Religion news 10 August 2021

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Credit: Diocese of Bristol

Christian groups call for urgent action after latest climate change report

Christian groups are calling for urgent action from the UK government after a United Nations report stated that human activities were unequivocally responsible for the rise in global temperatures. The study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has the support of all world governments and comes three months before the Cop26 global summit in Glasgow.

The Roman Catholic development agency, Cafod, has urged the prime minister to “throw the kitchen sink at climate change”.

Ruth Valerio, the director of advocacy and influencing at Tearfund, said: “It’s time for politicians to stop dragging their feet and do what needs to be done to secure a safer world for us all. Anything less is accepting a death sentence for people at the front line of this crisis.”

Operation Noah, the charity working to inspire action on climate change, called on the Church of England’s pension board and commissioners to stop funding fossil fuels. The IPCC report was dedicated to a former patron of Operation Noah, the late Sir John Houghton, a Christian and one of the founding scientists of the IPCC.

See Joe Ware’s round-up of responses in the Church Times.

Today is the Islamic New Year 1443

Today marks the Islamic new year, based on the first sighting of the lunar crescent after the new moon in the month of Muharram. The precise date varies according to differences in astronomical calculations. It is now the year 1443, with 622 as the starting point. The Birmingham Mail explains that the event is passed in sombre reflection rather than festivals.

Italian postal workers intercept letter containing bullets to the Pope

Italian paramilitary police are investigating the source of an envelope containing three bullets addressed to the Pope. The suspicious letter was intercepted overnight by postal workers at a sorting office in a Milan suburb, AP reports. It is thought the pistol ammunition was accompanied by a message referring to financial operations at the Vatican. It had been sent from France.

Rwandan immigrant suspected of killing French priest who sheltered him

The French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, has offered his support to Catholics after a priest was found murdered in a small village in the Vendée area of France. The body of Olivier Lemaire, head of the Montfortain Missionary Order at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, was found in a room to which the suspected murderer had a key. Reuters reports that a 40-year-old Rwandan immigrant, already under investigation for setting Nantes cathedral on fire last year, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Covid passports ‘morally wrong’, church leaders tell Johnson

Church leaders have urged Boris Johnson not to create a “two-tier society” by introducing vaccine passports for some venues. They say they are illogical, socially unacceptable and morally wrong. Premier Christian News reports that more than 1,500 church leaders and volunteers from a range of denominations have signed a relaunched letter against the Covid passports and sent it to the prime minister and every MP. They claim the scheme “has the potential to bring down liberal democracy and create a surveillance state”. They said they could not envisage any circumstances in which they would close their doors to those who do not have a vaccine passport or other proof of health. The government has never said that either would be asked for to go to church.

New movement of religious extremists push ultra-conservative vision in US

A new group of religious extremists in the United States is seeking to promote and defend an ultra-conservative vision of Mormon belief and harass perceived opponents, The Guardian reports. The “Desert nationalists”, or “DezNats”, take extreme positions on gender, sexuality and race. Some call for a Mormon-ruled, separatist white ethnostate in the Great Basin area of the US. A faculty member of the church-sponsored Brigham Young University told The Guardian that DezNats had weaponised elements of Mormon doctrine in efforts to harass and threaten the employment of people who worked there. Douglas Anderson, the church’s media spokesman, is quoted as saying that the group was “not affiliated with or endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and the LDS leaders had explicitly condemned violence in Washington DC, lawlessness and the evils of racism.

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