Religion news 1 June 2022

Image credit: @EUCouncil

EU targets Patriarch Kirill in latest sanctions against Russia

The latest package of EU sanctions against Russia includes the head of the Russian Orthodox church in Moscow, Patriarch Kirill, a supporter of Vladimir Putin who has refused to condemn the war in Ukraine. The measure will allow a ban on oil imports from Russia, meaning that by the end of 2022, 90 per cent of Russian oil imported in Europe will be blocked. The package includes sanctions against Kirill and the former Olympic champion Alina Kabaeva, “closely connected” with Putin.

Plea for free school meals for children in England

The Rev Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Trust that runs 52 schools across England, is calling for all children to be given free school meals.  At present, all children in England up to key stage 2 (age seven) can have free meals, but Mr Chalke told Premier Christian News that extending free meals would reduce bullying and contribute to the government’s levelling-up agenda. This week, 12 school leaders from teaching unions and trusts called for the free school meals scheme to be extended to all families on universal credit in England. Free school meals for all is guaranteed for primary children in Scotland — and in Wales from September. Premier quotes the government saying £15bn has been provided in support of millions of households across the UK dealing with the rising cost of living.

Younger people and men more likely to want to live for ever

A research project by the think tank Theos suggests 60 per cent of those surveyed reject the idea of scientific immortality through, for example, processing the body to survive, freezing the body to be rejuvenated later when science can deal with an underlying problem, or downloading the brain to be reborn. The research from 5,000 surveyed, says only 19 per cent want this to happen to them. But there is a sharp gender and generational divide — more men than women, and more younger rather than older people want to live for ever. The research findings were discussed at a Religion Media Centre online briefing and our report and film will be on our website soon

Quakers vote to pay compensation over slave trade

Quakers have agreed they will make practical reparations for the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism and economic exploitation. At their annual gathering last weekend, Quakers asked all their meetings and trustees to examine their resources and consider how to make reparations by financial and other means.

Gloves still off in Christ Church Oxford Martyn Percy dispute

Christ Church Oxford has issued a long and detailed statement on it dealings with the former dean, Martyn Percy, and the protracted dispute that led to him leaving in April. It says it has set up a governance review on Christ Church’s processes and structures and an independent chair will be named next month. The college’s response comes days after the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board published its terms of reference to review the case.

Lockdown street preacher fine overturned

A crown court judge has overturned the fine imposed on street preacher arrested for preaching on Sutton High Street in London on Easter Sunday, 2020. Andrew Sathiyavan, a pastor with Gospel Light Ministries, was arrested, detained and fined £100 for preaching during the first pandemic lockdown, when everyone was told to stay at home. He was told he should have preached only online. His case was taken up by the Christian Legal Centre and the judgment at Isleworth Crown Court said that his motives were genuine and exempt as “voluntary or charitable services”.

American film of Jesus to reach one billion people by 2027

The Chosen, a crowdfunded seven-series epic film of the life of Jesus, is on target to reach one billion viewers by 2027. Its production company, Angel Studios, says 400 million viewers based in the UK, US, Brazil Canada, and India have seen the first episodes. The director is Dallas Jenkins, a conservative evangelical. Jesus is played by Jonathan Roumie, a Catholic. The producers are asking for crowdfunding to enable the fourth series to be filmed.


Sign up for our news bulletin