Religion news 17 June 2022

Stonetown of Zanzibar. Image credit: Son of Groucho CCLicense2.0

£10 billion endowment fund behind the Church of England linked to slave trade

The endowment fund which sustains the Church of England has roots in the slave trade, according to recently commissioned research. The Church Commissioners for England has discovered that Queen Anne’s Bounty, a predecessor fund of the Church Commissioners’ £10.1 billion endowment, had links with the transatlantic slave trade.  The Church Commissioners said it was deeply sorry for those links. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is chair of the Church Commissioners, said he was also deeply sorry and that it was a source of shame.  

Advice on ethics may disappear from Number Ten

The day after the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser, Lord Geidt, abruptly resigned,  Number Ten said Boris Johnson was considering scrapping  the role and would review the system of enforcing the ministerial code. Lord Geidt issued a letter explaining his decision. He said the idea that a Prime Minister might be in the business of deliberately breaching his own (Ministerial) Code was an affront  and he could have no part in it. Two ethics advisers have quit within two years.

Rwanda deportations are “immoral” and “against teachings of all faiths”

The House of Lords has been told that the Government’s policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda goes against the teachings of all faiths. In response to a statement explaining the failure to send a plane with deportees to Rwanda this week, Lord Singh of Wimbledon said people being moved to Rwanda, while fleeing for their lives, goes against all the concepts of Christian teachings and the teachings of other faiths too. The Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, repeated the bishops’ objections and said the policy was immoral.  He said the asylum seekers “have had no consideration of their asylum claims, recognition of their medical or other needs, or attempts to understand their predicament” and asserted it was immoral, given that many were desperate people fleeing unspeakable horrors. Hansard text here

Cinema boycott call following “The Lady of Heaven” protests

The Muslim Action Forum, an organisation which campaigns to “protect the honour of the Prophet Mohammed”, is urging Muslims to boycott the cinema chains which showed the controversial film “The Lady of Heaven”. It tells a story of the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima, woven into a modern day story about ISIS. BUT its portrayal of the Prophet, Fatima and the early leaders of the faith has been described as blasphemous by some Muslim groups. There were  loud protests outside Cineworld cinemas, which banned the screenings. The film was also shown in Vue cinemas but no further screenings are planned. The Forum has written a letter of complaint to the British Board of Film Classification, saying it should never have been given a licence.

London theatre puts on play addressing rise of antisemitism in liberal left

The Jewish Chronicle reports that Jonathan Freedland is writing a play “Jews. In Their Own Words”, addressing how “enlightened liberal, avowedly anti-racist organisations across the liberal cultural left, from universities to the theatre, to the media to the Labour Party” succumb to antisemitism. It is to be put on at the Royal Court Theatre, which has been accused of antisemitism in previous productions. The show, to be staged in September, involves interviews between Jonathan Freedland and the former Labour MP Luciana Berger, Margaret Hodge MP, novelist Howard Jacobson, historian Simon Schama and the actress Tracy-Ann Oberman, who came up with the idea.

Catholic bishops oppose process for composting dead bodies into soil

The Religion News Service reports attempts in California to legalise the process of composting bodies into soil, which takes 30 days. It is legal in the state of Washington, Colorado and Oregon – New York awaits the governor’s approval. But in California, only burial, cremation and alkaline hydrolysis (where the body is broken into its chemical components) are available. Catholic bishops oppose the bill because they say it reduces the body to simply a disposable commodity.


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