On this day: a Japanese Church in Ruins

UrakamiTenshudoJan1946Urakami Tenshudo (Catholic Church in Nagasaki) destroyed by the atomic bomb, the bell of the church having toppled off. 7th January 1946.

One of the many buildings destroyed in the 9th August, 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan was the city’s Catholic church. The Urakami Tenshudo was of historical significance because of the centuries of persecution Japanese Christians faced for practicing their religion.

At Urakami people risked death by torture for following a religion Japanese authorities saw as undermining their power and bringing too much Western influence to the Empire.

Urakami was ground zero for the nuclear attack on the city.

Photographed here on the 7th of January, 1946, the destroyed church is seen to still be a ruin five months after the atomic bombings that forced Japan’s surrender in the Second World War.

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On this day: a Mormon family photograph

Mormon man Ira Eldredge is seen here with his three wives: Nancy Black Eldredge, Hannah Mariah Savage Eldredge, and Helvig Marie Andersen Eldredge. The photograph is dated the 2nd of January, 1864.

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Ira_Eldredge_and_wives Mormon man Ira Eldredge with his three wives Nancy Black Eldredge, Hannah Mariah Savage Eldredge, and Helvig Marie Andersen Eldredge. Photo dated 2nd January 1864.

On this day: Ireland legalises divorce

Anti-divorce protest in Ireland By the time Ireland voted on divorce in 1995, it was the only country in Europe where divorce was banned.

On the 24th of November, 1995, Ireland became the last country in Europe to legalise divorce. This occurred because of a referendum to change the constitution – not the first attempt to achieve this.

Ireland 1986. Anti-divorce posters at the Father Mathew Hall on polling day for the Divorce Referendum on 26 June.

Opposition in the failed 1986 referendum. X

Divorce had been specifically forbidden in the 1937 Irish constitution. A heavily Catholic country, there was very strong opposition to the legal breakup of a marriage, just as there was when it came to the legalisation of contraception, which was only made available in the 1980s.

Irish campaign against the Divorce Referendum.

The success of the 1995 referendum was a close thing; the results were just over 50% in favour and 49.79% opposed.

On this day: Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The 24th of April, 1933 is considered to be the day Nazi Germany began their persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as it is the date the Bible Student headquarters in Magdeburg were seized by police. This came only a few months after Adolf Hitler came to power.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Below is a Nazi renouncement document.

If Jehovah's Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Nazi renouncement document.

From 1935 onwards, many people who kept their religion were sent to concentration camps.

The persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues today, with Russia outlawing the religion only days ago.

On this day: the Butler Act is enacted

On the 21st of March, 1925, the Butler Act, a Tennessee law banning the teaching of evolution, and forcing public school teachers to acknowledge the Biblical account of the origin of humankind, came into effect.

The Butler Act 1925 Tennessee law prohibiting public school teachers denying Biblical account of man's origin. Signed into law by Tennessee governor Austin Peay. The law also prevented t

Austin Peay

Signed into law by Austin Peay, the Governor of Tennessee, it was infamously challenged in court a few weeks afterwards.

Tennessee verses John T. Scopes Trial, "Dayton, Tennessee", July 1925,  William Silverman Photographs, accession #10-042, View of trial proceedings outdoors (man taking down "Read Your Bible" sign)

The Scopes Trial.

The law stayed in effect until 1967.

 

On this day: the Irish government stands up to the Catholic Church

On the 12th of March, 1985, the government of the Republic of Ireland finally stood up to the powerful Catholic Church and legalised contraception.

feminists-on-the-platform-of-connolly-station-dublin-in-1971-prior-to-boarding-the-belfast-train-contraceptive-train-contraception-illegal-in-the-republic-of-ireland

Women leave Dublin on their protest journey to Belfast.

The 1970s saw feminists travelling to Belfast in Northern Ireland and returning home with contraceptives, risking arrest for importing illegal products. They were met by protestors upon their arrival home.

Illegal in the Republic in all circumstances until 1980, a new law allowed some contraception to be dispensed by a pharmacist to people with a doctor’s prescription.

This highly restrictive law was finally changed five years later, despite conservative opposition.

american-letter-to-complain-about-womens-rights-and-ireland-legalising-contraception

Some Americans were so outraged that “Holy Ireland” now allowed contraception, they wrote to the Prime Minister to complain.

Even so, advertising of contraceptives was still banned, and Ireland continued to have one of the highest birth rates in the developed world.