Religion news 16 November

Image credit: Royal Navy

Religion drives prejudice more than racism or xenophobia

A report from the Woolf Institute suggests religion is a greater driver of prejudice than racism or xenophobia. A survey of 11,000 people in England and Wales, by the polling company Survation, found  a majority (58%) agreeing that ethnic diversity is good for Britain, but fewer people (41%) think religious diversity is good for Britain. The report “How We Get Along: the Diversity Study for England and Wales 2020” found more negative attitudes towards the Muslim faith than Pakistani origin or Asian ethnicity. While three-quarters are comfortable with a close relative marrying an Asian or black person,  that number drops to 44% when they consider the same relative marrying a Muslim.

This report is the subject of a RMC zoom briefing at 1100 on Monday 16th November. Further details from info@religionmediacentre.org.uk

Bishops call on government to sign treaty banning nuclear weapons

Church of England bishops are calling on the government to sign an international treaty banning nuclear weapons. Fifty other nations that are supporting the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which is a commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons. So far none of the countries with nuclear weapons – China, France, Russia, the US and UK – have signed. In an open letter in the Observer, they renew support for the work of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The Guardian indicates that the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, the prime mover in the initiative, has previously said that Trident is “an affront to God”, and there are no circumstances in which its use could be justified.

Churches take legal action against closure of churches in lockdown

More than 120 church leaders in England and Wales are taking legal action against the government for banning public worship in the lockdown. Funded by the Christian Legal Centre, they are seeking a judicial review of the decision saying it breaches Article 9 rights, including the freedom of Christians to manifest their religion or beliefs in communal worship, teaching, practice and observance. Leaders of all faiths have already written to the Prime Minister strongly disagreeing with the decision.

Jewish News gifted to an independent community news foundation

The owner of the Jewish News, a free weekly, has given the newspaper to a charitable foundation with the aim of making it a  viable and truly independent title. The Press Gazette says the transfer of ownership comes seven months after it published its “final” edition amid ultimately aborted plans to merge with the Jewish Chronicle. Property investor Leo Noé, who has owned the Jewish News for about ten years, has gifted the paper to the Independent Jewish Community News Foundation, aiming to enhance Jewish community life in the UK. Editor Richard Ferrer and news editor Justin Cohen will continue and additional funding will allow investment in its digital offering and the hiring of new staff.

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon lit up to celebrate Diwali

HMS Dragon, on duty near the east coast of the United States, was lit up in red, green and blue last night, to celebrate Diwali – the Festival of Lights – as the sun went down. It’s believed to be the first time that a Royal Navy warship has marked the Hindu celebration formally. Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness and the triumph of good over evil.  The ship’s honorary Commander is Raj Aggarwal, a Cardiff businessman and India’s honorary consul in Wales.

Sikhs also observe the festival of ‘Bandi Chhor Divas’  which means Liberator of the Imprisoned Ones, on the same day and many gudwaras were bathed in light.