Religion news 12 May

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UK

Churches and other places of worship will not re-open after the lockdown until at least the beginning of July, according to the government’s roadmap published on Monday. This is ‘Step Three’ on the roadmap, and will allow hairdressers, beauty salons, hospitality centres, leisure facilities such as cinemas and places of worship to open, subject to scientific advice. The government warns that venues which are crowded and where social distancing is difficult may still not be able to be opened at this time. In Spain, the lockdown is being relaxed in regions with fewer cases of Covid19 and some churches opened for services this weekend, observing social distancing.  Comment on this decision here

In Spain, the lockdown is being relaxed in regions with fewer cases of Covid19 and in these areas, some churches have re-opened for services,  observing social distancing.

Funeral companies are reporting a loss of income, despite the higher death rates due to Covid19. Dignity said people were choosing cheaper funeral plans and the number of memorials in crematoria was lower. Also, the death rate this year could lead to lower death rates in years to come, which would affect income. The Coop, Britain’s biggest funeral homes operator, has reported similar concerns and has asked the government for a bailout for the industry.

The number of people training to teach Religious Education has increased by 30% from the previous year and is now at its highest level for more than a decade. Figures unearthed by the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) show 4 in 10 of new trainees switched to RE after graduating in other subjects. In total, 488 people trained to be RE teachers this academic year, which is 93% of the government’s target. The surge in numbers follows a decision by the Department for Education to cover the cost of switching courses for RE and to provide students with a bursary of £200 a week for the eight-week programme.  NATRE Research Officer Deborah Weston, said:
“Around 100 Theology and Religious Studies graduates choose to train to become Religious Education teachers every year. With a Government target for new RE student teachers ranging from 525 to 650 over the past four years, this means we need to recruit at least 80 per cent of trainees from other subject specialisms. This additional Government funding for courses has opened up an exciting career in RE teaching to people from a broader range of backgrounds. Trainees mainly come from other Humanities, such as Philosophy, History or Sociology, but we have also seen new recruits from subjects including Law, Criminology, or Politics.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews is to start collecting regional data on the number of Jewish people who have died from the coronavirus. Until now, they have been using information where COVID-19 appeared on the death certificate, from the six largest burial societies and the Orthodox Jewish burial organisations in Manchester. Latest figures suggest there have been 440 Jewish funerals carried out where the deceased contracted Covid-19. But from today (12th May), the survey will include the Western Charitable Foundation, a burial society based in London, and regional communities, including 20 cities and towns in England and Scotland. The information will be released weekly on Tuesdays.