Religion news 2 April 2024

Image credit: Nasa's James Webb Space Telescope image of the universe. CCLicense2.0

Easter means love in action: Justin Welby

In his Easter sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, called for love in action, to confront evil and pain in the world. He listed action to help feed the starving children of Gaza and Sudan and for 25 to 30 per cent of children in this country in poverty. He called for action to confront evil and pain caused by people smugglers and county lines gangs. And on world affairs, he called for action for the hostages held by Hamas, for people living in fear in Ukraine, and for those in up to 50 places of armed conflict.

Easter is a story of service and sacrifice: Cardinal Vincent Nichols

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said the resurrection story gave hope for eternal life and he criticised proponents of assisted dying for defining life as simply usefulness, saying this was a stultifying perspective. The Easter message was the spirit of service and sacrifice and he urged people to adopt it and work for the relief of stark poverty, peace between warring factions and stability in home and society.

Easter brings hope of peace: Pope Francis

Pope Francis presided over mass on Easter Sunday and gave his message to the city and the world “Urbi et Orbi”, saying the Easter story was one of hope, appealing for peace in war zones throughout the world, aid to the people of Gaza and the release of hostages held by Hamas. With the Easter story focussed on the city of Jerusalem, the Pope said eyes must turn to the Christian communities of the Holy Land and his thoughts went especially to the victims of conflicts worldwide, beginning with those in Israel and Palestine, and in Ukraine.

Guardian in favour of Labour working with faith organisations

The Guardian has come out in favour of the Labour party “doing God”. The party is re-stating the importance of working with faith organisations for the common good, in contrast to an infamous quote from Alastair Campbell in 2003 saying “We don’t do God”. Now Sir Keir Starmer has pledged that Labour will work closely with faith leaders, the party has appointed 20 Labour MPs as faith champions, and promises have been made to link government departments with faith and civil society leaders in a future Labour government. The Guardian says in an editorial that Sir Keir is right to “harness the social energy, passion and rootedness that make faith groups such an asset in so many communities”. It points to the party having been shaped by “Christian critiques of excessive individualism and social inequality” and says in a secular and multifaith society “the need for a more egalitarian politics that unlocks the collective power of communities has rarely been more pressing. Broadly, that is the direction in which Labour is proposing to take Britain. The party is right to see religious organisations as useful fellow travellers”.

Richard Dawkins, new atheist, declares himself a cultural Christian

Richard Dawkins, known as a new atheist who has argued against the idea of God, has told LBC radio that he is a self-proclaimed cultural Christian, who loves hymns and Christmas carols and was slightly horrified to hear Ramadan lights were hung on Oxford Street rather than Easter lights. In an interview with Rachel Johnson on LBC, he said he thought it was a problem that Christian attendance was plummeting while mosques were being built across Europe, and he would not be happy if cathedrals and beautiful parish churches were lost: “If I had to choose between Christianity and Islam, I’d choose Christianity every single time.” The author Tom Holland, said in response:  “The Nietzschean question – can you keep the frameworks of Christian morality after killing the Christian god – is one that is bound to haunt all those who define themselves as ‘cultural Christians’ (as Dawkins, to his credit, is honest enough to admit)”.

Iran’s treatment of Baha’is is crime against humanity

Human Rights Watch has released a report saying Baha’is in Iran have faced persecution and abuses since the Islamic revolution in 1979.  It cites arbitrary arrest, property confiscation, restrictions on school and job opportunities, and the right to a dignified burial. The report says this crime against humanity falls within the scope of the International Criminal Court, which defines it as the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law on national, religious or ethnic grounds. The report says it is “critically important to increase international pressure on Iran to end this crime against humanity.”

Kidnappers targeting religious in Haiti for large ransom demands

The Religion News Service reports that in Haiti, in this year alone, at least 14 priests and religious brothers and sisters are being held captive. Kidnappings have increased as armed gangs take over and Catholic priests and other missionaries have become some of the most common targets for kidnappers who want to exact a large ransom. The RNS tells the story of a nun who was abducted with two other sisters in early March, saying the gang requested a ransom of $2 million.

The Universe as a conscious creator replaces idea of supernatural God

The increasingly common phenomenon of people looking skyward and thanking The Universe for a series of fortunate events, lucky escapes or successes, has a name. Cosmopsychism is a theory put forward by Professor Philip Goff of Durham University, a philosopher and writer on the mind and consciousness. His book “Why? The Purpose Of The Universe” suggests that without proof of a supernatural creator God, the universe itself can be seen as having a consciousness, a goal to create life and govern nature. Writing in The Herald, under the title “Mind-blowing theory on God could spark new 21st-century religion”, Neil Mackay says “there’s probably no better time than Easter Sunday to explore these strange, new ideas”.


Sign up for our news bulletin