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Life In Post-Christian Britain

Gay Pride parade, London Ms. Jane Campbell/Shutterstock)

Couple of snapshots.

1. Veteran Catholic midwife left unemployed after refusing to participate in abortions.

Her efforts to distance herself professionally from abortions throughout her career — supervising staff when she had to but never taking an active role — had largely been successful and was accepted by colleagues and managers.

‘Other staff would volunteer to oversee them for me. They respected my feelings.

Then, in 2008, a restructuring in the hospital led to more abortions being carried out in the labour ward (previously they had been split between the gynaecology ward and the labour ward, depending on the stage of pregnancy), and Mary asked her managers for clarification on her position legally.

They told her she had to participate, or lose her job. Finally, in 2010, she refused to go on, sacrificing her career. Eventually she and another midwife filed a lawsuit. The legal process has now ended with their defeat. More:

The ruling overturned an earlier decision, in an Edinburgh court, which supported the women’s claim that they were ‘conscientious objectors’.

As the law now stood, they could be disciplined for refusing to take part. So, having delivered some 5,000 babies over three decades in a job she adored, Mary felt she had no choice but to take early retirement.

Now she is telling her story because the issue is back in the political frame, with campaigners pushing for a change in the law to protect health professionals who, as a matter of conscience, do not want to be involved in abortions.

Given the power of the pro-choice lobby, she and other supporters of the bill — including Lord Alton and Lord Mackay, the former Lord Chancellor — fear that it has a slim chance of success unless public support can be galvanised.

‘It’s not only about midwives,’ says Mary of her fight. ‘The issue of conscientious objection in the NHS will become even more important with things like end-of-life care. We need to tackle it now.’

Readers, this is coming here. Don’t you doubt it at all. A senior national medical figure I interview for The Benedict Option says this is why he doesn’t want his children going into medicine. He is too afraid for their future, because he can see coercive policies and laws coming. We had better gear up for this legal and legislative fight.

Britain has a Tory government. It could protect midwives like Mary. If it wanted to.

2. Pearson, one of Britain’s largest textbook companies, will update the nation’s its products to celebrate diversity. Excerpts:

Rod Bristow, Pearson’s president for core markets, said they will use the handbook to “help update our own products and resources to ensure they are LGBT inclusive”.

The handbook, titled “Creating an LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum” suggests ways in which teachers can tweak their lessons so LGBT students “see themselves represented in what they’re learning”.

Suggestions include setting questions which reference same-sex couples in maths and science, and introducing LGBT-specific vocabulary in language lessons.

The handbook says an example of this would be a question beginning : “Two women would like to have a baby together, and the doctor recommends they use In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)”.

Such are these times. More:

In December, new Government-backed guidance for head teachers said that primary schools should include books that feature transgender parents in the curriculum.

School leaders must “celebrate” transgender people, encourage their staff to teach children about trans issues, and “ensure the visibility” of trans perspectives in the classroom, it said.

The advice was part of new guidance issued by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and endorsed by the Department for Education.

“Celebrate.” Not “teach about,” but “celebrate.”

Britain has a Tory government. Did you realize that?

A friend of mine, a believing Catholic from England, emigrated to the US so she could raise her children in a culture that is not so hostile to the faith. She, her husband, and their children are active now in a fledgling Benedict Option school community. It breaks her heart in some ways to be away from her homeland, but the faith of her children must come first, in her view.

Most British Christians won’t have that opportunity, or wouldn’t necessarily choose it if they did. Question to my readers in the UK: what Benedict Option strategies are realistically open to you regarding the education of your children? For that matter, how do you regard the vocational field (that is, jobs) as believing Christians? Are there fields that you know are closed off to you as believers? Are there professions you would discourage your children from pursuing, as a matter of faith?

What counsel can you give us here in the US?

American readers, especially Christians, so many of us think it can’t happen here. It can, and it will. I am eager to be corrected by UK Christian readers if I’m wrong, but I doubt very much that there is a popular constituency in Britain for the traditional Christian view in either of these cases. That is what it means to live in a post-Christian country. Though we should fight politically and legally against these sorts of things happening to us, we are increasingly unlikely to prevail. Then what? The then what? conversations are what I’m trying to stimulate with my Ben Op work.

UPDATE: Since publishing this, I’ve just seen Sohrab Ahmari’s piece about what Theresa May’s Tory government is doing in Britain on education reform. Read it! Excerpts:

Brexit was supposed to liberate Britons from unaccountable government, PC orthodoxy, and high-handed bureaucracy. But who needs Brussels mandarins when supposed Conservatives in Westminster are beholden to the same orthodoxies?

That’s the question religious leaders in the U.K. are asking themselves as Prime Minister Theresa May’s government prepares to make it mandatory for all schools–including private, faith-based institutions–to teach an ultra-progressive sex education curriculum. Under the proposal, all schools would be required to teach children from age 4 and up “age-appropriate” content that includes information about same-sex marriage and transgenderism. Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and others with traditional views on sex and gender would have to comply. No exceptions.

Former Education Secretary Justine Greening first floated the idea last March on the ground that the current law is “outdated,” since many religious schools are exempt from the sex-ed curriculum requirements. The prime minister sacked Greening last month, but her successor, Damian Hinds, told Parliament that he remains committed to the compulsory sex-education agenda.

Greening made no effort to disguise the ideology behind her policy push, telling Sky News in July that “it is important that the church, in a way, keeps up and is part of a modern country. We have allowed same-sex marriage, that’s a massive step forward for the better. And for me, I think people do want to see our major faiths keep up with modern attitudes.”

Dame Louise Casey, another senior government adviser, singled out Catholics in particular. It is “not OK for Catholic schools to be homophobic and anti-gay marriage,” she testified in the House of Commons. “I have a problem with the expression of religious conservatism because I think often it can be anti-equalities.”

Read the whole thing.  It blows my mind that this is happening under a Tory government. What kind of future can religious liberty have in Britain if the government takes it upon itself to compel religions to teach its own doctrines, particularly when those secular doctrines deny what those religions believe?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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