Rights and Responsibilities

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  • Rights and Responsibilities
    • Key words
      • Bible
        • The holy book of Christianity made up of the 66 books of the old and new testament
      • Church
        • The community of christian believers.
      • Conscience
        • An inner feeling of what is right or wrong
      • Situation Ethics
        • The idea that Christians should base moral decisions on what is the most loving thing to do.
      • Electoral Processes
        • The ways in which voting is organised
      • Democratic processes
        • The ways in which local citizens can take part in government.
      • Political party
        • A group which tries to be elected into power based on its policies.
      • Pressure groups
        • Groups formed to influence government policies on particular issues.
      • Social change
        • The way in which society has changed and is changing.
      • Human Rights
        • The rights and freedoms to which everyone is entitked
      • Decalogue
        • The ten commandments
      • Golden Rule
        • Jesus' teaching to treat others as we would like to be treated
    • Sources of Aurhority
      • When making moral decisions, the Christian wants to know what their God would want them to do. To find this out they turn to trusted sources that they believe have some authority to help guide their decisions. These include:
      • The Bible
        • The Decalogue
        • The Prophets
        • Jesus' teachings; Sermon on the mount, parable, kingdom of god
        • Apostles' teachings; St peter, St paul, St john, St james
        • "All scripture is god-breathed and is useful for teaching and training in righteousness
        • Many Christians refer to the bible as the word of god, however, not all agree what this means;
          • The Words of God;
            • Some Christians, mainly fundamentalists, believe the bible contains the actual God. These people are called literalists as they believe every word is literally as God wanted it to be. As such, the bible has total authority in all situations
          • Words inspired by God;
            • Other Christians feel the bible was written by humans but inspired by God. Although it has God's authority, it needs interpreting in light of it's day when considering application for today.
          • Words about God;
            • Some Christians see the Bible as written by people who genuinely loved God, but their words do not have God's direct authority. They may use conscience, reason and logic to interpret its meaning for them.
      • The Church
        • The Church was Jesus', St peter's and St paul's chosen structure.
        • The church has been shown to be the best forum for deciding the meaning of scripture formulating considered theological responses to modern situations and issues.
        • Catholics believe that God reveals to the Pope and bishops the true meaning of scriptures.
        • The apostles established small communities of converts across the region.
          • Trusted and trained leaders helped growth and prevent heresies.
            • As matters arose requiring clarification, key leaders gathered together to discuss and agree a consensus of opinion as to what theologies were correct or incorrect.
        • Catholic Church
          • In Catholicism the Pope has supreme authority from God, and is infallible.
            • A 'council of bishops' help formulate doctrine and the Vatican releases 'catechisms'
        • Anglican Church
          • CofE has 560 bishops, vicars and laity forming the 'General synod'
            • Smaller more specialised groups advise on decisions for the Synod to agree on
        • Independent Churches
          • 'Assemblies' (gatherings of church leaders) agree a biblical response to theological and moral issues
            • Some agree beliefs on a church-by-church basis.
      • The holy spirit
        • When Jesus rose to heaven he said he will be with his people always. By this he meant in the form of the Holy Spirit.
          • Every bit part of God, but distinct in that it is the power of God within the Christian to be able to live the Christian life and discern God's will.
            • Christians believe god's presence is with them in the Holy Spirit.
      • Conscience
        • St Paul & St Thomas Aquinas both taught that Christians should use their conscience as the final part of moral decision making.
          • Individuals are accountable and have a moral responsibility
            • "Pangs of conscience" help guide but can go wrong
              • EG. Some Christians have murdered abortionists in the name of "God"
      • Reason & Logic
        • St Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant believed in something called 'Natural law'.
          • Part of this meant being able to 'naturally' discern what is rright and wrong because we are created by God in his image.
            • Using reason and logic (thought out judgments) we should be able to know what God would 'naturally' want us to do
    • Situation Ethics
      • The idea that Christians should base moral decisions on what is the most loving thing to do
      • Joseph Fletcher was a Christian ethicist who wrote the book 'Situation ethics' in 1966
      • Fletcher proposed that biblical rules should be take in consideration only with other, greater rules in mind.
        • Fletcher referred to these as 'greater rules' because he believed a Christian will one day be personally responsible for the choices they make, and so conscience should be their final guide.
        • He also believed that his greater rules reflected the teaching of Jesus that christian love over religious laws eg. Jesus healing on the Sabbath.
        • 4 GREATER RULES
          • 1. Ethics is about decision making in real situation. Strict religious rules don't take into consideration that every situation is different.
          • 2.Decisions made do not offer 'universal guidelines'. A decision made about one situation does not then become the rule for them all.
          • 3. Some truths should be accepted as self-evident. Each person knows intrinsically what the right thing to do is.
          • 4. It is the person who is the centre of concern. The person at the centre of the situation is more important than the religious rules.
          • Feltcher believed the primary motivation should be love for the individual, and recognition that the most loving way out of a situation should be the ultimate motive.
      • Joseph  Fletcher would say that situation ethics should come before the biblical rules, so does this make it unbiblical?
        • Jesus healed people on the Sabbath when it was forbidden by Jewish religious law to work. Jesus' concern for the person overruled the religious law.
        • Jesus spoke to women about religious issues and stood up for a woman found guilty of adultery, both of these things were against Jewish cultural and religious laws.
        • Jesus, St Peter and St Paul all spent time with people who the religious laws declared 'unclean' and so banned any association with them.
      • STRENGTHS
        • Situation Ethics is concerned about the individual, not the rule.
        • Situation Ethics considers each person and their situation differently.
        • The basic principle is to seek what is best for the individual concerned, based on the premise of 'love'
      • WEAKNESSES
        • Fletcher believed the end justified the means, this is not true in every situation.
        • It ignores clear biblical teaching on certain issues relegating that teaching to mere 'suggestions for life'
        • Situation Ethics does not consider what is the most loving thing to do for all, only the individual.
    • Government
      • The government is responsible for managing a wide range of issues including;
        • Employment, Health, Education, Housing, Environment, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Law and order, Defense, Social Services and Human Rights.
      • The government is simply a political party who made promises in a manifesto to the country, and on the basis of that, were voted into power but he citizens of that country.
    • Voting System
      • The UK is divided up into 659 constituencies. Each area is supposed to have roughly the same number of voter - about 70,000 in each.
        • In each general election voters can vote for one of the number of candidates (usually form each of the main political parties and a few others).. Whoever gets the most votes wins & becomes an MP. Whoever has to most MO's, becomes the government.
      • In Britain we vote on who will represent us in the three main areas.
        • Local council (Councillors), UK Parliament (MPs), European Parliament (MEPs)
      • PRESSURE GROUPS
        • Besides voting you can influence government decisions on issues you feel are important. Pressure groups representing thousands of citizens speak to the government and let them know what their members want.
    • The electoral and democratic process
      • Many people feel that as a citizen of a country you not only have a right to have your say, but you have a responsibility to take part in the electoral process and the democratic process.
        • It gives you more control over local issues that affect you on a day to day basis.
        • In the past, people died fighting for our right to choose those who govern us. We owe it to these men and women to use these rights.
        • National government sets our taxes to raise money and chooses how our money is then spent.
        • National government make new laws that affect your life. You have a say in these laws.
        • Decisions in Europe affect UK laws. We need to elect people who will speak out for us.
        • How can you complain if you don't use your right to have your say?
        • National government are responsible for many things. You have a say in the decisions made.
        • The term 'democracy' means 'a government of the people, by the people, for the people'
        • Not all countries have a democracy, their citizens have no say over how the country is run or who will lead them
    • Religion and the democratic process
      • William Wilberforce led the parliamentary campaign against slavery.
      • William Booth is famed for establishing homes for society's outcast through the salvation army.
      • Lord Shaftsbury stood against child labor and fought for child education.
      • Dr Thomas Barnardo established housing and training for destitute children.
      • These epople became involved with teh democratic process because they believed their religion compelled them to stand up for human rights.
    • The Christian motivation for social change
      • The parable of the sheep and the goats; "Whatever you did not do for the least of my people you did not do for me"
      • Faith and deeds; "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead"
      • The golden rule; "So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets"
      • The greatest commandment; Love God and love your neighbor, the whole of the law and prophets hinge on these two commandments."
      • The Decalogue; Six of the ten commandments are based on how we treat others. Human rights and social change for good as a fundamental part of the biblical and church teaching.
    • Summary of the human rights act 1998
      • The right to life; No one has the right to end your life.
      • Freedom from inhumane treatment; Torture is banned.
      • Freedom from slavery; forced labor is outlawed/
      • Right to liberty; Everyone has the right to do what they want if it is not against the law.
      • Right to a fair trial; Under UK law.
      • Retrospective penalties; You cannot be charged with a crime if it was not a crime when you did it.
      • Privacy; The right to a private life.
      • Freedom of conscience and religion' Hold the opinions and beliefs you want to without persecution.
      • Freedom of expression; Express your views so long as it doesn't break the law.
      • Freedom of assembly; To gather with others and if necessary to demonstrate.
      • Marriage and family; To get married and have a family within the rules of the law.
      • Freedom from discrimination; Not to be discriminated against for any reason.
      • The first protocol; Have the right to own possessions, have an education and participate in the democratic process.
    • Human rights in the UK
      • The rights and freedoms to which everyone is entitled.
      • In 1998 the UK passes the human rights act giving UK citizens by law, the fundamental rights already laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights.
      • Christians believe human rights are important because;
        • They believe in the sanctity of life as all are made in God's image
        • It is in line with Biblical teaching on how twe should treat others
        • It allows for the freedom to have a religion and meet together
        • It outlaws discrimination against Christians and others.
      • However, the act can cause problems for religious people;
        • Christians could break the act if they refuse to support gay marriage
        • The catholic church discriminates against women as priests
        • Some Christians feel homosexuals should not adopt children
        • Christian groups could break the act by refusing to give a non-Christian a job.
    • Genetic engineering & cloning
      • Secular arguments
        • FOR
          • Stem cell research, genetic engineering and cloning, offer the prospect of cures for currently incurable diseases.
          • It is available in some countries and so is only available to the rich who can afford to travel and pay medical bills.
          • Cloning has been used to grow healthy cells to replace malfunctioning ones
          • Genetic research is a vital tool in medical science, it would be wrong to ignore the advantages GE can bring.
          • The laws on what can be done are strictly monitored to protect fro abuse.
        • AGAINST
          • Genetic engineering treats the human body as a commodity to be manipulated no different to plants.
          • Once started there is no going back, scientists will be able to reproduce scientifically created human beings.
          • There is no information about the long term consequences.
          • The process is irreversible so if something went wrong it would be permanent.
          • It opens the way for genetic screening where people could be checked for likely illnesses before getting jobs or life insurance.
      • Religious arguments
        • FOR
          • Jesus was a healer who encouraged his followers to heal the sick
          • Being responsible stewards of creation includes improving the lives of others with scientific knowledge God has allowed us to gain.
          • Creating cells is not working against God, rather it is working with God
          • An embryo is not considered as a potential life until it is 14 days old.
          • Liberal Christians will accept most of the secular arguments for genetic engineering
          • GE is another form of medical science like medicines and surgery which we allow.
        • AGAINST
          • Life begins at conception, be it in a womb or a glass dish.
          • Killing an embryo is taking a human life which is banned by the bible and the church
          • God has created the genetic make-up of a child for people to overrule that would be to interfere with God's plans
          • Cloning or creating life is taking the role of creator which is God's role
          • Cloning another human being devalues both people as individuals made by God
          • A child should be born as a product of love not need/
      • GE; The deliberate alteration of a person by manipulating its genetic framework in order to cure or prevent diseases and disabilities in human beings.
      • Gene Therapy; This enables changes to be made to cells that pass on defective information from one generation to the next, allowing permanent changes to be made.
      • PGD; Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis. This removes defective genes from embryos so women at risk of passing diseases on can produce healthy babies.
      • Stem cell research is the mostrecent form of genetic research. Stem cells are the building blocks of life, and can be used to create new organs or cells to replace diseased ones. They are harvested from either embryos created by IVF, bone marrow or blood.
        • Some people believe this will eventually lead to us picking and choosing any characteristic of a child including gender, eye and hair color, even their sexual orientation.
        • Stem cell research is illegal in the USA, but has been legal in the UK since 2001, regulated by the HFEA

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