Religion News 12 June

The Sandford St Martin awards for excellence in religious broadcasting were announced last night in an online event, replacing the usual ceremony at Lambeth Palace.  The Trust ‘promotes and rewards excellence in broadcasting that engages with religion, ethics or spirituality.’

The Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award went to Stormzy, for ‘eloquently and articulately translating his faith into his music and his activism’.

TV Video award –  ‘For Sama’ – Channel 4 News and ITN Productions for Channel 4 and Frontline PBS: A documentary of the Syrian journalist and filmmaker Waad al-Kateab who documented her life in Aleppo.

Journalism award – ‘The Feeling of Being Watched: Surveillance in a US-Arab Community’ – Al Jazeera English – Witness for Al Jazeera English: A documentary by Assia Boundaoui on how and why the FBI targeted the Muslim American neighbourhood where she grew up in the States.

Radio/Audio Award: ‘The Wind Phone’ – Falling Tree Productions for Heart & Soul, BBC World Service: Radio documentary following families of people who died in the 2011 earthquake off Japan’s coast, as they visit the “wind phone” – an old phone booth overlooking the Pacific where people come to “talk” to those they have lost.

Children’s Award: ‘Now I Can Breathe’ – CTVC Ltd for TrueTube.co.uk: The story of Amina, who relates her experience of being sexually harassed and bullied over several years at school.

Radio Times Readers’ Award: ‘Good Omens’ – BBC Studios, Blank Corporation, Narrative and Amazon Studios for Amazon: Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel turned into a six-part drama series, starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, who ‘form an unlikely alliance to stop Armageddon’.

Other news

Sixty clergy jobs are being cut in the Church of England diocese of Chelmsford, due to financial difficulties brought on by Covid19. A finance committee statement said it had to consider the length of time a curate (assistant vicar) should stay in a job and that they may be needed to support parishes towards the end of their training.  It said many curates have been in the forefront of applying technology for ‘church at home’.

The Bishop of Loughborough, Guli Francis-Dehqani, is calling for a public inquiry into the disproportionately high death rates from Covid19 among bame people. In an interview with the Church of England newspaper, she said the virus had ‘laid bare and highlighted existing inequalities within society’ and  had heightened anxiety for many people in her diocese.

Harris Iqbal, the CEO of the charity ‘Penny Appeal’ has warned that mosques in the UK,  Europe and North America are going through a financial crisis due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions.  He said many Muslim charities receive 35% of their income during Ramadan, which was observed during the lockdown.  In an article for Al Jazeera, he said mosques can cost between $2,500 – $125,000 a month to keep open. Muslims have a duty to help ‘these essential places of worship, which often simultaneously function as community hubs, charities and education centres, to protect the spiritual, social and physical wellbeing of Muslim communities and the wider society.’

President Trump has said he is ‘honoured’ to have received a letter from the former apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Viganò, which warned him against ‘secular and ecclesiastical agents of an atheistic globalist new world order’. Viganò has been at the centre of controversy since 2010 when two of his letters claiming corruption at the Vatican were published without authorisation. He transferred from Rome to America, where he was accused of covering up allegations of sexual misconduct, something he denied. After his retirement, he published an 11-page letter accusing Pope Francis and other senior church leaders of concealing allegations of sexual misconduct against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and called on the Pope to resign. In recent weeks, according to the Catholic News Agency, he has published open letters and interviews making apocalyptic claims about a looming spiritual battle and global conspiracy. In an open letter to President Trump on 6 June, he said  ‘the children of darkness’ and ‘the deep state’ were waging a fierce war against the President.