Tuesday, June 10, 2014

RLPB 264. Scotland: fighting a flawed law

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 264 | Wed 11 Jun 2014

The Government of Sudan continues to wage war against its non-Arab, non-Muslim people, with the aim of annihilating the predominantly Christian Nuba peoples of oil-rich South Kordofan. In Nigeria, Boko Haram is waging a full-scale terrorist insurgency in the north-east, targeting Christian towns and enclaves, abducting and massacring dozens of civilians almost daily. In Syria, the Battle for Aleppo continues, with Armenian neighbourhoods -- in particular Nor Kyugh -- suffering endless rocket-fire from rebels, who are mostly international jihadists and Turks. In BREAKING NEWS, the ISIS has seized control in Mosul, the capital of Nineveh Province, Northern Iraq. Dozens are dead, at least 70 women have been abducted, some thousand Christian families have fled and the monasteries are filling up with refugees. [See Religious Liberty Monitoring for details.] With such serious conflicts raging like fire -- consuming churches and whole Christian peoples -- it can be easy to overlook or miss new threats rising like smoke signals on the horizon. While we must always be in prayer for Christians in lands where persecution is 'hot', we must also be alert so that, by God's grace, we might prevent new fires from spreading or even breaking out.

SCOTLAND: FIGHTING A FLAWED LAW
By Elizabeth Kendal

A law has been passed in Scotland that raises the prospect of a coming persecution. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill includes a mandate that the state appoint a 'Named Person' or state guardian for every single Scottish child under 18. It was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 19 February 2014 (103 for, with 15 abstentions) and it received Royal Assent on 27 March 2014. The scheme should be fully implemented by August 2016. With the aim of 'early intervention', each child will be monitored by a Named Person who will intervene (i.e. report to the authorities) if they have 'concerns' about the child's 'well-being'. For pre-school children, the Named Person could be a healthcare worker; for school-age children, the Named Person could be a school teacher. Named Persons will be obliged to report incidents as trivial as a missed doctor's appointment. Opponents of the scheme regard this as 'a monstrous invasion' of private family life that threatens to bring suspicion and mistrust into a whole range of relationships. It appears to be quite sinister, as home-schooler Alison Preuss points out, 'Under the guise of GIRFEC -- "Getting it right for every child" -- the government is getting information recorded on every citizen.'

The Christian Institute (CI) is preparing a legal challenge, receiving advice from Aidan O’Neill, a senior human rights lawyer and one of the UK's most eminent QCs. CI has promised to 'drag' the Scottish government through the courts 'in defence of family life against state intrusion'. O'Neil maintains that The Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill represents an 'unjustified interference' into private and family life while failing to provide proper protection against 'arbitrary and oppressive powers'. CI will argue that the legislation breaches the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), specifically Article 8 which guarantees a 'right to respect private and family life'.  A 'No to Named Persons' campaign (NO2NP) was officially launched on Monday 9 June, at a conference in Edinburgh organised by leading academic Dr Stuart Waiton. Waiton, a sociology professor at Abertay University, laments that the government 'appears to be blind' to the law's dangers.

It can be imagined readily how this law could become a weapon in the hands of anti-Christian elements, of state guardians with agendas and of all manner of social engineers. This law will turn state employees into informants to enforce state ideology and conservative Christian parents will be powerless to prevent it. The law is wide open for abuse. Is a child's 'well-being' threatened by home-schooling; or by parents who are seeking less invasive medical treatment; or by devout parents who teach that Jesus is the only Saviour or that God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman? Are children's 'well-being' at stake if they are set curfews, denied their 'sexual rights', and taken to church when they'd rather play football? There are many who would say emphatically 'yes'. The Christian Institute has so far raised £30,000 to fund the court action. Whilst currently it may not look like a religious liberty issue, the way is open for it to become one.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* bless the Christian Institute and provide all its needs as it challenges this flawed law in the courts; may the law be repealed or amended before it does serious damage or is used as a model elsewhere.

* redeem this crisis and use this campaign for the awakening of many; may he use the NO2NP campaign not only to expose the flaws in the law, but to highlight the responsibilities and preciousness of family life as God intended.

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
-- that the mountains might quake at your presence ... Isaiah 64:1 ESV

* revive and empower the Church in Scotland -- indeed across the UK -- to be the light and salt it is called to be for the benefit of all. [Jesus] put another parable before them, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.' (Matthew 13:13-32 ESV)

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE 
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FIGHTING A FLAWED LAW IN SCOTLAND

A law has been passed in Scotland mandating that Scottish children under 18 be appointed a 'Named Person' or state guardian charged with monitoring their 'well-being'. Opponents of The Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill are describing it as 'a monstrous invasion' of private family life. The 'unjustified interference' comes without proper protection against 'arbitrary and oppressive powers'. A leading QC advises that the law breaches the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 8). A campaign -- No to Named Persons (NO2NP) [http://no2np.org/] -- was launched on 9 June. The Christian Institute is preparing a legal challenge. The law is wide open for abuse by social engineers and anti-Christian elements. Whilst currently this may not look like a religious liberty issue, it could become one quite readily.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)