Religion news 1 December 2021

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London Islamic Cultural Centre. Image credit: Danny Robinson CCLicense2.0

British media should treat Muslims fairly

A report into British media coverage of Islam and Muslims has concluded that 59% of articles analysed, associated Muslims or Islam with negative behaviour or qualities. The report was produced by the Muslim Council of Britain’s Centre for Media Monitoring and involved a study of 48,000 online articles published from 2018-2020. It referenced 10 case studies where it says Muslims were misrepresented, defamed and libelled and said a free media should treat Muslims fairly and “not seek to wilfully misrepresent Muslim communities”. It was launched in an online briefing last night. Guardian report here and Basit Mahmood’s report here

Call to boycott winter Olympics over China president’s links to Uyghur genocide

MPs are calling on the Government to boycott the winter Olympics in Beijing after papers were leaked linking President Xi Jinping to actions against the mainly Muslim Uyghurs in north west China. The former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the Commons that the President drove his own authorities to carry out genocide against the Uyghurs. A foreign office minister said no decisions had been made about government attendance at the games.

Church advised to be cautious in facing Omicron

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullaly, says caution and patience are required to tackle Omicron, the new coronavirus variant. The Bishop, who leads the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, has advised the church to take precautions such as good ventilation and hand washing. Masks are not compulsory in churches.

New churches on deprived housing estates

The Archbishop of York is supporting a proposal to create 2,000 of the planned new 10,000 churches in deprived housing estates. He was speaking at the conference of the  Estates Evangelism Task Group, which supports church work in estates. He said as well as addressing race issues, the church must be about the left-behind, white, working-class communities. Yesterday, a leader in the Task Group regarded as the estates champion, the Rev Lynne Cullens, was announced as the new Bishop of Barking.  

European Commission backtracks on guidelines cancelling Christmas

The European Commission has withdrawn internal communication guidelines substituting the “Christmas period” with “holiday period” after an outcry.. The Vatican said it was an attempt to cancel Europe’s Christian roots. The European Commissioner for Equality said the draft document had been intended to highlight European diversity and inclusion but acknowledged it needed revision

Menorah lighting ritual in the White House

US President Joe Biden is restoring the ceremonial lighting of a candle on the Menorah (candelabra) in the White House today, the fourth day of the Jewish Hanukkah festival. In contrast to recent receptions with food and social gatherings, this year’s ceremony will be a simple ritual, with no food or drink so that masks need not be lifted. Historian Jonathan Sarna charts the history of the Hanukkah rituals at the White House for The Conversation, explaining that the practice was started by Jimmy Carter in 1979.

Letters to the editor: Are TV clergy rogues or idiots?

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s off-script comment last week that TV portrayed vicars as “rogues or idiots” is still reverberating in letters pages six days later. Justin Welby was speaking during an address at the National Farmers Union and said he was depressed at the media’s view of clergy, as in reality they are “hard-working, normal people, caring deeply about what they do”. The Guardian wrote an editorial saying “the bland, benign, bumbling Anglican clergy of the small screen reflect the popular view of the church itself”, a comment which provoked a flurry of letters complaining that new management structures made clergy on the ground a rarity.

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