Religion news 21 December 2022

"Yuletide Lads" by Kristin Karolina. The Marian Library, University of Dayton. Image credit: CC BY-NC-SA

A war, a new king and three prime ministers: how religion was part of the story of 2022

2022 was the year of the war in Ukraine, the death of the Queen, three prime ministers in No 10, countless ministers of state, a cost-of-living crisis so deep that families could not afford to feed their families or heat their homes. In a Religion Media Centre briefing rounding off the year, panellists and commentators noticed how religion wove through each strand of public life, while making its own headlines in several major events, such as the Lambeth conference of bishops, the international Freedom of Religion or Belief conference in London and the 2021 census results for England and Wales, showing a decline in Christianity and rise in non-religion. See the review of 2022 briefing on our YouTube channel here

Woman aged 97 found guilty of holocaust crimes

A 97-year-old former concentration camp stenographer and typist, Irmgard Furchner, has been found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 10,500 Jews during the second world war. She was given a two-year suspended sentence by a court in northern Germany which heard witness statements from survivors.  It is estimated that around 65,000 people in total were killed at the Stutthof concentration camp in gas chambers, shot to the back of the neck, herded into the sea, allowed to freeze to death or given lethal injections. Furchner was 18  years old when employed at the camp and denied the charges.

US faith leaders call for a WW1 style truce in Ukraine

Around 1,000 US faith leaders are calling for a Christmas cease-fire in Ukraine. Coordinated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation USA, the public statement says they hope a temporary truce could lead to the negotiation of permanent peace. “In the spirit of the truce that occurred in 1914 during the First World War, we urge our government to take a leadership role in bringing the war in Ukraine to an end through supporting calls for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement, before the conflict results in a nuclear war that could devastate the world’s ecosystems and annihilate all of God’s creation.”

New Yale centre for public theology led by campaigning pastor

Activist and pastor, the Rev William Barber II, is to lead a new Centre for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School. In an interview with the Religion News Service, he said the aim was to prepare a new generation of “moral fusion leaders”, to create a just society in the academy and on the streets.  RNS says that William Barber has launched several major protest movements and co-leads the Poor People’s Campaign, a modern resurgence of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s final campaign. He will retire from his Disciples of Christ church role to start work at the Centre from January, in New Haven Connecticut and another base in the South.

Founder  of Hillsong trial continues in Australia

In the continuing case in the Australian courts, the Hillsong founder, Brian Houston, has said jail was always a possibility for his father, Frank, who admitted abusing a seven-year-old boy. The Australian Associated Press reports that Frank Houston admitted the offence to his son in 1999. Brian Houston is charged with concealing the crime until his father’s death in 2004. He has pleaded not guilty.

Scandinavian ‘Yule lads’ find their way into the Christmas story

Nativity scenes are not the same the world over. The Conversation carries an article saying “Yule Lads”, bent on mischievous deeds find their way into Scandinavian displays, while devils are a feature of Latin America tableaux and anonymous  faceless figures are created in Amish stories..


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