Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Preaching the Gospel in Britain can be a "hate crime"

According to some British police:

"The evangelists say they were threatened with arrest for committing a "hate crime" and were told they risked being beaten up if they returned. The incident will fuel fears that "no-go areas" for Christians are emerging in British towns and cities, as the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, claimed in The Sunday Telegraph this year.

Arthur Cunningham, 48, and Joseph Abraham, 65, both full-time evangelical ministers, have launched legal action against West Midlands Police, claiming the officer infringed their right to profess their religion.

Mr Abraham said: "I couldn't believe this was happening in Britain. The Bishop of Rochester was criticised by the Church of England recently when he said there were no-go areas in Britain but he was right; there are certainly no-go areas for Christians who want to share the gospel."


The police bosses have now backed off -- but have refused to apologize. Marvellous what a bit of publicity does. Pity for you if you can't mobilize publicity, though.

Will tolerance of abortion decrease?

A comment from Britain

As a leftie, I had always been persuaded that abortion on demand is the right of every woman, with no arguments brooked. `Persuaded' is perhaps the wrong word; the rights of a woman to do whatever the hell she liked with her foetus was simply not something open to negotiation or debate with someone in possession of a penis, even if it was quite a small penis like mine. But a dark foreboding nonetheless gnawed away at me - much as, on a personal level, it gnawed away at many of the feminists who advanced this totalitarian no-surrender hypothesis. It is still, if you are on the feminist Left, an unchallengeable shibboleth, which is why the debate today is so fraught - the god-botherers on one side, the liberal Left on the other.

I may be wrong about this, but it strikes me that in a century or so, or maybe even less, we will be appalled that we allowed abortions at all. I do not mean that we should not allow them now; it is merely a suspicion that the advance of our knowledge about the life of a foetus, coupled with an improved ability to prevent conception, will mean that we will be mystified as to how such a primitive and brutal procedure could have become state-sanctioned and commonplace. I can see politicians in 2108 erecting monuments and offering apologies to the unborn dead - divorced from the reality of where we are now, and why. Apologising, in the manner of Tony Blair, with hindsight for crimes which were not considered crimes except by a furious and vengeful minority.

The scientific case - as opposed to the dubious religious case - against abortion seems to me as good as proven; or, at worst, pointing in the direction of being proven. Announcing the government's wish to stick by the 24-week limit which Britain currently has, the health minister Dawn Primarolo said: `No scientific evidence shows that the survival rates [of the foetus] have changed.'

You would guess that this is a politically expedient clutching at straws and carries with it the implication that they sort of expect the scientific evidence to change at some point in the future, that where we are now is a stop-gap, a temporary measure. It is only a matter of time - and not very much time, either, before the sentience of a foetus at 24 weeks becomes an established fact, beyond all dispute. And a little further on, 20 weeks, and then ten. There are plenty of scientists around - not all of them Roman Catholic - who will tell you that the foetus is a sort of sentient being which can experience pain as early as eight to nine weeks, when the major organs are all formed in an albeit rudimentary manner. The majority of neurobiologists seem to cleave to the view that between 20 and 24 weeks, with the establishment in the foetus of thalamocortical connections, the unborn child can certainly experience pain.

It is a deeply pessimistic outlook to define a human being merely by his or her ability to detect pain, of course. There is other stuff that makes us human. However, even by this baleful guideline, Eve Johnstone for the Medical Research Council reported in 2001 that it was `probable' that the human foetus was aware of pain at 24 weeks.


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