Religion news 20 May 2022

Image credit Danny Robinson CCLIcense2.0

£24.5 million for security at mosques and Islamic schools

The Home Office has announced that mosques and Muslim faith schools have been given access to a £24.5 million fund for security measures to protect their places of worship and schools. In 2020/2021, 45 per cent of religious hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales were targeted against Muslims. Security measures could include the installation of CCTV cameras, perimeter fencing and security guards. In addition, £3.5 million is available for other faith communities and the scheme runs alongside the separate Jewish Community Protective Security grant.

Western world “turning its back” on persecution of Christians in Nigeria

The violent death of Nigerian student Deborah Samuel, who was stoned to death and set ablaze for allegedly making a blasphemous statement on a WhatsApp group against the Prophet Mohammed,  has sparked concern and outrage. The Archbishop of Canterbury has strongly condemned the attack and called on the Nigerian government to ensure liberty and equality under the law for all, no matter their faith. The Spectator carries an article suggesting “much of the Western world turns a blind eye” to the brutal persecution of Christians in Nigeria. Hardeep Singh outlines statistics showing more Christians have been killed for their faith in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world. He says the USA has turned its back on Nigeria and the British government’s response has been patchy. Spectator article here

Prayer for the Lambeth conference of global Anglicans

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for a day of prayer for the Lambeth Conference, when bishops from all parts of the Anglican communion meet to discuss matters of common concern. The conference starts on 27 July in Canterbury and the day of prayer is on Sunday 12 June.  It has a history of airing strong disagreements on issues such as human sexuality, which has led to division and a breakaway conference GAFCON, set up in 2008. Marriage, sexuality and relationships will be discussed this year, but the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby,  says it is unlikely there will be a single common understanding.. The conference timetable includes discussion continuing over the next two years in local church organisations. Other issues such as climate change figure on the agenda, as well as moving towards a “postcolonial model of global church”.

Tributes to a champion of women’s rights in Islam

The Guardian carries an obituary for Haleh Afshar, Lady Afshar, a writer, academic and campaigner on women’s rights and Islamic feminism, who died last week aged 77. The tribute explains that she was born in Iran, and became professor of politics and women’s studies at the University of York, basing ideas of  women’s rights to own property, contribute to public debate, and to be paid for housework, on the Quran. She was a commissioner on the government’s Women’s National Commission,  chair of an independent committee advising the government on the views of women in the British Muslim community, and was made a life peer in 2007. She leaves her husband, children and grandchildren.

Are meditation apps authentically Buddhist?

The author of a book on Cyber Zen is questioning whether meditation apps that leave a feeling of relaxation and bliss are truly Buddhist. Gregory Grieve, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, writes in the Conversation that “authenticity is not determined by its strict adherence to older forms. Rather, an authentic practice furthers a happiness founded on deeper meanings, whereas an inauthentic practice may only provide fleeting pleasure or temporary relief”. Article here


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