Displaying items by tag: Culture
The murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer caused a national outcry over gender-based crimes, and a new question: should misogyny be considered a hate crime? Activists, criminal justice experts, and opposition lawmakers say the definition of a hate crime should be expanded to ensure greater punishment for crimes of harassment, domestic abuse and stalking. But the government has so far ruled that out. Boris Johnson said the legislation currently in place was ‘abundant’ but not properly enforced. Widening the scope would increase the burden on police. Ruth Davison, CEO of the charity Refuge, said, ‘When did we ever take the scale of a problem as a reason not to act on it?’ Government statistics reveal that one in four women have experienced sexual assault, one in three women will face domestic abuse in their lifetime, and a woman is killed by a man every three days, with many cases involving domestic violence.
At the time of writing there are 16 days to the start of COP26 in Glasgow when leaders from 197 nations will assemble and decide what to do about climate change. This will be the largest gathering of world leaders ever to take place in the UK. We can pray according to 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that God will inspire all in authority with understanding, wisdom and discernment. May they be as the men of Issachar and understand the times and know what to do. Pray for God to give His church clear directions for prayer in accordance with His will in the days leading up to the conference and during the event, and for His Kingdom before and during the conference so that ‘as the ‘kings of the earth take counsel together’ they will know that ‘they are but men’ (Psalm 9:19-20) and that God’s sovereign purposes will prevail (Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 66:18).
On ‘National Coming Out Day’, America’s LGBT awareness day, DC Comics announced that their latest Superman, Clark Kent’s son Jon, will be bisexual. In previous issues Jon was friendly with Jay Nakamura - a bespectacled, pink-haired reporter. In the next issue their relationship will become romantic. The storyline follows Jon as he takes on the mantle of Superman from his father. He fights wildfires caused by climate change, scuppers a high school shooting, and protests against deporting refugees. DC Comics said the pair become romantically involved after Jon ‘mentally and physically burns out from trying to save everyone that he can’. Even though this issue has not yet been released, DC Comics say that reaction to the storyline has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’. They hope people who see this Superman will say, 'He is like me, he fights for things that concern me’.
Brazil has one of the largest Christian populations in the world; 91% say they are a ‘Christian’ of some form. The Kingdom of God has exploded in Brazil since 1960 as the nation has been saturated with truth in and through Jesus Christ. Jesus said (Luke 12:48), ‘To whom much is given, from them much is required’, and Brazil has certainly been given much from God. The Church has become a strong mission-sending organisation in one generation. Today, God desires it to go to a new level of seeing mission mobilisation emphasised in every local ministry so that every believer contributes to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The Brazilian Church is known as a praying Church; pray for a massive prayer movement across the churches and denominations emphasising intercession for an explosion of church-planting, leading towards communal movements to Christ among all unreached people groups.
For many years we have interceded for the persecuted Christians in China. A significant trend in the past year has been for even more church raids: according to an International Christian Concern report, ‘not only were churches shut down or demolished, but pastors and Christians are regularly arrested.’ Open Doors estimates that there are 97 million Christians in China, many of them in unregistered underground house churches and therefore considered to be ‘illegal’. Christians are not the only religious minority facing persecution; between 1 and 3 million Uyghur and other ethnic Muslims have been put in internment camps where they are taught to fall in line with the CCP. In January, the US state department described China's treatment of Uyghurs as a ‘genocide.’ China has also reportedly violated the rights of Falun Gong practitioners and Tibetan Buddhists.
Six people, including a 13- and a 14-year-old, were arrested for stabbing to death a 14-year-old boy in Birmingham. The victim was chased towards the nearby McDonald's by youths who fled from the scene after he collapsed. In London’s Hyde Park a 17 year old was chased by a group of males armed with large knives. He fell and was kicked and stabbed; one onlooker screamed ‘He bored him’ (street slang for stabbing. In South London a 23-year-old man is fighting for his life after being stabbed in the face. In north London a flowerstall man in his 50s was stabbed to death in a brutal daylight attack. Pray for more resources to be provided for teachers, social workers, and youth workers to help children and youths explore themes around knife crime and educate them to make better choices.
Abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland in 2019 after Westminster acted during the absence of devolution. Delays in implementing Northern Ireland's abortion laws have been a ‘deeply troubling exercise in finger-pointing’, a court has heard. Stormont is under pressure to establish a permanent, central abortion service; it has not happened yet and is being challenged in a high court judicial review. The Human Rights Commission is taking the case against the NI Executive, the Department of Health, and the NI secretary Brandon Lewis. Currently health trusts only operate a ‘skeleton service’ for medical abortions up to ten weeks of pregnancy. Women seeking a termination beyond that gestation travel to England. Arlene Foster’s party, which opposes abortion, said that abortion proposals were not going to be passed by the executive or the incoming leader, Edwin Poots.
An open letter from ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’ has been sent to Arlene Foster, Edwin Poots, and other leading politicians. It was written on behalf of people with Down’s syndrome and their families, who are asking for their parties to support a bill which has been introduced to the NI Assembly. The bill seeks to amend the current abortion regulations, to no longer allow unborn babies with a ‘serious foetal impairment’ to be aborted to term. This bill would not amend the law in cases of ‘fatal foetal abnormality’. Currently NI abortion is legal up to birth if the foetus has Down’s syndrome, cleft palate, cleft lip, or club foot. This new bill proposes that non-fatal disabilities should not be grounds for abortion, and the current law is discriminatory against those with such disabilities. 90% of babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted.
At least 1,068 people have been killed by police since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minnesota on 25 May 2020. His killing triggered worldwide protests demanding justice and an end to systemic racism. In April 2021 Floyd’s killer was found guilty of murder and manslaughter; sentencing is on 25 June. Between January 2013 and May 2021, US police killed at least 9,179 people, according to data compiled by Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group. Since Floyd’s death, the group has recorded at least 1,068 police killings across the country – an average of three killings every day. Despite being 13% of the population, black Americans are three times as likely as white Americans to be killed by the police. The group also found that ‘levels of violent crimes in US cities do not determine rates of police violence’.
A documentary about a ten-year-old Aboriginal boy's experience in school has reignited the debate about Australia's failure to give indigenous children a good education and a fair start in life. Australia's ‘national shame’ was recognized in 2008, and the government pledged to ‘close the gap’ for indigenous people in terms of life expectancy, child mortality, education and employment. By 2020 most of the seven targets had not been met. Seventeen new targets have now been set, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups. Currently young indigenous people are 17 times more likely to be jailed than non-indigenous counterparts (43 times more likely in the Northern Territory). A young indigenous man is more likely to be in prison than university. In Aboriginal town camps there are days with no milk, and children eat breakfast at school. Some nights there is no electricity, so children play I-spy under the stars.