Views from the News


A Christian relationships counsellor says he was sacked by Relate for admitting a crisis of conscience over giving sex advice to gay couples. According to the Daily Telegraph, he has accused the Bristol branch of the counselling service of ‘bigotry’, claiming a Muslim would not have suffered the same discrimination. Gary McFarlane, 47, is going to an employment tribunal to contend that he was unfairly dismissed due to religious discrimination. Fellow counsellors alleged that he was homophobic. The father of two says he wants to force Relate ‘to work through stuff like this’. A solicitor himself, Mr. McFarlane is no stranger to resolving legal disputes, having advised the Law Society on mediation. He is also a tutor at Bristol’s Trinity Theological College.

Sources: Mail on Sunday (25/10); Daily Telegraph (27/10)


Christian professor John Lennox met leading atheist Richard Dawkins in a public debate this week (30th October 08) – and held his own. The Baptist Times headlined the result as ‘Debate reveals science has yet to bury faith’. The historic venue, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, was full as the protagonists, both Oxford professors, tussled over whether science disproves God. The Museum was host to a famous debate in 1860 – the clash on evolution between Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley. The modern-day confrontation covered questions such as truth, morality, purpose, why the universe is intelligible, whether we can trust history, Jesus’ resurrection and the place of God – if any – in science. There was no vote on who won, but the topic, ‘Has Science buried God?’, remained an open question.

Source: Baptist Times (30/10)


A quarter of children with a religious belief are bullied at school because of their faith, a new survey reveals. The findings prompted ‘BeatBullying’, the charity who funded the research, to call on the government to compel schools to record all incidents of faith-based bullying and to fund more extensive research and preventative measures. The study of 1,000 11 to 16-year-olds found that half of them practised their religion, twice the proportion of adults who do. But 20 per cent said their friendships were largely with others who shared the same religious background. Behind incidents of verbal and physical violence, there is a lack of cohesion between different religious communities and not enough support for discussing faith issues with their peers, a ‘Beatbullying’ spokesperson said.

Sources: The Independent (17/11); Church of England Newspaper (21/11);
Baptist Times (20/11)

(Editor’s comment – we should be aware that much of what goes under the banner of religious bullying could quite rightly also be defined as racial. Having said that our young people will come under pressure in the classroom when they stand up for their faith and beliefs).


A museum covered up a passage of text explaining Darwin’s theory of evolution in a fossil exhibition after a complaint on religious grounds. Staff at Abington Park Museum in Northampton blocked out part of an information board after a visitor complained it misrepresented the Bible. The move led to a protest from the National Secular Society, which accused the council of ‘pandering’ to the creationist movement.

One sentence read, ‘He used the same layers of fossils that had supported the Genesis view of evolution to show the slow changes that are taking place’. But a member of the public complained that there was no ‘Genesis view of evolution’. Brendan Glynane, of Northampton Borough Council, said: ‘There was absolutely no attempt at censorship, the text contains a factual error, which could cause confusion’.

Source: Daily Telegraph 30/8/2008


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