Religion news 1 April 2022

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Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims, starts tomorrow, 2 April. Dates and times of services are listed here and regional variations by Muslim Hands here. Islamic Relief suggests a purge on the use of social media during Ramadan.

The essential gifts of Zakat to build a network of care in a cost of living crisis

The National Zakat Foundation is encouraging all Muslims in the UK to give money for charitable purposes during Ramadan. In a livestream webinar for UK Muslims, the NZF’s Chief Executive, Dr Sohail Hanif, explained that help is needed especially during the cost of living crisis, with applications for support almost doubling since October. He said the whole nation is worrying about people struggling, despite the welfare state and he spoke of the Quran’s instruction to build a community, a network of care, seeking out people who need help within the community and outside. Zakat is a mandatory charitable donation, the third pillar of Islam, and can be paid at any time but many give during Ramadan, the holiest month of the year.

Ukraine news …

The Red Cross organises an evacuation of people in 45 buses from the devastated city of Mariupol; Fighting continues in the eastern Donbar region – the town of Izym is under attack with no heating, electricity or water and half the population gone;  Russian troops have left the former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl; Music is heard again in Odesa clubs

Pope’s representative meets Home Secretary to disucss Ukraine refugees

Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, met the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, this week to discuss the plight of Ukraine refugees. In a statement, he said he assured the British government of the willingness of the Pope to collaborate in providing important humanitarian relief and aid to all those suffering because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Christians despair at government chaos over conversion therapy ban

Christians campaigning on proposals to ban conversion therapy, where LGBT people are counselled to change their sexual orientation, have been left dazed by last minute government U-turns on whether it is going ahead. Early yesterday evening, the government said it was ditching plans to ban the practice and would use non legislative measures instead. This was welcomed by Simon Calvert, Deputy Director at The Christian Institute who said the proposal was the most religiously repressive law in centuries, criminalising those who prayed and counselled LGBT people. But there was a furious response from other Christian campaigners, with LGBT leading lay member of the church, Jayne Ozanne, accusing the government  of reneging on a promise,. A few hours later, the government back tracked and said it would ban conversion therapy for gay or bisexual people in England and Wales – but not for transgender people, a compromise which Jayne Ozanne said was ridiculous, as trans people are twice as likely to be offered and undergo conversion therapy. Measures are likely to come forward in the Queen’s speech.  

Most US adults think religious excuses to avoid the vaccine are a ruse

Most US adults think people who use a religious exemption to avoid the Covid vaccine are not sincere. 25 per cent of Americans have not had the vaccine and there is a growing trend to use religious objections as an excuse. But a survey from Pew Research suggested two thirds of US adults think this is a ruse and one third think the reason is  genuinely based on religious reasons.

Lambeth conference of bishops urged to give human sexuality a rest

Anglican Archbishops from all over the world have ended their meeting in London, in advance of the Lambeth conference of all bishops in Kent in July.  The Church Times reports that Justin Welby explained they do not want another conference dominated by discussion of sexuality, which has deeply divided the global communion. Instead, the conference should discuss issues which are destroying lives and the world, such as war, refugees, climate change, hunger, persecution and freedom of religion and belief.

Safeguarding lead bishop gets new job in Rochester

The new bishop of Rochester is Jonathan Gibbs, currently the bishop of Huddersfield and lead bishop for safeguarding in the Church of England.  His new diocese stretches from towns in north Kent to picturesque countryside in the west of the county, with a population of around 1.3 million people.

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