Religion news 22 March 2022

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Image credit: Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine CCLicense4.0

Ukraine news

Eight people killed in strike on Kyiv shopping centre; Residential areas in Odessa bombed; Ukraine refuses to surrender in Mariupol where hundreds are missing under rubble and people are shelled while fleeing; Protesters in Kherson shot at by Russian soldiers; Zelenskiy challenges Putin to meet for talks to end the war

Patriarch Kirill repeats belief that Russia and Ukraine are one nation

Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, has repeated his support for the belief that Russia and Ukraine are one nation and “no brother” should  take up arms against another. The Odessa Journal reports that the Minister of Internal Affairs Vadim Denisenko interprets this as a cynical attempt to divide people within Ukraine.  The Church Times reports Kirill’s sermon from last Sunday at Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Moscow, where he said Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were three peoples connected by a single Slavic culture. Polish News reports that the metropolitan of Warsaw and all of Poland, Archbishop Sawa , appealed to Kirill to raise his voice and declare the war be stopped.  

Orthodox Christians openly split on “Russian World” fuelling Ukraine invasion

The vital importance of the concept of “Russian World” (Russkii Mir) as the explanation for Russian aggression in Ukraine and wider vision of empire, is explained by Dr Katie Kelaidis in an article for Religion Despatches. She reports that a declaration denouncing the concept, signed by Orthodox Christians from around the world has appeared on websites of the  Volos Academy for Theological Studies and the Center for Orthodox Christian Studies at Fordham University. Dr Kelaidis says the Moscow Patriarchate rejected the declaration through a response on the website of  Alexander Shipkov, who said it was a political document and nothing to do with genuine Christianity.

Hare Krishna devotees join drive to help Ukraine refugees

A team from Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire has joined travelled to the borders between Hungary, Romania and Ukraine to offer food and practical supplies. The venture followed an appeal by the manor and the Lotus Trust, and the aim was to meet fellow Hare Krishna devotees to help the refugees escaping for the Ukraine war. The team crossed the border once, to deliver food to people inside Ukraine, concerned that the people “were beginning to starve”.  

Other news

Women become leaders in largest Islamic organisation in the world

Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Islamic organisation based in Indonesia, has welcomed women into its top leadership roles for the first time since it was founded nearly 100 years ago. Al Jazeera reports that 11 women have been elected to its central board for a five-year term. Nahdlatul Ulama has between 40 – 90 million members, and runs programmes to fund schools and hospitals alongside projects to alleviate poverty. It is regarded as a champion of religious tolerance in the region.

Haverford West, a popular centre for Muslims, acquires a new mosque

A former tax office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, is to be turned into a mosque and community centre. It’s sixties rectangular shape will house Quran classes, after school activities, community social events such as festivals and exercise classes and community space, a planning report states. Haverfordwest has the highest number of Muslim residents in Pembrokeshire and is a popular holiday destination for Muslim families.

Pandemic crisis of commitment declining amongst US clergy

The Religion News Service publishes data suggesting three per cent of clergy in America are rethinking their choice of vocation and thinking of leaving. 37 per cent said this thought sometimes crossed their minds, but only a few acted upon it. The research was from the Harvard Institute for Religion Research which wanted to test headlines from the Barna Group, suggesting 2 in 5 Christian pastors had considered quitting full-time ministry during the pandemic.

Free speech row over Christian concern event at Oxford College

A solicitor has compiled an independent report into a Wilberforce Academy Christian Concern event at Worcester College, Oxford, which led to complaints from visiting potential students, who said the conference attendees were aggressively leafletting and discussing gay conversion therapy. Worcester College apologised for causing them significant distress, but denies that a future event was then cancelled. The independent report outlines conversations about conversion therapy but found no evidence of leafletting. Christian Concern says it was disappointing that the college was “cancelling Christian beliefs, debate and free speech”. The Free Speech Union has written to the Master of Worcester saying no higher education institution should apologise for free speech.

Colourful Hindu celebrations for Holi take place throughout UK

Hindu communities in the UK have been celebrating the arrival of Spring with the festival of Holi, known as the festival of colour. Brightly coloured powder is thrown and carnival festivals include drumming, dancing and parties around a fire, symbolising the triumph of good over evil.  Leicester is known for spectacular ceremonies and this year, the party was held in the park.

Rugby league club signs up to Muslim Athlete Charter

Rugby League club Warrington Wolves have pledged their support to the Muslim Athlete Charter  to support Muslims playing and watching the game. Devised by Nujum Sports, the charter seeks to encourage diversity and inclusion, through sharing knowledge and supporting Muslims in sport. Clubs that commit, produce action plans to achieve zero tolerance of discrimination


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