Religion news 13 January 2022

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Image credit: ©Crown Copyright 2013 CCLicense

Furore over No 10 parties may reassert probity, integrity, honour and truth in politics

The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, has spoken in the House of Lords in response to a government statement on parties being held 10 Downing Street, while the government ordered the country to lock down. He said many clergy dealing with families who were not able to attend funerals or to be with their loved ones had been “very tempted to break the rules for strong pastoral reasons, but did not”.

Nick Spencer, senior fellow with the think tank Theos, said the stories might “reassert the idea that there is another gravitational pull in our politics — away from performance and towards probity, integrity, honour and truth”. In a blog, he considers the biblical understanding of hypocrisy as a sin of intentionally doing something in the wrong way for the wrong reasons. Politics should be more than performance “and there is nothing like the idea of politicians ignoring their own rules in BYOB parties while people’s relatives died alone, to remind us of that”.

Positive vibrations, chakras and star signs: British spiritual beliefs

A YouGov survey has revealed the extent of spiritual beliefs among British adults, with 46 per cent believing humans can emit positive or negative vibrations, 34 per cent believing chakras can affect well being if blocked, 26 per cent believing some people can see parts of the universe hidden to others and 15 per cent saying star signs affect personality. The survey of 1,653 people conducted in September last year, showed more women than men said they were spiritual, while 21 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men said they were religious.

The Guardian urges CofE to allow same-sex marriage

A leading article in The Guardian urges the Church of England to move towards allowing same-sex marriage. It says moves by the Methodist Church to allow same-sex marriage, and the Church in Wales to bring in special blessings for same-sex married couples, should lead the CofE to follow suit. A long consultation with church members on the way forward is due to report back this year, with a decision in February 2023. The Guardian says: “As the Church of England seeks to renew itself in the context of declining congregations, it should be bold in reading the signs of the times rather than rely on narrow readings of scripture. The gospels convey a message of loving inclusivity; England’s established church should reflect that.”

Child abuse stories feature in Methodist safeguarding webinars

The Methodist Church is arranging two webinars on the issues around child abuse, designed to be useful for safeguarding officers, church leaders and members. “Speaking Truth — Voices of Survivors of Childhood Abuse” will include survivors telling their stories to show the lifelong impact. The films will chart the history and prevalence of childhood abuse in Britain and the Methodist Church’s response to survivors. Erroneous interpretations of scripture used to justify suffering or to force survivors to forgive will also be explained.

Board of Deputies suspends senior vice-president

Gary Mond, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies and trustee of the Jewish National Fund UK, has been suspended by the board pending an investigation into alleged Islamophobic social media conduct. The Jewish Chronicle reports a statement from the board that “Mr Mond did not agree to voluntarily step down and has informed us he is currently taking legal advice.”

Portraits of Holocaust survivors for Buckingham Palace

Prince Charles has commissioned portraits of seven Holocaust survivors to go on display at Buckingham Palace. A BBC documentary will show seven artists painting the survivors as they share their stories. The programme will be broadcast when the palace exhibition opens on Holocaust Memorial Day, Friday 27 January,

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch tests positive for Covid-19

Patriarch Porfirije, 60, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has tested positive for Covid-19. The Associated Press reports that he became the head of the church upon the death of the previous patriarch, Irinej, in November 2020, after contracting the coronavirus. The church said Patriarch Porfirije’s symptoms were very mild and he remained in isolation at home, carrying out administrative duties without problems.

Ban on religious exemptions for child vaccines remains in place in Connecticut

Connecticut’s decision to stop religious exemption for childhood immunisation requirements for schools, colleges and daycare facilities, still stands after a legal challenge failed. Opponents said the legislation unfairly infringed their religious liberties and parental rights. But a legal challenge failed as it had not been proved that ending the exemption was “motivated by any religious animus”. The judgment noted there were a growing number of religious exemptions being sought by families and declining vaccination rates.


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