Religion news 22 November 2023

Image credit: Rory Arnold / No10 Downing Street. Open Govt License

Christians Against Poverty appeals for immediate help for low income households

Christians Against Poverty is calling on the UK Government to provide urgent support for low-income households in the autumn statement today, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact vulnerable people who are falling into debt to pay basic bills. CAP’s director of external affairs, Gareth McNab, says they want to see “immediate, targeted support for low income households facing a winter of fear, hunger and debt, and indicate a longer term commitment towards the goal of ending poverty across the UK.”  He said the Chancellor’s autumn statement today isa make or break moment for the UK Government to show their commitment to tackling poverty in our communities and helping those most impacted by rising costs”.

Franklin Graham prays with Netanyahu

The Christian Post reports that the American evangelist Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, has met and prayed with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He told the Post that it was a privilege to have met Netanyahu saying the prime minister needs prayer. His organisation Samaritan’s Purse  has sent a disaster relief team to Israel and is working with more than 50 churches in Israel and Gaza, supporting churches that provide Palestinians with food and medicine. It has provided displaced people in Israel with food, medicines, hygiene kits, medical equipment and has sent 21 ambulances to the region, seven of which were armoured.  Franklin Graham has met Israelis grieving after the attack by Hamas and is quoted saying: “There are countless untold stories of grief, heartbreak, horror, and trauma — and there is great need.” 

Bill introduced in the Lords to ban conversion therapy

The Liberal Democrat peer, Baroness Lorely Burt, has introduced a bill in the Lords to ban conversion therapy. The practice involves a person using spiritual counselling techniques to change a LGBTQI+ person to become heterosexual, on the grounds that this is preferable on religious grounds. The Baroness said: “There is cross-party consensus for dealing with this awful practice and I look forward to working with colleagues across Parliament to deliver the change we all desperately want to see – finally banning conversion therapy.” The bill is set to be formally debated in the new year.

Human Rights Watch says Muslims under threat in northern China

Human Rights Watch says the Chinese government is significantly reducing the number of mosques in Ningxia and Gansu provinces, in the north of the country. It says authorities have “decommissioned, closed down, demolished, and converted mosques for secular use as part of the government’s efforts to restrict the practice of Islam”.  It further claims that Islamic architectural features, such as domes and minarets, have been removed from many other mosques. The region has the highest number of Muslims outside Xinjiang, where Uyghurs have come under attack.

Bishop who turned from televangelism to inclusion, has died in Oklahoma

Bishop Carlton Pearson, who founded the Higher Dimensions Family mega church in Tulsa Oklahoma in the 1970s, has died from cancer aged 70.  He had a congregation of 6,000 and thousands more as a televangelist on Trinity Broadcasting Network. But after 20 years, he was branded a heretic after preaching a gospel of inclusion and then becoming a senior bishop of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, attracting a wholly new audience. In a message just before he died, he admitted to “thinking a lot of things out loud”.

French bishop accused of attempted rape

The Associated Press reports that the bishop of La Rochelle and Saintes in western France is facing a charge of attempting to rape an adult man a decade ago. Bishop Georges Colomb contests the charge and has asked permission from the Vatican to step aside. AP reports that a French investigative website claims senior figures in the Catholic Church were aware of the accusations for years.

Argentina’s new president changes his tone and invites the Pope to visit

 Reuters reports that the Pope has had a phone  conversation with Argentina’s newly elected right-wing President Javier Milei, who in past has called Pope Francis a “son of a bitch” and an “imbecile”. Milei’s office said the Pope had congratulated him on his election and expressed his wish “for the unity and progress for our country”.  The statement added that the Pope promised to send a rosary gift and the president hoped to host the Pope’s visit “very soon.”


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