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Love of God and neighbour are inextricably intertwined, and committed loving partnerships can nurture spiritual growth as well as bringing joy. Couples and their children (where present) are also called to care for others outside their own households. In Jesus Christ, men and women are invited to be part of a wider family whose love overspills to the needy and even enemies, Christians recognise. Barriers of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and status are overcome in this divine commonwealth of justice and mercy which is the new family created by Christ. Little of this vision comes across in Men and women in marriage, issued by the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission with the House of Bishops’ approval in 2013 and commended for study. This document attempts to justify senior clergy’s opposition to marriage equality while allowing pastoral “accommodations” for same-sex couples. Its approach to the Bible, tradition, reason and experience is inadequate, and it fails to do justice to many heterosexual as well as same-sex couples, with damaging consequences for the wider church’s mission and ministry.
This review of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has been written by Stef Benstead with support from the Spartacus network of disabled researchers and advocates. It examines the failure of the current ESA system and makes ten recommendations for interim improvements to ESA, with the ultimate aim of pointing towards radical changes in the welfare system so that it can benefit all, but particularly disabled, sick and other vulnerable people. Inter alia, the report reveals that, contrary to the latest official report, first-year Review recommendations have mostly not been adequately implemented and that the experience of those subject to assessment is negative and damaging.
On 10 December 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet 65 years later, human rights abuses are still widespread. Faith groups and other people of goodwill have much to do if “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” is to be achieved. This Ekklesia briefing by Savitri Hensman looks at how human rights are defended and extended, not least from a faith perspective, and what they mean for us in a changing, globalised world. Reference is made specifically to UK-related issues, including poverty and disability.
The Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement has published its second report on Part Two of the Transparency in Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14 on 10 December 2013. It follows extensive consultations in England, Scotland and Wales. Ekklesia is a registered supporter of the Commission. We support its general approach and findings, while sharing significant doubts as to whether the Lobbying Bill, which we believe to be unjust and undemocratic in its present form, can be rendered fit for purpose in time for the 2015 election.
In November 2012 The People's Review of the Work Capability Assessment was published by the Spartacus network of disability researchers and campaigners.
This supplementary report, which Ekklesia is pleased to make available and endorse, contains further compelling evidence of the need for change.
After introducing the issues and the annual reviews of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), it documents the reality for those directly impacted: deaths and suicides; accounts from MPs and advisers; the direct experience of sick and disabled people; views expressed by medical and other professionals; opinions from public bodies,;views expressed by Church leaders; and views expressed by charities and Disabled People’s Organisations.
The report then looks at the policy context: the UK’s human rights obligations under UN conventions; monitoring of standards; the financial cost of the WCA; contractual and audit issues; work-related obligations and sanctions; training of WCA assessors; progress on the audio recording of assessments; the long-delayed 'Gold Standard' Evidence Based Review; the Court of Appeal ruling that the WCA is discriminatory; a final summary and conclusion. (72pp., PDF format)
Remembrance day: Goodbye to all that Guardian leader based on Ekklesia's 2009 report Reimagining Remembrance
Voters turn on main parties, Independent front page, reporting Ekklesia's survey results on independent politics, during the scandal over MP's expenses
Rebranding St George, The Times about Ekklesia's 2008 report on British identity
The Daily Telegraph on Ekklesia's 2007 proposals that the symbols we use to remember war, should involve those symbolising a commitment to peace
Guardian education features Ekklesia's 2006 report on alleged marginalisation of religion in universities, and proposals for addressing it
Fear or Freedom?: Why a Warring Church Must Change by Simon Barrow (Ed)
The Subversive Manifesto: Lifting the Lid on God's Political Agenda by Jonathan Bartley
Faith and Politics After Christendom: The Church as a Movement for Anarchy by Jonathan Bartley
Consuming Passion: Why the Killing of Jesus Really Matters by Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley (Eds)
Threatened with Resurrection: The Difficult Peace of Christ by Simon Barrow