Religion News 5 June

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In Minneapolis, the civil rights leader Rev Al Sharpton spoke at a memorial service  for George Floyd, killed at the hands of police. Memorials are due to take place in three cities over six days. The private family funeral will be held in North Carolina on Saturday.

Churches across America have been involved in mass demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd. In El Paso Texas, Bishop Mark Seitz (pictured) took the knee at a Black Lives Matter rally; in Brooklyn, several thousand people from 80 New York churches marched peacefully; in Los Angeles, demonstrators and clergy stood with police who took the knee; and in Chicago, clergy and other religious leaders led thousands of demonstrators in a peaceful protest.

Pope Francis phoned Archbishop José H. Gomez, the president of the US Bishops’ Conference, to express his prayers and closeness to the church and people of the United States. He said he was grateful to the bishops for their pastoral tone in the church’s response to demonstrations across the country and said he was praying for church lead.

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, was subjected to a torrent of complaints on twitter after he praised Black Lives Matter organisers for the demonstration in Hyde Park, London, on Wednesday, where thousands called for justice over the killing of George Floyd. Responses included: ‘how can you condone such violence’; ‘I can’t believe you are supporting their total disregard for social distancing and now violence’.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that racism in society is one of the reasons for the disproportionately higher death-rate from Covid19 among black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) people. In a video on twitter, posted on the day when a Public Health England report published statistics showing the link, he said ‘..underlying what is happening is certainly, as a cause, as a root of what is happening, the endemic and longstanding racism, white supremacy that has affected so tragically the societies in this country and in the United States.

York Minster is closing its school this summer because of a ‘catastrophic’ loss of income due to the coronavirus. It is one of theoldest schools in Britain, dating back to 627.  The Cathedral is expecting a shortfall of £5.2 million. The Dean of York Dr Jonathan Frost tsaid : “The severity of this shock to our system is only compounded by the unlikelihood of visitor numbers returning to 2019 levels in the foreseeable future”. The school’s 95 pupils, aged between four and 13, will be given support to find places at other schools, and a formal consultation process has begun for the 34 staff.

Google has blocked the digital version of Premier Christianity magazine on Play Store because of its references to Covid 19. It said “Apps referencing COVID-19, or related terms, in any form will only be approved for distribution on Google Play if they are published, commissioned, or authorized by official government entities or public health organizations.” In response, the magazine editor Sam Hailes said its articles reported the large numbers of people attending church online, the contribution of  Christian key workers on the front line and reflections on grief and death. He said Google’s actions were completely inappropriate and wrong.


The Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison is taking legal action against City officials for preventing parishes from operating at the same capacity as retail outlets. Retail is allowed to operate at 25%, but churches are limited to 50 people whatever the size of the building, because services have been categorised as mass gatherings. The lawyers argue that the emergency order treats religious interests unequally and unfairly.

Reuters is reporting that a doctor in Myanmar has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for insulting Buddhist monks in connection with a debate about a proposal to teach sex education in schools. Kyaw Win Thant, 31, was arrested in May after angry scenes at a monastery in the central city of Meiktila, where he apologised to monks for deriding them in Facebook posts, a senior monk said at the time. A court in the city of Mandalay sentenced him under sections of the Penal Code that outlaw insulting religion, a spokesman told reporters on Tuesday.


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