Religion news 25 January

QAnon followers regroup as Trump’s presidency ends without doomsday scenario

QAnon followers had for months, or even years, predicted that the Trump presidency would culminate in the large-scale exposure and execution of Democrats, plutocrats, paedophiles, and all the rest of the “Deep State”. The date for this was successively put back, but 20 January looked like a very hard deadline. When it didn’t happen, some became disillusioned while others set about re-organising their beliefs. Read Andrew Brown’s analysis including an interview with sociologist Dr Erin Prophet, who grew up in a survivalist sect.

Persecuted Uyghurs included in tribute to Holocaust victims

Holocaust Memorial Day, which takes place on Wednesday 27 January, will this year focus on the persecution of Uyghur Muslims. China is believed to have detained more than a million Uyghur people in prison camps across Xinjiang since 2017, but the government has denied wrongdoing. The day was launched to remember the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis, but it has grown to include remembering those killed in subsequent genocides such as in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. People are being urged to light a candle – safely – in their windows on Wednesday evening. Read our story here

Scottish equality council urges government guidance for faith communities on Covid-19 vaccine

The government is under continuing pressure to say more about the safety of the Covid-19 vaccines, as BAME communities are being targeted with informational suggesting the vaccines contain animal materials, which would put them against their religion. Last week MINAB, an association for imams in the UK urged all sermons to stress the safety of the vaccine. Similar action was taken by the Sikh Council. There are concerns among interfaith charity workers that the misinformation seems to be part of a concerted campaign, not random tweets by disaffected individuals. In the latest move, Foysol Choudhury, chairman of the Edinburgh & Lothians Regional Equality Council, said misinformation was taking hold in the absence of a lack of guidance targeted at faith communities, from the Scottish government.

Another national survey on impact of Covid-19 on religious life

Professors Leslie Francis and Andrew Village are embarking on another massive survey of churchgoers in England  to find out how Covid-19 and this lockdown has impacted their lives. Launching in the Church Times, they say: “Anecdotally, things now seem to be getting really hard: people are stretched tighter than they were before. Is this true, and does support help as well now as it did last year?” Their survey will include a detailed audit of digital engagement and questions on the future of the church. The survey is here

Spring Harvest goes online for second successive year

The evangelical Christian festival Spring Harvest has cancelled its 2021 event and  is moving online for the second successive year  due to the pandemic. The event  is usually held at Butlins holiday camps, but the organisers say the decision is due to the “unique and complex nature of the live event with its massive volunteer team, huge children’s programme and large additional infrastructure”.

Jewish leaders condemn holding of wedding party with 150 guests in a Jewish school

 Police broke up a wedding party at the Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School, in Stamford Hill, on Thursday night. Although many guests fled, five received fixed penalty notices and the organisers face a £10,000 fine for breaking lockdown rules. The school said an external company had leased out the premises and were horrified at what had happened. Its principal Rabbi Avrahom Pinter died in April after contracting coronavirus. The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who represents the majority Orthodox Jewish community, not associated with the school, said it was “a most shameful desecration of all that we hold dear”.

The Church of England “has sold its stake in BP”

The Times reports that the Church of England has sold its stake in BP.  The Church Commissioners are committed to consider climate change in their investment portfolio. BP has announced it is ending its reliance on fossil fuel in favour of low carbon energy, though the Times reports that the decision to disinvest was not related to BP’s green credentials. The CofE and BP have declined to comment on the story.

Pastor from El Salvador spent four years sheltering in a US church

Premier Christian News reports that a 55 year old Pastor from El Salvador, José Chicas, has come out of hiding in a Baptist church in North Carolina, where he had sought sanctuary for four years to avoid deportation.  His safety is assured for 100 days at least, after President Biden blocked most deportations for review. During his stay, he was able to carry on ministry through Facebook and in person meetings. He has been in the USA for 36 years.