Posts Tagged ‘Law Moral Ethical’

Media reporting EU ban on reusing jam jars at Church fetes is BUNKUM

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The MSM were busy reporting new European health and safety regulations banning reusing jars for fetes.

The Express told us:

The great British tradition of selling home-made jams and chutneys at fetes could be a thing of the past – thanks to meddling Brussels bureaucrats.

It seems the recycled jars generally used by jam-making enthusiasts are in breach of European health and safety regulations.

And the Daily Mail:

They are the backbone of church fetes, village fairs and jumble sales all around the country.

But the thousands who regularly sell their home-made jam, marmalade or chutney in re-used jars may have to abandon their traditions after a warning that they are breaching European health and safety regulations.

Both the Mail and the Express go on to detail a circular issued by the Church of England on the back of these EU regulations, prohibiting the sale or raffle of used jam jars at public events.

The problem is that this is all untrue, as the European Commission has confirmed:

Recent media coverage on reusing jars for homemade jams for sale at charity events certainly fired up the imagination of the headline writers: “EU elf ‘n safety tsars ban jam sales at fetes” and “anger spreads over EU fines threat for reusing old jam jars”, “EU fine for homemade jam makers”. This is all completely untrue. There are no EU laws, new or old, which ban re-using old jam jars for fetes. The EU also has no powers to fine people.

There is indeed a body of EU food safety and hygiene legislation – notably so that the UK and other countries can be confident that food imported from or bought elsewhere in the EU is safe and of high quality. But these rules apply only to business operators and not to those preparing food for charity events such as church fetes or school bazaars.

What is more, the rules do not anyway ban re-using clean jam jars:  the European  Commission is not aware of any risk from chemicals related to this re-use.

Interestingly the Telegraph report of this comes in for commendation by the Commission:

The Daily Telegraph to its credit reported this properly on 7 October, saying that the Church of England had issued guidance and quoting the UK Food Safety Authority explaining that the interpretation of the regulations was the responsibility of local authorities, who would decide what constituted a “food business” and adding that “an occasional event, like a fund-raiser… would probably not be considered to be a food business.”

The Commission ends with:

None of the media who produced these seriously misleading stories contacted the European Commission first.

Big surprise.

Hat-tip: Tabloid Watch

A few good links

Monday, October 8th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Archdruid Eileen – Logical Church-hopping Guide

Joseph Hoffmann – Lying for the Lord: The Mormon Missionary Rides High

Heresy Corner – Time limits, gender and abortion

Law & Religion UK – The bones of Richard III, state funerals and the law

Occupational Digest – How they keep on smiling at Disney – Half of the Facts You Know Are Probably Wrong

Beyond Blue – Your Thinking Is … Well … Not Helpful

Mind Hacks – No, internet addiction is not an ‘official mental illness’

A few good links

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Opinionated Vicar – Ed Miliband ‘I am…a person of faith’

God and Politics – Rowan Williams: A wise man who makes my brain ache

Faith and Theology – Devilish doodlings

FullFact – Is the Government taking more money from disabled people than from the banks?

Mind Hacks – BBC Column: Can glass shape really affect how fast you drink?

Big Circumstance – Live On TV! The Second Coming!

Law and Religion UK – Hiring Church Premises – Some further thoughts

The below image was taken after two Hula Hoops were dropped in to a cup of Latte:

You can view a larger version here.

Dutch Psychiatrists euthanizing patients

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Dr Peter Saunders has some grim but unexpected stats on the rise of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands.

Of specific interest to me was this:

13 psychiatric patients were euthanized, an increase of over 500% on the two reported in 2010.

I find this particularly disturbing as I believed a bedrock argument for euthanasia was grounded on the ‘free to choose’ premise. Can we say with confidence that psychiatric patients seeking euthanasia are capable of making free choices?

I asked Dr Peter Saunders on Twitter his thoughts on this and he responded:

Suicidal psychiatric patients as ‘mentally competent’ strikes me as a gross misnomer.

Alex Schadenbery commented yesterday:

Euthanasia for psychiatric patients in the Netherlands will likely increase substantially over the next few years in response to a Dutch article published last year in the Journal of Psychiatry advocating for the expansion of euthanasia for psychiatric patients.

And Wesley J. Smith over on First Things reported the following from the article in the Dutch language tijdschrift voor psychiatrie 53 (2011) 8 (Journal of Psychiatry):

Assisted suicide, as a last resort in psychiatry, legally admissible since 2002, recently legitimized in practice. The midwife [of] Death is now appropriate for psychiatric reach patients, representing an emancipation of the psychiatric patient and psychiatry itself.

Wesley went on to comment:

The name should be changed to “validated suicide,” once the imprimatur of a psychiatrist is put on the deed.

And so the last line of defense against the assisted suicides of mentally ill and other patients–a good mental health professional fighting for the life of despairing patients–slips away.  Now, psychiatrists will help people make “rational” decisions to kill themselves in the Netherlands on an increasing scale.

I have been saved from my suicidal self on more than one occasion and I thank God for those interventions by outside agencies.

What if I had been given the choice to opt for the euthanasia route with the encouragement and support of my psychiatrist?

I think the answer is self-evident.

David Cameron responds to Anglican Mainstream on gay marriage

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Back in July Anglican Mainstream sent David Cameron a letter which you can read here and begins:

Dear Prime Minister

We write to ask you to correct a serious misconception in the speech you made to representatives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Groups at Number 10, reported on your website on 25 July 2012.

In that speech you say that opponents of the redefinition of marriage within the church are “locking out people who are gay, or are bisexual or are transgender from being full members of that Church.”   This is simply not the case.   It is in fact the teaching of Christian churches that all people, including those self-identified as gay, bisexual or transgendered, are to be welcomed as members.

Here’s Cameron’s response;

Dear Dr Giddings,

Thank you for your letter of 25 July about my recent comments on the Government’s proposals on equal civil marriage at the reception I hosted on 24 July. I am sorry for the delay in responding.

I would begin hy assuring you that the Government in no way wishes to force any religious organization to fundamentally change their beliefs and practice. People in this country have the complete freedom to hold any religious beliefs they choose, and to practice and manifest their religion, and this Government fully supports their right to do so.  We recognize the vital role that faith organizations have in our society and the part they play in national life, inspiring a great number of people to get involved in public service and providing help to those in need.

My message was simply reflective of my pride in the way in which we are now leading the way in advancing lesbian,gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) equality, recognizing the contribution LGB&T people make to society and enabling LGB&T people to fully participate in all aspects of society.

As I also said in my remarks at the reception, I recognize this is a very complicated and difficult issue, but I believe that we all – and I do  not single out the Churches here – need to recognize the case for equality.

The Government is committed to building a fairer society and ensuring fair treatment and equal opportunities for all, including people of all religions.  We are also clear on the importance of religious freedom. That is why the Government is listening to all religious organisations that have views about our proposals.

Our proposals are based on out belief that if a couple love each other and want to commit to a life together, they should have the option of a civil marriage. Marriage should be for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.  Society is stronger when people enter into a stable relationship and commit to each other.  So we do not believe the State should stop people getting married unless there are very good reasons. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are not good reasons to prevent marriage. If we believe commitment, fidelity and marriage are positive things – as this Government strongly does – then we should let them flourish, not restrict them.

The Government recognizes that there are many different views on our proposals for equal civil marriage. The consultation has provided an opportunity to gather all views on this issue and we are grateful for the full and considered responses from the Churches on our proposals and the constructive way in which they have engaged in this consultation process.

I would add that the Government recognizes the special position of religious marriages in our society and the consultation proposes that no changes are made to how religious organizations define and solemnize religious marriage. No religious organization will be forced to hold same-sex religious marriage ceremonies as a result of these proposals.

We are currently considering carefully all the responses we received before the consultation closed on 14 June and we will publish our response later in the year.

Yours sincerely

David Cameron

European Court of Justice rules people persecuted for their faith have right to apply for asylum in Europe.

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012


In what could prove a landmark ruling for oppressed Christians, the European Court of Justice has ruled that people who are persecuted in their native countries due to their religion have the right to apply for asylum in Europe.

Confirming the ruling of a German court, the European Court of Justice – the highest court within the EU – decided that if a person’s right to public worship was ‘gravely infringed’ – they should be granted asylum.

Furthermore, the Court ruled that being limited to private prayer was not a legitimate alternative to the inherent right of public worship – rejecting the notion that religious minorities should limit their profile in the public sphere.


Following the court ruling, Lord Alton told the Institute of the potential consequences: For too long European nations have continued with a policy of apathy towards the persecution of Christian minorities in distant lands.  However, with the possibility of religious communities now fleeing to Europe for asylum, Western governments may finally be spurred into tackling the root cause.

…read all

UPDATE: God and Politics has blogged on this and has further details.

Quote of the Day

Friday, September 14th, 2012

If someone uses that freedom to express a hateful message, if someone else then apologizes to the victim of the hate-speech, and emphasizes that they themselves disagree with the other person and are sorry for what was said, that is not an apology for the existence of freedom of speech. Neither is it a curtailing of anyone’s freedom of speech. It is a use of their freedom of speech to distance themselves from the message of the other person, equally freely expressed, and to express their sympathy with the person who was denigrated and insulted by that freedom of speech.


Catholic Care Appeal: Children seeking adoption outweigh the impact of preventing gay couples using its service

Friday, September 14th, 2012

For background on the Catholic Adoption agency Catholic Care’s lengthy and ongoing battle with the Charity Commission over refusing gay couples use of their services, see here:

Lawyers for Catholic Care have told the Upper Tribunal that the charity tribunal “misdirected itself” in reaching its ruling against the charity in April last year.

The charity was appearing before Mr Justice Sales at the tribunal on Wednesday in its fourth appeal against a ruling preventing the charity from changing its objects in order to stop gay couples from using its adoption service.

Monica Carss-Frisk QC, for the charity, said that the tribunal had been wrong in deciding last year that the negative impact of preventing gay couples adopting through the charity outweighed the needs of children seeking adoption.

The Charity Commission has twice decided that the charity cannot change its objects to limit its adoption service to heterosexual couples, a decision that was upheld by the charity tribunal in April last year.

….continue (Third Sector)

Nadia Eweida, Shirley Chaplin, Lilian Ladele and Gary McFarlane in the European Court of Human Rights today

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Today the European Court of Human Rights will hear complaints in four applications that UK law has failed to adequately protect the applicants’ right to manifest their religion, contrary to Articles 9 (freedom of religion) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination).

I’ve blogged on each of these cases: Nadia Eweida, Shirley Chaplin, Lilian Ladele, Gary McFarlane

The National Secular Society and Equality and Human Rights Commission have both filed intervening submissions under Rule 44 §3.

Obviously opinion on these cases is split, with some viewing them as blatant anti-Christian discrimination, whilst others view them as Christians wishing to maintain a privileged position.

I’m not particularly sympathetic with these cases as I’m not sure that Christianity was ever supposed to be about ‘my rights’ and the world was always going to have enmity with Christians. I don’t remember Jesus or the disciples rushing off to the law courts over their rights nor lobbying caesar.

One of the major difficulties in lumping these cases together is that two of the applicants were employed by the state (Ms Lilian Ladele, a Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages and Ms Shirley Chaplin, NHS nurse) and two employed privately.

Ms Ladele refused to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies and Ms Shirley Chaplin refused to remove her crucifix for health and safety reasons.

In my opinion if you are employed and paid by the state then abide by the rules and laws of society, and if they should contravene your conscience to the point that you cannot fulfil your role, then you should find alternative employment.

Gary McFarlane was sacked for refusing to counsel gay couples.

The case that I have most sympathy with is Nadia Eweida, the British Airways employee who was asked to stop wearing a cross at work. To me, this may be the most clear-cut case of religious discrimination and that is because of a potential disparity between the treatment of Eweida and other employees of different faiths.

The argument in Eweida’s case is that if other faiths are permitted to wear religious paraphernalia, as they were at BA, and this does not constitute a health and safety risk, then it is wrong to discriminate against one particular expression of faith.

We have to remember that in Eweida’s case the tribunal used the argument that there was no religious discrimination as “Christians generally” do not consider wearing a cross as a religious “requirement”. We have to watch for judgements using this reasoning, as it is secular courts pontificating on theological necessities. Complex and fraught indeed.

Also individual rights and freedoms do not depend on how many people agree with your conscience or speech.

Anyway, it will be interesting indeed to note the outcome of this and even if I’m not entirely enthusiastic at least the Russian Orthodox Church is supporting the case.

A few good links

Monday, August 27th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Mind Hacks – The neurology of Psalm 137

Richard Bartholomew – Sentences from Wikipedia Used in Error-Strewn Daily Telegraph Obituary for Biblical Scholar

UK Human Rights Blog – Equality, human rights and religion or belief: time to get out of the courtroom? – Alice Donald

The Independent – Owen Jones: David Cameron praises Paralympians, but his policies will crush them

Pilgrim of Grace – A book review: With Open Hands, by Henri Nouwen

BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme iPlayer -Religion and the Internet – Featuring: Digital Nun, Vicky Beeching and Bishop Alan Wilson

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