Religion news 10 June 2021

Image credit: @_edthompson,

Humanist leads Sheffield hospitals chaplaincy team

A Humanist pastor, Lindsay van Dijk, has been appointed to lead the chaplaincy and pastoral care team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Humanists UK say this is the most senior role a humanist pastoral carer has ever held in the NHS. Ms van Dijk, in her thirties, is also the youngest person to have held such a position. She also chairs the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network (NRPSN) and holds a BA and MA in humanist pastoral care.

Faith leaders failing to comply with gay conversion therapy ban ‘should be prosecuted

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, says faith leaders should face prosecution if they fail to comply with the government’s promised ban on gay conversion therapy. Evangelical groups have raised concerns that the ban could outlaw praying with someone who is conflicted over their sexual orientation. The bishop told The Guardian that prayer used in an imbalance of power, with force, to change orientation, causes harm and should be prosecuted. The government has launched a consultation on conversion practices before bringing forward legislation. 

Board of Deputies protests at antisemitism training offered by teachers’ union

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, has written to the National Education Union to protest that Ewa Jasiewicz has led “understanding antisemitism” workshops for the union. In an open letter, the board says she spray-painted the words “Free Gaza and Palestine — liberate all ghettos” on a wall of the Warsaw Ghetto, which, the president says, the overwhelming majority of British Jews deem profoundly antisemitic. The board is urging the union to ensure this “grotesque” workshop activity is not repeated.

Young Jewish Americans ‘less emotionally attached to Israel’

A survey by the Pew Research Centre shows that younger Jewish Americans are less likely than those over 65 to be emotionally attached to Israel (48 per cent against 67 per cent). And younger people are less concerned that caring about Israel is essential to what being Jewish means to them (35 per cent against 52 per cent). But both age ranges share similarities, as 22 per cent in each group attend religious services at least monthly, and more than 70 per cent believe in God or some other higher power. The survey found that fewer younger Jews identified with a branch of the faith, for example, 40 per cent of younger Jews identified with Reform Judaism, compared with 70 per cent of over-65s. Pew Research here

Muslim family targeted and killed by a truck driver in Canada

In Canada, prime minister Justin Trudeau says he is horrified at the story of a Muslim family, killed when a driver deliberately ran into them because of their religion. Salman Afzal 46, his wife Madiha, 44, their daughter Yumna, 15, and a 74-year-old grandmother died at the scene as they tried to cross a road in Ontario. A nine-year-old boy was injured and taken to hospital. The driver, aged 20, has been charged with murder. Trudeau said Islamophobia has “no place in any of our communities”.

Digital future of the church explored

The Church of England is organising a Digital Labs conference on Friday reflecting on the use of online technology during the pandemic and its role in the future. It will consider strategies for hybrid worship, in person and online, how digital help can make the church more inclusive and how it can be used in mission. The conference will review lessons learnt in the lockdowns, such as how churches can sustain this new area of work, learn from each other and equip themselves with the latest software and kit.

Date set for Methodist vote on same-sex marriage

The Methodist conference will vote on proposals to allow same-sex marriage in churches at its session on the morning of Monday 28 June. The vote follows extensive consultation on a document called God in Love Unites Us, which encouraged discussion on change, inclusion and contradictory convictions. The conference takes place in Birmingham this year.


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