Religion news 16 December 2022

Canary Wharf, London. Image credit: Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Church official says executive pay system is broken

The Church of England Pensions Board has held a summit with investors, regulators, FTSE 100 remuneration committee chairs and others, to review excessive executive corporate pay. Adam Matthews, chief responsible investment officer at the Church of England pensions board, said the system was broken and investors knew it enabled and protected excess. He suggested that chairs of remuneration committees should be held accountable and said investors needed a binding, rather than advisory, vote on the outcomes of pay policies, adding that tension over excessive pay is made worse in a cost of living crisis.

Faith groups on the frontline this winter — an asset keeping the country going

FaithAction, a charity that co-ordinates grassroots community action by faith groups, has conducted a survey of members to see how their offer of help is changing this winter, after Covid, with freezing temperatures, in a cost-of-living crisis. It says faith communities “are once again using their values of compassion to fill the gaps in public services and protect vulnerable groups in the face of adversity this winter”. Food and energy prices top faith groups’ concerns, alongside mental health. Foodbanks have seen a dramatic surge in demand and a drop in food donations. Rising energy prices have led to places of worship finding the resources to open as warm refuges in the Warm Welcome programme. Many groups offer befriending and wellbeing support to groups of all ages, as the decline in mental health is made worse by the economic crisis. Faith groups are seeking more funding “to ensure their activities are rightly recognised as the asset they are in keeping the country running”. FaithAction report here

450 church leaders urge government to rethink plans to open coalmine in Cumbria

More than 450 church leaders and Christian environmental campaigners have signed an open letter to the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, calling on the government to rethink its approval of a new coalmine in Cumbria. The letter says coal from this mine will heat up the planet, pollute the atmosphere, threaten the 1.5C global warming limit and impact people in poorest countries from natural disasters caused by climate change. The letter was coordinated by the Young Christian Climate Network, supported by Operation Noah and Christian Aid, and signed by leaders from the Church of England, Roman Catholic church, Church in Wales and all main Protestant denominations. Dr Chris Manktelow from the Young Christian Climate Network said they were deeply concerned and urged the government to consider the consequences of their actions. View the full letter and list of signatories here

The Chosen smash hit film about Jesus returns for its third series

This week The Chosen, a multi-series drama about the life of Jesus, returned for its third run via YouTube, its app and many kinds of media access points. It is consistently one of the most-searched-for shows on streaming platforms. The team behind the drama wanted to reach one billion viewers and, according to its creator, director and co-writer, they’ve already achieved that. Now they’re aiming for the next billion. It’s the most successful media crowdfund in history, raising more than $50m from donations and venture capitalists. Read all about it on our website here

QAnon group galvanised on Twitter after Musk tweets

Drew Harwell, reporting in The Washington Post, says QAnon is resurfacing on Twitter after the Elon Musk takeover. He cites Musk’s now-deleted tweet spreading bogus theories about the violent attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, his call for the criminal prosecution of infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci and references a tweet emoji interpreted as “follow the white rabbit”, a secret code from an early QAnon prophecy. The article quotes a researcher saying the tweets have galvanised a QAnon group that scattered after Trump left the White House when QAnon accounts were banned from Twitter. One anonymous Musk ally told the reporter that he doubts Musk believes wider QAnon claims, but he wants attention. Article is here

John Smyth abuse review in its final stages

 The independent review into the way the Church of England handled abuse allegations against the late John Smyth is nearing its conclusion. He is alleged to have abused and beaten boys attending the Christian Iwerne camps in the 1970s and 1980s. Victims and survivors will be consulted in early January and individuals and organisations who will be named and criticised in the published report, will be told beforehand. 

MPs remember the day the Holocaust became public

MPs have observed a one-minute silence in the House of Commons to mark the first public announcement by the British government of the Holocaust. Jewish News reports that on 17 December 1942, MPs rose spontaneously and stood for a moment in silence. The occasion was remembered in the Commons yesterday with the prime minister and Labour leader, together with the entire shadow cabinet, standing in silence. Seven Holocaust survivors were present in the gallery.

Japanese rotund god with Santa hat, a fusion of religion for a secular Christmas

In Japan, a statue of the god Hotei, resembling a rotund Buddha, has been given a Santa hat and beard, fusing traditions as the Japanese celebrate Christmas in a secular way. Tennessee professor Megan Bryson, writing for the Conversation, says Hotei’s Christmas transformation shows how religious traditions are often reshaped across cultures around the world. Hotei, in tradition a wandering monk, is said to be able to determine with the help of “eyes on his back” whether children truly deserve presents. Picture of Hotei with Santa hat at Tokyo’s Maitreya Temple is here



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