Religion news 12 February

Image credit: @HeartSouthNews

Church leaders call for asylum seekers to be moved out of army barracks

Thirteen bishops are among 30 church leaders who have called upon the home secretary to immediately end the use of military barracks as accommodation for asylum seekers. In an open letter they said it was insensitive to house people in close quarters, risking the spread of infection, when asylum seekers needed secure suitable, dignified accommodation. In January, a fire broke out at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, after people complained about the conditions. Five people have been arrested.

MPs recommend research to end poverty and recognise charitable acts in Muslim communities

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims has produced a report “Rising to the Challenge”, charting the impact of Covid-19 on Muslim communities and their response to care for people most affected. It says the work of British Muslim civil society is not often recognised as the religious principle of humility makes acts of service invisible.  But Muslims have come together to provide hot meals for frontline workers, food for hungry families and the vulnerable and personal protective equipment for NHS staff. It makes 10 recommendations for change including examining the causes of poverty and hardship amongst ethnic minority and Muslim communities, research into the reasons for higher mortality rates in these groups and the need for religious literacy in the media to counter misrepresentation and scapegoating.

Sikh Labour MP demands Commons debate on Indian farmers’ protest

The Labour MP for Slough, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, has demanded that the House of Commons discuss the farmers’ protest in India, after 100,000 people signed a petition which should trigger a debate. Mainly Sikh farmers from the Punjab marched on Delhi in December protesting at new farming laws that they say would undercut their profits. They are still there, camping on the streets, amid scenes of violence when police used tear gas and water cannon against them. The farmers have won support from all parts of the world including the UK, where many Sikhs part own farming land belonging to their families. The Commons leader  Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “It is only right that we make representations when we think that things are happening that are not in the interests of the reputation of the country of which we are a friend.”

BBC banned in China following reports on the Uighurs

China has banned BBC World News from broadcasting on its territory, after criticism of reporting on the coronavirus outbreak and the persecution of the ethnic minority Uighur population. The BBC said it was “disappointed” by the decision. Last week, Ofcom revoked the state broadcaster China Global Television Network’s licence to broadcast in the UK.

Mosque in Keighley hosts vaccination centre

A pop-up vaccination centre has opened in a mosque’s community hall in Keighley, west Yorkshire. Local GPs have teamed up with community leaders to ensure everyone gets the vaccine against Covid-19. They hope that the location will help to dispel myths and send the message that the vaccines are safe. The Keighley News quotes Mohammed Nazam from the central mosque, saying they are keen to see a successful vaccination programme. Imam Qari Asim from Leeds said a number of mosques in West Yorkshire had applied to become vaccinations centres.

Self-styled US prophets and Trump supporters chastened they were wrong

The New York Times tells the story of Jeremiah Johnson, a 33-year-old American minister and self-styled prophet who has started a series called “I was wrong” on his YouTube channel, explaining how he was mistaken to back Donald Trump. As a result he has received many death threats and thousands of abusive messages telling him he was a coward, sellout, and traitor to the Holy Spirit. He describes God talking to him and having dreams that Trump would expose darkness and perversion in America. But now people are disillusioned with his ministry and he is sorry that his prophecy was inaccurate and he missed the truth. The article explains that there are many chastened self-style prophets in America.