Religion news 26 October 2021

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Image credit: pxfuel

Faith groups withdraw $4.2bn investments from fossil fuel companies

As the UN climate change conference Cop26 approaches, 72 faith institutions from around the world, including 37 in the UK, have announced they are disinvesting from fossil fuels. This involves more than $4.2bn of combined assets managed in Australia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Ukraine, the UK, the United States and Zambia. The UK faith groups represent 2,000 churches including 15 Catholic dioceses in the UK and Ireland, the Catholic bishops conference in Scotland, the Methodists, Presbyterian churches in Wales and Ireland and the Church of England Dioceses of Truro and Sodor and Man. Many UK Churches have fully divested from fossil fuel companies this year, including the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales and the Baptist Union. The announcement has been coordinated by the campaign group Operation Noah, which is appealing to the UK and global governments to end fossil fuel subsidies and bring an immediate halt to new oil and gas exploration.

Greens adopt two definitions of antisemitism

The Green Party has voted to adopt two different definitions of antisemitism — the IHRA and the Jerusalem Declaration — amid accusations that this is a “fudge”, the Jewish News reports. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition says antisemitism may be expressed as hatred toward Jews, directed at Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. Concerns over its wording led to the Jerusalem Declaration of antisemitism, which states that anti-Zionism is not antisemitic. The party also confirmed that it continues to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law”.

Archbishop asked to intervene over Ghana bishops support for anti LGBTQ+ legislation

Anglican and Catholic bishops in Ghana have given their support to a government bill which would punish anyone who is LGBTQ+ and their supporters, with jail terms of up to ten years. The Anglicans say homosexuality is unbiblical and ungodly and the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference say a spectrum of sexuality is “morally unacceptable”. The move has outraged LGBT+ rights campaigners in the UK including Jayne Ozanne, who told Premier Christian radio that the Ghanian bishops’ support for the bill was horrifying and shocking. She said the Archbishop of Canterbury should intervene to persuade them to create tolerance, understanding and love.

Churches and cathedrals awarded £6m for repairs

Grants worth £6m have been awarded to churches and cathedrals from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, in order to carry out urgent repairs. The funds are going via the Church of England, the National Churches Trust, the Churches Conservation Trust, Friends of Friendless Churches and the Catholic Church. There are 14,600 places of worship in England, the largest category of listed public buildings, cared for by faith groups and charities, supported by philanthropic trusts.

Northampton police launch first interfaith association

The Northamptonshire police service has launched its first interfaith association for people of different faiths among officers and staff as well as members of the community. Sophia Perveen, who chairs the Northamptonshire Association of Muslim Police, set up the association. She said her motivation was to promote greater religious tolerance and understanding between different faith groups. Chief Superintendent Ash Tuckley, head of local policing, said they knew that relationships with the communities had weakened and there was a need to invest time and effort into redeveloping bonds and building bridges with the communities again.

Archaeologists discover massive tannery in the grounds of Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

Archaeologists have discovered the foundations of a medieval tannery in the ruins of Fountains Abbey near Ripon, The Guardian reports. Using ground-penetrating radar, they found previously unknown monastic buildings, including one 16 metres by 32 metres, with lined pits and tanks around them. They suggest this was a tannery “on an industrial scale”, the largest discovered in Britain, producing clothing, belts, bedding and book bindings. It is a new insight into the life of the abbey, which operated from the early 12th century to 1539.

Creating Connections: sign up in Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth and Birmingham

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. Reserve a place using the links below. All events take place in the afternoon. The Leeds event was last week. Here are the next four:

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