from-the-horses-mouthHello. My magazine has now been running for three years so I think it’s fair to say it is  established.

Of course, the magazine couldn’t have existed without input and cooperation from many helpful people like my parents, Robert Williams, Ruth Minich, Brenda Condoll and Michael Blackburn. I have been fortunate to witness the magazine readership grow weekly and have seen a steady  increase in the number of subscribers.

The competitions have proved to be a popular inclusion in the magazine and have provided me with some very interesting material which I have been able to use.

Many people have been kind enough to let me interview them about their work and lives and this is something I intend to continue doing in the future. If you would like me to interview you, you can contact me

The magazine exists for everyone and aims to give a voice to people who are usually ignored – you can view the magazine at:

Best Wishes, Dean Charlton.




Kieran, can you tell me a bit about this club you’re involved with? ANDYMANSCLUB  is a great place for men, from all backgrounds, to get together and discuss problems like mental illnesses (I suffer from bi-polar) and alcoholism etc. We all get together and it becomes almost like a brotherhood.

Where do you meet? My main meeting place is the Shay Stadium in Halifax although we have meeting places in Hebden Bridge Town Hall, Hull (Pulse Rate Group Wincolmlee), Leigh Sports Village, S. Wales (Bridgend The Brewery Field) and one has just opened in H.M.P. Armley for the people in there. Please note that all meetings are at 7 pm on a Monday evening, everything is confidential in the room, not judgemental and no counsellors are present.

Who started the group? A professional rugby league player called Luke Ambler who has played for Halifax and represented England and Ireland.

What made Luke start the group? His brother-in-law Andrew committed suicide out-of-the-blue, having seemingly never having had a problem in his life; he left his kid and his wife behind so Luke took responsibility for them both and realised that men don’t often express their feelings and talk about their problems – they have a shield up and feel they have always got to be the ‘man’. So Luke created this safe place for men to go in order to try and stop things like this happening again.

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from-the-horses-mouthSubject: Nature

Open to everyone. First Prize: £100, Second Prize £50 and Third Prize £25.

Maximum entry is 3 pictures per entrant. Maximum 4MB per image file.

Email pictures as jpg or png to:

You must join the magazine (free) via sign-up form at: from the same email address as the address used to send the images to us.

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5 Dumb Things Christians Must Stop Saying When Evil Strikes


From 9/11 to Orlando to hate crimes surrounding the election, the presence of evil in our world is inevitable but as Christians, how do we offer comfort? Sometimes it’s what NOT to say.

By Karl Vaters

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published following the Orlando tragedy, but its message rings remarkably true for every act of evil we encounter.]

In trying to make sense of events like this, were all capable of saying something stupid.

Christians are no exception to this. Sometimes we say dumb things. Things that hurt when were trying to help.

In this, and other past events (sadly, there are just so many of them) Ive noticed five dumb things Christians tend to say.

1. This is an opportunity for the church

Evil acts are not opportunities. Theyre just evil.

Can God redeem them? Of course. Thats the central principle of the gospelhow the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus overcame evil with good.

But when we use words like opportunity we soundwellopportunistic.

This is not the time to look for an angle. Its time for prayer, grief, compassion and love without agenda.

Of course, its always time for that. But now more than ever.

2. This is Gods wrath for

We live in a sinful, broken world. Were the ones who broke it. And we break it a little more every day.

Evil acts, like the terrorism of last weekend, are prime evidence of that brokenness and of our inherent sinfulness. The sinfulness we all share.

No matter why the terrorist targeted that club, one thing is clear: He wasnt sent by God.

If you think he was, then you have to be in favor of what happened. No believer in the Prince of Peace can do that.

3. Did you hear?

Rumors are coming.

And conspiracy theories.

They always do, following incidents like this.

Followers of Jesus must always speak with grace and truth. Not innuendo and rumor.

Resist the urge to pass along any news that hasnt been proven by reliable sources. Theres enough misinformation out there without Christians starting or sharing untruths.

4. I dont agree with their lifestyle (or politics, or religion, or), but

When people are in pain, why even mention our differences?

I dont care what side of the moral, religious, political, ethnic or sexual fence youre on right now. Even if youre not on my side.

In the face of massive loss due to horrifying evil, we need to concentrate on our common humanity.

5. Everything happens for a reason

No. It just doesnt.

Evil has no reason. It is anti-reason. And anti-love.

And dont spout any nonsense about evil balancing out the good. Evil balances nothing. It keeps everything off balance.

Thats why God hates it.

Everything happens for a reason is more pagan than Christian. Its more about Karma than Christ.

Evil is not supposed to happen. It does. Obviously. But it shouldnt.

In order to make sense of things, were tempted to offer easy answers. But when people are in pain, we need to resist the urge. Uncomfortable silence is better than false platitudes.

I dont know why this happened, but Im crying with you is a far better answer to someone who has lost a loved one than hackneyed tripe like God must have wanted another angel.

If you dont know what to say, dont say anything at all.

What to Do Instead of Talking

The biblical response to those in pain is simple, but profound.

Cry with those who cry.

So, to the families, friends and loved ones of those affected by this unspeakable evil…

There is no way for us to know what youre going through. So we wont pretend we do.

But we are crying with you.

**This post originally appeared on Christianity Today.

See more from Karl Vaters on his blog.

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In the wake of Trump, a top Jewish and a top Muslim organization are banding together.

In the wake of Trump, a top Jewish and a top Muslim organization are banding together.

Donald Trump’s election has touched off a wave of uncertainty and fear across the country particularly among members of marginalized groups targeted during his campaign and those who have been singled out for harassment after his victory.

Since Trump’s election, over 200 hate crimes have been reported across the country as of Nov. 15, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The troubling trend goes back further the FBI’s latest hate crime report shows a 67% spike in hate crimes, mostly against Muslims, from 2014 to 2015.

In December 2015, Upworthy reported the story of a young Muslim-American girl who feared being deported after watching a news report about Trump, leading a group of veterans to send her messages of support. 2015 also touched off an increase in anti-Semitism, according to an Anti-Defamation League report.

President-elect Trump’s early campaign pledge to ban Muslim immigration to the United States “until we figure out what is going on” alarmed many Muslim-American leaders and citizens. The appointment of Stephen Bannon a far-right publisher whose website has traded in anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic rhetoric to the top strategy post in the White House, has only inflamed concerns.

Now, some protection might be coming in the form of a collaboration between two surprising groups: the Islamic Society of North America and the American Jewish Committee, which are banding together to form the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC).

The council includes representatives from the worlds of business, politics, and faith, including former Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota), businessman Farooq Kathwari, and author and “Serial” activist Rabia Chaudry.

According to a statement from the new task force, first reported in Haaretz, the group’s mission is threefold: combatting anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, celebrating the contributions of Jews and Muslims to American civic life, and pushing for expanded rights for religious and ethnic minorities.

Jewish and Muslim groups have been active on multiple fronts since the election results came in. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has rededicated itself to providing support to Muslim-Americans frightened by the outcome of the election and building bridges to other groups in a show of solidarity. Bend the Arc Jewish Action released an open letter to members of groups targeted by the president-elect during the campaign promising support.

This is not just an inspiring show of unity it’s critical right now.

Organizations like the MJAC could help make a huge difference in the coming years.

Following months of bigoted campaign rhetoric and the troubling elevation of figures like Bannon to positions of power and influence in the White House millions of Americans are suddenly wary that harassment and violence may soon become an uncomfortable fact of life.

Collaborations like this are a hopeful signal that regular citizens are willing to reach across ethnic, religious, and gender lines and take care of each other.

The election is over.

How we react to what comes next will speak volumes about who we are as a country.

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Phil, I understand you are a Buddhist – what does this entail? Yes, I am someone who tries to understand and follow the teachings of Buddha. Some see it as a religion, others as a philosophical system, or as a psychological theory or therapy.

One characteristic of Buddhists is that they will not tell anyone that their view is incorrect, that their beliefs are wrong.  No one of different religious views would be turned away from a Buddhist centre or meditation class.  I see it as a profound spiritual teaching which gives great meaning to our lives, to an understanding of the nature of reality, and provides a foundation for living a good life.

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The Worlds Greatest, Strangest Chapel by the Sea

For the mystical Swedenborg Church, the unfairly neglected architect Frank Lloyd Wright Jr. designed a chapel that seamlessly welds together art, nature, and the human spirit.”>

Just past the cruise ships and cranes of Terminal Island, the curving roads with ominous signs that warn of constant land movement, and Trump National Golf Course, a fairy tale escape like no other in the world sits perched atop a Rancho Palos Verdes bluff overlooking the Pacific: the Wayfarers Chapel.

Disney Land and the Chateau Marmont (as well as numerous tacky residential buildings throughout the region) provide Los Angeles with one type of fairy tale settingthat of the Chteauesque Sleeping Beauty type made famous by Ludwig II in Bavaria.

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Jr., the Wayfarers Chapel provides a different type of fairy tale settinga magical sensation of being in a world of wood nymphs, lost unicorns, and other friendly fauna. Delicate triangular, trapezoidal, and circular skins of glass colored by the California sky and the sun filtering through surrounding trees are framed by parallel beams of redwood. The chapels vaulted glass ceilings reach only 28 feet high and it is just 27 feet wide, yet it envelops and overwhelms. Once described as being likea soap bubble for how the glass plays with light, the chapel sits atop a floor and foundation made of white local Palos Verdes stone. Outside, a variety of coastal redwoods, cypress, and pines create a sylvan, oceanside, spiritual oasis.


It all adds up once you learn that the chapel was designed for the American branch of the Swedenborg Church, whose eponymous founder believed that people are essentially spirits clothed with material bodies.

Dubbed by The New York Times as the worlds forgotten man of genius, Emanuel Swedenborg is one of historys more impressive philosophers and is sadly not as well known as many of those Northern European intellectuals who would come after him. He would famously develop his own theological system of Christianity, and the church founded based on his writings would attract followers including Helen Keller, Johnny Appleseed, Daniel Burnam, and Robert Frost. Swedenborgs writings would influence Oliver Wendell Holmes, Tennyson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Baker Eddy, William Blake, Honor de Balzac, and, um, Dr. Oz. 

Born in Stockholm in 1688 to a Lutheran bishop described as thoroughly unpleasant, Swedenborg spent the first half of his life as a prominent scientist. He entered the University of Uppsala at 11, achieved his Ph.D. at 21, and by his late twentiesby which time he was recognized as an authority on mining and metallurgyhe was appointed by the King of Sweden to oversee the countrys board of mines. 

He was also an inventor, and like Leonardo da Vinci, he was prescient in the ways in which future inventors would solve flight or submarines or understand atoms. He also won a spot in the top echelon of individuals named by legendary psychologists Catherine Cox Miles and Lewis Terman (founder of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence scale) as the greatest geniuses before the turn of the 20th century. The list was made up of 300 people and included the likes of Jacques Necker, Ali Pasha of Janina, Goethe, and Lavoisier. Cox-Miles estimatedthat Swedenborg had a childhood IQ of at least 145.

In the late 1730s, Swedenborgs focus shifted. He published The Economy of the Animal Kingdom, his first major attempt to bend science toward his ideas about the human soul. It investigated scientific understandings at the time about blood, organs, and the brain, but it also closed most of the distances between the mining engineer and the mystic, claimed Signe Toksvig in her biography of the philosopher. His work elaborated his belief that the soul could be found in the brain, and could be found in the cellular cortex. He believed the soul to be the inmost life of the blood and located in the brain.

In 1743 and 1744, the middle-aged Swedenborg had a Road-to-Damascus moment. He began to have visions and engaged in conversations with spirits. It is precisely at this stage in Swedenborgs extraordinary career that the skeptics take flight, and the believers gather around, declaredthe historian C. Hartley Grattan. Some of these visits with the spirits were sexual in nature, and in one of them, he said, the Lord told him to abandon the sciences, which he did.

In 1771 Swedenborg published his seminal text, True Christian Religion, in which he tried to outline his understanding of the divine, scripture, eschatological issues, and the nature of man based on the authors visions and communication with spirits. One year later, Swedenborg died, and though he never intended to found a church or a religious order, within a decade of his passing, Swedenborg societies and organizations devoted to his ideas had begun springing up.

Knowing full well that many pilgrims to the chapel by the sea are as likely to visit because it was featured in the O.C., the Swedenborg Church visitors center includes some handy explainers on the mans philosophy.

One of Swedenborgs teachings that has often attracted traditional Christians is that of the afterlife. As the handout notes, he believed, People are essentially spirits clothed with material bodies. At death, the material body is laid aside and the person continues to live in the world of spirit choosing a heavenly life or a hellish one based on the quality of life choices made here. A persons religion does not affect that end result.

Those explainers are housed in the visitors center on site (built, it turns out, in 1998 after the original was torn down due to damage from a landslide. Of course, the new one was not built by Frank Lloyd Wright Jr.).

Frank Lloyd Wright Jr., who went by Lloyd Wright so as not to be confused with his illustrious father, was one of the most prominent architects in midcentury Los Angeles, whose significant legacy has been forgotten in large part due to his fathers fame.

But rarely does a work of architecture come as close to an architects theoretical intent as the Wayfarers Chapel. Wright was a practitioner of organic architecture, a philosophy that he told the Los Angeles Timeswas an architecture that grows out of the site, the needs of the client, the nature of the materials, and a hope that it improves the surrounding area, and, generally, society.

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Before beginning the project in 1949, Wright visited redwood forests in Northern California and was moved. His designsought to re-create the atmosphere of a redwood grove and create a sacred space that blended the natural and built environments. Walking around the gardens, soaking in the filtered light through glass and wood, it is hard to escape romantic feelings about the synthesis of nature and architecture. It prefigured the great glass religious structures to come more than 20 years later, such as Philip Johnsons Crystal Cathedral and E. Fay Joness Thorncrown Chapel, writes Nancy B. Solomon in Architecture: Celebrating the Past, Designing the Future.

Wright, in my opinion, has gotten the short end of the stick historically. Only one major book, as far as I can tell, has been written about his work. When he died in 1978 at 88 years old, the New York Times obituary read: Lloyd Wright, Architect, Dies at 88; Was Son of Renowned Designer.

One of Frank Lloyd Wrights six children, Lloyd Wright was born in 1890 in Oak Park, Illinois. His career started early: he dropped out of the University of Wisconsin in 1909 and fled to Florence with his father and his fathers mistress Mamah Cheney. In 1911 he went to work for the legendary landscape architecture firm Olmsted and Olmsted, and by 1916 he was already the head of Paramounts set design department. In the 1920s he designed the first iteration of the Hollywood Bowl and also began to design buildings on his own. In 1927, using the stucco and concrete block style made famous by his father in Los Angeles, he built what would be his studio and home for the rest of his life.


Over the next few decades, Wright would build some of LAs most iconic residences. His greatest hits include the Sowden House and Samuel Novarro House (recently restored by Diane Keatonand the center of a silent film era gay scandal) in Los Feliz, La Caada in Gainsburg, the Mayan/Islamic Derby House in Glendale, the space-ship See-Worthy Housein Palos Verdes, and the 676 square feet Mat House in Reseda. One of his houses designed and built in 1949 in Bel Air was bought by Elvis Presley and was the location for his meeting with the Beatlesbut sadly it was destroyed.

Lloyd Wright never escaped his fathers shadow. His own son once toldthe Los Angeles Times, there is no question about it that grandfather was a force, and though an inspiration to father, dominated his practice long after he died in 1959 and until father died in 1978. His brother, John, who was also an architect, only managed to do so when he invented the Lincoln Logs.

But for the Wayfarers Chapel alone, Lloyd Wright should be in the pantheon of memorable American architects. Once built in the hopes that it would be used by weary travelers working their way down the coast, it is now used every day, often twice a day, for weddings. Several hundred couples a year choose the site to tie the knotmost of them from Japan.

In an era that was recently thrust into an even more uncertain direction, what could be greater than a work of art that ties together the genius of man and nature and inspires people to commit to a future together?

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6 Muslim American women share their thoughts on the election.

“How can someone tell me that this is America and I can’t be Muslim here?”

Those are the words of undergraduate student Shahrin Azim. She is a 19-year-old neuroscience student who was one of eight people interviewed as part of an eye-opening photo series profiling Muslim American women ahead of the presidential election.

For Azim, learning about others being attacked for their beliefs is “excruciatingly painful,” she said in an interview with the Turkish news site Anadolu Agency. And with hate crimes against Muslims on the rise, it’s hard to see a silver lining.

“It’s difficult to think about the things that are said to them … that their people are terrorists and that they should go back to wherever they came from.”

During this contentious election season it’s easy for these individual voices to get lost in the static of scandals, leaks, and hateful rhetoric. But their perspectives shed a light on a topic that is rarely discussed.

Here are six of those voices talking about their experiences this election season:

1. Shabih Aftab, financial analyst for the Gap Inc.’s global online marketing team

“As a hijabi woman, I am a prominent symbol of Islam and that makes people uncomfortable. Not only about me, but it makes them uncomfortable when I seek success. I try 10 times as hard for the same job than my non-Muslim counterparts work for. We need to accept that women, as it is, have unequal rights in the work place, but when you are a minority it’s that much harder. With Islamophobia on the rise, I have to make myself stronger in my faith and steadfast in my morals. I cannot and will not change who I am to make others feel at ease and believe I am worthy of that job or that promotion. This is the same piece of advice I tell my younger sister. We are women who deserve a place at the table, not because we are Muslim, but because we are strong, confident, intelligent and conscious despite what Trump supporters want us to believe. We are told our hijabs hold us back and I firmly disagree. The hijab empowers me to be the best example I can be to show people that ‘I am a force.'”

2. Sara Zayed, technology analyst on Wall Street

“It’s surreal that I’m regularly in the heart of New York during these tumultuous elections. As a Muslim woman, I’ve experienced more love than hatred this year my non-Muslim friends have reinforced their respect and value for me and my identity, and I’ve never felt more propped up by people of different communities and backgrounds. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t experience fear. When New York was bombed last month and the bomber was revealed to be a Muslim man, I was terrified to go into the city, worried I may experience backlash as a visibly identifiable Muslim woman. So although I’m experiencing wonderful support, I’m also regularly on my guard and keep a look out for potential danger. I don’t underestimate the fact that my hijab has now become a political statement. I firmly believe the best thing my Muslim sisters can do at this time is hold their heads high and continue to break barriers. That in itself is the greatest statement of strength we can offer the world.”

3. Marwa Janini, immigration caseworker and instructor at City University of New York

“Growing up amidst the climate of Islamophobic rhetoric, I have faced many challenges that come with being a visible Muslim American woman. I have often had to defend my faith against unwarranted verbal attacks and misconceptions. These experiences were compounded with the paternalistic reality that exists in many Arab immigrant communities, and I am a living embodiment of a woman breaking the mold. While these experiences have had a role in shaping my identity as a Muslim American woman, I refuse to be confined by them. I choose to focus on the positive influence I can have as a successful Muslim American woman, breaking down barriers and proving that the narrative of oppression and voicelessness is baseless and untrue.

4. Mahroh Jahangiri, executive director at Know Your IX

“To be a Muslim woman doing anti-violence work in the United States right now is to really be filled with fury. On the one hand, there is a presidential candidate who has waged a campaign to silence women hes sexually assaulted. As an advocate organizing against gender violence, I certainly welcome the ensuing outrage. It makes it harder to ignore the fact that gender violence is a very common problem. But, I find it hard not to still feel frustrated. I am frustrated that this candidate’s comments (and the other candidate’s policies) that have regularly hurt and killed so many people of color are not similarly sufficient to generate outrage. Yesterday, the bedroom of two Muslim girls at my little sister’s university had ‘terrorist’ written on it. In the weeks prior, two friends were assaulted in anti-Muslim attacks. Where is mainstream outrage over stuff like this? … This past week, my organization just published an 145-page Campus Organizing Toolkit on creating campaigns to fight violence. I am so excited to get this in the hands of young angry people. And I am so grateful to be surrounded by many angry women of color Muslim women, Native, Black, Latina women who are leading fights (against sexual assault, pipelines, against police & prisons) to end violence against people.”

5. Nagla Bedir, social studies teacher

“Although there has been a rise in hate speech and Islamophobia, I have been fortunate to work in a district filled with many supportive people. I have had to deal with dirty looks, and some negative comments from co-workers, and the overall ignorance of the majority of the people around me, but on the contrary, the majority of these ignorant people are very curious and willing to learn. I think some people hear American Muslim and think that is a contradiction. The ignorance that surrounds Muslims is very frustrating. People avoid coming near me, I get dirty looks and/or am stared at, and Ive been called a terrorist, Taliban, and a rag-head. Islamophobia has been around since before 9/11 and it has increased and decreased throughout the years. Recently, it has become an even more vitriol disease plaguing our country. From one extreme people telling me I shouldnt wear hijab or follow Islam and then on the other end being told Im too modern and dont fit the mold of what a Muslim woman is supposed to be. My family and friends have continuously pushed me to face adversities and succeed despite them. I am not afraid of failure and push myself to try to be the best at everything. What motivates me the most is my students. Their education is the number one priority in my life. So how am I successful woman despite all of these issues? The reason is them.”

6. Shahrin Azim, undergraduate student in neuroscience

“As a Muslim woman, I can’t help but think about all the young Muslims who are just starting to love their identity or recognize their roots, and how they are being bullied or beaten in school for following a faith that is so horribly misunderstood. It’s difficult to think about the things that are said to them by their peers, teachers, and even other adults who they see every day, tell them that their people are terrorists and that they should go back to wherever they came from. People say, ‘There is no room in this country for people like you! This is America!’ Yes, it is America, a country founded on the values of religious freedom. The pilgrims escaped from England to come here and practice their faith. How can someone tell me that this is America and I can’t be Muslim here. I wish that they would realize their hypocrisy. I wish that they could understand that I’m not a terrorist, nor am I associated with any of those groups. Islam is just another monotheistic religion that is very similar to Christianity and Judaism. It is not a faith that condones violence against innocent people, or oppresses women. My religion is part of who I am and I will not let anyone’s hate strip me of my faith.”

Now that the presidential election is here, these women are a powerful reminder of the many unheard voices.

It’s important to have an open and honest discussion about what life in America is like for different people. In an election season like this, empathy walking in someone elses shoes could be the most important tool we have.

Let your voice be heard and make sure to vote!

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Italian priest blames earthquakes on gay civil unions

Italian priest blames earthquakes on gay civil unions

Vatican rebukes Fr Giovanni Cavalcoli after he claims deadly quakes are divine punishment for the offence of civil unions

An Italian priest has angered the Vatican after claiming the earthquakes that have shaken the country killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless were divine punishment for gay civil unions.

Fr Giovanni Cavalcoli, a theologian known for his hardline views, made the comments on 30 October, the day central Italy was struck by a 6.6-magnitude quake – the most powerful to hit the country in 36 years.

It was the third major quake in the region in just over two months.

Cavalcoli told Radio Maria that the seismic shocks were divine punishment for the offence to the family and the dignity of marriage, in particular through civil unions.

Italy is one of the last western European countries to legally recognise same-sex relationships, having introduced legislation last month to allow gay civil unions.

The radio station distanced itself from Cavalcolis views and the Vatican has issued a stinging rebuke, saying the idea of a vengeful God was a pagan vision dating from the pre-Christian era.

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, number two in the Vaticans powerful secretariat of state, said Cavalcolis comments were offensive to believers and disgraceful for non-believers.

Becciu asked for forgiveness from quake victims and reminded them they had the solidarity and support of Pope Francis.

However, Cavalcoli refused to back down, insisting to another radio station that earthquakes were caused by the sins of man and telling the Vatican to read their catechism.

It is not the first time comments by members of the Italian clergy have embarrassed the Catholic church.

Last month a priest was suspended from his parish in Trento after apparently defending paedophilia during a live TV interview, arguing that children often seek affection. Fr Gino Flaim of the San Giuseppe and Pio X parish claimed he understands paedophilia but added, Im not sure about homosexuality.

When asked to explain his comments he told the La7 channel: Paedophilia is a sin, and like all sins has to be accepted also. He went on to describe homosexuality as a disease.

Following his suspension the priest said his words do not represent the positions of Trento archdiocese and the general sentiment of the parish.

In 2012 another Italian priest sparked outrage by delivering a Christmas message that claimed women were to blame for mens violence towards them because they wore filthy clothes and served cold suppers.

Fr Piero Corsi put a leaflet on his churchs noticeboard in San Terenzio, north-west Italy, asserting that 118 women killed by men in Italy that year only had themselves to blame.

Is it possible that men have turned crazy all of a sudden? We dont believe so. The point is that more and more women provoke, fall into arrogance, believe [themselves] to be independent and exacerbate tensions, the leaflet read.

Children are left outside alone, homes are dirty, meals are served cold clothing is filthy. They [women] trigger the worst instincts leading to violence and sexual abuse. They should do a self-examination and think: did we ask for it?

The priest received a torrent of abuse after a scan of the leaflet was posted online, and his Facebook account was closed.

Senior religious figures distanced the church from Corsis comments and he was forced to resign.

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Muslim women complain about Sharia inquiries – BBC News

Image copyright Reuters

More than 100 Muslim women have complained about their treatment under two government probes into Sharia law.

The inquiries – one ordered by Theresa May when she was home secretary, and another by the home affairs select committee – are ongoing.

But some women have signed an open letter and said the aim was to ban Sharia councils, not reform them.

The Muslim Women’s Network UK said the inquiries risked treating women like “political footballs”.

However, the Home Office said its inquiry’s chair, panel and advisers were “carefully selected and represent a wide range of relevant experience and expertise”.

The councils are tribunals often used to settle disputes within the Muslim community.

The first evidence session on Sharia councils is due to be held by the Home Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

But Shaista Gohir, the chair of Muslim Women’s Network UK, said the inquiries could patronise women.

“Everyone wants to listen to Muslim women when highlighting their terrible experiences.

“However when it comes to the solutions, everyone thinks they know what is best for them,” she said.

Image caption Shaista Gohir says shutting down Sharia councils would mean their activities “go underground”

“I do feel that there are people who are anti-faith, particularly anti-Islam, who are using women’s rights as a guise, wanting to abolish Sharia councils.

“If tomorrow or next year you shut down Sharia councils, what would result is Muslim women stuck in marriages, abusive marriages sometimes, and the Sharia divorce service would actually go underground.

“That would result in less transparency, higher prices and more discrimination,” Ms Gohir added.

What are Sharia councils?

Sharia councils are tribunals that seek to apply Islamic laws to everything from financial disputes to marital conflicts.

They are unregulated and largely unknown to the wider public.

The precise number of these councils in the UK is not clear, although research by Reading University suggests the total is about 30.

However, crossbench peer Lady Cox, a longstanding critic of Sharia councils, says women are “suffering” under the system and she has repeatedly tried to get legislation through Parliament to reform the councils.

“So many Muslim women come to me and tell me how desperately unhappy they are,” she said.

“One lady came to me last week and had gone almost suicidal with the provisions of a Sharia council.

“So we need to look at the whole system and the way it operates.”

‘Raw deal’

Lady Cox rejected as “absolute rubbish” the suggestion that critics were using the position of women in Islam to attack Sharia councils.

“A lot of the women who support me are Muslim women, who don’t have a voice.

“Some of the strongest support for what I’m advocating comes from Muslim women themselves,” she said.

A Home Office spokesman said: “This government commissioned an independent review of the application of Sharia law as there is evidence some Sharia councils may be working in a discriminatory and unacceptable way.”

He added that the review’s chair, panel and advisers “bring strong academic knowledge, legal insight and credible expertise in religion and theology”.

Labour MP Naz Shah, who sits on the Home Affairs Committee, said the councils could never be a replacement for the civil courts.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “Sharia itself is a code of conduct and the fundamental principle of Sharia is that the law of the land precedes anything, it takes precedence.

“You cannot enforce and have a second paralegal system in this country.

“As a British law-maker, I am very clear we have one law and that law is that of the British court.

“The Sharia is there to support women and communities to things that they want to access and that’s a choice for them.”

Media captionThe Labour MP concerned that Sharia councils ‘run for men’.

But the Bradford West MP added: “There’s lots of issues with Sharia councils – usually they are under-resourced, there’s not that professional standard – what we need to be doing is supporting the Sharia councils.

“Sharia councils are sometimes last resorts where people who have lost legal aid; we’ve had austerity kicking in and the courts don’t want to deal with small disputes, so they can act as a complementary arbitration service.

“But what we need to be careful of is whether they are discriminating against women and that is where the issue lies.”

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