WHAT precisely is a religion, and does it have to involve worshipping a God? Strange as it may seem, Britain’s highest court has been considering that question. A member of the Church of Scientology, Louisa Hodkin wants to marry in that organisation’s premises in London’s financial district. But the registrar-general of births, deaths and marriages has refused to recognise the building as a “place of worship” under the terms of an 1855 law which provides the basis for religious nuptials. Ms Hodkin’s attempts to overturn that decision were rebuffed by a court of appeal, so the case is now being considered by the Supreme Court, with some of Britain’s top legal brains weighing in on each side.
It’s a tough question for any panel of judges, even when one of them, Lord Neuberger, comes from a family of famous rabbis. At stake is a 40-year-old precedent, set when one of Britain’s most eminent judicial conservatives, Lord Denning, rejected Scientology’s claim to be a religion, and hence to provide an appropriate setting for weddings. In that belief system, he asserted, “there is considerable stress on the spirit of Man, and adherents of this religion or philosophy believe that a man’s spirit is everlasting and moves from one human frame to another. But it is still, as far as I can see, the spirit of Man and not God.”
The Scientologists, for whatever it may be worth, do claim to acknowledge a Supreme Being but say they have no “set dogma” concerning the Deity.
In the current case, Anthony Lester, a Liberal Democrat peer and leading human-rights barrister, took issue with Lord Denning’s argument. Buddhism did not believe in a God and yet it was accepted as a religion, he pointed out. For the Scientologists, whose beliefs and practices were established by the late American science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the British case is only the latest of a series of legal and political battles to be recognised as a religion and therefore gain the tax and legal benefits which older beliefs enjoy. The outcome of these disputes has varied enormously from country to country. In Britain, the movement has failed to obtain charitable status but it does enjoy tax breaks as a non-profit organisation. America’s Internal Revenue Service restored Scientology’s tax-exempt status in 1993 after a 25-year battle. The German authorities, judicial and administrative, have treated Scientology with scepticsm; several political parties have banned Scientologists from joining.
Still, there is something peculiar about the highest court in a comparatively secular country mulling over the metaphysical claims of a self-described religion and its entitlement to solemnise matrimony. American courts are generally prevented from delving into metaphysics by the First-Amendment ban on an established church. In many continental European countries this issue would not arise because civil marriage is the only kind recognised by the state. People in such countries can of course enter whatever religious rites and unions they wish, and those rites may be more meaningful for them than any civil procedure. But in the eyes of the secular authorities, it is only the civil marriage that counts.
Might it not be a good idea if the British state also went down that route? It would spare judges from having to turn themselves into theologians; it would protect the integrity of religious beliefs about the nature of marriage; and it would create a level playing-field for all manner of pairs of people who want to spend their lives together.
Men should be allowed sex slaves and female prisoners could do the job – and all this from a WOMAN politician from Kuwait
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
UPDATED: 10:38 EST, 7 June 2011
A Kuwaiti woman who once ran for parliament has called for sex slavery to be legalised – and suggested that non-Muslim prisoners from war-torn countries would make suitable concubines.
Salwa al Mutairi argued buying a sex-slave would protect decent, devout and ‘virile’ Kuwaiti men from adultery because buying an imported sex partner would be tantamount to marriage.
And she even had an idea of where to ‘purchase’ these sex-salves – browsing through female prisoners of war in other countries.
The political activist and TV host even suggested that it would be a better life for women in warring countries as the might die of starvation.
Mutairi claimed: ‘There was no shame in it and it is not haram’ (forbidden) under Islamic Sharia law.’
She gave the example of Haroun al-Rashid, an 8th century Muslim leader who ruled over an area covered by modern-day Iran, Iraq and Syria and was rumoured to have 2,000 concubines.
Mutairi recommended that offices could be opened to run the sex trade in the same way that recruitment agencies provide housemaids.
She suggested shopping for prisoners of war so as to protect Kuwaiti men from being tempted to commit adultery or being seduced by other women’s beauty.
‘For example, in the Chechnyan war, surely there are female Russian captives,’ she said.
‘So go and buy those and sell them here in Kuwait. Better than to have our men engage in forbidden sexual relations.’
Her unbelievable argument for her plan was that ‘captives’ might ‘just die of hunger over there’.
She insisted, ‘I don’t see any problem in this, no problem at all’.
In an attempt to consider the woman’s feelings in the arrangement, Mutari conceded that the enslaved women, however, should be at least 15.
Mutairi said free women must be married with a contract but with concubines ‘the man just buys her and that’s it. That’s enough to serve as marriage.’
Her remarks, made in a video posted on YouTube last month and carried by newspapers in the Gulf states in recent days, have sparked outrage in cyber-space from fellow Kuwaitis and others in the wider region.
‘Wonder how Salwa al Mutairi would’ve felt if during the occupation (of Kuwait) by Iraqi forces, she was sold as ‘war booty’ as she advocates for Chechen women,’ tweeted Mona Eltahawy.
Another tweeter, Shireen Qudosi, told Mutairi ‘you’re a disgrace to women everywhere’.
For Muna Khan, an editor at the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television station, the ‘icing on the cake’ of Mutairi’s ‘preposterous views’ was her assertion that her suggestions do not conflict with the tenets of Islam.
Mutairi said that during a recent visit to Mecca, she asked Saudi muftis – Muslim religious scholars – what the Islamic ruling was on owning sex slaves. They are said to have told her that it is not haram.
The ruling was confirmed by ‘specialized people of the faith’ in Kuwait, she claimed.
‘They said, that’s right, the only solution for a decent man who has the means, who is overpowered by desire and who does not want to commit fornication, is to acquire jawari.’ Jawari is the plural of the Arabic term jariya, meaning ‘concubine’ or ‘sex slave’.
One Saudi mufti supposedly told Mutairi: ‘The context must be that of a Muslim nation conquering a non-Muslim nation, so these jawari have to be prisoners of war.’
Concubines, she argued, would suit Muslim men who fear being ‘seduced or tempted into immoral behaviour by the beauty of their female servants’.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2000292/Men-allowed-sex-slaves-female-prisoners-job–WOMAN-politician-Kuwait.html#ixzz2aSJtQr64
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Minister expects referendum to extend abortion to cases of rape and fatal foetal abnormality
Ruadhan Mac Cormaic
First published:Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 14:42
Mr Shatter said it was “of major social importance” that the Oireachtas had finally put in place a legal architecture to ensure that women and medics had certainty about the law in cases where there was a real and substantial risk to the life of a pregnant woman. But he added that the Government was constrained by the constitution from going further.
“I personally believe it is a great cruelty that our law creates a barrier to a woman in circumstances where she has a fatal foetal abnormality being able to have a pregnancy terminated, and that according to Irish law any woman in those circumstances is required to carry a child to full term knowing it has no real prospect of any nature of survival following birth,” he said.
“I think it’s unfortunate that this is an issue we cannot address. Clearly many women who find themselves in these circumstances address this issue by taking the plane or the boat to England. Despite what we have been able to do within this legislation, this will continue to be a British solution to an Irish problem.”
Mr Shatter, who was speaking at the publication of the Rape Crisis Centre’s annual report, said it was also an “unacceptable cruelty” that abortion was not available to rape victims unless there was a risk to their life.
“I think this is an issue on which the general public are a great deal more advanced than perhaps legislators are in their consideration and assessment of what should happen in these particular areas,” he said, adding that he expected a “continuing and ongoing debate” on this issue in the years to come.
“It’s not an issue that I anticipate is going to be dealt with within the lifetime of the current Government, but it is an issue I anticipate some future government may need to consider putting to the people… I do believe that as a State we have responsibilities we should live up to in this area.”
Fine Gael and Labour senators all supported the Bill
First published:Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 20:46
Thomas Byrne (FF) was one of six absent senators for the vote, who also included Michael D’Arcy (FG), Marie Moloney (Lab), Sean Barrett (Ind), James Heffernan (Ind Lab) and Feargal Quinn (Ind).
President Michael D Higgins will be asked to sign off on the legislation, thereby enshrining it into Irish law, later this week.
How the Seanad voted on the Bill:
Thomas Byrne (Absent)
Mark Daly (No)
Terry Leyden (No)
Marc MacSharry (No)
Brian Ó Domhnaill (No)
Lábhrás Ó Murchú (No)
Paschal Mooney (No)
Darragh O’Brien (No)
Denis O’Donovan (No)
Ned O’Sullivan (Yes)
Averil Power (Yes)
Jim Walsh (No)
Mary White (Yes)
Diarmuid Wilson (No)
Terry Brennan (Yes)
Colm Burke (Yes)
Eamonn Coghlan (Yes)
Paul Coghlan (Yes)
Michael Comiskey (Yes)
Martin Conway (Yes)
Maurice Cummins (Yes)
Deirdre Clune (Yes)
Jim D’Arcy (Yes)
Michael D’Arcy (Absent)
Imelda Henry (Yes)
Cait Keane (Yes)
Tony Mulcahy (Yes)
Michael Mullins (Yes)
Hildegarde Naughton (Yes)
Catherine Noone (Yes)
Pat O’Neill (Yes)
Tom Sheahan (Yes)
Ivana Bacik (Yes)
John Gilroy (Yes)
Jimmy Harte (Yes)
Aideen Hayden (Yes)
Lorraine Higgins (Yes)
John Kelly (Yes)
Denis Landy (Yes)
Marie Moloney (Absent)
Mary Moran (Yes)
Susan O’Keeffe (Yes)
John Whelan (Yes)
David Cullinane (Yes)
Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (Yes)
Kathryn Reilly (Yes)
Sean Barrett (Absent)
Paul Bradford (FG) (No)
John Crown (Yes)
Fidelma Healy-Eames (FG) (No)
James Heffernan (Lab) (Absent)
Fiach Mac Conghail (Taoiseach’s nominee) (Yes)
Rónán Mullen (No)
David Norris (Yes)
Mary Ann O’Brien (Taoiseach’s nominee) (No)
Marie-Louise O’Donnell (Taoiseach’s nominee) (Yes)
Feargal Quinn (Absent)
Jillian van Turnhout (Taoiseach’s nominee) (Yes)
Katherine Zappone (Taoiseach’s nominee) (Yes)
Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke only votes if there is a tied result
Most of the assets comprise property and buildings
First published:Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 01:00
However, most of the assets comprise property and buildings in use as schools, hospitals, facilities for health and disability services, making it impossible for the value of the assets to be realised. Some of the assets are held in trust, making transfer problematic. With the property market depressed, 2009 values no longer stand, and attempts to dispose of land have not been successful.
Yesterday Taoiseach Enda Kenny accepted in the Dáil that the orders could not be compelled to pay, and that moral persuasion would have to be applied. There have been calls for the four orders be stripped of their charitable status.
- Kenny defends decision not to pursue nuns for Magdalene redress fund
- Kenny asks orders to ‘reflect’ on refusal to pay redress
- Moral onus on nuns to compensate Magdalenes, says Shatter
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Sisters of Mercy
The country’s largest order, with 2,000 members, founded by Sr Catherine McAuley in 1834, has played a central role in educational provision. In 2009 it had total property assets of over €1 billion. Some €660 million related to schools in use, €60 million to a hospital in use; the value of congregation residences was €200 million and a further €70 million related to other services.
It had €182 million in financial (non-property) assets but it argued that providing for the care of its members as well as funding its core services would account for all of that.
The order ran two of the Magdalene laundries, in Galway andDún Laoghaire. The Government requested the order to sell all the properties (valued at €11.6 million) it offered to the statutory fund for institutional survivors. As of the last report six weeks ago, it had paid more than €1.6 million.
Sisters of Charity
Founded in Dublin by Mary Aikenhead in 1815, the Sisters of Charity are associated with education and healthcare, and founded St Vincent’s Hospital. With about 250 members in its Irish province, it had some €266 million in assets in 2009, virtually all of which was restricted or committed to provision of services or welfare of its elderly members.
A €5 million offer was made to the statutory fund in 2009 but only €2 million was paid. The order said it could not afford to hand over the remaining €3 million because of the downturn in the property market. It ran two Magdalene laundries, one in Donnybrook in Dublin and the other in Peacock Lane in Cork.
Good Shepherd Sisters
Founded in France in 1835 by St Mary Euphrasia, this order ran four laundries: inWaterford, Wexford, Limerick and Cork. With a little over 100 members it is a small order which now concentrates on sheltered accommodation and social housing. With colleagues from Our Lady of Charity Sisters, it runs Ruhama, the outreach and advocacy services for women in prostitution.
Its asset base was €30 million in 2009, all but €3 million of which was restricted or committed to services or welfare.
Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge
It ran two laundries in Dublin: Drumcondra and Gloucester Street. The order focuses on residential care and social work for women. It had 31 members in Ireland in 2009, with an average age of 78.
Its total asset base in 2009 was €60.2 million, of which €43 million was in financial assets. Some €26 million of this was committed to running its nursing home and residential hostels into the future. It did offer land near the Phoenix Park to the OPW in lieu of cash five years ago, but that offer was declined by Cabinet.
Is anyone surprised that the Roman Catholic Church refuses to compensate another group of victims that was under their charge? Of course not. Their crimes in Ireland have been ranging from child rape, abuse, torture, false imprisonment, protecting child rapists and facilitating them to keep offending, and also, one of their little gems: Slavery of young girls and women. How anyone in Ireland can still go to church is beyond me. The state should auction off all their assets until every single victim and their families have been properly compensated for their suffering.
First published:Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 01:00
The Mercy Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters have informed Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in recent days that they will not pay into the fund, which could cost up to €58 million.
- Making amends to Magdalene women
- Offer ‘fair’ says one survivors’ group but another deems it ‘a joke’
- Magdalene survivors to receive €11,500 to €100,000
The Irish Times takes no responsibility for the content or availability of other websites.
However, it is understood they have said they are willing to assist fully in all other aspects of the package recommended by MrJustice John Quirke in his recent report, including the assembly of records and looking after former residents who remain in their care.
A spokeswoman for Mr Shatter said he was “disappointed” with the decision of the four orders not to make a financial contribution.
He will brief his ministerial colleagues about the situation at the weekly Cabinet meeting this morning.
Three of the four orders contacted through a spokesman were not prepared to make any comment at this point in time.
The Government announced the scheme last month after Mr Justice Quirke had conducted an examination of the various options to compensate the women who lived in the laundries, many of whom are now elderly.
The minimum payment was €11,500 for women who spent three months or less in a laundry and the maximum approved was €100,000 for those who were residents for 10 years or more.
Groups representing the women argued that higher awards should have been made available to those who had been long-term residents.
There was no onus on any applicant to show they had suffered hardship, injury or abuse. Some 600 women are reckoned to be eligible. The scheme is expected to cost between €34.5 million and €58 million.
When the scheme was announced, Mr Shatter said taxpayers expected the four religious orders to share the burden and make a contribution to the scheme. He would not be drawn on the amount he expected them to contribute.
The scheme follows on from a full apology on behalf of the State made to the survivors by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil this year, in which he said that nobody should have been subjected to the conditions they endured.
That apology came in the wake an investigation by former senator Martin McAleese into the running and conditions within the laundries which were in operation for the best part of a century.
The report also established that the State had played a significant role in the continued operation of the laundries.