Religion news 2 August 2021

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Image credit: Moss Travel Media

Archbishop: Cop 26 climate conference cannot afford to fail

The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell has issued a rallying cry to save the planet, using Yorkshire Day (1 August) as a marker to challenge all leaders to take action. In an article for the Yorkshire Post, he said that since arriving in York a year ago, he has witnessed two floods and observed that rising water levels are now common place rather than once in a century occurrences. The international climate conference, Cop26, in Glasgow in November, cannot afford to fail he said. The eyes of the world, especially the poor, are upon the leaders taking decisions there: “It must pierce the insulation of wealth that prevents us from seeing the harm we are doing, to ourselves as well as others”.

The QAnon phenomenon is shifting towards New Age and anti vax movements

QAnon started on US message boards when an anonymous poster began to set out a bizarre conspiracy casting Donald Trump as the hero in a battle against the deep state, which was working with the Hillary Clinton to operate a global child abuse ring involving many of the world’s elites. It now has an estimated 16 million followers in the USA and an unquantifiable number in Britain.  Since Trump’s demise, the movement is shifting towards a New Age, anti-vaccination stance and a downplaying of the Trump element of QAnon stories. Read Andrew Brown’s factsheet here:

Social media companies “failing to tackle antisemitism”

A report by the International Centre for Countering Digital Hate has found a “serious and systematic failure” to tackle antisemitism by large social media companies including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. “Failure to Protect” says platforms were particularly poor at acting on posts that denied or minimised the holocaust, with 80 per cent of such posts receiving no enforcement action. The Centre, an NGO with offices in London and Washington DC, also reported inadequate responses to conspiracy theories that blamed Jews for the COVID-19 pandemic or referred to the community as the “Illuminati” or “New World Order”. The Board of Deputies said the findings showed that social media companies were “failing” the Jewish community.

Power struggle said to be underway for successor to Dalai Lama

A feature in the Guardian suggests a power struggle has already started to choose the successor to the Dalai Lama, when he passes on. Aged 84, he has always insisted talk of his replacement is premature. The feature explains that the Dalai Lama will name his successor, but India and China have vested interests in the role. The Dalai Lama is leader of Buddhists in Tibet, which was incorporated into China in 1950, but he repudiated the agreement and went into exile to  Dharamshala, in India, where the Tibetan Central Administration is based. Guardian feature by Hannah Ellis-Petersen is here

Salvation Army warns homelessness will increase when furlough ends

The Salvation Army is warning that rough sleeping in the capital may rise after furlough ends and people lose their jobs and lives collapse. Latest homelessness figures for London show a drop of 56% on last year and almost half were new rough sleepers, a level which concerns the  Salvation Army’s Hilarie Watchorn. She says: “Thousands were protected from homelessness during the pandemic thanks to schemes like ‘Everyone in’, furlough and eviction protection. However, many of these same people still need help now this safety net is being removed”.

John Sentamu to chair Christian Aid

Christian Aid has announced that Dr John Sentamu, the former Archbishop of York, will be the next Chair of the Board of Trustees, when Dr Rowan Williams steps down in November.  It says he will become the first person of African descent to take up this position in the charity’s 75-year history and has a long track record of speaking about poverty and justice.

Royal Shakespeare Company plans 24 hour event exploring faith in Coventry

The RSC has announced  a mass participation event in Coventry, trying to understand what keeps everyone going in the city, through exploring faith and non religious views . In a co-production with the City of Culture Trust, ‘ Faith’ will be a 24-hour programme on 11 September, involving music, theatre, installation and ritual, telling the stories of Coventry families.  The event, in which the RSC will work with diverse faith communities, is part of Coventry’s 365-day programme of UK City of Culture 2021.

Seventh century stone cross found in the Orkneys

A farmer on the island of Sanday in the Orkney Islands, has discovered an ancient stone cross, thought to be from the Pictish early medieval period, and estimated to be 1300 years old. The Times reports that Malcolm Sinclair only later noticed writing etched on its surface. He and his wife contacted archaeologists and were told it was a very special find and not to touch it. They are waiting for work to turn the stone over so that more etchings can be seen and investigations continued.


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