Religion news 1 September 2021

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Image credit: ECUSA

American church sets up volunteer-led support for Afghan refugees

American Episcopalians have set up a support programme for Afghan refugees, dependent on private donations and community-led action. In an online message , Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said that Americans should be good neighbours through showing compassion, offering practical care to Afghan people in their hour of need. The project will meet financial and basic needs for housing and long-term support. Addressing church members, he added: “You can also stay involved in the work of advocacy in ensuring that the government of the United States honours its commitments to our Afghan allies … And may God bless the people of Afghanistan wherever they may be”.

Taliban-supporting Twitter accounts ‘spread antisemitism

Twitter accounts supporting the Taliban are spreading antisemitic “racist and dangerous misinformation”, the Jewish Chronicle reports. It cites tweets attacking “Jewish overlords” and claiming that “Zionists” were behind 9/11. Twitter said that its top priority was to keep people safe and to be vigilant. 

US churches make Covid vaccinations mandatory for clergy

Episcopalian dioceses across the United States are making it mandatory for clergy to be vaccinated against Covid-19. In Maine, Bishop Thomas Brown said all diocesan staff and clergy must be vaccinated by the end of September otherwise they might be asked to step down, the Church Times reports. They were called, he said, to prioritise the common good and community health. The diocese of Long Island, including New York City, has now followed suit.

American religious broadcasters spokesman sacked for pro-vaccine comment

Daniel Darling, evangelical author and spokesman for National Religious Broadcasters in the United States, has been sacked from the NRB after speaking about his decision to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Christianity Today reports that he was accused of insubordination by giving pro-vaccine views in USA Today and MSNBC. NRB represents 1,100 Christian communicators working in Christian radio, TV, and other media and it says part of its purpose is to advocate for the “free speech rights of our members”. Some evangelicals are said to have since raised concerns that NRB was defying its own position and aligning with conservative radio pundits.

Children in the UK are twice as unhappy than a decade ago

A survey of UK children aged 10 to 15 has found that nearly twice as many are unhappy with their lives than a decade ago. The data is in a report from the Children’s Society, aligned to the Church of England, and was collected from April to June this year. Areas of dissatisfaction include problems at school, relationships with friends and concerns about appearance. Eighty-five per cent scored above 5 out of 10 for how well they had coped with the lockdowns, but almost 1 in 12 (8 per cent) scored below five, which may be a warning of future mental health issues. In response, Dean Adrian Dorber, who chairs the Association of English Cathedrals, has urged cathedrals and churches to join the campaign for every child to be free from poverty, abuse and neglect by the year 2030. “The church as a whole must say that children have a right to thrive and not simply survive,” he says.

Australian MPs want school chaplains to ease children’s climate change fears

Australian Coalition MPs are demanding more money towards school chaplaincies to help students so alarmed about global warming that they have developed mental health issues, The Guardian reports. The Liberal MP Andrew Wallace has compared children’s fear of climate change to the threat of nuclear annihilation in the 1970s and 1980s. He wants to see full funding for chaplains in every school to help ease concerns.

Medieval cathedral building skills on display in Chester

The medieval history of Chester Cathedral will be exhibited on 11 September, with stonemasonry, blacksmithing, hot lime works and beekeeping on display. Everyday objects such as shoes, keys, tiles, pottery, ceramics, rings, pilgrim badges and devotional tokens from medieval times will also be on display. There will be demonstrations of chants as sung by monks, an open rehearsal, medieval-themed evensong and an organ recital.

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