Religion news 22 October 2021

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Image credit: UKParliament

Campaign against assisted dying bill as peers prepare to vote

The former prime minister Gordon Brown has joined the high-profile campaign to oppose measures that would allow assisted dying. Baroness Meacher, a prominent humanist who chairs Dignity in Dying, has introduced a bill in the House of Lords which will be voted on today (Friday). The bill has been opposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi and the head of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales, on the grounds that it would threaten vulnerable people. Mr Brown agrees and he warns in The Times that the move would change society’s view of mortality and affect trust in doctors and nurses. Opinion among religious leaders is divided and there is an alternative campaign pushing for change. View our background media briefing here

Labour MP says last rites should be enshrined in law

The Labour MP Mike Kane has said that a Catholic priest’s right to give the last rites to the dying, including at crime scenes, should be enshrined in law. His plea follows the report that Sir David Amess MP, a devout Catholic, was denied the last rites as he lay dying from stab wounds, because the area was a crime scene. Mr Kane has proposed the “Amess amendment” that that no matter where a person is dying, they should have the right to receive that sacrament.

Pope says the world needs more female leadership in world affairs

Days before the G20 meets in Rome, Pope Francis has called for more female leadership in world affairs, telling the Women’s Forum G20 that “our world needs the collaboration of women, their leadership and their abilities, as well as their intuition and their dedication”. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, read the Pope’s message by video. The Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society, founded by Publicis public relations to highlight women’s voices in government and diplomacy, was meeting for two days in Milan.

Christian Aid chief steps down

Amanda Khozi Mukwashi is to step down as chief executive of Christian Aid to take up a new role with the United Nations. Her decision was made earlier this year and staff at Christian Aid were told yesterday. Ms Mukwashi, 52, was born in Twickenham, southwest London, a daughter of former diplomats from Zambia, and worked for Zambian aid projects and the UN before joining Christian Aid three years ago. Last month, Chine McDonald the head of community fundraising and public engagement at Christian Aid, announced that she was leaving to become chief executive of the think tank Theos.

Welsh government says humanist marriages must have legal recognition

The Welsh Government has confirmed its support for the legal recognition of humanist marriages, telling the UK Government that this issue should be resolved now, or devolved to Wales. Humanist marriages are legally recognised in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the Channel Islands. But they are not in England and Wales. Humanists UK explains that couples now wishing to have a humanist wedding must also have a civil ceremony for it to be legal, which leads to complaints from couples who regard the humanist ceremony as the real occasion for authentic vows.

Investigation into allegations that father and son rabbis are evangelical Christians

A father and son practising as Orthodox rabbis in America have been accused of being secret evangelical Christians, the Jewish Chronicle reports. If proved, it would affect the status of the many rituals over which they have presided, such as weddings, washing the dead and conducting divorces. In May, the Chronicle revealed that a fake rabbi and his family were operating in Jerusalem, alongside a network of other Messianic Jews embedded in Israeli Orthodox communities. It says Messianic Jews want to convert Jews to Christianity in the belief that will bring about the second coming. The Chronicle says in this latest story, the men have not responded to its questions.

‘Little Amal’ visits Lambeth Palace

A travelling street theatre project, where “Little Amal”, a giant puppet, portrays a nine-year-old Syrian girl refugee, was taken on tour to Lambeth Palace this morning. It began its journey at the Turkish-Syrian border attracting publicity to highlight the plight of refugee children and will visit various towns in the UK on its way to Manchester, where its journey will end on 3 November.

Creating Connections: sign up in Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth and Birmingham

The Religion Media Centre has launched a project this autumn to enhance religious literacy and understanding in a landscape often fraught with misconceptions and assumptions on both sides. Creating Connections, where Religion meets the Media features a series of events to improve links between religious groups and journalists in England. They are an opportunity to explore the way religion and worldviews are interwoven into community life and it is hoped that key stories on religion and belief will be brought to life and lasting contacts for the future will be made. Reserve a place using the links below. All events take place in the afternoon. The Leeds event was last week. Here are the next four:

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