Religion news 15 June 2021

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Bishop of London welcomes lifting of wedding restrictions

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, has welcomed the lifting of the 30 guest limit for weddings as a relief to many – but understood that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s confirmation that the next stage of lockdown easing is to be delayed would be a blow to many others.  The bishop, who chairs the Church of England’s covid recovery group, said she was hugely thankful for the success and speed of the vaccination programme which had undoubtedly saved many lives, but the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant had to be taken very seriously. She said it was important to “do all we can to protect each other as Christians called to love our neighbour”. She spoke of the extreme frontline pressures on the NHS and said a delay of a few more weeks in lifting restrictions could make a big difference in helping everyone to get ahead in the ‘race’ against the virus which has caused so much death and misery. She said she would continue to press for ongoing appraisal of choral and congregational singing. She stressed that whilst  the pandemic had been a trial for all, they put their trust in God and have hope that there are better times to come.

MPs scathing of BBC report clearing those involved with rehiring Bashir

MPs have expressed concern over an internal BBC report that has cleared executives for re-hiring Martin Bashir as its religious affairs correspondent in 2016, even though it was known that he had faked documents to obtain his Panorama interview with Princess Diana.  Commons Culture Committee Chair, Julian Knight MP,  said members were deeply concerned about the findings. He told the Telegraph: “If the BBC considered him ‘unanimously’ the best candidate, where was the due diligence that should have prevented the corporation from rehiring a former member of staff who had not told a very important truth? Where were senior level discussions? What is disturbing is that it appeared the BBC wanted to interview Bashir at the outset, regardless of who else applied for the job. And, not only did they re-employ him, they promoted him.”  The internal investigation was led by senior BBC executive, Ken MacQuarrie, and published on Monday. Its remit was to find out why Bashir was rehired, when questions had already been asked about his conduct.  As well  as clearing all involved in his recruitment, it also  found there were some “shortcomings” in the process.  Mr Knight said they looked forward to getting answers at today’s committee meeting when former Director-Generals, Lord Hall and Lord Birt, the BBC’s current DG, Tim Davie, and its Chairman, Richard Sharp appear before them. Read the full BBC Report

Labour still has “further to go” in tackling antisemitism

Sir Keir Starmer, has admitted the Labour Party still has “further to go” in tackling antisemitism within his party. Speaking to LBC, the Labour leader  defended his record of tackling the problem under his watch saying they now take action in all of the cases that are brought to their attention.  What happens in the end depends on each case. Sir Keir stressed that many Jewish communities are now working with Labour  to provide education and training within the party – something they weren’t willing to do before. He added that he believed they were gaining the confidence of Jewish communities.

Police investigate desecration of Quran at Lancashire School

Police are investigating separate incidents involving the desecration of the Quran at a secondary school in Preston, Lancashire. The Lancashire Post reports that police attended Fulwood Academy last week. Two students, a boy and a girl from different year groups,  were taken to a police station for questioning.   A police spokesman said they are treating the acts as “hate crimes” and as a critical incident because of the impact it has had within the community.  The school has condemned the two pupils’ actions as “abhorrent” and “appalling” and said that they had never been seen in the school before.  In a letter to parents, headteacher Dave Lancaster  said they had acted quickly in identifying those involved and are working with the police.  He promised to “heal the hurt” that has been caused and is reaching out to local imams for their support.

Sweet drinks served as Sikhs honour Guru Arjun Dev Ji

Sikhs in gurdwaras throughout the world have been serving chabeel – free sweet rose drinks – to honour the martyrdom of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjun Dev Ji, in 1606. He laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple and compiled the Adi Granth scripture, but was tortured with hot sand and killed, because his support and influence was considered a threat. Sikhs honour his burning by cooling other people.

“Thou shalt not bribe” Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer

Officials in charge of Rio de Janeiro’s huge Christ the Redeemer statue are trying to set a moral example by introducing their own compliance programme. The Associated Press reports that after years of Brazilians being battered by revelations of bribery and corruption, administrators of the 125-foot-tall figure overlooking the “Marvellous City” have agreed a partnership with  the Rio branch of international accounting firm, KPMG, to ensure that operations are above board and more transparent. Managers will also be trained on how  to better flag and address suspicious activity and to establish an anonymous hotline for anyone seeking to submit claims or complaints. Almost two million people visited the iconic tourist destination in 2019 before the pandemic and paid relatively hefty fees.

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