Religion news 27 May 2022

Image credit: Michal Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Financial package not enough to avoid destitution, Christian debt charity warns

The Christians Against Poverty charity has welcomed the government’s financial help to households coping with the rising cost of food and fuel. But it says the package is only buying time and urges the government to focus on longer-term support for the poorest people. It says the measures do not address the underlying reasons for inadequate incomes such as benefit deductions and caps and the total package is still not enough to keep many out of destitution.

Hundreds to join interfaith protest over US gun laws today

More than 400 people will take part in an interfaith protest over American gun laws today, after the murders of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Interfaith America reports that a minister and church elder are organising a silent march, moment of prayer and memorial event outside the annual convention of the National Rifle Association, meeting in Houston, two hours away from Uvalde. They will call for legislation for “commonsense gun laws, including universal background checks and bringing back the assault weapons ban, which has proven effective”. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Christians both Catholic and Protestant will take part.

Fears for the future of Radio 4’s Daily Service

The BBC has announced the closure of its long wave broadcasts, which has for many years been the home of the daily service, broadcast on Radio 4 LW at 0945. The Daily Service was first broadcast in 1928 and the BBC says it is the longest-running programme of its kind anywhere in the world. Facing cuts caused by a freeze in the licence fee, the BBC’s director-general, Tim Davie, has set the goal of putting digital first. Yesterday he said: “We do plan to stop scheduling separate content for Radio 4 long wave … ahead of the closure of the long wave platform itself.” The Rev Dr Christopher Landau took to Twitter to express his fears: “Does this mean an uncertain future for the Daily Service on @BBCRadio4?”. The Daily Service is also available online and on DAB radio.

Progressive Jewish seminary in Germany investigated after sex abuse claims

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has announced that a law firm will investigate allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of power at Abraham Geiger College, which promotes progressive Jewish rabbinical, cantorial and educational training. Rabbi Walter Homolka, its co-founder and rector, stepped down from all of his roles after the German newspaper Die Welt reported claims of sexual harassment and misconduct against him and his husband. The seminary is part of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the world umbrella organisation for the Reform movement

Gove addresses education concerns of Charedi Jewish community

Michael Gove, the local government secretary, met representatives of the ultra Orthodox Charedi Jewish community in Stamford Hill, north London, who raised their concerns at the Schools Bill. The bill, outlined in the Queen’s Speech, requires a broad curriculum and ends the exemption from inspections of Jewish religious schools — yeshivot institutions — for Charedi boys over the age of 13. Jewish News asked Gove if he respected the right of some Jewish schools to avoid teaching on LGBTQ+ issues, and quotes him as saying this was a uniquely sensitive issue but it was important to ensure the religious ethos of those schools was respected, alongside minority rights. Story is here

Church of England too slow in tackling child abuse

A report into the case of a church musician jailed for sex abuse, has concluded that the Church of England has been too slow in tackling child abuse. Scott Farrell was an organist and director of music who had worked at Ely, Newcastle and Rochester cathedrals. The report found there had been concerns that were not acted upon at each location. It made 11 recommendations such as improving recruitment processes and the recognition of risk, but it concluded that the speed of change over safeguarding issues in the church was “glacial” and lacked urgency. Farrell was jailed for five years in 2019.

First steps in church safeguarding review regarding Martyn Percy

The Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board has published its terms of reference to review the case of Dr Martyn Percy, the former Dean of Christ Church Oxford. The Archbishops’ Council and Oxford Diocese requested the review, which will examine the roles and involvement of individuals and organisations “to ensure that alleged or proven abusive behaviours or failures in safeguarding … might in future be prevented”. It will not consider the wider issues between the college and the former dean.

Burkini rules in Grenoble swimming pools go before France’s highest court

The highest administrative court in France, the Conseil d’Etat, is being asked to rule on whether the city of Grenoble is right to allow burkinis to be worn in swimming pools. The Guardian reports that the interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, opposed allowing the burkini, saying it undermined secular traditions separating religion from the state. He called Grenoble’s move an “unacceptable provocation” against French values of secularism and instructed the governor of the Isère region to order a court to intervene. The city’s rules were suspended, Grenoble appealed, and now the case is before the highest court.


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