Religion news 28 July 2022

Image credit: Egan Millard/Episcopal News Service

Anglican bishops to consider reparations for slavery links

Bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion are close to demanding reparations for colonialism and slavery from the Church Commissioners, who manage the Church of England’s £10bn assets. The demand is contained in the Lambeth Conference “call” on human dignity, which is already controversial for its language on sexuality.  It says a committee should publish theologies of redemptive action and reparation and the Archbishop of Canterbury should use his position on the Church Commissioners to ensure that their response to the church’s historic links to colonialism and slavery are shaped by the views of this committee. Full story on our website here

LGBT march through venue of Lambeth conference

More than one hundred people , including American bishops, joined a march in support of LGBT rights across the campus of the University of Kent, where the Lambeth Conference formally opened yesterday. It was organised by the university’s LGBT+ and staff network in advance of the conference and had a carnival atmosphere, with rainbow flags and whistles and occasional purple bishops’ shirts. The Conference of worldwide Anglican bishops is deeply divided on same sex issues and progressive actions in America are resisted by traditionalist bishops mainly in the Global South. In a statement issued in June, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor and chair of the Lambeth Steering Group, Professor Georgina Randsley de Mourasaid, said it welcomed the gathering of diverse cultures and outlooks to the campus and would learn from and add to questions under discussion. “Alongside this we are clear that the position of the worldwide Anglican Communion on the place of LGBT+ people within the Church and wider society does not fit with our deeply held values of equality, inclusion, tolerance, and mutual respect. We say that openly and unambiguously”. The story was picked up by the Episcopal News Service here.

James Lovelock, author of the Gaia theory has died aged 103

The scientist James Lovelock, best known for the Gaia hypothesis, that the Earth is a living breathing organism, a self-regulating system endangered by human activity, has died on his 103rd birthday. An obituary in The Times says his theory is viewed as an almost sacramental idea, a new way of regarding life. Richard Dawkins criticised the Gaia hypothesis, believing it to imply the idea that earth was designed rather than emerged through natural selection, and thus would lead to the idea of God or even Gaia itself as a sentient being – a critique Lovelock rejected. He was a Quaker and belonged to the Green Party, an inventor and free thinker whose ideas were adopted by campaigners and politicians. He died from complications following a fall, with his family beside him.

Mindfulness “not much benefit” to young people in school

An eight year study into the effectiveness of mindfulness in schools has concluded that there was no direct benefit. A team of researchers surveyed more than 28,000 children aged 11 to 16 in more than 80 schools. Mindfulness, with its roots in Buddhism, encourages people to think in the moment, pay attention to their thoughts and be still. The researchers found that, on average, children practised mindfulness once in ten weeks, and most found it boring. One in three of the young people surveyed were suffering from mental or emotional problems, but mindfulness was no better at dealing with it than other actions schools took to help mental health. The research is published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Mental Health.

Australian rugby players rejecting Pride kit “using religion as excuse”

Keegan Hirst, the first British rugby league player to come out as gay, says the Australian players who refused to wear Pride shirts because of their religious beliefs, are using religion as an excuse for their homophobia. Seven members of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles team near Sydney took the action in advance of a local championship match and their stand has deeply divided opinion. Hirst told the Mirror that he questioned why players were happy to wear shirts promoting gambling but not inclusivity. “It’s about welcoming everyone into the game and that’s something rugby league has always prided itself upon”, he said.

Rugby Football League signs Muslim charter

The BBC reports that the Rugby Football League has agreed a partnership with Nujum Sports to advise on Muslim inclusion in the game. The sports company is run by Ebadur Rahman, who used to work for the Football Association, and has already picked up advisory contracts with football and cricket organisations. Rahman created the Muslim athletes’ charter, which advises on cultural practices and provisions allowing Muslims to participate fully. The BBC reports that the RFL has become the first national governing body in England to sign the charter, alongside Warrington Wolves, Wakefield Trinity and London Broncos.   

Crown prosecutors improving understanding of Jewish communities

A chief crown prosecutor in the London area, Lionel Idan, has told Jewish News that prosecutors are working to improve their understanding of antisemitism and their links with Jewish communities. The CPS was criticised for not  taking action against football fans chanting antisemitic songs in front of a Jewish  man on a Ryanair flight, but he explained it could not be proved the plane was in UK airspace. He said they were working with the Community Security Trust to understand how antisemitism emerges in tropes, stereotypes and behaviour, and it gives guidance on the line where anti-Zionism can become antisemitism. The CPS is planning to engage with Jewish communities, especially in strictly-Orthodox areas where crime is under-reported.

Priest investigated for celebrating mass on an inflatable in the sea

A priest who celebrated mass on an inflatable mattress in the sea by a beach in southern Italy, is being investigated for “offense to a religious confession”. Pictures of Father Mattia Bernasconi, 36, from the archdiocese of Milan have gone viral on social media. He explained he’d  been helping with a children’s summer camp but couldn’t find shelter from the heat on the beach, so took to the water. The Guardian says the local Catholic archdiocese is calling for “liturgical decorum and respect”.


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