Religion news 17 June 2021

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Image credit: @IllinoisBaptist

Southern Baptists reject ultra-conservative presidential candidate

The Southern Baptist Convention in America has elected a moderate as its next president, rejecting a right-wing conservative candidate. Ed Litton (pictured), a minister from Alabama, known for work in race reconciliation, won with 52 per cent of the vote. The church is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States and is split on several issues including critical race theory and response to sex abuse. Delegates rejected a proposal denouncing critical race theory and established a task force to address the mishandling of allegations of abuse, saying abusive pastors should be banned. Religion News Service has extensive coverage here

Church commissioners money investigated for slavery links

The Church Commissioners are investigating their £9.2bn investment fund for links to slavery. In their annual report they say: “Long-established endowment funds may give rise to a reputational risk linked to the possibility of their original source, or early investment of funds, having slave trade connections. This could be the case for the original Queen Anne’s Bounty and Ecclesiastical Commissioners’ funds.” These date from 1704 and 1836.

Bishop challenges anomaly allowing singing in pubs not churches

The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, has highlighted the inconsistent approach to the lifting of coronavirus restrictions. He said in the House of Lords: “You can sing in a pub but not in a church. This is what brings the rules into disrepute, and therefore people do not agree with them.” Lord Bethell, a government health minister, acknowledged anomalies existed and said the decision was made after scientific analysis as “this is an airborne, aerosol disease, breathed into buildings at huge risk to those inside, and there is a direct correlation between infection rates and that kind of singing”.

Global church group urges US and Russian presidents to co-operate

Presidents Biden and Putin have agreed to begin a dialogue on nuclear arms control, one of the main issues on their agenda alongside the social and economic impacts of the pandemic and climate change. The World Council of Churches, representing 500 million Christians, published an open letter, urging the two men to reduce tensions and achieve a stable relationship to effect global co-operation especially for peace and justice.

French Muslims ‘more at risk’ from Covid-19 0

The news agency Reuters has collated data suggesting that the Covid death rate among French Muslims is much higher than in the overall population. French law forbids the gathering of data based on ethnic or religious affiliations, but Reuters’ own research suggests: “Excess deaths in 2020 among French residents born in mainly Muslim North Africa were twice as high as among people born in France.” Community leaders and researchers say the reason is that Muslims tend to have a lower-than-average socioeconomic status

Newly ordained woman rabbi loses long-standing job at London school

An Orthodox female lecturer has lost her role at the London School of Jewish Studies after she graduated as a rabbi, the Jewish Chronicle reports. Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz, 61, graduated on Tuesday an Orthodox school in New York that ordains female pupils but is not recognised by United Synagogue. The JC reports that she never intended to seek a post as a communal rabbi. A group of 35 Reform and Liberal faith leaders have strongly criticised the decision in a letter addressed to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. His office said she had “stepped beyond the boundaries of mainstream Orthodoxy” and her continued affiliation would have compromised the school’s commitment to Orthodox Jewish education and training.


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