Religion news 10 February

Image credit: CSpan

Senate chaplain: Is impeachment trial as simple as good v evil?

As the trial to impeach Donald Trump began in the US Senate, its chaplain, the Rev Barry Black, opened in prayer petitioning God to “take control of this impeachment trial”. Quoting a poem by James Russell Lowell, a New England poet and abolitionist: ‘Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide. In the strife of good with falsehood for the good or evil side’, he asked : “Could it really be that simple, could it really be just truth striving against falsehood and good striving against evil? Powerful Redeemer, have mercy on our beloved land”.

Commons rejects High Court role in blocking trade with countries guilty of genocide

Proposals to allow the High Court to rule on genocide, allowing trade to be blocked with  countries guilty of this crime, have again been lost in the Commons, this time by 15 votes. Trade minister Greg Hands said the courts should not be involved in the trade deal process. Instead, the Commons accepted a compromise to give parliament a vote on whether to pursue agreements with such countries. The proposals were made by MPs concerned at China’s treatment of the mainly Muslim Uighur population in China’s Xinjiang province.

Concern at social media lynching of Jarel Robinson-Brown

The Church of England’s Anti-racism Taskforce says the Rev Jarel Robinson-Brown experienced “social media lynching”, after posting a tweet on Captain Sir Tom Moore, which said the clap in his honour was a “a cult of White British Nationalism”. Although he apologised, he was subject to hate, threats, racism and homophobic abuse, together with a sternly worded reprimand from the Diocese of London. The taskforce has issued a statement concerned at the “staggering level” of abuse and threats and at the content and tone of the response from the Diocese of London. It says any review should include that statement, which should be removed from the diocese’s website.

Muslim Council of Britain calls for forced cremations in Sri Lanka to stop

The Muslim Council of Britain is submitting a complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Council that Sri Lanka is forcing cremations on Muslim communities, in contravention of their religious law and customs. Cremations have been brought in during the pandemic because of unfounded fears that the virus can be passed on through the dead. In Islam, bodies are buried soon after death out of respect for the person and their family. It is forbidden to cremate bodies. Zara Mohammed, secretary-general of the MCB, said the Sri Lankan government’s actions were unjust and discriminatory and appealed for a change in policy.

Vatican radio starts new web station

Vatican Radio celebrates its 90th birthday with a new web radio station and internet page. The station, commissioned by Pope Pius XI and built by Guglielmo Marconi, now broadcasts 12,000 hours of diverse programmes including news, worship and music, in 41 languages. Its mission is to “leave no one unaccompanied”, a goal tested during the pandemic.

Nun aged nearly 117 survives Covid-19

A French nun, Europe’s oldest person, has survived Covid-19 and will celebrate her 117th birthday this week, Reuters reports. Sister Andre, who joined the  order 76 years ago, lives in a retirement home in Toulon. Asked if she was scared to have Covid, Sister Andre told France’s BFM television: “No, I wasn’t scared because I wasn’t scared to die … I’m happy to be with you, but I would wish to be somewhere else — to join my big brother and my grandfather and my grandmother.”