Religion news 1 March 2024

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Holocaust survivor tells Prince of Wales this is the worst period of antisemitism since the war

The Prince of Wales visited a synagogue in west London yesterday and met members of the Jewish community who explained the impact of the rise in antisemitism. Renee Saly, a survivor of the holocaust, said this was the worst period of antisemitism since the war. Prince William told them that both he and his wife were extremely concerned about the rise in antisemitism and it had no place in society. They were sorry for all who experienced it and wanted to reassure the community that people do listen and care. The visit was originally planned to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day, but it was postponed due to the Princess’ surgery. The Community Security Trust says there has been a 589 per cent increase in antisemitism attacks since 7 October, compared with the same period a year ago.

2021 census shows “persistent inequality” of British Muslims

The Muslim Council of Britain has published its analysis of the 2021 census of the demographic and socioeconomic landscape of Muslims in England and Wales. It highlights the “persistent reality of constrained opportunities and poor social mobility for British Muslims”. The number of British Muslims aged under 16 is double the proportion of the overall population, a majority (51 per cent) of Muslims in England and Wales are British-born, with a significant portion (75 per cent) identifying as British. More than 90 per cent of Muslims are fluent in English or consider it their primary language. The majority are from south Asia, there’s been a rise in educational attainment with  32.3 per cent of Muslims holding degree-level qualifications in 2021, compared to 24 per cent in 2011. Babies in Muslim families are disproportionately born into deprived areas, with limited prospects for social mobility, and the Muslim population remains concentrated in deprived urban areas.  Secretary General Zara Mohammed says the report reaffirms the need for concerted action to address entrenched inequalities.

Archbishop apologises for refusal to meet Palestinian Christian leader – and the meeting is back on

The Archbishop of Canterbury has apologised for his decision not to meet a Palestinian Christian leader, because he shared a political platform with the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The Rev Dr Munther Isaac, pastor of the Christmas Evangelical Lutheran church in Bethlehem, spoke at a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign rally where Jeremy Corbyn was also a speaker, on Saturday 17 February. Days later, the Archbishop cancelled his meeting with Dr Isaac, who gave the story to the Guardian. In his about turn, Justin Welby said in a post on Twitter / X that he deeply regretted the decision “and the hurt, anger, and confusion it caused”: “I was wrong not to meet with my brother in Christ from the Holy Land, especially at this time of profound suffering for our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters. I look forward to speaking and praying with him next week”.  In return, Dr Isaac tweeted he welcomed the statement and looked forward to the meeting also.  Church Times story here

Bishops welcome Commons report urging better end of life palliative care

The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee has published a report on assisted dying, saying there is a need for better end-of-life care. The committee took a year to investigate and write the report, which is intended to inform the debate, with campaigners continuing to lobby for assisted dying to be allowed, and pinning their hopes on a new intake of MPs who might vote in favour. The report also advocates universal coverage of palliative and end-of-life services, including hospice care at home. This was welcomed by Catholic Bishop John Sherrington, auxillary bishop of Westminster, who said the church had long advocated better care but repeated its opposition to legalising assisted suicide, which he said posing risks for the vulnerable. The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullaly, the former chief nursing officer for England, also welcomed calls for better end of life care  and repeated the Church of England’s line to oppose a change in the law.

New Wine review into links with disgraced evangelist Mike Pilavachi

The trustees of the evangelical movement “New Wine” have asked a barrister to investigate whether there are any links between its own organisation and abuse allegations against the evangelist, Mike Pilavachi. They’ve asked Fiona Scolding KC, currently investigating Soul Survivor, to look at this issue in addition to her existing review. Canon Mike Pilavachi worked in youth ministry for New Wine from its early days, before going on to start Soul Survivor, but in the start-up period he worked for both. A Church of England review has already substantiated claims that he massaged young men and wrestled them to the ground, revelations which have shocked the evangelical world because of the extent of his influence. He has been suspended from ministry in the Church of England.

Suspicion over Sikh activist stabbed to death in Italy

Members of the Novellara Sikh community in Italy are regarding the murder of a gurdwara president Harpal Singh, as suspicious. Sikh PA explains that his gurdwara hosted an event by the Sikhs For Justice group, as part of the 2022 Khalistan Referendum campaign and he is known to support local Sikh efforts advocating for Khalistan. He is a respected community leader and father of three children, but he was stabbed to death on 12 February and two Pakistani men have since been arrested. His brother is calling for an investigation into possible links with the assassination of a Sikh activist in Canada, linked to India, and the suspicious death of an activist in Birmingham.  



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