Religion news 26 November

Image credit: foreign office

Furious response to international aid budget cut

There has been a furious response from faith leaders, aid agencies and politicians to the Chancellor’s announcement that the international aid budget will be cut by a third. In the spending review announced in the Commons, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the budget would drop from 0.7% of national income, to 0.5%, in reality a cut of £4billion. He said to continue the former spending could be difficult to justify to the British people. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the cut was shameful and wrong; the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said it was wrong and broke promises; Lord Alton said “don’t turn the clock back”;  Christian Aid said it was “a sad day”.

Bishops condemn film which insulted LGBTQ+ Christians

The Bishops of London and Coventry have condemned as “harmful” a video by the hardline evangelical group Christian Concern in which LGBTQ+ Christians were mocked for telling their stories. They say: “Specific and harmful targeting and personal insults and attacks are contrary to the respect, love, grace, kindness and compassion to which we are all called.” They were reacting to a video in which transgenderism was described as a “false ideology” and homosexuality as “evil and wickedness”. Clips were used from the trailer for a film about the church’s project “Living in Love and Faith”, which seeks to foster open conversation to heal divisions on issues around sexuality.   

Church of England unanimously accepts conclusions of sex abuse report

The Church of England’s parliament, the General Synod, has voted unanimously to accept the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual abuse, which said the church was concerned more for its reputation than the victims of abuse. The Archbishop of Canterbury said the church was “devastated” and the only way it could recover its moral authority would be by repentance, apology, action and reparation. But even with this ambition, he said the church is still too slow to act.

Repugnant vicious attack on Sikh schoolboy in Telford

A violent attack on a Sikh schoolboy in Telford, which was filmed and posted on twitter, has gone viral and elicited widespread condemnation and concern. West Mercia police said: it was being treated as a hate crime with the utmost seriousness. The video shows a Sikh boy in school uniform, being attacked by other boys. It is believed the incident was filmed on Friday 13 November as pupils walked home from Charlton School in Telford. Preet Gaur MP said: “The attack on a young Sikh student outside his school was repugnant. We must send a message that bullies don’t win”. She renewed her call for crime reporting to include faith as well as ethnic origin and more money to fight hate crime against Sikhs.  

Best British mosque awards

The Beacon Mosque Awards programme which honours exemplary mosques in the UK, is running its third award ceremony virtually on 3 December. With a week to go, 45,000 votes have already been received. There are ten categories including best run mosque, best response to Covid-19, best youth services.  The awards were created to highlight the pivotal role mosques and Islamic centres play in local communities. They are supported by a variety of organisations including MINAB, the Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board.

Foreign Office turns red to remember persecuted Christians

Red Wednesday, marked each year to remember Christians persecuted for their faith, has turned landmark buildings red to highlight the cause. Organised by Aid to the Church in Need, founded in the Catholic church, it has won support from many capitals including London, where the Foreign Office was lit up in solidarity. Its report published on the same day, features a foreword by Asia Bibi, the Christian woman imprisoned for eight years in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy and now living in freedom. The report describes people in China, Pakistan and Nigeria are in captivity solely because of their faith.

Maradona, the Argentine footballer with the “hand of God”, dies aged 60

Diego Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time, whose “hand of God” goal won the world cup match against England in 1986, has died aged 60. Among the tributes, Pope Francis who was born in Buenos Aires and is a lifelong football fan, spoke of his sorrow and offered his prayers. Vatican News said he was the “poet of soccer”. Maradona’s goal in the quarter finals against England, was achieved by knocking the ball into the net with his hand, something he explained as “the hand of God”. He went on to play for his country 91 times before going into football management.  Gary Lineker, who was on the losing England side, tweeted today: “After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego