Religion news 15 October 2021

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Image credit: Tracy Gee

Local journalists reflecting the voices of religion in Leeds

The first event in the Religion Media Centre’s Creating Connections series took place in Leeds yesterday, when representatives from religious groups met the media. Dr Jasjit Singh explained that the religious landscape of the city is close to the national average, with 56% Christian, 28% non religious and the rest divided among other world religions (using 2011 census data). Leeds is also, he revealed, the UK capital of the Star Wars inspired Jedi Knight religion, identified in the census. He showed maps showing the main concentrations of world faiths in different districts and said this information was vital especially in public decision making.

A media panel agreed that what journalists want is real stories about people which will be of interest to everyone. Laura Collins, editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, said journalists had connected with communities more than ever before during the pandemic and it was important that local papers were out there making sure they reflected the voices in their city. Andrew Edwards from BBC Radio Leeds saw an increasing interest in spirituality as well as a closer connection with listeners during the lockdowns.

Representatives from faith groups explained their involvement in environmental campaigns, punting stories to the media in the room, and spoke  of their engagement in housing provision and the cultural life of Leeds. In the health service, Prof Mahendra Patel said it was important to understand religious practices which would affect a patient’s care and Dr Mohammed Sattar, a GP, said faith was really important in end of life care, understanding customs and attitudes of families going through bereavement. A teacher and student welfare officer explained how religion can provide a way of belonging to a community and opportunities for social gatherings, bolstering mental health.

We will post films and more reports on our website. There are four more events in the Creating Connections series:

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali converts to Catholicism

Michael Nazir Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester in the Church of England, has converted to Catholicism. Known for his traditionalist views, he accused the CofE of “jumping onto faddish bandwagons” and was a supporter of GAFCON, the breakaway global Anglican group opposed to the ordination of women, same sex marriage and progressive theology. He could be ordained as a Catholic priest through joining the Catholic Ordinariate, set up to allow Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

Religiously motivated hate crime figures down by 18 per cent

 Home office figures for hate crime in the year ending March 2021, showed a drop in the number of religiously motivated crimes, down from 6856 to 5,627 offences. This was the second successive fall in religious hate crimes since a peak of 7,202 offences in the year ending March 2019. Just under half (45 per cent) of religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslims (2,703 offences). The next most commonly targeted group were Jewish people, who were targeted in 22 per cent of religious hate crimes (1,288 offences). These proportions were similar to the previous year.

Hindu festival of Dussehra today heralds Diwali

The Hindu festival of Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, takes place today, marking the triumph of Lord Rama over the 10-headed demon king Ravana who had kidnapped Lord Rama’s wife. The celebration can involve colourful clothes, food, dancing and fireworks. It falls at the end of the nine day festival of Navratri, the period before Lord Rama’s triumph when he consulted and worshipped the goddess Durga. Today also marks the beginning of the preparation for Diwali, the festival of lights.

Ambitious documentary of Guru Nanak’s travels

A 24-part documentary series telling the story of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh tradition, has been launched online. Created by film companies dedicated to explaining the Sikh heritage,  ‘Allegory, a Tapestry of Guru Nanak’s Travels’ takes in nine countries which Guru Nanak visited, from China to Saudi Arabia. His travels took him to 150 locations including Islamic, Sufi and Hindu areas and, according to tradition, his legacy saw no border, nationality, caste, religion or language – only humanity. The film makers say there  is a com­pelling need to ex­plore and film the sites vis­ited by Guru Nanak so that faded mem­o­ries can be kept alive.

Dean resigns after allowing raunchy dance video in cathedral

The Dean of Toledo Cathedral has been forced to resign after complaints that he allowed it to be used by a rap music star to film a raunchy dance video. A church press statement said Fr Juan Miguel Ferrer requested “institutional forgiveness.. for errors and faults committed over recent days”. The video was for the song “Ateo” (atheist) and involved the rapper  C. Tangana dancing with singer Nathy Peluso.


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