Religion news 18 august

Image credit: Julie Setchfield

Bishop: A-level u turn is “bewilderingly boggling”

The government’s decision to allow A-levels and GCSE results to be based on teacher assessments and not an algorithm, has been welcomed by Church of England bishops. The Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines tweeted: “It is bewilderingly boggling. I am incredulous”. The Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, said “This is helpful, encouraging, and right”. And earlier:  “I honour the resilience of teachers in the face of consistent mistrust, indeed contempt. The assumption in England seems to be that all teachers will have distorted truth so as to exaggerate their students’ abilities. This mess offers an opportunity to reset the compass of trust”. The Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, said: “The right decision prevails, but questions must be asked how this mess happened in the first place, causing unnecessary stress to thousands of young people, their families, and teachers”.

The National Association of Teachers of Religious Education welcomed the u-turn but said it had taken too long. The government “ought to have liaised more with the teaching profession to ensure that students were not put in such stressful situations…. NATRE trust that higher education institutions will receive financial and logistical support so that they can offer places to all those who now meet the conditions of their preferred university offer.”

Democrats line up faith leaders

The US Democratic party has lined up several faith leaders to speak at its online convention this week, confirming the importance of the faith vote in November’s presidential election. Polling shows that votes from white evangelicals and Catholics were decisive in Trump’s 2016 victory. Joe Biden is Roman Catholic and his running mate, Kamala Harris, is a Baptist and has roots in Baptist, Hindu and Jewish traditions.

The convention opened with an interfaith service stressing unity. Imam Noman Hussain, from Milwaukee, said the country is “searching desperately for anyone to pour mercy and humanity to cool the flames that are destroying our society”. 

The Associated Press reports that faith leaders scheduled to speak include: the Episcopal bishop of Washington DC, Mariann Budde, who criticised President Donald Trump after he held a Bible aloft in a photo op outside St John’s Lafayette Square; the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, the Florida-based pastor who founded the National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Archbishop Elpidophoros, leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Rabbi Lauren Berkun, vice president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America; Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the advocacy group Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; and Imam Al-Hajj Talib ’Abdur-Rashid, a Muslim social justice activist who leads the New York-based Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood.

Indian journalist beaten up because of religion

Three Indian journalists say they were attacked by a mob while reporting on a story in New Delhi, because one of them was identified as Muslim.  Shahid Tantray and two colleagues were filming for The Caravan magazine in northeast Delhi, an area where religiously motivated violence has killed 53 people, mainly Muslims. Tantray told Al Jazeera that a small group shouted that Tantray was a Muslim, then a mob beat him up and the police were called. Statements were taken and police said appropriate action would be taken. 

Zimbabwe Roman Catholic bishops branded ‘evil’

The Associated Press reports that Roman Catholic bishops in  Zimbabwe say the country is embroiled in an economic and political crisis marked by human rights abuses. In a pastoral letter read out at all Catholic churches Sunday, the bishops said Zimbabwe is in “a multi-layered crisis of the convergence of economic collapse, deepening poverty, food insecurity, corruption and human rights abuses.” The government responded by saying the bishops were “evil” and trying to promote genocide.

Secrets of a Roman Catholic family in Norfolk

Two thousand pieces of history of a Catholic family living in Tudor England have been uncovered under the floorboards of Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk. The Times reports that the find includes book fragments, manuscripts and musical scores which may have been used in illegal services. The building was the home of the Bedingfield family and is now owned by the National Trust.