Nohad Halawi, who worked at Heathrow Airport, is suing her former employers for unfair dismissal, claiming that she and other Christian staff at the airport were victims of systematic harassment because of their religion.
She claims that she was told that she would go to Hell for her religion, that Jews were responsible for the September 11th terror attacks, and that a friend was reduced to tears having been bullied for wearing a cross.
Mrs Halawi, who came to Britain from Lebanon in 1977, worked in the duty-free section as a perfume saleswoman of the airport for 13 years but was dismissed in July.
Her case is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, who say it raises important legal issues and also questions over whether Muslims and Christians are treated differently by employers.
It comes amid growing concern among some Christians that their faith is being marginalised and follows calls from Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, for Christians to be given greater legal protection in the wake of a series of cases where they have been disciplined or dismissed for practising their faith.
James Madison, the “Father of our Constitution,” believed that America’s distinctive commitment to religious liberty “promised a lustre to our country.” And, for more than two centuries, we have been trying — sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing badly — to prove Madison right.
In recent months, this effort has been playing out in the context of new rules, recently proposed by the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services, that would interpret the 2010 health care law to require all new insurance plans to cover
contraceptives, sterilization and even some abortioncausing drugs. A wide range of groups and citizens from all over the political spectrum have filed comments with the department, urging changes to these proposed regulations. A final decision is expected soon.
By now you’ve probably seen the pictures or video of seated, non-violent protestors at U.C. Davis being doused with pepper spray. Having been subjected to pepper spray (and its nasty cousin, tear gas), I can empathize with the protestors. While I’m not particularly sympathetic to their cause, I am appalled at the way they were treated. I completely agree with Tobias Winright, a theological ethicist who used to work in law enforcement, who explains why the use of pepper spray in this situation appears to be excessive:
Frustrations with men and the institution of marriage are real, says Jennifer Marshall, but shouldn’t obscure our hope in what God is doing.
[Kate Bolick] is one of countless women who have struggled with the unexpected in-between of prolonged singleness. “If I stopped seeing my present life as provisional,” she writes, “perhaps I’d be a little … happier.” (The ellipsis is hers.)
Bolick seems to have resolved the sense of being betwixt-and-between by demoting marriage. In her book, marriage should no longer enjoy pride of place as the basic building block of society and the relationship that harmonizes the needs of men, women, and children like no other.
In other words, if experience doesn’t match up to the ideal, toss out the ideal.
But should we give up on an ideal just because it hasn’t worked out for us personally? That might make sense if marriage were an ideal simply because the majority, the powerful, or forces such as evolution or economics made it so. The unique status of marriage, however, is timeless. God ordained it as the basic institution for ordering human relations.
Elizabeth Marquardt outlines the three avenues from which group marriage will come: the fringes of the left, from the darkest corners of the fundamentalist right, and from the laboratories of fertility clinics and hard scientists around the world.
The debate about legal recognition of polyamorous relationships is already well underway. A major report issued in 2001 by the Law Commission of Canada asked whether marriages should be “limited to two people.” Its conclusion: probably not. A British law professor wrote in an Oxford-published textbook that the idea that marriage meaning two people is a “traditional” and perhaps outdated way of thinking. Elizabeth Emens of the University of Chicago Law School published a substantial legal defense of polyamory in a legal journal. She suggested that “we view this historical moment, when same-sex couples begin to enter the institution of marriage, as a unique opportunity to question the mandate of compulsory monogamy.”
Mainstream cultural leaders have also hinted at or actively campaigned for polyamory. Roger Rubin, former vice-president of the National Council on Family Relations–one of the main organizations for family therapists and scholars in the United States–believes the debate about same-sex marriage has “set the stage for broader discussion over which relationships should be legally recognized.” The Alternatives to Marriage Project, whose leaders are featured by national news organizations in stories on cohabitation and same-sex marriage, includes polyamory among its important “hot topics” for advocacy. The Unitarian Universalists for Polyamorous Awareness hope to make their faith tradition the first to recognize and bless polyamorous relationships. Meanwhile, a July 2009 Newsweek story estimates that there are more than half a million “open polyamorous families” living in America. Nearly every major city in the U.S. has a polyamory social group of some kind.
What is wrong with you Catholics? Why are ya’ll willing, as Nancy Pelosi claims, to let women die because of “this conscience thing“?
Catholic health-care providers in particular have long said they’d have to go out of business without the conscience protections that Pelosi says amount to letting hospitals “say to a woman, ‘I’m sorry you could die’ if you don’t get an abortion.” Those who dispute that characterization “may not like the language,’’ she said, “but the truth is what I said. I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it . . . but they have this conscience thing’’ that she insists put women at physical risk, although Catholic providers strongly disagree.
The Pelosi model of Catholicism: devout, faith-honoring, and conscience-free.
When Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, announced this month that his airline may soon offer in-flight pornography, he told the British tabloid The Sun, “Hotels around the world have it, so why wouldn’t we?”
The flaw in Mr. O’Leary’s logic notwithstanding (hotel rooms have doors; airplane seats are surrounded by eyeballs, some very young), his proposal isn’t so radical. As most any flight attendant will confirm, passengers are already indulging in racy content downloaded onto their phones, tablets or laptops from outside sources.
Beth Blair, a flight attendant and travel writer based in Minneapolis, said she once worked on a flight out of Burbank, Calif., during which an adult-film editor and his assistants began editing footage on their laptops. A child was sitting behind them. “I asked them to turn it off ASAP,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Instead of obliging, they built a private area/tent out of newspapers. Luckily, the volume was turned down.”
In an interview with Christianity Today, Wheaton College professor Christine Gardner explains the differences in rhetorical approaches between evangelical abstinence organizations in America and abstinence campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa:
You looked at how Africans view abstinence, saying they “saw their bodies as temples of the Lord and themselves as caretakers … a more deeply theological response.”
I assumed that HIV/AIDS would be the big motivator for [African] young people to commit to abstinence. It is big, but I found this other undercurrent that was deeply theological. A leader of one of the programs told me that yes, they do talk about AIDS as a motivator for young people to commit to abstinence, but they noted that “you can get malaria and die, too.” AIDS is not as much of a motivator as a Western researcher coming in would have assumed.
How do the American and African messages compare?
Americans have turned a prohibition into a more positive admonition. In this case, pleasing God is an end in itself. Pleasing God will have tangible benefits. In Kenya and Rwanda, it was more of a combination: “Avoid death. Avoid HIV/AIDS, and do it out of fear of God, because he wants you to do this.”
‘I’m concerned that we may be raising a generation of abstinent teens but setting them up for divorce.’—Christine Gardner
Also, in the places I visited in Africa, the condom is viewed as a medical device, a tool for saving lives. It is not viewed as a tool for promiscuity, as evangelicals in this country largely view it. The same little piece of latex is described so radically differently by evangelicals in two different cultural contexts.
When voters in Mississippi voted down the human personhood amendment last week, they sent a clear and undeniable message — the pro-life movement is not as pro-life as it thinks it is. The truth is that, even in what may be the most pro-life state in the union, the most basic moral logic of the pro-life movement is not fully embraced or understood.
[. . .]
Unless the unborn child is recognized as a person at every point in its development, we are just negotiating our own arbitrary definition of human personhood and human life. The pro-life movement rightly recognized Harry Blackmun’s trimester approach to be deadly to the unborn and disastrous to the cause of human dignity. But the defeat of the personhood amendment in Mississippi indicates that voters there just operate out of a more conservative version of Blackmun’s logic. Given the opportunity to declare the human personhood of every individual from the moment of fertilization onward, voters overwhelmingly said “No.”
Although I have a deep-rooted aversion to utopian ideologies (Seriously dudes, stop trying to immanentize the eschaton!), I recognize that all utopianists are not equally annoying.
Personally, I prefer the type of utopianist who has read so much fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien or sci-fi by Verner Vinge that it has infected their views about the polis. This is why I have a mild affection for agrarians and transhumanists.
Agrarian conservatives are charmingly anachronistic and mostly harmless since even they don’t take their ideas too seriously. (When the agrarian professors give up their tenure at Ivy League U, move back to the farm, and teach at Wendell Berry Community College, I’ll believe they mean what they say). Transhumanist liberals, on the other hand, are confusing, weird, and would be scary if their ideas weren’t so silly. (Do they really think we’ll upload ourselves to machines as if our souls were a copy of Windows Vista? Really? Really?)
Based on this criterion I should be most favorable to a utopian scheme—Distributism—that was inspired by my hero G.K. Chesterton. But while I am deeply sympathetic to distributists, they have the annoying habit of taking their philosophy very, very seriously. They are True Believers, which, when found in utopianists, is always a bad thing.
A prime example is a commenter at the Acton Institute’s blog who writes,
Alexander Tsiaras is an artist and technologist who uses scientific visualization software to display human anatomy. In this talk from a recent TED conference, he shows the “mystery, magic, and divinity” of human development from conception to birth.
If you want to see only the visualization, skip ahead to the two minute mark.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether children conceived by in vitro fertilization after the death of their biological father are entitled to collect Social Security survivor benefits.
The court granted cert today in the case, Astrue v. Capato, report SCOTUSblog, Courthouse News Service and Bloomberg News.
The case involves twins conceived after their father, Robert Capato, died of cancer. Capato’s widow, Karen, used frozen sperm for the in vitro process. The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in January that the twins fit the definition of “child” in the Social Security Act.
The issue is surfacing more often, according to government court papers cited by Bloomberg. More than 100 applications have been filed for survivor benefits for children conceived posthumously.
One thing Paul and I did discuss was the current nonsense about cities being special which so dominates the popular evangelical imagination. Not that cities are not important: as areas where there are the highest concentrations of human beings, they are inevitably significant as mission fields. Rather, we were thinking of the `from a Garden to a City’ hermeneutic which jumps from scripture to giving modern urban sprawl some kind of special eschatological significance. Was there ever a thinner hermeneutical foundation upon which so much has been built? OK, there probably has been, but this is still a whopper.
The prioritizing of the city is arguably a much neglected aspect of the modern hermeneutical horizon. Failure to recognize this has surely helped a rather unself-conscious approach to the city and the Bible. Indeed, it seems to have facilitated a kind of trite reification of `the city’ and a rather overbearing emphasis on its theological (as opposed to sociological) significance. The Industrial Revolution is important in this regard: as industry lifted productivity out of the confines of the seasons and the soil and decisively shunted economic strength away from the rural pathways to the urban factories and offices, the superiority of the city to the countryside became a given of both Right and Left, to the Gradgrinds and to the Marxes. As the former worshipped efficiency and the pragmatics of material production, so the latter invested the urban proletariat with ultimate historical significance, a twist on Hegel’s `Last Man.’
In her recent cover story for the The Atlantic, All the Single Ladies, Kate Bolick argues that since traditional marriage is on its way out, we ought to “embrace new ideas about marriage and family.” Rachel Motte reminds us that there is an alternative approach:
Though I was deep in the throes of childbirth, I couldn’t help smiling at the nurse’s shocked face. She’d noticed my wedding ring. “You’re married?” She paused, and I watched her count backward on her fingers. “This baby wasn’t conceived until after we were married” I gasped, as another contraction took hold. The look on her face made me laugh out loud, despite the pain. “You waited?” She was shocked. “I deliver babies every day and I never see married couples in here!”
I suppose her reaction shouldn’t have surprised me. I gave birth in a prosperous neighborhood, at a well-respected for-profit hospital. Even so, my story, which a generation ago would have been commonplace, now defies modern conventions across all economic levels. Women with lives like mine will only become more unusual as cultural attitudes toward marriage and parenthood continue to shift—and if The Atlantic’s November cover story is any indication, that’s bad news for all of us.
According to a new report by the CDC, fewer kids today are engaging in sexual intercourse during their teenage years than they were just a decade ago.
This finding will likely shock Hollywood producers, comprehensive sex ed advocates, and others who think teenagers are mindless bundles of hormones that cannot be expected to resist their sexual urges. So what’s the motivation behind this teen abstinence trend? According to the report:
Those who convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism are said to “swim the Tiber” while those going in the other direction “swim the Thames.” So what do Catholics do when they become Southern Baptists? Swim the Cumberland?*
If so, the Tennessee river must be getting mighty crowded, for as Marcel LeJeune of Aggie Catholics points out, many Catholics are becoming Southern Baptists. LeJeune notes a report by Notre Dame economist Daniel Hungerman which explains the unusual shift:
This paper considers substituting one charitable activity for another in the context of religious practice. I examine the impact of the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal on both Catholic and non-Catholic religiosity. I find that the scandal led to a 2-million-member fall in the Catholic population that was compensated by an increase in non-Catholic participation and by an increase in non-affiliation. Back-of the- envelope calculations suggest the scandal generated over 3 billion dollars in donations to non-Catholic faiths. Those substituting out of Catholicism frequently chose highly dissimilar alternatives; for example, Baptist churches gained significantly from the scandal while the Episcopal Church did not. These results challenge several theories of religious participation and suggest that regulatory policies or other shocks specific to one religious group could have important spillover effects on other religious groups.
Rod Dreher finds this surprising: “The Baptists?! They’re pretty far from Roman Catholicism in some important ways.” While that’s certainly true, I think there may be a reasonable explanation for why the Baptists are attracting former Catholics.