Religion news 11 December

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Church Commissioners support campaign targeting ExxonMobil

The Church Commissioners, a body that manages the Church of England’s investment fund, is supporting a campaign to persuade ExxonMobil to change its energy policy towards sustainability and climate change. The “Engine no. 1” campaign is an activist investor group, seeking four board seats at the oil and gas giant. The church says it has engaged ExxonMobil on climate change and other issues consistently for several years and looks forward to “positive and critical steps being taken by Exxon in pursuit of its energy transition strategy”. In a statement, ExxonMobil said it has supported the goals of the Paris Agreement since its inception and is working to reduce emissions while meeting the world’s demand for affordable energy, adding: “We continue to invest in and research breakthrough technologies that will play a key role in addressing the important issues related to climate change”.

Jewish festival of Hannukah begins

The Jewish holiday of Hannukah — the festival of lights — began last night, commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is marked by the lighting of candles on the menorah, the nine-branch candle holder, on nine successive days, and the eating of oil-based foods. This year, the festival coincides with International Human Rights day and the Jewish Times features a campaign of to stand in solidarity with the Uyghurs in China, who have been detained and abused in camps by the Chinese authorities. Details about Hannukah on our factsheet here.

Covid-19 a severe risk to humanists

The Humanists International group has launched its 2020 Freedom of Thought report, a worldwide survey of discrimination and persecution against humanists, atheists and the non-religious. In a preface, its president Andrew Copson, said Covid-19 had posed a severe risk to humanists, putting particularly those fleeing from persecution in danger, stranded with nowhere to go during lockdowns. In another government-funded initiative, it has produced Humanists at Risk: Action Report 2020, highlighting discrimination against humanists for blasphemy, apostasy and other laws that can lead to killings, bullying and social isolation.

Catholic bishops welcome return of Dreamers programme

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has welcomed the decision to restore the programme known as “Dreamers”, which allows certain immigrants brought to the US illegally as children to apply for a delay of deportation and work authorisation. Three years ago, Donald Trump wound down the programme. But, the Catholic news agency reports, last week a district court judge ruled that it must resume. Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville of Washington, said: “The DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] programme directly benefits immigrant youth, their families, and the communities we serve. To all Dreamers, the Catholic Church continues to stand with you and will advocate with you to ensure you reach your God-given potential here in the United States.”


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