Religion news 21 September 2021

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Image credit: Faith for ecocide law

Faith communities aim to make ecocide an international crime

A global interfaith initiative has been launched to make ecocide — the destruction of the natural environment by deliberate or negligent human action — an international crime. The Faith for Ecocide Law conference was organised by Stop Ecocide International, the Christian Council of Sweden, and the Catholic diocese of Stockholm and attended by representatives from more than 50 countries. The International Criminal Court was established in 1998 to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Faith groups are being asked to put pressure on their governments to amend the court’s governing document to include a fifth crime of ecocide. Read Rosie Dawson’s report here

Muslim conference on engaging faith and climate change

A conference is to be held next week on how Islam influences the practices, behaviour and lifestyles of Muslims to care for the environment. Organised by Manchester University’s Sustainable Consumption Institute, Muslims in Britain Research Network and the Muslim Council of Britain, it will focus on how Muslims can be engaged in wider debates around issues of sustainability and the environment. It says Muslim voices are often marginalised, yet there is community activism on climate change issues and the green policy agenda.

Justin Welby returns from a three-month sabbatical …

  • Archbishop: church growth ‘has not so far happened’
    Kaya Burgess in The Times, points to Archbishop Welby’s comments in a Church Times interview on the numerical decline of congregations. £248m was invested by the Church of England between 2017 and 2020 to stem the decline of people in the pews, but the archbishop volunteered that “this has not so far happened”. The Times says the average attendance at Sunday services across the church fell from 740,000 in 2016 to 690,000 in 2019.
  • Archbishop: restore war widows’ pensions
    In the Telegraph, Archbishop Welby warned Boris Johnson that he was doing a “very great wrong” to war widows who cannot draw pensions because they remarried after losing their husbands. About 200 women who remarried between 1973 and 2015 have been denied the pension and are “in a cruel and unjustifiable situation and facing unbearable decisions”.
  • Archbishop: support MP Duffield’s rights in trans row
    On Twitter, Archbishop Welby showed his support for the Labour MP Rosie Duffield who is not attending the Labour conference for fear of abuse over her views on transgender issues. He said: “Absolutely everybody has the right to be safe from abuse, threat or harm. That includes Rosie Duffield AND the transgender community. It’s about time we looked for our shared humanity in our dealings with others, rather than the division. #disagreewell” 

Gafcon rebel Anglican group supports opponents of same-sex blessings in Wales

The rebel conservative Anglican global organisation Gafcon (Global Anglican Future Conference), which split from the main Anglican group over disagreements on the ordination of women, same-sex relationships and theology, has revealed that it has been in contact with members of the Church in Wales following a vote to allow same-sex blessings. Anglican Ink reports that in a statement issued after their recent meeting in Nairobi, Gafcon leaders said faithful Christians in Wales who were heartbroken over the decision “reached out to the Primates Council” which responded with encouragement and solidarity and said it would stand with the opponents in solidarity.

The statement also declared that the consecration of women as bishops was not a “salvation issue” and would not disrupt their group. They were forced to discuss their response after the Church of Kenya consecrated its first woman as a diocesan bishop. Gafcon is split over women’s ordination, imposing a moratorium on allowing women as bishops in 2018, which this appointment breaks.

Anglican church urges emergency G7 meeting to distribute vaccines fairly

The worldwide Anglican church is appealing to G7 governments to hold an emergency meeting to address global issues of hoarding and wastage of Covid vaccines. In a statement it says 80 per cent of vaccines have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries, while Africa’s vaccination coverage is at 2 per cent. “Rich nations must not hoard the surpluses amassed, but must share … National vaccine surpluses must be equitably and effectively shared, with waste avoided and lives saved,” the church says.

Four men arrested after antisemitic abuse hurled from convoy in north London

Four men have been charged over an incident that went viral on social, media, when a convoy of cars adorned with Palestinian flags drove through north London with men shouting antisemitic abuse through the windows. It happened shortly after violence erupted in the Israel-Palestine conflict when airstrikes on Gaza killed more than 40 people. The suspects, all from Blackburn, Lancashire, are accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to stir up racial hatred. They will appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on 6 October.

Campaign to stop three Sikh men from being extradited to India

More than 11,000 people have signed a petition appealing to the government to revoke the extradition treaty between the UK and India, following a campaign to stop the removal of three British Sikh men from the West Midlands. The Sikh Press Association says the men had spoken out against Sikhs being killed in 1984 and by police in the 1990s. West Midlands police say the men were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to a murder in Punjab in 2009. They were arrested in December last year and their appeal will be heard later this week.

Jewish News is best British weekly free paper

The Society of Editors has awarded the Jewish News the title of Britain’s best free weekly newspaper. In the Regional Press awards, judges said it had a “laser-like focus on the issues that are important to its readers”. Co-publishers Richard Ferrer and Justin Cohen said this was a remarkable achievement especially in this year, when there was “11th-hour disappointment of not merging with the Jewish Chronicle”, adding: “No other religious paper in Britain has been shortlisted for this national title, let alone actually won it.”


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