Religion news 20 November

Image credit: Church of England Evangelical Council

Church of England split on the cards if sexuality rules are changed

Leading evangelicals in the Church of England say they will have to reconsider their allegiance to the church if changes to teaching on sexuality are introduced following the consultative process “Living in Love and Faith”. In a film outlining their views, The Beautiful Story, produced by the Church of England Evangelical Council, its president the Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson, said: “As and when the church gets to the point where it changes its teaching and its liturgy and its practice in these areas, is going to be a moment for people to have to reconsider their allegiance to the church. At the moment, I want to be in the Church of England, I want to fight for the traditional teaching of the Church on these matters. But the time may come when it’s going to be essential for those who hold to scriptural teaching on marriage and same-sex relationships to say ‘We cannot operate under this particular system and support this kind of doctrine and practice within the life of our Church.’ And that may then lead to having to look for alternative solutions.” Another speaker in the film, the Rev John Dunnett, suggested new dioceses or provinces could be set up for churches that disagree.

Diocese of Oxford promises thorough investigation into latest Martyn Percy allegation

The Diocese of Oxford has intervened in the story about a new allegation against the Very Rev Martyn Percy, the embattled Dean of Christ Church, which has caused him to temporarily step aside from his post while it is investigated. It said: “Following media reports . . . We are disappointed that those seeking to support the dean are reportedly trying to downplay the severity of the complaint. Such actions belittle the complainant and only add to the distress of anyone else considering a complaint against someone in a senior position. The complaint, which has been brought to the church under the clergy discipline measure, will be properly and thoroughly investigated.”

Co-op funeral care says banning collective worship has devastating impact

Co-op Funeralcare is calling for the reopening of places of worship during lockdown, saying closure has a devastating impact on people and causes isolation. It commissioned a YouGov survey of almost 2,000 people at the beginning of November, which suggested the largest support for places of worship to reopen came from Pentecostal church members, closely followed by Muslims. One fifth of those surveyed had been unable to attend a funeral of a loved one.

Muslim leaders in France required to accept a charter of republican values

The French President Emmanuel Macron has asked Muslim leaders to accept a “charter of republican values” as part of a broad clampdown on radical Islam. The French Council of the Muslim Faith has been given 15 days to accept the charter, which rejects political Islam and foreign interference. It has agreed to create a National Council of Imams, with powers to issue official accreditation that can be withdrawn. The action follows the beheading of a teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class, and the stabbing murders of three people at a church in Nice.

Troubled inner lives of young British Muslims

A report edited by the journalist Yasmin Alibhai Brown, concludes that Britain’s young Muslims feel stereotyped by society and controlled by their communities. The Inner Lives of Troubled Young Muslims was written by six researchers based on interviews with a wide variety of young people, and published by British Muslims for Secular Democracy. She says: “Some were gay and were forced into catastrophic marriages; others lived double lives. Most wanted more choice, more respect and autonomy. Both sexes felt they were misunderstood and stereotyped, and resented being unfree in a free country. It’s not easy being a Muslim in Britain, or indeed, anywhere in the world. They — we — are seen as a security threat. That pervasive scrutiny obviously affects mental and emotional health.”

Cardinal at centre of Vatican financial investigation takes legal action against Italian magazine

The former senior Vatican official in charge of finance, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, is taking civil action against the Italian news magazine L’Espresso, which has published stories about the way he used Vatican funds. He has denied reports that he benefitted family members or intervened in the court case against his rival Cardinal George Pell, whose conviction on sex abuse charges was overturned. He says the allegations are unfounded and he is seeking compensation for the “enormous damages suffered.”

Actress lost musical theatre role after Facebook comments on homosexuality

The actress Seyi Omooba, who lost the lead role in a musical after posting on Facebook that she did not believe people could be born gay, is taking the case to an employment tribunal. Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, she is seeking permission to admit witness evidence from a theatre critic and a theologian who says her views were a fair and reasonable expression of Christian beliefs. She had been cast as Celie in Leicester Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s 2019 co-production of the musical “The Color Purple” but her contract was terminated.