Religion news 23 November 2021

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Westminster Cathedral High Altar. Image credit: © John Salmon CCLicense

Pope pays tribute to David Amess MP

The Pope is expected to send a message to be read at the requiem mass today for the Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who was stabbed to death at his constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, last month. He was a devout Catholic, and the service will be held at Westminster Cathedral led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, with members of both Houses of Parliament in attendance. It follows another service in Southend yesterday, when colleagues and friends paid their respects to him and appealed for people, in his honour, to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all.

Strictly Orthodox Jews from north London help Afghan footballers escape

The strictly Orthodox Charedi Jewish community in north London played a key role in the rescue of 30 Afghan girl footballers, who have been brought to safety in the UK, the Jewish News reveals. In the extraordinary story of the escape, the Charedis joined forces with a New York Charedi rabbi, Moshe Margaretten; his friend Kim Kardashian, who financed of the operation; Andrea Radrizzani, the owner of Leeds United Football Club, who agreed to sponsor the girls’ new life in England; and Levi Schapiro, head of the Stamford Hill-based Jewish Community Council. In total, there were 130 people in the Afghan group who fled for their lives after the Taliban took over. Rabbi Schapiro said the party were surprised to be met by Orthodox Jews when they got off the plane at Stansted, but he explained his community had escaped brutal regimes in their history and people from different religions had rescued them.

Archbishop says farmers can lead the way in post Brexit standards

The Church Times reports on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech to the National Farmers’ Union, when he praised the potential of farming communities to lead the way, in a post-Brexit era, on food standards, animal welfare, trade and exports. He said the farming community had a unique opportunity to be at the heart of building and rebuilding relationships abroad.

Mosul churches restored

In Mosul, two Chaldean Catholic churches have been restored, seven years ears after they were destroyed by Isis. One is within Mosul’s St George monastery, a sacred place for generations of Iraqi Christians which was 70 per cent destroyed in the occupation of the city. Iraq’s Christian population has shrunk to fewer than 400,000 from about 1.5 million before the US-led invasion of 2003 that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

More than a third of US pastors considered quitting this year

The Barna Research group in America has published a survey of pastors suggesting 38 per cent have considered leaving the ministry in the last year. It says this is due to burnout as they tried to keep the church going while dealing with a heavy workload of pastoral duties. A separate report in the The Wall Street Journal says the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the loss of churchgoing, with attendance 30 to 50 per cent lower than before the pandemic.

Sikh women’s aid report finds high levels of domestic abuse

A report by Sikh Women’s Aid is to be launched on Thursday, outlining the level of domestic abuse and child sex abuse in the Sikh community. Previewed in The Guardian, the research is based on 700 replies collected in the summer, and suggests 70 per cent had experienced domestic abuse, with more than one third experiencing child sexual abuse. The report authors say there is a lack of specialist support to meet the needs of women in the Sikh community.

Global philosophy of religion project based at Birmingham University

Birmingham University has awarded more than £460,000 for research in the philosophy of religion, to academics in 25 countries across all continents. The Global Philosophy of Religion Project is hosted by the Birmingham Centre for Philosophy of Religion and supported by the John Templeton Foundation. Some of the projects funded are: African Perspectives on God and the Problem of Evil; Philosophy in the Islamic World; and Life, Death and the Afterlife in the Abrahamic Traditions.

Bishop blesses gritting lorries

The Bishop of Grimsby, David Court, is to bless a fleet of 43 gritting lorries and 29,000 tonnes of salt as Lincolnshire County Council prepares for the icy weather. Premier Christian News quotes him saying this is an example of how churches can be visible in the community. It says he believes clergy should find new forms of outreach which might include offering blessings in a range of unusual environments outside churches and cathedrals. “This is a God who’s involved in every part of human life. Do we want God to bless all of those who work to keep us safe and to enable us to live? Of course we do”.

Creating Connections: sign up in Birmingham and Manchester

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. Events in Leeds, Plymouth and Nottingham have happened – two more to go. Reserve a place using the links below.

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