Religion news 24 September 2021

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Image credit: @HeidiCrowter

Christian Down’s syndrome campaigner loses abortion law case

Heidi Crowter, a Christian campaigner who has Down’s Syndrome, has lost her High Court challenge to the law that allows abortion up to birth for a foetus with her condition. Under current legislation for England, Wales and Scotland, there is a 24-week time limit for abortion, unless “there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”, which includes Down’s syndrome. Her legal team had argued the rules were unlawfully discriminatory. But the judges dismissed the case, saying some conditions would be found only after 24 weeks pregnancy. Ms Crowter will take the case to the Court of Appeal. 

Bishops plant trees for the Queen’s Green Canopy

Church of England bishops have been given trees by Forestry England which will be planted to form “the Queen’s Green Canopy” marking her platinum jubilee next year. The saplings — native hazel and hornbeam — will be planted in each of the 42 dioceses. The Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher, said they would be an outward symbol of the bishops’ commitment to “pray, speak out and take action” on climate change.

Synods in Anglican and Catholic churches to be discussed in Rome

Anglicans and Roman Catholics meet in Rome next month to discuss the merits of synods — gatherings of bishops, clergy and lay people — to take decisions affecting the church. The Anglican Centre and the Rome-based Centro Pro Unione are hosting a symposium on 14 October, with an agenda including the place of bishops, church doctrine and canon law. Anglicans have an established synod structure, but for Catholics, this new initiative involves dioceses around the world beginning a consultation from 17 October.

Jewish festival services record high attendances

Synagogues have reported higher attendances at festival services this year, as life returns to normal following the end of lockdowns, with one synagogue offering additional services to cope with demand. There have been a series of Jewish festivals — Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot — in the past month. The Jewish Chronicle reports that there was some indication of lingering fears over the spread of Covid-19, with numbers still not back to pre-pandemic levels. Reform and Liberal shuls continued online provision for those unwilling or unable to attend physical gatherings.

Dharmic traditions and ways of knowing at RE teachers conference

A conference for RE teachers in January will include sessions on worldviews within Islam, Hindu concepts of the divine​, diversity within the Buddhist worldview​, authentic Sikh RE, and food and faith: teaching about food as an expression of faith, belief and identity​. The conference is organised by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education and runs over two days online.

Autumn pagan and alternative festival in Ely has plans for expansion

The autumn Pagan and Alternative Fayre has returned to Ely, featuring crystals, tarot cards and mediums, alongside metal art, jewellery and crafts for sale. It is run by Amber Ankh Events, which puts on pagan, spiritual and wellness events in the area. The fair was launched in September 2019 and attracted 500 people. The following year, it was extended to include a mind body spirit festival. Next year the organisers have plans for four pagan and alternative fairs in Ely, in the spring, summer, autumn and winter.

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