Religion news 17 November

Image credit: Yakir Zur, Mitzvah Day

Police crack down on Christians’ resistance to lockdown

Pockets of Christian resistance to lockdown rules have been rigorously slapped down by police. In the village of Gedling, Nottinghamshire, two men were arrested at the Mustard Seed Christian bookshop and tearoom after it remained open and attracted about 50 customers. The owner, Chris Stala, was interviewed on Premier Christian radio and cited the Magna Carta in defence. And in Islington, north London, police stopped a baptism service in contravention of the lockdown rules, while the pastor said they worked for the “greater good”. In the end, 15 people were allowed to remain in the church and the other 15 met outside.

Scotland Yard has written to faith leaders stressing the dangers of hosting large religious gatherings. “There have been small pockets where religious venues have breached the regulations, potentially putting people in danger of spreading the virus. This is deeply regrettable and, in the interests of public safety, we have attended those incidents and ensured that crowds are dispersed”.

Macron rails against English language media over reports of recent murders

The French president Emmanuel Macron has taken English language media to task for their analysis of why there were terror attacks in France in recent weeks. In one case a teacher was beheaded on a Paris street and in another, three people were stabbed to death in Nice. In an interview with The New York Times, he said that when he sees articles from countries that share French values say that the heart of the problem is that France is racist and Islamophobic, then the founding principles have been lost. “It is as though the violence has been legitimised,” Macron said, and foreign media did not understand the concept of “laïcité” — secularism, or the separation between church and state.

Anniversary celebrated of Sikh scripture

The Sikh Council says yesterday (15 November) marked the anniversary of the day when the last Sikh guru, Guru Granth Sahib Jee — the holy scripture — was appointed as the Eternal Guru. The words and verses are regarded as the living word of God. Sikhs do not worship the scripture but treat it with reverence for its wisdom and spiritual teaching, standing when it is brought into a room and keeping it on a raised platform in a gurdwara, where it is kept open and read in liturgy.

Churches campaign for justice on hunger, homelessness and citizens’ rights

Three churches in Britain are warning of hunger, homelessness and the ability of vulnerable EU citizens to stay in the UK in the coming months. The Joint Public Issues Team, representing the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Methodist Church of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church, has produced information for church leaders helping vulnerable EU citizens to apply for settled status; a webinar for churches offering beds for homeless people, while observing lockdown rules; and appeals for support for a “reset the debt” campaign, for people facing eviction due to reduced income through the impact of the coronavirus.

300 faith organisations support charity events on Mitzvah Day

More than 300 British faith communities and organisations took part in Mitzvah Day 2020 (Sunday 15 November), joined by 40 schools and thousands of families and individual volunteers. They gave possessions and food to collection points, visited people on their doorsteps, arranged virtual tea parties in care homes and took part in a number of other activities co-ordinated over Zoom. Mitzvah Day sees Jews, Muslims, Christians and those from all faiths and backgrounds helping others in small acts of kindness. Organisers say the crisis for food shortage and loneliness in the pandemic is so acute that there will be an entire “month of Mitzvahs” throughout November.