Religion news 12 October 2021

Image credit: Pixabay

Is secular Britain is becoming more spiritual? The Guardian is looking for evidence

The Guardian is consulting its readers aged 18-34 to find out if secular Britain is becoming more spiritual. It points to reports that younger people are praying regularly, “meditation and mindfulness are now part of the culture and there seems to be a rising interest among the young in Tarot and manifesting”. It is attempting to find out if the younger generation are seeking meaning beyond the material and, if so, how.

Campaign to reinstate Bristol professor sacked after antisemitism complaint

A campaign is underway to reinstate Professor David Miller at Bristol University, following a decision to dismiss him over his views on Israel. The letter was organised by Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, who said the sacking was “an unacceptable and outrageous form of censorship”, prohibiting the expression of anti-Israel views among students and staff. David Miller, professor of political sociology, was sacked last month after allegations of antisemitism, of which he was cleared. But the university said his conduct had fallen below the standards expected from its staff and he was dismissed.

Survey launched to see if LGBTQ+ Christians feel safe in church

A survey has been launched to understand how safe UK LGBTQ+ Christians feel in their churches and what can be done to make them feel safer. The survey has been commissioned by nine Christian LGBTQ+ organisations and will ask how churches have responded to safety fears. Campaigner Jayne Ozanne said: Many LGBT+ Christians feel increasingly vulnerable in their local churches given the increasingly toxic rhetoric around sexuality and gender identity.”

Italian teenager one step closer to becoming a saint

Carlo Acutis, an Italian Catholic who died aged 15 from leukaemia in 2006, has been beatified, the final step before sainthood, in a ceremony in Assisi. The priest who pressed the case for sainthood said Carlo was devout, bringing his parents to mass every day, defending children bullied at school and building a website cataloguing and promoting miracles. Carlo, a gamer and computer programmer who loved football and the Eucharist, gained followers around the world. His body lay in a glass tomb, in jeans and a pair of Nikes, where he was venerated by pilgrims until this time last year. His heart, now be considered a relic, is displayed in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi.

British Museum urged to return looted Ethiopian sacred altar tablets

A letter has been sent to British Museum trustees urging them to return Ethiopian tabots — wood and stone altar tablets — which were looted by the British after the Battle of Magdala in 1868. The appeal comes after a judgment that the law cited as a reason for keeping them, has a provision in it that could allow them to go. The Guardian reports that the letter, signed by Stephen Fry, author Lemn Sissay and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, says the tabots have never been displayed but sit in the museum’s vaults. Now the British Museum “has a unique opportunity to build a lasting and meaningful bridge of friendship between Britain and Ethiopia by handing the tabots back to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church”.

Transgender Jewish woman completes all-male minyan for Orthodox prayers

A a transgender woman agreed to be the 10th male in a Liverpool synagogue minyan, after the rabbi ruled it was acceptable as she was born a man, the Jewish Telegraph reports. The minyan is the minimum number of males required to comprise a Jewish congregation. The rabbi at the Princes Road independent synagogue said they were a person short so he approached the trans woman sensitively and she agreed. She sat in the synagogue’s ladies’ section for the service. Campaigners welcomed the move as welcoming and inclusive.

Primary school commended as pictures of two schoolboys praying goes viral

A primary school in Lancashire which made great efforts to allow two Muslim schoolboys to pray in peace and quiet, has been commended on social media. Pictures of the boys on their prayer mats have been liked 21,000 times on Twitter. The head teacher of Barrowford Primary School, Rachel Tomlinson, who posted the pictures which were taken by one of the mothers, has been praised for tolerance and understanding. She said the boys’ request to pray was respected by the whole school community, with children asking anyone in the hall to be quiet. Lancashire Telegraph story here

Creating Connections: sign up in Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Plymouth and Birmingham

The Religion Media Centre is launching a project this autumn to enhance religious literacy and understanding in a landscape often fraught with misconceptions and assumptions on both sides. “Creating Connections, where Religion meets the Media” features a series of events to improve links between religious groups and journalists in England. They are an opportunity to explore the way religion and worldviews are interwoven into community life and it is hoped that key stories on religion and belief will be brought to life and lasting contacts for the future will be made. Reserve a place using the links below. All events take place in the afternoon.


Sign up for our news bulletin