Religion news 12 April 2022

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World religious leaders in Ukraine today. Image credit: Elijah Interfaith

World religious leaders visit Ukraine to support refugees

A delegation  of religious leaders from countries all over the world will visit refugee camps and the city of Chernivtsi, in western Ukraine, today.  Their trip is designed to show support and solidarity with refugees and volunteers helping the thousands of people who have fled to the region, which is near the Romania border. One of the organisers, Rabbi Goshen-Gottstein of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, said he believed it would be the first time ever that an interfaith delegation had undertaken a mission of friendship and solidarity, in entering a country at war. Participants include Lord Rowan Williams, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and Archbishop Nikitas Lulias, from the UK; and Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist leaders from Europe, India and elsewhere. Their visit will be live streamed here

Patriarch Kirill accused of moral crimes for endorsing war

Three hundred leaders of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have signed a letter rebuking Patriarch Kirill for his “moral crimes” in endorsing the unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which has killed thousands of people. Kirill, the leader of the Russia Orthodox church, has supported Putin and failed to condemn the war.

St Sergius Orthodox Institute in Paris asks to leave Moscow patriarchate

There are reports that a group of students at the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris have sent a letter asking their local bishop to leave the Moscow Patriarchate after Patriarch Kirill failed to oppose the war in Ukraine. According to Dr Katie Kelaidis, writing in Religion Dispatches,  St Sergius is the oldest Orthodox theological school in the West and has a key role in Orthodox Christianity’s engagement with Western modernity. Dr Kelaidis has been told that the students have asked to be returned to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Constantinople, which opposes the war. Her article is here

Christian Concern threatens legal action against conversion therapy ban

The conservative campaign group Christian Concern is preparing to sue the Government over its proposed ban on conversion therapy for all except transgender people. It says if the ban goes ahead it would infringe freedom of the individual to exercise personal rights.

Former NUS leaders address antisemitism concerns from Jewish students

The Guardian reports that more than 20 former presidents of the National Union of Students dating back to the 1960s, have sent a letter to the NUS trustees urging them to address concerns from Jewish students about antisemitism and their safety at NUS events. Robert Halfon, the Conservative chair of the education select committee, has referred the NUS to the Charity Commission over the issue. The Guardian says the NUS  has unreservedly apologised for the concern and worry caused in recent weeks, and said it  is working to address any wrongdoing and rebuild trust.

Jesus Christ Superstar, the most successful biblical story on Broadway

It is more than 50 years since Jesus Christ Superstar hit the stage and became arguably the most commercially successful adaptation of a biblical story in Broadway history. Henry Bial, Professor of Theatre and Dance, at the University of Kansas, charts its passage from the early days when its storyline elevating Mary Magdalene and missing out the resurrection, scandalised Christians.  But he says the audience has aged and the rock setting, once considered irreverent, is now adopted by mega churches throughout the world as a key part of worship. His comment is in The Conversation here

US Masters champion plays golf “to glorify God”

Premier Christian News says the 25  year old American golfer Scottie Schefler, who won the US masters in Augusta, is a regular at a Bible study for professional golfers on tour, and chose his caddy because he too was a committed Christian. He told the media after his win: “The reason why I play golf is I’m trying to glorify God and all that he’s done in my life”. Premier has unearthed an interview Schefler did in 2018, where he said: “Having the God of the universe on your side just makes things a lot easier to deal with”

Background on week ahead full of religious festivals

Thursday 14 Vaisakhi – traditional Punjabi harvest festival celebrated with processions, singing and colourful decoration; also marks the inauguration of the Khalsa, the body of committed Sikhs who have decided to dedicate their lives to the tradition’s teaching. Factsheet here

Friday 15 Passover – eight day festival celebrating the liberation of the Israelites form slavery in Egypt. Factsheet here

The Christian festival of Easter starts on Palm Sunday (10 April) and leads to Good Friday marking the crucifixion of Jesus,  and Easter Sunday (17 April), marking the resurrection.  We have factsheets on Good Friday,  Lent and Easter; and Easter and the Resurrection

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