Religion news 26 April

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Neasden Temple joins world response to Covid-19 crisis in India

Neasden Temple, the largest Hindu temple outside India, has started an international India appeal to help people deal with the Covid-19 crisis which is overwhelming the health service. India recorded 349,691 new cases on Sunday and 2,767 deaths, taking total deaths to 192,000. The surge has been blamed on multiple factors, including a new mutant strain and the failure to stop the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival in the Himalayas next to the Ganges, which attracted more than a million visitors. The UK is sending oxygen concentrators and ventilators to India. Saudi Arabia, France and the USA are among the many countries sending supplies as the world responds to the crisis.

Pope Francis says death of migrants in Mediterranean is moment of shame

Pope Francis has prayed for the 130 migrants who died attempting to cross the Mediterranean last week, describing it as a moment of shame. It is reported that the boats were in distress in rough seas, but the search has discovered only 10 bodies. The Pope asked people to question themselves “about this umpteenth tragedy … We pray for these brothers and sisters, and for so many who continue to die on these dramatic journeys. We also pray for those who can help but prefer to look the other way. We pray in silence.”

#Handsoffmyhijab trends after model adds weight to campaign

Rawdah Mohamed, a Somali-Norwegian model, used Instagram to post against the French ban on girls under 18 wearing the hijab and her campaign has gone viral. The French Senate’s intention was to reaffirm the secular state and prohibit any religious clothing signifying inferiority of women over men. In her post, Rawdah said: “The Hijab ban is hateful rhetoric coming from the highest level of government and will go down as an enormous failure of religious values and equality.” #Handsoffmyhijab and #PasToucheAMonHijab are trending.

Synod takes steps to make Church of England leadership more diverse

The Church of England’s parliament, the General Synod, has taken the first steps towards changing the process of appointing bishops, to allow greater diversity among the people who make the selection and the choices they agree upon. In a meeting this weekend, the synod heard that the changes to the Crown Nominations Commission are intended to reduce factionalism and widen the breadth of leadership to reflect the whole church. Abigail Ogier, a synod member, said the availability of paid leave, family circumstances and geography, limited the kind of people able to serve on church committees. The report was received.

Archbishop of Canterbury prepares to depart on three month sabbatical

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is about to embark on a three-month sabbatical, nine years after taking on the job. However, but in a BBC interview, he made it clear that at the age of 65, he had no intention of retiring early. The retirement age for bishops is 70. In the interview with Harry Farley, he said he did not know how new racial justice officers would be paid for in every diocese, even though the church was committed to appointing them, but he promised it would be prioritised.

Barrister teams up with gang victim to cut out knife crime

A young barrister has teamed up with a knife crime campaigner to form the first black and Sikh community initiative, “Cut it Out”, to take knives off the streets and give young people hope. Tinessa Kaur, 29, was inspired after encountering Faron Paul, who has been stabbed nine times and runs a campaign called #fazamnesty. He moves around London trying to persuade young people with knives to hand them in, quit the gang culture and turn their lives round. Tinessa is the director of Kaurs Legal UK and co-founder of the Sikh Lawyers Association, called to the bar 18 months ago. The story is here

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