Hilary White

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Irish Children’s Rights Referendum passes with massive support from government, leftist groups

Hilary White
Hilary White
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DUBLIN, November 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The passage of the Children’s Rights Referendum in Ireland this weekend – 57.4 per cent to 42.6 per cent – is a blow to families, NO campaigners have said.

Opponents of the amendment say it rewrites the constitutional rights of families and replaces them with the statist priorities of the UN. Critics focused mainly on language that allows state agents to remove children from the family and place them in care if they believe it is in the child’s “best interests.” The amendment also allows children to be adopted out to other families without parents’ consent.

NO campaigners have charged that massive government and NGO spending for the YES side amounted to rigging the vote and “subverting the democratic process” - a position that the Irish Supreme Court vindicated in a ruling last week.

“This was a government-driven amendment, not from the people, with woefully inadequate explanation to the voting people of Ireland on a matter of such profound ramifications for the institution of the family,” said Human Life International Ireland (HLII) Chief Executive Patrick McCrystal, one of the leading opponents of the amendment told LifeSiteNews.com.

“Without the people realising it, the institution of the family based on marriage has been replaced as the primary institution possessing inalienable rights and is now relegated to second place after the State with respect to ‘best interests’ of children.”

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Despite laws to the contrary, he said, it was clear that the government not only actively supported the YES campaign, but worked to suppress opposition. In the midst of the campaign, a judgment from the Supreme Court found that the Government acted unlawfully in spending €1.1 million unfairly promoting the YES side. Following this decision, support for the amendment fell significantly.

Patrick Buckley, European Affairs Officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, told LifeSiteNews.com that despite the final outcome, the closeness of the vote is a sign that there is still significant public opposition to the government’s plans. Considering the poor representation given to the NO campaign, the fact that over 42 percent of the Irish people did not trust the government’s proposal was a “creditable result,” he said.

He asked, “How is it that there is no major political party that is willing to represent the views of 42% of the Irish people?”

“Saturday was a sad day for the people of Ireland,” he said. “I can only say that we did our best to alert them to the anti family agenda contained in the Referendum. The people have made their choice, and will have to live with the consequences which may or may not show up immediately.”

One of the obstacles faced by the NO campaign was the lack of support from the Irish Catholic bishops. The archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin issued a statement early in the campaign saying he was satisfied with the safeguards proposed by the government for families.

In a statement the bishops’ conference said they “share the concern of others to ensure that the proposed amendment on children does not undermine the rights of parents and the presumptive place of the family… as the unit in which the welfare and rights of children are best exercised and safeguarded.”

However, the bishops gave the YES side cautious support, saying, “When read in conjunction with the unaltered constitutional provisions on the family and education, the wording of the Thirty-First Amendment on Children suggests that a reasonable and balanced approach to framing the proposed new article on children’s rights has been taken.”

McCrystal and other NO campaigners, however, said the public, including the bishops, had been duped. He insists the campaign was really a ploy by government, under pressure from the UN, to abolish the Irish Constitution’s protections for the family, replacing it with the statist priorities listed in the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child.

Former MEP and presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon agreed with this view. In the midst of the campaign, she issued a scathing analysis of the proposed wording saying it abolished the traditional family-centred view of Irish society.

Pro-family groups, the Mother’s Alliance and Human Life International had joined the campaign against the government’s referendum proposal, warning that a Yes vote would be tantamount to Irish families signing away their own constitutional rights.

Former MEP and disability rights campaigner Kathy Sinnott said that some Irish parents were “terrified” over the prospect of the state being granted the power to remove children from families and adopt them out without parents’ consent. One independent legal expert said that the proposed new wording to the constitution would make children the de facto property of the state who would retain to itself all rights to determine how they are raised.

McCrystal charged that the YES campaign has been “profoundly unjust, deceptively conducted,” and that it had been run by the government, “in coordination with a plethora of interest and lobby groups.” During the lead-up to the November 10th vote, even YES campaigners appeared concerned that the NO side was lagging. Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, told the Irish Times there was concern that there was not enough debate to fully inform the public.

McCrystal also accused the leftist pressure group Atlantic Philanthropies of “subverting the democratic process” by pouring as much as €15 million into the YES campaign.

At the same time, state media did not give “fair access” to the other side of the debate, McCrystal said. This assertion appeared to be confirmed by Senator Catherine Noonan, who called on the media to exercise “editorial discretion” in order “to ensure that this campaign does not give a voice to NO campaigners whose main motivation is to raise their own profile.”

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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