Religion news 26 April 2022

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Image credit: piqsels

Under-25s more likely to think religion is compatible with science 

Teenagers and young people in their twenties are more likely to think that religion is compatible with science, in contrast to older people. A higher proportion think religion has a place in the modern world. That’s the indication from extensive research on attitudes to science and religion, commissioned by the Theos think tank and the Faraday Institute, based in Cambridge. Their survey of more than 5,000 people in the UK suggests 37 per cent of Gen Z (under-25s) think science and religion are compatible, compared with only 30 per cent of older generations. The report says the “cultural zeitgeist” that science and religion are incompatible breaks down when people are asked to compare disciplines like cosmology, to specific religions. The authors say: “The angry hostility towards religion engineered by the New Atheist movement is over”. The research also shows that 57 per cent of Gen Z believe religion has a place in society — 10 per cent more than other age ranges. 

Renewed call for humanist marriages to be legally recognised

In a House of Lords debate, the government has been urged to recognise legally humanist marriages in England and Wales. Baroness Burt of Solihull, a member of the all-party parliamentary Humanist group and an associate of the National Secular Society asked why the government had failed to legislate for humanist marriages at the same time as legally recognising outdoor civil and religious marriages. Ten other peers supported her call. The government said it was waiting for a Law Commission review into marriage law, which is due in July, before proposing changes.

United Methodists on the brink of a split

Bishops in the United Methodist Church are meeting virtually this week in a gathering that could herald a split over same-sex marriage. Their open meetings on Monday and Friday are livestreamed and involve more than 100 bishops from across the world. The Religion News Service explains that division has deepened as the church’s General Conference, which will make the final decision on same-sex marriage, has been postponed three times, now not meeting until 2024. Meanwhile a rival group, the Global Methodist Church, has decided not to wait. It has set up its own organisation and is likely to leave the United Methodists on Sunday 1 May.

US religious freedom agency says Russia and India are countries of concern
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended that Russia and India be placed on a list of “countries of particular concern”. Its 2022 annual report points to numerous attacks on religious minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. On Afghanistan, it says there has been a deterioration of the freedom of religion or belief, with minorities facing penalties including death. The commission is an independent agency making policy recommendations to the US president, secretary of state, and Congress. The countries on the state department’s religious freedom blacklist, which can trigger sanctions, are China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Catholic students from Belfast meet the Pope

Students from the Catholic chaplaincy at Queen’s University Belfast had an audience with the Pope yesterday, marking the 50th anniversary of the chaplaincy. He encouraged them to “cultivate the culture of encounter in their academic community” sharing the gospel with their neighbours and building up “Ireland’s noble traditions of hospitality, reconciliation and fidelity to the gospel”.

Fifteenth Vaisakhi celebration in the Commons

Pupils from Khalsa Academy, Wolverhampton, took part last night in the 15th Vaisakhi celebration to be held at the Commons. Organised by the British Sikh Consultative Forum and Pat McFadden, the MP for Wolverhampton South East, it was held in the Speaker’s House and attracted many MPs, cabinet ministers and party leaders. The event included refreshments and kirtan (sacred songs) performed by the pupils.

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