Religion News 1 July

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The new religious movement QAnon, which emerged in the States in 2017 with wild conspiracy theories, has attracted support from 58 US congressional candidates and President Trump. In a Religion Media Centre online briefing, academics who have studied the movement explained its core beliefs, that a high ranking official ‘Q’ and Trump are in a battle against a cabal which controls the deep state – the media, politicians, Hollywood and the world. The movement is comparable to religious groups in that members take oaths, give their lives to the community, own beliefs that cannot be falsified and look towards a ‘great awakening’. Dr Joe Uscinski, from the University of Miami,  said the President ‘played with this stuff’ online, retweeting  Q friendly accounts and inviting supporters to the White House for a social media summit. Read more here:


Nine senior religious leaders from all faith traditions have formed an advisory panel to address discrimination and prejudice against LGBTi people in religious organisations.  The panel has been assembled by the Ozanne Foundation, led by Jayne Ozanne, a prominent campaigner and senior evangelical within the Church of England, who came out in 2015. They will advocate for their communities to fully include LGBTi people and speak out on current issues such as the rights of trans people and an end to conversion therapy. Members include Dilwar Hussain, Chair of New Horizons in British Islam and Rev David Mayne, Moderator of the Baptist Union Council, who said: “Religious teaching, including in evangelical Christian groups like my own, has caused much pain and hurt across the LGBTI+ community.  This new Board is an opportunity and an encouragement to work together to share God’s love for all.”


The Methodist Conference has voted to bolster and increase the work on equality, diversity and inclusion. Representatives voted in favour of better scrutiny of the implementation of the strategy on inclusion, better collection and analysis of  statistics and a transparent system for monitoring.  They also voted to ensure people who are intersex or transgender are included in the strategy. During the conference session, lay preacher Anthony Boateng said ‘in reality racism is still widespread within the Methodist Connexion.’


A coalition of Tory rebels, Labour, SNP and Lib Dems MPs has lost an argument to change the way people are detained in immigration cases. They had wanted an amendment to the Immigration Bill, to limit the time a person can be held in immigration detention to 28 days and argued that that the cases should be heard by a judge. But the amendment was defeated in the Commons by 80 votes. It was introduced as a report from the Jesuit Refugee Service said the use of detention for immigration control is “incompatible with a humane and just immigration and asylum system” and contradicts key principles of Catholic social teaching.   25,000 people are detained in the UK every year and a third are detained for more than 28 days.


The Church of England has announced details of its July synod, which has to be virtual because of the coronavirus. Usually the July synod lasts four days and is residential based in York. This year it will last for just 6 hours on Saturday 11 July. No legislation can be passed unless people meet in person, so the session will consist of questions and a discussion around the church’s response to Covid19. It will be streamed live.


A painting of the Last Supper featuring a black Jesus will be placed above the altar of St Albans Cathedral, in a show of support for Black Lives Matter. The painting, by Lorna May Wadsworth,  depicts the Jamaican-born model, Tafari Hinds, as Jesus Christ, so that people can  ‘look with fresh eyes at something you think you know’. The Cathedral says this is a prayer installation, giving people the opportunity to look at the painting, light a candle and say a prayer in support of Black Lives Matter.


A Washington based think tank, the Jamestown Foundation, has reported that China’s ruling Communist Party is using forced sterilization, forced abortion and coercive family planning against minority Muslims. Reuters reports that the American vice president Mike Pompeo said the report was “shocking” and “disturbing”. The report’s author, Adrian Zenz, said an analysis of Chinese government documents showed natural population growth in Xinjiang had fallen “dramatically.” In the two largest Uighur Muslim zones, he said growth rates fell by 84% between 2015 and 2018 and further in 2019.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, said the allegations are groundless and false.


The Catholic News agency is reporting that Pope Francis has appointed a commissioner to reform the administration of the office responsible for the upkeep of St. Peter’s Basilica, where documents and computers were seized by order of judicial authorities on 30 June. This followed a report by the Vatican’s auditor general, and in the wake of Pope Francis’ publication of new laws governing Vatican financial dealings, setting new standards for contracts awarded by the city state and curial departments.


The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Montana tax incentives can be granted to people who donate to a scholarship fund providing money to Christian schools for tuition expenses. This is widely seen as a decision paving the way for more public funding of faith-based institutions. The case tested the free exercise of religion against another element of the First Amendment – the separation of church and state.


The Guardian is reporting that a petition with 260,000 signatures has been produced to prevent the release of a film ‘The Habit’ starring Michael Jacksons daughter Paris as Jesus. Protesters say it is “Christianophobic garbage” and blasphemous, as it features the character of Jesus as a gender bending religious figure.


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