Religion news 10 June 2022

Image credit: Garry Knight, public domain

Bruce Kent, peace campaigner and former Catholic priest, dies aged 92

Bruce Kent, former Catholic priest and prominent campaigner against nuclear arms, has died aged 92. The Guardian’s obituary, by Peter Stanford,  outlines highlights of his campaigning – exorcising the Polaris nuclear submarine base at Faslane, leading protests against US cruise missiles at Greenham Common, and allowing bailiffs to seize his possessions rather than pay tax for the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Bruce Kent was the general secretary and then chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament from 1980 to 1990. In 1987 he left the church in order to campaign in the general election. In 1988 he married fellow peace campaigner Valerie Flessati. Peter Stanford concludes: “For his admirers ..he was a prophetic and charismatic figure who almost single-handedly shook English Catholicism out of its complacency”.

Protests against “The Lady of Heaven” film move to Vue cinemas in London

Protests against the film The Lady of Heaven, about the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah, have moved to London. Several loud protests outside Cineworld cinemas in the north of England and the Midlands, succeeded in persuading Cineworld to ban the showing of the film in all cinemas. But it was still on show at Vue cinemas, including Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, east London, where protesters gathered yesterday. In a statement, Vue said it takes its responsibilities seriously and “believes in showcasing films of interest to diverse communities across the UK”. Our explainer of the reasons why the film has caused such intense protest is on our website here.

Russian Orthodox external relations leader demoted after failing to support war in Ukraine

The Russian Orthodox leader, Patriarch Kirill, has sacked his right hand man, Metropolitan Hilarion, from his job as director of the church’s department of external relations and as Metropolitan of Volokolamsk. He has been moved to be Metropolitan and chairman of the Budapest and Hungary Diocese, widely considered a demotion. The Orthodox Times suggests this is because he had distanced himself from support of the war in Ukraine, including attending a recent World Council of Churches meeting which condemned the invasion.

Influence of Christian nationalism “must be investigated” in Capitol Hill hearings

Public hearings into the insurrection on Capitol Hill on 6 January 2021, were due to begin last night in Washington. There will be eight sessions taking place this month. Amanda Tyler, who leads the US Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, has appealed for the session to investigate how Christian nationalism united the people who invaded the Capitol, fuelled their rhetoric and “intensified their attack”. She told the Religion News Service that Christian nationalism, merging American and Christian identities, is a pervasive ideology that undermines the ideal of religious freedom for all and threatens “core directives of Christianity: to worship only God and to love our neighbour as ourselves”. 

Agenda published for London conference on freedom of religion and belief

 The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has published the proposed agenda for the international conference on the freedom of religion and belief, to be held in London on 5 and 6 July. On the first day, sessions include  a plenary on the right to freedom for everyone everywhere, followed by a consideration of global challenges and national pledges. There will be discussions on early warning and atrocity prevention, and incentives for effective protection; plus using education and digital media to promote the cause of freedom. On the second day, sessions include women and girls, inspiring parliamentarians, promoting inter-religious dialogues, protecting heritage and engaging young people. Such global conferences have been held in Poland and the USA in the past and are designed to bring political and civic leaders together to “boost global efforts to tackle persecution”.

Foreign secretary promises to act in case of Scottish Sikh detained in India

STV news reports that the brother of a Scottish Sikh detained in India without trial has met the foreign secretary, calling for the UK Government to push for his release. Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, was arrested on 4 November 2017, after travelling to the Punjab for his wedding. A pretrial hearing setting out a date for the charges to be read out was delayed yesterday for the 183rd time. His brother Gurpreet said the foreign secretary promised to raise the case at the highest level.

BBC One religious show back on Sunday with new production company

Sunday Morning Live, BBC One’s religious discussion programme, comes back for another series with a new production company, starting on Sunday 12 June. BBC Studios did not bid again to make the show, and after a tendering process, it went to Tern TV and Green Inc production companies based in Northern Ireland in a £2.75million deal. Tern TV has already made religious programmes for the BBC, and is known as a specialist factual, faith and ethics producer. Green Inc has a track record in live, large-scale, multi-camera shows, and has specialised in entertainment formats for more than 25 years. There will be two series of 12 programmes this year and next.


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