In our GCSE Religious Studies classes we learn that in England and Wales women have to prove to a doctor that carrying on with the pregnancy is likely to cause harm to health or wellbeing to get permission for a termination. Without this permission, abortion is a criminal offence. There might be changes coming the way of the Abortion law because doctors at the British Medical Association’s annual conference have just voted to scrap that rule.
At the doctor’s annual conference in Bournemouth they decided to stick with the 24 week limit on abortion, but thought the law making abortion illegal should be changed: the majority of doctors were clear that abortion should be treated as a medical issue rather than a criminal one. It will be interesting in the coming years whether the doctors are able to influence the politicians into the same mindset. Resisting such thinking is Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, who said “This decision defies common sense and will dismay thousands of ordinary doctors and nurses with their unprecedented decision.”
They are environmental debates which rage on: how should we dispose of our rubbish and how should we create electricity?
The Italian city of Rome is currently sending its rubbish to a waste-to-energy plant near the the Austrian city of Vienna. The rubbish is travelling by train up through Italy and across the Alps through Austria. The special deal came about because the EVN thermal waste utilisation plant in Austria has spare capacity, as in it is not being worked at 100% capacity and needed some extra rubbish. Rome was looking for somewhere to get rid of its rubbish in a greener way which lead to this special deal.
The Science Channel has a short video which explains how rubbish can be turned into energy using the example of trash from New York’s St Patrick’s Day being burnt and turned into electricity. Going back to those trains of rubbish it may seem counter-intuitive to carry rubbish over 1,000km (620 miles) before disposing of it, but it is part of efforts in the European Union to make cities reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. “It is not crazy,” insists Gernot Alfons, head of the EVN thermal waste plant. For him it is an environmentally friendly solution and the rubbish trains are key. “The other alternative would be to put this rubbish into landfill, which creates a lot of methane emissions that create a lot of impact in terms of CO2 emissions. It is much better to transport this waste to a plant which has a high energy efficiency like ours.”
There are green, environmental issues which should not be forgotten with this energy source: byproducts include bottom ash, which is sorted for metals and then recycled as fill for road construction or other projects, and fly ash, which is toxic and deposited in a landfill certified to handle hazardous materials. Meanwhile air emissions are cleaned through a series of scrubbers and filters and come out “far under what’s actually permitted,” in terms of air quality laws.
There are so many different ways of protesting or trying to bring about change.
To protest (verb) – express an objection to what someone has said or done
If you decide to go out and protest then you can consider: signage, shouting, sit-ins, petitions, silence, marches, boycotts, putting your body in the way, mock awards, vigils, silliness, singing, praying or flash mobs. There are hundreds of other ideas on non-violent protest and sometimes you can do something specific to the cause you are protesting about.
This is what has recently happened in the Netherlands, where men are showing their support for gay men being able to hold hands and openly express their relationships. Over the weekend in the Dutch city of Arnhem there was a vicious assault of two gay men. Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes suffered four missing teeth and a severed lip, whereas Jasper Vernes-Sewratan was left with injured ribs. Jasper said they usually hide their relationship, but had decided to hold hands as they walked home after a night out. Dutch politicians as well as celebrities are joining with other Dutch men to show their solidarity to the gay men who were attacked – by holding hands.
The politician Alexander Pechtold attended a meeting at The Hague with Wooter Koulmees a financial specialist.
Large scale wind patterns are largely driven by the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics. But global warming is altering this difference because the Arctic is heating up faster than lower latitudes and because land areas are heating up faster than the oceans.
“It is not just a problem of nature conservation or polar bears, it is about a threat to human society that comes from these rapid changes,” he said. “This is because it hits us with increasing extreme events in the highly populated centres in the mid-latitudes. It also affects us through sea level rise, which is hitting shores globally. So these changes that are going on in the Arctic should concern everyone.”
Linking climate change to extreme weather in a Religious Studies exam is a canny move, as you can then refer to its impact on people. Christians might be concerned as we’re born in God’s image; that the Parable of the Good Samaritan showed to Love thy Neighbour; that the Golden Rule wants us to do unto others as we would have them do to you; and that we should protect life as all life is sacred and holy (sanctity of life). Buddhists might be worried too about the extreme weather’s impact on people because the first precept is to not harm; they are concerned about metta (kindness); as well as compassion to others.
In South Africa there was Apartheid from the late 1940s that saw the separation of black and white people and was enforced by law. Apartheid came to an end in the 1990s.
Many Christians who believed in the Bible’s teaching about equality campaigned against Apartheid. Trevor Huddleston was a white vicar who lived in a black township, he organised non-violent protests and urged countries to boycott sporting and cultural links with South Africa until Apartheid came to an end.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was born in South Africa in 1931. He became a priest during the apartheid regime and spent years campaigning to end it. He was a black bishop who used his sermons and speeches to explain how apartheid was against Jesus’ teaching, he travelled to pursue other governments to help bring apartheid to an end. He led non-violent protests and saw prayer as vital to seeing change.After Apartheid had ended, Archbishop Tutu wanted to encourage black and whites to both admit the wrongdoing they had caused and he set up the ‘Truth and reconciliation’ Commission to look into human rights abuses and protect those who were willing to admit what they had done.
“God does not show favouritism” is a quote from the Bible which reflects the belief Christians have that God loves everyone equally. “If there is an alien living in your land do not ill treat him” is another quote that suggests prejudice and discrimination against people of different races or ethnic origin is wrong and that instead we should, ‘Treat others as you wish to be treated’ (the Golden Rule).
Why would a Christian be against Racism?
Everyone is made ‘In God’s image’ therefore should be treated equally
Jesus taught people to ‘Love your neighbour’ with the parable of the Good Samaritan teaching that everyone is our neighbour and we should treat people equally regardless of race.
Martin Luther King was a Christian who fought against racism in America through non-violent peaceful protests. His beliefs in equality for all regardless of race prompted him to change people’s attitudes towards black people in America.
St Paul wrote, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, all are one in Christ.” This suggests that we shouldn’t discriminate as we all equally valuable regardless of race, gender…
Notice: Graphic abortion images ahead. That is what the notice might say just before you walk past a Pro-Life protest outside places like the Department of Health’s headquarters. The protestors are expressing their strong beliefs that abortion is wrong and that the 1967 Abortion Act should be overturned to make abortion completely illegal again in the UK.
“It was never a choice that I turned from [pro-choice] to [anti-abortion]. I’m a Christian and God got me involved.”
“I found out that we were losing 800 human lives per working day in this country to abortion,” she recalls. “It galvanised me to try to help as many more women as I could, and try to save as many more little lives as I could.”
…”being engaged in Christian ministry, having met a number of folks who’ve experienced the trauma of abortion, I believe abortion is far more traumatic than [going through with an unplanned pregnancy] to a woman later in life reflecting back on the choice she’s made.”
We’re reported on this before but with Year 8 students currently starting a unit on creation, the environment and animal rights (Genesis), it is timely to see the story about free range eggs having to be re-labelled ‘housed in barns’ because bird flu is keeping them indoors (well the farmers are!).
The British Free Range Producers Association (BFREPA) said keeping chickens inside was a ‘necessary step’. Its chief executive Robert Gooch said: ‘The risk of infection is from wild migratory birds who are leaving cold weather feeding grounds and could head to the UK, carrying with them the potential to bring the H5N8 strain to our shores.
‘It would be devastating for a British producer to have to go through the heartbreak of seeing their entire flock wiped out by this virus as we have already seen in continental Europe.’
Mr Gooch added: ‘Housing birds presents significant challenges to free range egg producers but they understand that it is important to reduce the risk of AI spreading.