Religion news 22 February 2022

Image credit: The Church of England

CofE bishop urges continuing caution despite lifting of Covid measures

As the Prime Minister announced the end of Covid restrictions in England from Thursday, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, chair of the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group and former Chief Nursing Officer in England, sounded a note of caution. She said that the lifting of Covid restrictions in England will nonetheless raise concerns for the most vulnerable in society. The need to “look out for each other” is as great if not greater than ever and although legal restrictions were being lifted, there might be good reasons to take measures for “people with medical conditions who will be more fearful now that compulsory isolation for those likely to be infectious is ending”. She saluted the way people made huge sacrifices in the pandemic and thanked the NHS, front-line workers, clergy, parish volunteers and congregations for being the “glue which has held our communities and our nation together”. Vaccines were, she added, more vital than ever.

Queen carrying on

The Queen, 95, supreme governor of the Church of England, has been self-isolating at Windsor Castle after testing positive for Covid. She has been sent good wishes from  faith leaders. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wished for her comfort and speedy recovery. The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wished for a complete and speedy recovery. The Queen is continuing with her duties.

UK holocaust memorial plans contested in High Court

The Jewish News reports that the High Court will consider today an appeal to block plans for a UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens next to the Houses of Parliament. The plans were given the go ahead in July after an inquiry and support from more than a hundred politicians including Lord Eric Pickles and  Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. But the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust and the Save Victoria Tower Gardens  campaign are appealing the decision, saying there was a lack of consultation on alternative locations and the plan would impact on the Grade II listed Buxton Memorial, commemorating the emancipation of slaves.

Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion – new journal

 QTR, a Journal of Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion, is set to be published by academics in America, countering the assumption that “religions hate queer and trans people”. The Religion News Service reports that the journal, set to be published in 2023, will “explore Christianity, Buddhism, Jewish communities and other faith groups through a queer and trans studies lens”. It will seek to analyse scriptural understanding and the connections between religion, gender and sexuality.

Egyptian draft law banning non specialists from reporting religion

The New Arab reports that two days after Egyptian journalist  Ibrahim Issa refuted the “Isra and Miraj” story in the Quran, the Egyptian parliament approved a draft law banning non-specialists from tackling religion in mass media. Issa claimed in a TV interview that the story, where the prophet Muhammad travelled in a night journey on the back of a winged steed and then ascended into heaven, was “completely delusional”. Soon after, his views were condemned by Egypt’s highest theological authority, the public prosecutor ordered an investigation and officials from the supreme council for media regulation said they would report on whether to take legal action in case of violation of its codes.

Plans to put the Mount of Olives in a national park

The Associated Press reports that Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority is backing down from a plan to encompass Christian holy sites on the Mount of Olives in a national park, following an outcry from major churches. The site in east Jerusalem is revered in three monotheistic faiths. The Armenian, Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches petitioned the government saying they  unequivocally objected to the plan as it would “confiscate and nationalize one of the holiest sites for Christianity”.

Methodist thrift tradition continues in Repair Café in Hampshire

The Methodists in Waltham Chase, Hampshire, are renewing the tradition of thrift by opening a Repair Café  to repair broken portable domestic items which would otherwise be dumped in landfill. So far, they have repaired an exercise bike, guitar case, computer-printer interface and a pair of trousers. The church won a county council grant, installed a shipping container as a workshop and fitted it out with workbench and tools. It says there are benefits for mental health as people turn up to learn how to repair and mend, save money and be part of a community sharing skills. Repair Café is an international movement which began in Holland 13 years ago.


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