Religion news 16 August 2022

Image credit: Diocese of York CCLicense2.0

Iran denies it had any involvement in attack on Salman Rushdie

The author of The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie, remains in a critical condition after being stabbed multiple times while delivering a lecture in New York. The attack came 33 years after the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his death and putting a $3million bounty on his head. A 24-year-old man has been arrested for attempted murder and assault. On Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said Tehran “categorically” denied any link to the attack and said Salman Rushdie and his supporters were to blame and worthy of condemnation. The UK shadow foreign secretary David Lammy urged the government to put pressure on Iran to apologise and withdraw the “truly sickening” comments.

Meanwhile on Twitter, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, came to the support of JK Rowling, who was threatened for supporting Rushdie: “It is appalling that there are threats to JK Rowling after her support for Salman Rushdie. Threats and attacks undermine the freedom on which we all rely to be able to comment. Prayer and much sympathy for both”.

Muslim appeal for 6 million people devastated by Somalia drought

The Muslim aid charity Muslim Hands has launched an appeal for Somalia, where the worst drought for 40 years has caused devastating consequences for an estimated 6 million people. 80 per cent of water sources are drying up, crops have failed and people have been displaced, moving to areas with better access to dwindling supplies of food and water. The drought comes after 30 years of conflict and a number of climate disasters, which have caused widespread poverty. Muslim Hands is providing food parcels, water trucks, mother and child clinics, and community wells.

Leading Reform synagogue recognises children of a non Jewish mother as Jewish

Edgware and Hendon Reform Jewish synagogue, has announced that  it will support “inherited status”, where children of a non-Jewish mother and Jewish father are recognised as Jewish without undergoing conversion. The Jewish Chronicle reports that the Reform Movement approved this policy seven years ago, but some synagogues did not introduce it, recognising only the child of a Jewish mother as Jewish. Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers said it made sense that men and women are treated equally with respect to Jewish status. One fifth of children at the synagogue have one parent who is Jewish.

Quakers in Britain awarded £400,000 grants to develop communities

Quakers in Britain have been awarded £200,000 over three years, by the Benefact Trust,  to support Quaker communities and meetings through local development workers.  The funds are in addition to grants of £100,000 from Bader Philanthropies and WF Southall, each awarded over two years. The Quakers say the funding will allow them to increase capacity, impact in the community and spiritual growth. There are 11 local workers at present and the aim is to provide one within easy reach of every Quaker community by the end of 2022.

Scientific study on impact of music in worship

The Templeton Religion Trust is funding research into the scientific impact of music in liturgy. The research, undertaken by Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science, will investigate how music can cause a sense of spiritual, mental and corporate wellbeing. It will be based at St Paul’s Knightsbridge, a church with a rich musical tradition in west London. Its director of music Dr Joseph Fort told Premier Christian Radio that the research would look at how music was experienced in the context of liturgy, for regulars and new people attending mid-week services.

Hare Krishna island retreat in Ireland prepares for August festival

Hare Krishna devotees are renovating a former hunting lodge on “Hare Krishna island”, at Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, to make it into a retreat for visitors.  The Guardian reports that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a branch of Hinduism made famous in the west by the Beatle, George Harrison, bought the island 40  years ago and has kept it going through voluntary effort, donations and welcoming visitors. The report says the island attracts people from Britain, India and the US, as well as a growing Indian population and Ukrainians who live nearby. The community is preparing to celebrate Janmashtami, a Hindu festival, on 18 and 19 August.

Community of Holy Island may be “ripped apart” by new fishing proposals

Fishermen on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland, are said to be shocked and dismayed at a proposed ban on fishing to re-wild the sea. The Telegraph reports that a consultation is underway to re-designate the sea to the north of the island, which would outlaw crab and lobster fishing. Holy Island, or Lindisfarne, is a centre of pilgrimage with a monastery founded by St Aidan in 635AD. It is linked to the mainland by a causeway which disappears at high tide. There are only 150 people living there, and residents warn that if the fishermen cannot make a living they will move, ripping the heart out of the community.

Archbishop baptises five people in the sea at Bridlington

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, baptised five people in the sea at Bridlington last weekend, near to Emmanuel Church, Bridlington, on the town’s South Beach. “If you’re at the seaside, where better to experience the washing away of past hurts and the re-birth than out in the waves?”, he said. One of those baptised, Ryan Hartshorne, said everyone had made mistakes in the past, but baptism was a moment for a fresh start. The past was the past and it was all about the future.


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