Religion news 18 January 2022

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Image credit: Congregation Beth Israel

Rabbi held hostage describes his daring escape

The rabbi taken hostage with two others in Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Texas on Saturday has described how he managed to escape by throwing a chair at the gunman. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told CBS News that all three men were terrified as the gunman, British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, became more agitated. But they seized an opportunity to rush for the door and ran out without a shot being fired. The gunman was shot dead at the scene. President Joe Biden said it was an act of terror. Police in Manchester have arrested two teenagers in connection with the attack.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints co-ordinates relief for Tonga

 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Pacific Area is organising relief efforts to help people in Tonga after the volcanic eruption and tsunami last weekend. The church says 63.5 per cent of people in the islands are members of their church. There are 174 congregations , 116 meeting houses and six schools run by the church. One temple is in Nuku’alofa and a second temple is being constructed on the island of Vava’u. The church has an emergency supplies container which is being used in relief efforts co-ordinated in New Zealand.

Anne Franks’s betrayer uncovered

A CBS investigation reveals a theory that Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager whose wartime diary is world-famous, was betrayed by a Jewish businessman. She and her family hid for two years until they were found and sent to concentration camps where she died. Investigators told CBS that after six years of research, they believe that Arnold van den Bergh betrayed them to protect his own family from the Nazis.

Vatican visitors face strict Covid vaccination rules

 The Vatican has made Covid-19 vaccinations and booster shots mandatory for employees and visitors wishing to enter the Vatican Museums and gardens. The Governorate of Vatican City State has also said that FFP2 masks should be worn in all closed spaces and other masks outside. People who fail to obey, or to observe social distancing rules and quarantine measure, face heavy fines

Funerals held for 15 Muslims who died in Bronx apartment fire

Fifteen of the 19 people who died in an apartment fire in the Bronx, New York, were Muslims. They were aged between two and 50 and came from the Gambia. It is believed that the fire started in a heater and civic leaders have pointed to inequality and poverty which led to the conditions. The funeral was held at the Islamic Cultural Centre .

Hindu monk jailed for hate speech against Muslims

The Washington Post reports that a Hindu monk in India has been jailed for inciting religious violence after he called for the genocide of India’s Muslims and making derogatory remarks against women. Police said Yati Narsinghanand Giri was an outspoken supporter of far-right nationalists who also heads a Hindu monastery. He appeared in court the day after he was arrested and was sent down for 14 days.

Parishioners in Lorna Doone village fight plans to sell the vicarage

The Times tells the story of uproar in the picturesque parishes of Oare and Culbone, on the north coast of Somerset, as the Church of England plans to sell off the vicarage. St Mary’s in the Oare Valley dates back to the 15th century and is the setting for the marriage of Lorna Doone. Parishioners say they have used the vicarage to attract retired clergy to take weekly services for more than 60 years, but the Diocese of Bath and Wells has prevented them from advertising for a new vicar since 2019 and announced plans to sell the rectory and combine the parishes with five others. The diocese says a consultation process is continuing.

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