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Zone of silence

RELIGION | U.K. threatens pro-lifers with prison time for praying outside abortion centers

40 Days for Life Southampton / Facebook

Zone of silence
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British lawmakers overwhelmingly support a new law that forces pro-lifers to keep their distance from abortion centers.

On Oct. 18, members of Parliament voted 297 to 110 in favor of an amendment to the Public Order Bill, affirming the introduction of nationwide abortion center “buffer zones.” Anyone who gets within 492 feet of an abortion facility with the intent to discourage women from getting an abortion could face prison time.

The amendment has broad implications for Christians. Conservative MP Fiona Bruce argued that “the wording of the new clause could even catch those quietly praying. … This clause is specifically targeted at those with faith-based views.” In fact, the law seems to have been drafted with this in mind. Stella Creasy, the lawmaker who proposed the amendment, said, “Let’s be honest, there’s nobody praying outside the places you get a hip operation.”

At least five buffer zones have been implemented under Public Spaces Protection Orders. One in King’s Norton specifically outlaws protests that include “prayer or counseling.”

Several U.S. states have also attempted to enforce buffer zones. But in 2014, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that allowed for a 35-foot perimeter around abortion centers. Chief Justice John Roberts said the zones substantially burdened free speech. At least three states still have ­“bubble zones” around women entering abortion facilities.

Congolese Defense Forces soldiers remove the bodies of victims of an attack near Oicha in Congo’s North Kivu province.

Congolese Defense Forces soldiers remove the bodies of victims of an attack near Oicha in Congo’s North Kivu province. Al-hadji Kudra Maliro/AP

Terror in the Congo

On Oct. 20, the Allied Democratic Forces, an ISIS affiliate in the Democratic Republic of Congo, attacked a village in Maboya, targeting a Catholic hospital. Six patients and one nun died. The Muslim group, which the United States considers a terrorist organization, has murdered thousands of civilians in the past few years. The situation has become so dire that ­several nonprofits recently petitioned the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to grant protection to asylum-seekers from the Central African country.

After an attack in June, a local bishop said, “Survivors have confessed to us that they were asked to recite the shahada if they wanted to survive. We have pastors that have been killed for refusing to deny Christ and get Islamized.”

Muslims make up just 1.5 percent of Congo, but according to International Christian Concern, the recent attacks are part of a scheme to persecute evangelicals. —B.M.

Bekah McCallum

Bekah is a reviewer, reporter, and editorial assistant at WORLD. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Anderson University.


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