Religion news 14 June 2022

Image credit: Home Office

All CofE bishops in the House of Lords condemn deportation of migrants to Rwanda

The Times reports that “the entire senior leadership of the Church of England has denounced plans to deport migrants to Rwanda as an immoral policy that shames Britain”.  Kaya Burgess’ report says “The archbishops of Canterbury and York and the other 23 bishops that sit as Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords have written an excoriating letter to The Times to be published (on Tuesday), when the first flight is scheduled to leave for Rwanda”. The Court of Appeal has rejected an attempt to block the inaugural flight, expected to be on Tuesday evening.  The letter says the policy should shame Britain as a nation and the fact that it is being enacted shames the church “because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries.”

Trust in faith and community groups is a key lesson from Grenfell

Tuesday 14 June marks the 5th anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, in which 72 people died as a 24 storey tower block of flats in west London was engulfed in flames. The fire began in a flat and spread through cladding on the outside of the building, leaving people trapped through flames and smoke. In the shock of the event, community groups came together to provide basic provisions for hundreds of people displaced, grieving and homeless. One of the community leaders was the Bishop of Kensington, Dr Graham Tomlin, who told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme that he remembered the anger and confusion of a traumatic day where people from all over the country arrived to help. “The groups that were most effective, were not necessarily central government, or local government, but local community groups, churches, mosques, community organisations. They were on the ground, they were trusted, they were able to react much more quickly”. He hoped that the public inquiry, which began in 2017, would bring a sense of resolution and justice for people still in pain.

Christian legal centre behind court case over treatment for Archie Battersbee

The Christian Legal Centre, linked to the conservative group Christian Concern, is supporting the family of Archie Battersbee, a 12 year old boy in a coma since April, who was the subject of a court order that treatment should now stop. He was found unconscious at his home in Southend, Essex, on 7 April, after an incident which is believed to have followed an online challenge.  Doctors at the Royal London Hospital in east London told the High Court it was highly likely he was brain-stem dead and asked for his life support to end. The head of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Williams, said: “The idea that death can be declared on the balance of probability is frankly ludicrous…This ruling sets a troubling and dark precedent”. Archie’s parents say they are devastated and will appeal.

“The Lady of Heaven” film campaigners urged to target Amazon and Netflix

Roshan M Salih, a journalist and Editor of the Five Pillars website, has tweeted that it is right to wind down protests against the film The Lady of Heaven, as the point has been made and there are very few future screenings planned. But in a Twitter thread, he said there now needs to be a boycott campaign against Vue Cinemas, because they have refused to stop all screenings. Muslims should withdraw all business from them and explain why, in writing. He adds: “The big prize for the sectarian fanatics behind Lady of Heaven is the major streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video. Muslims need to approach these services now to register their protest before this disgusting film is platformed there.  Attempts to get Lady of Heaven banned from cinemas aren’t just about preventing people seeing it because there are other ways of watching. It’s about taking away that mainstream stamp of approval, so it won’t make it on streaming services & establishing a precedent for the future. Well done Morocco for banning Lady of Heaven. I think Iran, Iraq and Pakistan have banned it too. I can’t imagine it being played out in a Muslim country, but it would be nice to see some sensible non-Muslim countries ban it as well”.

Archbishop and two bishops join the stop Channel 4 privatisation campaign

The “Ain’t Broke” campaign, to stop the privatisation of Channel 4, has won the support of the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, and the Bishops of Leeds, Nick Baines, and Ripon, Helen-Anne Hartley. They join 27 production companies and celebrities including Armando Iannucci, who warn that privatisation could lead to job losses and the closure of small businesses relying on the company. The Yorkshire Post quotes Nick Baines saying the plan is ideologically driven, short-sighted and wrong. “Channel 4 is the levelling up broadcaster, it’s good for our region. It ain’t broke – so the government shouldn’t be trying to fix it”, the bishop is quoted as saying.

European religious leaders say their groups are at the heart of peacebuilding and reconciliation

The European Council of Religious Leaders met at the Nishkam Sikh centre in Birmingham last week and agreed a declaration to end the war in Ukraine and be involved in peacebuilding projects afterwards to ensure it never happens again.  It was their first meeting in person since the pandemic and they united behind a statement that “religious action continues to play a defining role in addressing the biggest challenges we face together in the world today”.  The Council also declared that faith-based school organisations showed that values based education was a moral imperative to help bring about peace in the world. Hosted in Birmingham, the Council said the city was a living example of multi-religious collaboration.


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