Displaying items by tag: Parliament
Christians in Parliament, who will begin a new programme of chapel services on 10 January, have been encouraged by growing numbers and fellowship at them. Please pray the increase will continue and parliamentarians and staff will be strengthened to live out their faith and invite others along. Please also pray for the speakers preparing this term’s themes. On 6 March Tom Holland, author and presenter of Europe’s most downloaded history podcast, will reflect on Christianity’s impact on the modern world. Please pray for a thought-provoking evening for all. On 20 March parliamentarians and Professor Robert Song will dine and have theme-based conversations on ‘What difference does Christianity make to politics?’ Pray for further deepening of relationships and a great blessing to all who attend. Weekly bible study and fellowship groups are looking at Revelation and 1 Peter. Please pray that members will be encouraged by meeting with other Christians to read God's Word, pray, and fix their eyes on Jesus in all that they do.
A charity has criticised the decision to make Catholic MP Therese Coffey the secretary of state because of her views on abortion. The newly-appointed deputy PM voted against extending ‘pills by post’, allowing women to take abortion pills at home, instead of a clinical setting. Ms Coffey said she would never condemn someone for having an abortion, but she would rather they did not have the procedure. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said that a health secretary who would place their personal beliefs above expert clinical guidance is concerning’. Meanwhile, Liz Truss said she shares the values of the Christian faith but is not a practising religious person. She abstained or was absent from parliamentary votes on legalising suicide and abortion, and voted to impose abortion on Northern Ireland. She also voted for same-sex marriage.
The Church of England has urged the Government to ensure age verification systems are put in place to protect under-18s from online pornography. The widespread availability of porn to children means they are growing up in a culture where violent, degrading and harmful sexual activity is being normalised. In 2017, porn checks were approved by Parliament under the Digital Economy Act but plans to implement them were abandoned in 2019 when the Government claimed they would be covered by future legislation. The abandoned Online Safety Bill stated, ‘pornographic websites could face large fines and risk being blocked if they do not have age verification systems in place to prevent children from accessing content.’ But now the Government announced, ‘further parliamentary consideration of the Bill is delayed until after the summer recess.’
The Conservative Party is looking into reports that a male Tory frontbencher watched pornography on his phone in the House of Commons debating chamber. Christian charity CARE said the ‘harms’ of pornography are ‘truly distressing’ and the political class must take account of porn's harms. A 2018 report found over 24,000 attempts to access pornographic websites from parliamentary computers. CARE said that members of parliament watching pornography openly in and around the House of Commons, in front of colleagues, shows a cavalier attitude that ignores the feelings of others and displays a disturbing lack of empathy for victims. The porn industry publishes videos of underage and non-consensual sex, rape, violence, and other vile behaviours. Children are damaged through encountering porn online. This MP appears not to care. The harms of the porn industry, and pornography consumption, are truly distressing. Our political class must recognise and take account of them.
There needs to be more and better laws and legislation to safeguard children from online sexual exploitation. Later this month the Online Safety Bill will be debated in Westminster as it enters its second reading. The bill will require online platforms to take action to improve child protection. Pray for consensus on the importance of further strengthening child protection, particularly in preventing the livestreaming of child abuse.
The government continues facing pressure over gatherings in and around Downing Street during lockdowns. The police are investigating 12 parties and on April 12th issued 50+ fines, with more to come. Boris and Carrie Johnson and the chancellor are among those fined; making Boris the first serving prime minister to be caught breaking the law. All three apologised, but bereaved families called their actions ‘truly shameless’ with ‘simply no way’ they could continue in their jobs. Labour MPs also want the PM and Mr Sunak to quit. Mr Johnson said he felt ‘an even greater sense of obligation to deliver’, while the chancellor said he was ‘focused on delivering for the British people’. Amanda McEgan, whose daughter died during the pandemic, said the prime minister's conduct during lockdowns made restrictions on the 19-year-old's funeral ‘more hurtful’. Boris said he accepted ‘in all sincerity that people had the right to expect better’ from him.
Many people took the time to write to their MP to oppose an amendment that would completely decriminalise abortion in the UK and support pro-life amendments to the Health and Care Bill. The amendment to decriminalise abortion was withdrawn before it could even go to a vote, and there was strong support for the amendments even though they were withdrawn. Also the second reading of the Down’s Syndrome Bill was approved in the House of Commons, meaning that people with Down’s syndrome would be recognised as a minority group of people. This would ensure that they are not neglected and their abilities are recognised.
The High Court has found the government acted unlawfully when it gave a contract worth £560,000 to a company run by friends of the PM's former chief adviser Dominic Cummings. Ministers have denied any favouritism was shown towards the market research agency Public First. But the judge decided a failure to consider other firms could be seen as suggesting a ‘real danger’ of bias. Cummings wanted the contract to be given to a firm whose bosses, Rachel Wolf and James Frayne, were former colleagues of himself and Michael Gove.
Politics is concerned with serving the common good, weighing and developing solutions, stewarding resources in the public interest; music touches our experiences, tastes and emotions. Boris Johnson’s description of the NHS as ‘powered by love’ following his recovery from coronavirus was notable in its departure from this pattern. His tribute conveyed something out of the ordinary, reflecting an insight derived not from briefings or expert analysis, but through relationship and direct personal experience. Churches have more in common with music than politics. The greatest Christian commandments have to do with love for God and for other people. One expression of love is kindness, which we have seen in abundance during the coronavirus pandemic. Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.’
A petition launched by evangelist David Hathaway calls on the Prime Minister to hold a national day of prayer in response to the pandemic. For details, see David said, ‘Historically, only prayer has delivered this nation in a time of crisis, as seen both in WW1 in 1918 and even more so in WW2. When we have no human answer to the coronavirus which has devastated both health and our economy, we must seek God’s answer.’ The petition’s opening statement asks for churches to be open for prayer and worship without restriction for the day: ‘We ask you to remember and recognise the strong Christian heritage of this nation and the power of prayer, which is greater than any other power on earth.’ A separate petition, launched by Susan Hawkes in March and also calling for a national day of prayer, has received over 65,600 signatures.