Coronavirus and Religion update – 30 April 2020

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, led the first national assembly for the online Oak National Academy this morning. He encouraged those watching to acknowledge their difficult feelings and tough times during the lockdown, and then hope for the future, calling on the experience of Nelson Mandela as an example.

The Church of England has launched a campaign to help families pray together, offering weekly video content on themes such as courage and patience. It says this will make prayer a household habit again. The Daily Hope Phoneline, set up by the Church of England last Sunday to offer hymns, reflections and prayers, attracted 6,000 calls in the first 48 hours.

As Muslims adjust to Ramadan under lockdown, restaurants and local Muslim charity groups are preparing and delivering takeaway itfar meals, for individuals and families under lockdown at the end of a day of fasting. One initiative run by Muslim Hands in Hounslow, is providing 450 meals a day for the vulnerable and needy.

Muslim Hands,  based in Nottingham, has joined forces with Age Concern and 35 other charities and NGOs in the city, to provide a multi-agency response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Support includes a helpline for further information and safe, accessible food pick-up and drop off points.

A spokesman for the Labour leader Keir Starmer has made a statement about concerns over the appointment of Trevor Phillips to lead the Public Health England inquiry into why BAME people are more affected by Covid19. He said: “We are aware of the representations that have been made about Trevor Phillips’s appointment, and what we’d ask is that the health secretary engages in those concerns.”

Christian Aid week from 10 – 16 May, which usually involves house to house collections, fund raising events and themed services, is going digital. Last year it raised £8million and is appealing for generosity this year despite the lockdown. It has already furloughed 20% of UK staff and is expecting a drop of £6m income in this financial year. Sophie Brightwell, Christian Aid Week Manager, said: “It’s clear that this year is going to be a very challenging Christian Aid Week as a lot of our normal fundraising events that normally take place in person around the country won’t be happening.  It is certainly a concern that at the very time people facing poverty in developing countries need support due to the coronavirus, we won’t be able to raise as much money as last year.  We have created a host of new fundraising opportunities online so we’re hopeful that people will still come forward and give what they can to the appeal.”

Orthodox church authorities in Romania have criticised advertising posters showing doctors as saints with halos, saying they are an abuse of Christian iconography. The posters were part of a campaign called ‘Thank You Doctors’ to acknowledge their role in fighting coronavirus but will now be removed.