Religion news 23 July 2021

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Image credit: @Hadithoftheday

No new Covid cases from this year’s Hajj

As the Islamic Hajj draws to a close, the Saudi health ministry reports no coronavirus infections or other illnesses among the 60,000 pilgrims allowed to participate this year. It says the health measures were a success and complied with across all holy sites. Arab News reports that this was due to planning including the presence of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority and an integral system of health facilities at the holy sites. In the country as a whole, Saudi Arabia confirmed 14 new Covid-19 related deaths and 1,273 new cases.

Humanists UK assemble coalition to fight limitation on judicial review

Humanists UK have assembled a coalition of more than 220 organisations against the UK government’s plans to reduce the scope of judicial review. They include charities, trades unions, human rights bodies, and religion or belief groups. The Judicial Review and Courts Bill considers quashing orders and limiting the judicial review of certain decisions. The coalition says judicial review is an indispensable mechanism for individuals to assert rights and freedoms against the power of the state. Among the supporters are British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, René Cassin, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, the Network of Sikh Organisations, Quakers in Britain, and Belfast Islamic Centre.

Social security system is pushing families into debt

Christians Against Poverty report that the social security system is pushing people into debt, a situation that will worsen when the £20 Universal Credit uplift is cut in the autumn. Its report, Shipshape or Sinking Ship?, surveyed people who receive debt help from the charity and found that those with a monthly income of less than £900 had low scores for financial and mental wellbeing and, post pandemic, their household debt will worsen. Universal Credit claimants nearly doubled to six million since lockdowns began.

Tittle-tattle journalism’ behind downfall of senior US Catholic cleric

The investigation that resulted in the resignation of Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, the senior administrator of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been slammed as “unethical, homophobic innuendo”. The Pillar news and analysis site revealed that he was a frequent user of Grindr, a dating app, and regularly visited gay bars. In an article for the Religion News Service, Steven P. Millies, associate professor of public theology and director of The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago said: “The Pillar is wrong to push this spirit of division even further along with what I only can call the worst sort of tittle-tattle tabloid journalism.”

Young Anglicans tackling gender based violence — in church

Anglicans under the age of 30 are being invited to send in videos about gender-based violence as part of a global campaign by the Anglican communion. The campaign is in its 30th year and the project director, Mandy Marshall, said: “We need to hear the voices and views of young Anglicans to challenge us into prioritising ending GBV in our churches.” The campaign says this includes sexual violence such as rape and forced marriage, beatings and assaults, and psychological abuse such as controlling and coercive control and online harassment.

Teachers in America take up mindfulness to cope with stress and pandemic

The Religion News Service also reports that teachers are turning to mindfulness to cope with the effects of dealing with the pandemic and the thought of what comes next. It tells the story of a teacher who lost a family member from Covid-19, invented new forms of online teaching, navigated the complex lives of pupils cared for by grandparents while parents worked and then was responsible for helping when their mental health suffered. He and others have found mindfulness gave relief from stress, as well as maintaining compassion and acceptance of human limitations. The article quotes Amy Saltzman, director of the Association for Mindfulness in Education, saying mindfulness could be found in schools in every US. state and around the world. The article was funded by the John Templeton Foundation and Templeton Religion Trust.

Heaven is here — along with potty professors — in church holiday clubs in Sussex

Churches in Sussex are organising holiday clubs this summer to lend a hand to families with children seeking fun. St Peter’s Church in Selsey, on the south coast, is running clubs for children who would normally receive free school meals. St Richard’s Church in Hollingdean, Brighton, is providing a hot meal and daily activities plus other fun workshops. Churches in rural Sussex near Storrington are running their first children’s holiday club, including a “travelling through time” programme with “potty professors”. Nick Taylor, head of Kids Community at Chanctonbury Church in West Sussex, said: “We want to love people extravagantly like Jesus did, and reveal to them that heaven is indeed here and accessible to us all, whoever we are.”

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