Is the US becoming less religious?
America is more religious than Europe, almost everyone agrees. Two-thirds of US Christians pray daily, compared with an average of just 18% of Christians across 15 countries in Europe, to cite just one recent survey.
However, there is disagreement over whether the intense religious devotion that has long characterised a segment of the US is impervious to anti-religious trends in Europe, where all the markers of faith have dramatically slipped over the past few decades.
In different articles in the journal Sociological Science, two groups of scholars have looked at decades’ worth of survey data, generated by the massive General Social Survey, stretching back to 1973 – and arrived at different conclusions.
ABORTION IN IRELAND
At the time of writing, legislation is going through the Dáil to legalise the provision of abortion in Ireland. The bill is entitled ‘The Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill’.
The Bill passed through the committee stage earlier in November, with some difficult hearings. At that stage, TDs tabled 180 amendments to the Bill. These came from those who opposed abortion, as well as those who wished to see fewer restrictions on abortion. The Irish Times reported, then, that: “Minister for Health Simon Harris accepted just one of the amendments.”
Last week, the Bill came to the report stage of its passage through the Dáil. Up to 65 amendments from a variety of parties were again submitted.
It is reported that amendments tabled during the various stages of ‘The Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill’ have included:
•That certain information can be offered to a woman before she can access a termination, and that a woman can decline the offer of this information. This would include information on the immediate and long-term medical risks associated with the proposed termination of pregnancy method, and alternatives to abortion. It also includes the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the foetus at the time the abortion is to be performed;
• Where a foetus is of 20 weeks’ gestation or more, the medical practitioner will offer information on foetal pain to the pregnant woman;
• That there would be a “dignified disposal of foetal remains.”
During the passage of the legislation, arguments have also been made for adequate pain relief to be provided for a baby “who might feel pain during a procedure like this.” It was also argued in one of the debates that “There must be a requirement that all reasonable
care be given to a baby born alive, perhaps after a failed abortion or an early termination under the grounds outlined in the legislation, to give it a chance to survive.”
Whatever your opinion on the wording in any of the amendments or arguments noted above, they create an impossible situation for the passage of the abortion legislation. To accept any of the premises behind the amendments would mean acknowledging that the health and wellbeing of two lives are directly affected by what is proposed – both the mother and a baby. That reality creates a shocking conundrum: the thought of legislating to harm one of them.
Such legislation will also directly impact on medical professionals. In recent weeks, 350 nurses and midwives have raised the need for provisions for conscientious objection in the abortion legislation. Mary Fitzgibbon is a midwife. She said, “We respect and defend the dignity of every stage of human life and we have a responsi- bility to make every valid or reasonable effort to protect the life and health of pregnant women and their unborn babies.”
Fitzgibbon continued, “For us, as nurses and midwives, participation in termination of pregnancy … is morally objectionable and conflicts with our conscientious commitment to life.” She said that participation includes “supervision, delegation, planning or supporting of staff involved in termination pregnancy”.
In recent weeks, we have also seen reports of hundreds of GPs expressing concern for the new legislation – especially if abortion provision is to be GP led.
Many medical professionals may feel there is little difference between carrying out a procedure for yourself, that you have a moral objection to, or being obliged to ensure that someone else does it. Legislation should not force them to take part in something that conflicts with their most deeply held convictions.
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Letters to the editor
Remembrance Sunday hymn
THE HYMN by Isaac Watts (1674- 1748), ‘O God, our help in ages past’, reflects on time and eternity.
Verse 5 repeats the sense of verse 4 – “Time, like an ever-rolling stream, Bears all its sons away” refers to the swift and relentless passing of our days and years, the “sons” of time, which do, indeed, “fly forgotten.”
The version in Church Hymnal 2000 (no. 537) thus shows an unfortunate misinterpretation of the metaphor.
THE IRISH state paid for two of the three Bethany memorial stones in Mount Jerome cemetery, with a total of 462 names etched in stone. This was the first money (€25,000) that the state ever paid to Bethany survivors since its foundation in 1922. Meanwhile, our own Protestant churches, who supplied all the worthy people who ran the notorious Bethany home, would not contribute one single cent between them.
The Church of Ireland, the Irish Church Missions and all the rest, tripped over each other in their race to the hills where they hid. They remain hiding today from the consequences of their actions, and they continue to hide very well indeed from the living survivors, who cannot find them anywhere.
The Bethany home survivors have never seen a minister at our meetings nor our commemorations in Mount Jerome. Can you spot the difference in how we are treated and how they will not pay for part of our memorial? They refused to pay for the names of the four newly discovered Protestant orphanages and the names of the 169 innocent babies and children who died in those four so-called ‘homes’.
Nevertheless, in 2017 and 2018, we paid for and carried out our own research without any state help or funds.
This is a ‘no go’ area for the state.
When they are willing to pay out millions to the Tuam Angels’ plot but the buried Protestant babies in Mount Jerome are not even worthy of a name. The Tuam plot has always been known locally, but the Bethany children buried and hidden in unmarked graves was a secret not known by anyone in Ireland. Without our research, no one would have ever known.
The minister forgot that there are 14 named homes under investigation by the 2015 Commission of Inquiry, just like they forgot the Protestants in 2002. They forgot to include anyone but Roman Catholic orders in the meetings for the deal with Minister Woods, while the Bethany home survivors stood outside in the cold rain of discrimination.
It seems our forgotten Protestant brothers and sisters mattered not. When we began, there was not one marker there in Mount Jerome – no shrines, no flowers, no names for the hundreds of babies from the Protestant homes and orphanages. No Protestants Need Apply for love or care or equality from the Irish state. We had no clues where to start when we began our research – so effectively had they buried the truth along with the innocent babies.
What is good enough for Tuam is good enough for Protestants. When are the Protestant graves to be exhumed so that our crib mates can receive Christian burials, paid for by the state and the Church? Are the Protestants to be excluded again by Minister Zappone? Is history repeating itself? Is the price of etching 169 Protestant names into a memorial, suddenly more than the millions upon millions it will cost to fully excavate Tuam?
And not just for Protestants either. Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in all the other Angels’ Plot must also be given Christian burials too. The Bethany home survivors fight not just for ourselves but for equality in death as in life, for all babies of all religions.
The Bethany Home Survivors group is part of the umbrella group, the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors. We stand with our fellow Roman Catholic survivors from homes, like Castlepollard and Sean Ross Abbey, and with illegal adoptees and all survivors of abuse in Ireland, as they stand with us.
We must all stand together and demand justice once and for all, for one and all!
A SOCIETY FORMED
Author: Alasdair MacLaughlin Publisher: USOC
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