The fact that one country believes that one thing is wrong does not mean that we can change, because every country might have its own priorities and that may just ruin the European Union,” he announced.

“If you first create a common market with common rules and then if the individual countries are supposed to change that on their own, then, I mean, soon, we do not have a European common market,” Lofven said.

Even states that were championed by Britain to be part of the EU have reservations about Britain’s immigration reform.

Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister has attempted to appease his anti-EU constituency by claiming that the British people are his only boss, adding:

“What we need in Britain is a renegotiation of our relationship with the EU and then a referendum where the British people decide do we stay in this reformed organization or do we leave it.
“That’s what I will pursue, that’s what I will deliver, and at the heart of that renegotiation we need to address people’s concerns about immigration. I’m very clear about who the boss is, about who I answer to and it’s the British people. They want this issue fixed, they are not being unreasonable about it, and I will fix it.”

 

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Nov 03

EU Penalizes Britain For Prosperity

Cameron

The European Union has insisted that David Cameron hand over £1.7 Billion in what is essentially a prosperity penalty.

Britain must pay at least £1.7 Billion to help with recovery, the EU has announced.

The UK was targeted for the bill, due on 1st December, as a result of the country out-performing other economies in Europe since 1995.

The controversial bill includes retroactive payments that the EU assumes Britain owes them based on the country’s success over the last two decades. It does not include the £680 million that will be taken out of British taxpayers’ pockets to support an estimated increase for next year’s EU budget.

This backdated surcharge highlights how the price-tag for EU membership fluctuates depending on how well an economy is doing, with the more prosperous nations paying the most, all calculated depending on gross national income.

News of this pending payment is likely to add to the growth of groups demanding that Britain quit the EU.

Poorer Nations Get Rewarded

Part of the controversy over Britain’s bill is that it runs parallel to a practice of rewarding poorer nations in the EU block. France is getting handed 790 million for having a poorer and much more stagnant economy over the past year.

The Netherlands, which is scheduled pay 642 million for its own success, has highlighted the problem of rewarding the economies of stagnant nations with cash handouts. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, representing both the Dutch and the British, scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss the payment crisis and how it should be dealt with. His concerns were echoed by Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex. “The EU punishes economic success and rewards profligacy and failure”, he said, adding that “Britain is right to support the world’s poorest countries we shouldn’t be supporting some of the richest.”

Illegal Economic Activities Are Include

Not all the money for this bill is coming out of the mainstay economy. Prostitution and illegal drugs make up about 10 million of the British economy and are being calculated in the EU payout. This has been criticized by Tim Worstall at Forbes Magazine who pointed out that “while it might be appropriate to use the total economy, grey and black portions included, as a measure of the economy for some purposes it simply isn’t for the purpose of working out how much should be coughed up to the EU. Quite simply because, by definition, those extra parts of the economy aren’t paying the tax which is what Brussels wants a cut of.”

£1.7 Billion in Perspective

Daniel Hannan put in perspective how extreme the 1.7 pound bill actually is. In his article “The EU has just given us another 1.7 billion reasons to leave” he pointed out that

Daniel_Hannan

Daniel Hannan

£1.7 billion would allow us to hire an extra 60,000 nurses and fund their pensions. It’s more than is raised by the bank levy. It represents an extra £65 a year for every family in the direct payments they make to Brussels – on top of the £525 they are already paying.

I say “direct payments” because we are paying far more indirectly, through higher food bills (to subsidise the Common Agricultural Policy), higher fuel bills (to subsidise the EU’s carbon reduction programmes) and higher VAT bills (to subsidise – well, just to subsidise Brussels functionaries in general).

You’ll be lucky to find an elected representative in Britain prepared to defend the EU on this one. The additional £1.7 billion is being sought because, in essence, the UK economy is outperforming the rest of the EU. Several other countries are affected at the margin – bizarrely, debt-stricken Greece is being surcharged while wealthy Germany is getting a rebate – but no one else is being asked to pay anything like so much. Most of the adjustments are in the tens of millions, though the Netherlands is another big loser, and France and Germany are big winners. But the UK is the outlier: our hike would more than pay for the rebates of all 17 net gainers put together.

Why? Because, frankly, we stayed out of the euro and so – despite Gordon Brown’s best efforts to bankrupt us – we were able to recover more swiftly from the downturn than most of the countries that had surrendered their currencies.

The European Commission has made little effort to raise revenue by fining the Eurozone states that breached the Stability and Growth Pact, and thus contributed to the euro crisis in the first place. On the contrary, most of them are being rewarded while we are punished for having had the effrontery to have called monetary union correctly.

A prosperity surcharge is never a good idea. If you tax successful countries in order to subsidise unsuccessful countries, you end up with fewer successful countries and more unsuccessful ones.

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Oct 31

Sex Education Could Become Compulsory Under Proposed Measures

Caroline Lucas is the Green Party MP for Brighton

Caroline Lucas is the Green Party MP for Brighton. Her Bill seeks to make sex education compulsory

Sex education could become compulsory in all state schools under a Bill introduced by Brighton MP Caroline Lucas.

Under current law, free schools and academies are not required to follow the national curriculum. Moreover, many parents choose for their children to opt-out of sex education classes, preferring to offer chastity-based education at home.

Caroline Lucas’s private members bill would force all state schools to offer sex education. Known as Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (Statutory Requirement) Bill 2014-15, it is expected to have its second reading debate on 27 February 2015. Meanwhile, Parliament has been collecting information from witnesses for and against the proposals.

A very revealing article appeared in the Guardian last week giving a glimpse of some of the disturbing content presented to students under the guise of “sex education”, including three-dimensional pornography (although Sally Weale, the author of the Guardian article, seemed to think it was great). If Lucas’s Bill passes, we can expect UK schools to be flooded with these types of crude lessons, ostensibly to prevent sexual violence and inform students of things like consent and STDs.

Although the proposals are supported by most of the “experts” in the establishment, parents are overwhelmingly opposed to it. Last year a Labour amendment to the Children and Families Bill proposing the same was voted against by Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.

Professor David Paton, chair of industrial economics at the University of Nottingham, expressed the feeling of many when he said

“There seems no sound reason to introduce statutory SRE in schools or to end the right to parents/carers to opt their children out of school-based SRE.”

“What is interesting is that professional organisations are pushing for statutory sex education but almost all of the responses from parents are against. There is an ideological divide about who are the experts.”

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Oct 31

Video Reveals ISIS Plans To Take Over World

This shocking video, put out by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), shows that the ambitions of ISIS go beyond simply establishing Sharia law in Iraq and Syria. The radical Muslim spokesmen in this video discuss their plans for taking over all of Europe and the entire world.

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