Religion news 28 March 2022

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Drobytsky Yar holocaust memorial. Image credit: Adam Jones, Kelowna, Canada CCLicense2.0

Ukraine news

President Zelensky ready to disucss Ukraine becoming a neutral country; Intelligence chief says Putin wants to create north and south Ukraine; Macron, UK and Blinken rebut Biden’s statement that Putin cannot remain in power; Civilians in Mariupol, Kyiv and other cities still without power, water and food

Pope says war destroys the present and the future

Pope Francis has made another impassioned appeal to end the war in Ukraine. At his weekly Vatican address, he said  the cruel and senseless war in Ukraine represents a defeat for all humanity and devastates not only the present but the future of society, with half of all Ukrainian children  now displaced. The Pope said this is what it means to destroy the future

Another holocaust site blasted in Ukraine war

Ukraine says a holocaust memorial at the Drobytsky Yar site near Kharkiv has been damaged in Russian strikes. The Jewish News reports that between 1941-1942, an estimated 15,000 Jews were killed and buried in mass graves there. This is the second attack against a holocaust site in Ukraine. Three weeks ago Babyn Yar, the location for mass killings in WWII, was the target. Ukraine’s embassy in Israel condemned the latest attack, saying Russians are repeating the Nazis’ crimes again and again.

Church hosts 8 metre portrait of Putin painted in Ukrainian blood

A portrait of Vladimir Putin painted in real Ukrainian blood, in protest at the war in Ukraine, has been displayed briefly in a church in central London. The Russian artist, Andrei Molodkin, is renowned for using human blood and crude oil in his work. The eight metre high portrait ‘Putin Filled with Ukrainian Blood’, uses blood donated by Molodkin’s Ukrainian friends and co-workers who have fled to France. He said it was time to use art to send a clear message about war and who Putin really is.

Other news

80-year-old vicar has climate change conviction quashed

The Rev Sue Parfitt, aged 80, has had her conviction quashed for obstructing the highway during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration outside Abbey Wood, near Bristol, in December 2020. Lawyers argued she had a lawful excuse to protest, as the Supreme Court had ruled that blocking a road leading to an arms fair was legal. She said justice and issues around climate change are “at the heart of Christianity”.

Doctor challenges ruling on use of transgender language

The Christian Legal Centre is defending a doctor who lost his job after he refused to identify trans people by their chosen gender. Dr David Mackereth, a Reformed Baptist, was a medical assessor for the Department for Work and Pensions in 2018, when he was asked by his manager how he would address a man six foot tall with a beard who wanted to be addressed as ‘she’ and ‘Mrs’. He said he couldn’t comply, was sacked and took the case to an employment tribunal. He lost and was told his belief was not protected under the 2010 Equality Act as it was ‘mere opinion”.  It is this ruling that is to be challenged this week.

Jesus College master astonished that monument to slave trader can stay

The master of Jesus College, Cambridge, Sonita Alleyne, says she is astonished at a church court decision to allow a memorial to a slave trader to stay in place. The college wanted to move it, saying its presence in the chapel had a negative impact on the mission and ministry of the church, but the judgment went against them. Ms Alleyne told the Guardian that the church had failed the test. “It’s a church which is saying to black people: you’ve got to put up and shut up and pray under a memorial to a slave trader”.

Multi million pound Hillsong church future in doubt

The future of Hillsong, the global charismatic evangelical church founded by the Australian evangelist Brian Houston, is said to be in doubt, after he resigned for behaving inappropriately towards two women and awaits a court case for allegedly concealing child abuse by his father. Elle Hardy, writing in the Guardian, says Hillsong Atlanta’s lead pastor, Sam Collier, has since resigned, citing the ongoing scandals; and she reports that a number of pastors have been sacked or moved to new roles for their own indiscretions. She suggests the church is in freefall and its multimillion music merchandising business may need to be restructured.

Former Catholic bishop admits covering up sex abuse stories

The Guardian carries a story that Howard Hubbard, the former bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Albany, New York from 1977-2014, has acknowledged covering up allegations of sexual abuse against children by eleven priests. The admission came in a legal deposition in relation to dozens of claims of sex abuse.  He said he didn’t feel he was required by law to report the allegations and kept them secret out of concern for “scandal and the respect of the priesthood”. Guardian / AP story here

Move to prevent purchase of NHS kit made by Uyghurs

This week MPs prepare to discuss an amendment to the Health and Social Care bill, which would remove products manufactured for the NHS by slave labour. This includes PPE and other products made by the persecuted Muslim Uyghur population of north west China. The amendment was proposed in the Lords and comes to the commons for approval this week.  The Muslim Association of Britain is urging supporters to contact their MP to ensure the amendment stays.

Terracotta Buddhas near a copper mine in Afghanistan likely to be safe

The Associated Press reports that terracotta Buddhas at the site of a disused cooper mill south east of Kabul, are likely to be preserved by the Taliban rulers as it is thought there are large deposits of copper remaining in that location. There was a time when such monuments may have been smashed, but Hakumullah Mubariz, the Taliban head of security at the Mes Aynak site, said that protecting the remnants of the Buddhist monastery was “very important to us and the Chinese”.

One inch square stone said to show first use of “Yahweh” for God

Archaeologists believe that a stone measuring one square inch, found near the city of Nablus on the West Bank, may contain the earliest known mention of “Yahweh” – God’s name – dating from 1400BCE.  The tiny stone is said to include the words: “Cursed, cursed, cursed — cursed by the God YHW. You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die. Cursed by YHW – cursed, cursed, cursed.” An American academic found it and two further academics deciphered the text using tomography – a penetrating wave such as found in radiography – declaring it the discovery of a lifetime. Religion News Service story here

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