Religion news 31 July 2023

Image credit @malikshibly

New law to ban burning of Quran is considered in Denmark

Denmark is to seek to make the destruction of the Quran, or any holy book, illegal. It follows a number of episodes where the Quran has been stamped on, burned or torn in public demonstrations in Denmark and Sweden. The protests have sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim majority countries. The Associated Press reports the Danish foreign minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen saying that the burning of holy scriptures “only serves the purpose of creating division in a world that actually needs unity” and there must be a way of prohibiting such acts without compromising freedom of expression.

Global protests in London this weekend over Israel’s supreme court limitations

Protests continued in London and throughout the world this weekend, against the Israeli government’s decision to bar the Supreme Court from striking down decisions by the government or minister that it deems “unreasonable.” Protesters fear this takes away the role of the court to check and balance decisions and is a move towards authoritarianism, fuelled by the government’s coalition pact with the ultra-right Israeli religious orthodox. There have been vast protests in Tel Aviv and continuous dmonsrations by the Jewish diaspora around the world. Last week the Jewish News in the UK published a dramatic white headline “Demockracy” against a black front page, coming out in favour of the protesters. Sharon Shochat, leader of Defend Israeli Democracy UK, said Jewish communities worldwide look to Israel for inspiration and identity, but if it is under threat, Jewish people everywhere must speak out. The Knesset is on a summer break from today and the law is the subject of an appeal in the Supreme Court in September. Read Lianne Kolirin’s article on the British Jewish response to Israel’s political turmoil on our website here

Jewish Museum in London closes after 30 years

The Jewish Museum in London has closed in a public ceremony, attended by holocaust survivors and volunteers who have helped keep it open to educate people since it opened in 1994. Trustees announced the closure due to increased running costs and said they were looking for new temporary spaces for exhibitions. The museum has been housed in a  Grade II Georgian town house in Camden, connected to a former piano factory, which will be sold. Meanwhile its 40,000 artefacts, the second largest collection of Judaica in Europe, including items from the Jewish Military Museum, United Synagogue and Jewish Historical Society of England, will be moved into storage with some online access.  The Jewish Chronicle reports that the closure ceremony proved an emotional moment as people recalled memories. Rabbi Geoffery Shisler thanked those who had contributed to its work and looked forward to a new chapter in the museum’s history.

Archbishop says “be sensitive” when you refer to God as Our Father

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, has clarified what he meant when he said that some people find saying “Our Father” in the Lord’s prayer is problematic, if their experience of a father is an abusive man. He made the comments three weeks ago at the general synod in York. This weekend, he wrote in the Telegraph: “A few weeks ago, I found myself a little misunderstood when I said that some who have never known a father present in their life, or, worse, were abused or neglected by their father, may find this word challenging. As the Church of England and all mainstream denominations come to terms with a shameful history of clerical abuse, being mindful of these things is really important. But what I wasn’t saying is that we should stop using the word. Simply that we need to be sensitive as we lead people in prayer”.

Women vicars now welcome in “vicar of Dibley’s” parish

Fowey Parish Church in Cornwall, in the village where Dawn French the vicar of Dibley, used to live, has reversed its decision to ban women priests. Its “male only” advert decided on in March was withdrawn after the national press seized on the irony of no women vicar allowed in “the vicar of Dibley’s” village and local residents slammed the proposal as sexist and wrong. The PCC chair and two other members stood down and the new church council said they wanted the church to be accessible to all.  It was “keen to recruit the best candidate to meet the needs of Fowey parish church, regardless of gender”.


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