Religion news 28 October 2021

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Thirty religious leaders say proposed restrictions on protests will have chilling effect on people of faith

Quakers in Britain are behind a campaign backed by 30 religious leaders, against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will impose restrictions on peaceful protests and assembles.  The leaders including the Bishop of Manchester. Church of England; Marie van der Zyl, Board of Deputies of British Jews; and Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE, Network of Sikh Organisations, signed a letter in the Independent saying the measures would have a “chilling effect”  on people of faith whose protests are motivated by their beliefs. They say the restrictions are a grave threat to civil liberties and may prevent street preaching and gatherings which involve singing.

Archbishop gravely concerned at church support for Ghana anti LGBT law

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says he is gravely concerned that Anglican church leaders in Ghana are supporting government legislation which would imprison people who are gay, or their supporters, with sentences of up to ten years. He and other bishops published their objections on social media. Justin Welby said he would speak to the archbishop of Ghana to discuss the leaders’ response.

Campaign to protect use of prayer when counselling LGBT people

Christian Institute has launched a campaign to protect the use of prayer when counselling LGBT people. It says a ban on prayer and pastoral advice, which may be considered in a ban in conversion therapy, would be in breach of international law. It says: “Human rights lawyer Jason Coppel QC has confirmed that criminalising the expression of mainstream Christian beliefs about traditional marriage would breach the Government’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights”.

Guardian advises CofE to act with great caution when considering closing churches

 A leader in the Guardian advises the Church of England to act with great caution when it considers plans to “close hundreds of parish churches, drastically reduce the number of “vicars on the beat” and sell off assets to raise funds”. It says that although people have stopped going to church, there is a widespread sense of spirituality in Britain, which is a cause of hope. It suggests that many like the idea that churches offer hospitality and reflection especially in moments or crisis or rites of passage.

Priest who tried to give last rites to Sir David Amess quits social media

 Fr Jeffrey Woolnough, the priest in Southend who tried to offer Sir David Amess the last rites, but was denied access, has deleted his social media accounts. He said he had been foolish to explain on twitter that he had he had tried to administer the sacrament but was prevented by police who said it was a crime scene.  He received abuse and said it stirred up a hornet’s nest with added misery for the family, so he closed his accounts.

Pope to visit Canada amid calls for an apology after residential school deaths

The Associated Press reports that Pope Francis has agreed to visit Canada to help efforts at reconciliation with Indigenous peoples following the abuse and deaths of thousands of native children in residential schools run by the church. More than 800 unmarked graves have been found at the sites of two schools, which were among 130 where children were forced to attend to be assimilated into Canadian society. Amid calls for an apology, the Pope has already agreed to meet survivors from 17 – 20 December in Rome. The Canadian bishops have already apologised.

India fashion collection advert taken down as offensive to Hinduism

An Indian fashion house, Fabindia, has withdrawn an advert for its latest collection after complaints it was offensive to Hinduism. Critics complained the collection’s name was in Urdu, a language also associated with Pakistan, and this was  “culturally inappropriate” and offensive to Hinduism so close to the Hindu festival of Diwali. The fashion house said it wasn’t their Diwali collection – that is yet to be launched.

700 year old Jewish prayerbook sold for £6 million

The Jewish Times reports that a 700-year-old Jewish prayerbook from Germany has sold for £6m at auction in New York. The Luzzatto Mahzor originated in medieval Germany and is handwritten in Hebrew featuring colourful illustrations of human bodies with animal heads. It was sold by a French Jewish organisation that operates schools in Israel, France and Morocco. The buyer remains anonymous.

The “Board of Education” for paddle spanking children in God’s way

The Religion News Service reports that a wooden paddle with engraved Bible verse is for sale on Amazon for parents who want to discipline their children in God’s way. The Bible verse is Proverbs 29:15 – “A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother”. Caleld the “Board of Education”, it costs  $35.95 and is sold by The Montgomery Line, run by Christian speakers Clarence and Susan Montgomery from Georgia, married for more than 40 years, with seven children. The report says they also sell a book on “Biblical Child Discipline Made Plain”, advocating spanking as part of God’s design for parenting.

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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