Religion News 26 May

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Church of England bishops tweeted that they have received death threats for coming out forcibly against the Prime Minister’s handling of the Dominic Cummings story. The Bishops of Worcester and Ripon reported receiving emails telling them to stay out of politics.
They were among 18 Church of England bishops who had weighed into the Prime Minister for defending his adviser Dominic Cummings, who has admitted travelling to his parents’ farm 260 miles away during the lockdown. The story has caused outrage.  Boris Johnson said his adviser had acted ‘responsibly, legally and with integrity’. Then the bishops broke ranks:

  • Bishop of Ripon Helen Ann Hartley: ‘Integrity, trust and leadership were never there; just a driven misguided ideology of power that has total disregard for the most weak and vulnerable’
  • Bishop of Winchester John Inge: The PM tells us that Cummings ‘followed the instincts of every father’ and that he ‘does not mark him down for that’. The point is that thousands and thousands of parents, including me, have not been able to follow their instincts because they felt they had to obey the rules!’
  • Bishop of Manchester David Walker: ‘Unless very soon see clear repentance, including the sacking of Cummings, I no longer know how we can trust what ministers say sufficiently for @churchofengland to work together with them on the pandemic’.
  • Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines: ‘The question now is: do we accept being lied to, patronised and treated by a PM as mugs?’

Subsequently, Dominic Cummings explained his actions in a press conference, confirming the visit to Durham, which he said was allowed within the lockdown law. He expressed no regret and said he had not contemplated resignation.

In other news ….

A leading Imam from Leeds, Qari Asim, has spoken of his sadness that the joyful celebration of Eid which marked the end of Ramadan last weekend, had to be observed with an absence of physical contact, shared meals and prayers. He said not being with loved ones was painful and delivering a sermon via Facebook ‘surreal’. But he added: ‘We will all be stronger in our relationships with one another and in our appreciation of the gift of life when we come out of the Covid-19 restrictions.’

The Church of England’s online Sunday service marked the end of mental health week and included a contribution from Prince William, who urged people to seek help especially during this challenging period of uncertainty and anxiety. The service was led by the former deputy chief medical officer for England, now ordained, the Rev Prof Gina Radford. She said we are all susceptible to mental ill health and more people are dealing with this during the pandemic. William and Kate have championed mental health issues many times and the Prince is taking part in another broadcast on Thursday,  where he speaks to footballers about mental health struggles.

David Pawson, a renowned evangelical preacher, Bible teacher and author has died aged 90. Brought up a Methodist, he eventually became a Baptist minister, building a large congregation at Millmead, Guildford, before setting up a teaching trust. His ministry took him all over the world  and his books were distributed in 120 countries. In later years, he was cared for in a nursing home, suffering from bone cancer and Parkinson’s disease. He passed away peacefully at the end of last week.


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