Religion news 17 November 2023

Image credit: The Royal Family

King visits faith leaders at Lambeth Palace during interfaith week

The King marked interfaith week by visiting Lambeth Palace Library for a reception with 30 faith leaders from across the UK. The library has objects from many world faiths including Qurans, a Hebrew dictionary, historic religious scrolls dating back to the 13th and 16th Centuries, and letters of friendship between global faith leaders. The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “These are challenging times for faith communities in the UK, particularly with the ongoing war in the Middle East. Today’s visit by The King was a wonderful encouragement to remain united in partnership and friendship – as many people of faith are doing across the country”.

Bristol Cathedral could be one of the first places to trial services for same sex blessings

The Dean of Bristol, Mandy Ford, says Bristol Cathedral may be one of the first places in the Church of England to trial services for same sex blessings. Speaking during a Religion Media Centre briefing, she said that for many years, there had been services of thanksgiving following civil partnerships with the knowledge of bishops, and the synod vote to allow trial services meant there was more honesty and transparency. During the briefing, panelists spoke of their concern at the very tight votes at synod and the lack of consensus, the possibility of schism and the prospect of “years and years more” of discussion over alternative structures for people who disagree. The Rev Dr Charlie Bell said the debate at synod was like groundhog day, with familiar arguments against same sex relationships rehearsed again in speeches which were “intensely painful” to LGBT people listening, but the outcome was a gentle, positive move. Prof Helen King agreed that the church was moving, new things were happening and movement was growth, adding: “This is actually a progressive organisation”. A recording of the briefing will be available soon on our YouTube channel here

Justin Welby explains why he abstained on crucial same sex vote

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has issued a statement revealing that he abstained in the general synod vote to allow trial  special services for same sex blessings. He said he recognised there remained divisions within the Church of England, which are deeper within the Anglican Communion, where the majority of provinces are committed to traditional Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality. “Archbishops of Canterbury must always work for the maximum possible unity in the Church, however impossible that may seem and however deep our differences. For that reason, I abstained on yesterday’s vote because my pastoral responsibility extends to everyone in the Church of England and global Anglican Communion”.  

The Episcopalian Al Ahli hospital in Gaza reported to be under siege by Israeli tanks

The Palestine Red Cross says Israeli military tanks are besieging the Episcopalian run Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, and a violent attack is underway. In a statement on Twitter / X it said: “PRCS teams are unable to move and reach those who are injured”. The Episcopal News Service has described the work being undertaken at Al Ahli as emergency support while other hospitals have closed because of damage or lack of resources. It says that Al Ahli Hospital, in partnership with Episcopal Relief and Development, has been treating 200 to 250 wounded patients and performing up to 10 surgical operations per day. Generators have been used for certain procedures in order to conserve fuel, which is in short supply.

Christian response to asylum seekers should be compassion not Rwanda

Steve Tinning, who works with the Baptist Union on public issues, has said that safe routes and community support offer a more compassionate response to asylum seekers than the government’s plan to fly them to Rwanda. He says Christians have been speaking out against “these hostile policies with vigour” and all Christians should be delighted that the Supreme Court has ruled the Rwanda plan illegal. But because the government intends to carry on and get round the legal challenge, Christians must continue to make a case for a better plan more in keeping with the values of the kingdom of God. This he says must include safe, fair targets of numbers allowed entry and working with faith and compassionate communities to address the housing, emotional support, health and educational needs that will be required for the UK to be a place of sanctuary.

Tik Tok Jesus offering good news makes creators a fortune

An assistant professor from Iowa has studied a TikTok phenomenon where a computer generated Jesus promises “good news soon” in exchange for the viewer liking, commenting “Amen” or sharing the link.  Daily Believer (@believerdaily) has almost one million followers and a total of 70 videos with Jesus making the same appeal in all. Academic Brandon Dean suggests the promise of good luck for sharing, liking and commenting on the video is close to the prosperity gospel, because the The TikTok Creator Fund pays creators who have over 10,000 authentic followers, calculated on the number of views, comments and sharing. Article in The Conversation here


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