Saturday 25th October, 2014 
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Christian News in Brief

Clegg's stumbling religious replies shows today's 'political blandness'

Nick Clegg's 'incoherent' answers to questioning over his religious beliefs reveal how fearful politicians have become of expressing any views that might offend, a Guardian columnist writes. Nick Spencer compares the Liberal Democrat leader's repeated 'vacillation' in the second prime ministerial debate over why he is 'not a man of faith' with the reply of atheist Clement Attlee. The 1940s Prime Minister openly said he believed in Christian ethics but not 'the mumbo jumbo'. Rather than a 'ludicrous oversensitivity … towards religion', Spencer believes Clegg's hesitant replies reveal a media-enforced 'crushing blandness' that has made politicians afraid to voice any convictions that are not 'universally acceptable public beliefs'. Source: The Guardian (5/5)

Move to ban town-hall prayers

The National Secular Society has launched a legal move against a West Country town council for opening its meetings with prayers. The action against Bideford Council is thought to be a test case. The Society's website says, 'We have been working on this campaign for some months and … have sent a letter to one council advising them that prayers during council meetings are in conflict with human rights provisions. Source: Church Times (7/5)

Sacked Christian counsellor's legal bid fails

The Court of Appeal has rejected the case of a Christian counsellor who was fired because of his beliefs about homosexuality. Gary McFarlane lost his job at Relate in Avon in 2007 after confessing that his conscience would not allow him to give sexual advice to gay couples. He challenged his dismissal at both an employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal, but both dismissed his claim of unfair dismissal and religious discrimination. The Court of Appeal ruled that protecting 'a position held purely on religious grounds' could not be justified because it would be 'irrational… divisive, capricious and arbitrary.' The Christian Legal Centre, which has supported Mr McFarlane through his legal battles, stated that the decision excluded 'Christian principles of morality from the public square'. Sources: Christiantoday (29/4); Christianlegalcentre (29/4); Daily Telegraph (30/4); The Times (30/4)

Base business on Bible, says business school head

A top academic believes Bible teaching should be enshrined in business training if future financial crises are to be avoided. Manchester Metropolitan University Business School's David Muskett says: 'We have been teaching business techniques in a moral vacuum.' The head of undergraduate programmes, Muskett wants business schools to incorporate Christian principles into their education in order to restore ethics in business. Muskett, making his case at a Higher Education Academy conference in Newcastle, claimed that the courses in Britain's business schools are currently 'amoral' and contributed to the global financial crisis. A committed Christian, Muskett said: 'If you have got nothing to anchor to then anything goes, providing it's legal.' Source: Times Higher Education (29/4)

Equality Bill passes into law

The Government's contested Equality Bill has become law after being given Royal Assent The Act will allow civil partnerships in religious premises and confirms previous legislation forcing adoption agencies to consider adoptions by same-sex couples. Both moves have been strongly opposed by some Christian groups. However, measures permitting churches to refuse to employ homosexuals will stay. A spokesperson for CARE said, 'We welcome the measure ... to protect employers, however, we are very disappointed about the adoption agencies.' Source: Church of England Newspaper (23/4)

Bible push for British Christians

A major campaign to boost churchgoers' use of the Bible and confidence in handling it will be launched this autumn. Bible Society, Scripture Union and Wycliffe announced plans for a co-ordinated approach to stimulate Bible reading as part of the Biblefresh campaign which is preparing churches for the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible next year. The E100 Bible Reading Challenge homes in on 100 'Essential' Bible passages, 50 from each Testament, designed to give a good understanding of the whole Bible. The challenge can be tailored to local churches and hopes are for a widespread take-up next year. Sources: Baptist Times (23/4); e100

France: Sarkozy to ban veil while church makes priesthood cool

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, has ordered his government to prepare legislation for a total ban on the full Islamic veil. Government spokesman Luc Chatel said the reason for the decision - taken despite fears of stigmatising Muslims - was 'because women's dignity cannot be watered down'. Meanwhile, young Frenchmen are being targeted by a €200,000 campaign giving a trendy image to the Catholic priesthood. Flyers in restaurants, posters and Facebook ads bear the English slogan 'Jesus is my boss' and a cheery man's face superimposed on a zany collage. The campaign has been designed to recruit new priests in a country that ordains just 100 a year. Source: The Guardian (21/4); Daily Telegraph (21/4)