Religion news 14 December

Image credit: Jericho march

The Jericho march – fusing God with Make America Great Again

Thousands of Americans took part in The Jericho March in Washington this weekend in a defiant stand against a “corrupt” government and in support of Trump’s claim to have won the election. The extraordinary event united Jews, evangelicals and Catholics under the apocalyptic banner that Trump is God’s Chosen One – the crowd praised God as the Presidential helicopter hovered overhead. Speakers whipped up fervour that his re-election was stolen through the work of the devil via the deep state and that this heralds the end time and a new dawn of world government. There was a sinister call to arms to overturn Biden who “will be removed one way or the other” and an appeal for Trump to know “the militia is with him”, as Roman Catholic Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano told the crowd that fighting for Trump is a holy crusade.  The Conservative writer Rod Dreher, who witnessed and reported the entire six hour event, concluded that America is in a dangerous state.  “Divinizing MAGA and Stop The Steal is going to tear churches to bits”, he said, adding that he detects signs of a pre-totalitarian society, not just in educated elites but in “how alienated people are willing to believe ideology over truth, and how they are willing to smash any institutions for the sake of seeing their idea of justice triumph”.  Full riveting account here

After the march, “Proud Boys” – white supremacists – ripped a #BlackLivesMatter sign down from Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington DC, and burned it in the street. The pastor, Ianther Mills, said it was reminiscent of cross burnings and she was determined to root out the evil which had reared its ugly head.

Catholic church failings investigated after Warwickshire priest is jailed for sex abuse

The Roman Catholic Church is once more answering questions over a child sex abuse case, after Father Joseph Quigley, former parish priest at St Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic church in Hampton-on-the-Hill near Warwick, was found guilty of  four counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of false imprisonment and one count of child cruelty. The offences took place in Warwick, between 2006 and 2009 against one male victim when he was aged between 14 and 16 years. Quigley has been remanded in custody to be sentenced next month. Warwick Crown Court was told that when the offences came to light in 2008, he was removed from his role and sent to America for six months therapy. When he returned, he was put on restricted duties and became an education adviser. Neither the police nor educational bodies were informed. The Church did not conduct a wider investigation. Cardinal Vincent Nichols was Archbishop of Birmingham from 2000-2009. His spokesman told the Sunday Times that the offences related to allegations from 2012, “three years after Cardinal Nichols had ceased to be Archbishop of Birmingham”.

Questions for Labour after shadow minister for faith resigns

Paul Bickley, research fellow at the think tank Theos, has been trying to understand why Janet Daby resigned as Labour’s shadow faith minister, days after comments on same sex marriage in a Religion Media Centre zoom call. She was asked whether registrars should be sacked for refusing to hold same sex wedding ceremonies. She replied that she understood the question to be about issues of conscience, similar to abortion, and she would like to have those conversations.  The story appeared in the Telegraph and two days later she resigned. But this has perplexed Paul Bickley, who says she resigned for suggesting something she didn’t believe. In a statement on her website, she clarified: “I did not call for a “conscience clause” to be inserted into the contracts of registrars… I unequivocally reject the idea that registrars, who perform non-religious ceremonies, should be allowed to make decisions about which weddings they perform according to the sex of the couple. That is unlawful discrimination”. Paul Bickley suggests the Labour party acted swiftly because it didn’t want to “concede negative headlines on what should be obvious ‘progressive’ issues”. But in so doing, he says the party has reaffirmed negative perceptions that religion and belief are of a low priority and the hint of conscience exemptions is taboo. His comment is here

Northern Ireland church leaders urge everyone to be vaccinated against Covid-19

Leaders of the four main churches in Northern Ireland – Catholic, Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian, are urging everyone to follow the health guidance and get vaccinated against Covid19. They were forced to weigh in after John Carson, a DUP councillor, posted n Facebook that he would not take the vaccine because it contained material from aborted foetuses. This is not true. The Pfizer vaccine, rolling out now, does not contain any human tissue. Politicians have also roundly dismissed the erroneous view. The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference endorsed coronavirus vaccination efforts earlier this week.

British protest against forced cremation of Muslims in Sri Lanka

The Muslim Council of Britain is calling on the Sri Lankan government to reconsider its policy of forcing cremations for all those who have died from Covid19. The practice is against Muslim beliefs around death and funeral rites.  The MCB says the World Health Organization confirms burial of the bodies of Covid-19 victims does not pose health and safety risks. It suggests the government’s actions are an example of state-sponsored Islamophobia and lawyers are looking to raise this issue at the International Court of Justice.