Religion news 29 July 2022

Image credit: Lambeth Conference

“It may be time to pull the plug” on the Lambeth Conference

Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of the history of the church at the University of Oxford, says it may be time to pull the plug on the Lambeth conference of worldwide Anglican bishops, meeting in Canterbury this week. In an interview with Roger Bolton, he says it gives the illusion that there is an Anglican church worldwide with a leader in the Archbishop of Canterbury, but “that’s an entirely wrong way of looking at Anglicanism and that’s why it may be time to pull the plug”. Days before the conference opened, another row erupted over same sex marriage, revealing deep divisions between the bishops. “My experience of bishops is that they are basically good things. But get them together and the timidity, the stupidity and the blockishness of the collective is a very bad thing. And you must multiply that by a factor of ten when you put them in Lambeth or Canterbury”. View the interview here, listen here and read the report here.

Change the Anglican communion into a loose federation

The Rev Giles Fraser, writing for Unherd  says the Anglican Community needs to become “a much looser federation of churches where theological difference is not able to derail a sense of common endeavour”. The Lambeth conference should not be for bishops to sit in meetings and pass motions. This re-inforces the un-Anglican idea of a centralised top down structure where people are told what to believe. If they meet at all, it should be a community social occasion. The more power that gets located at the centre, the more there is to fight over.

Anglican disagreements like a family row in a back yard

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is to give his first public address this evening on the threats and hopes in the world and how the church can respond. At a press reception he said he would not be surprised by media coverage of events. Anglicans had always been like families having rows in a back yard rather than quietly discussing a problem. He acknowledged the Communion was at a tricky moment, with all  its internal disagreements, but he hoped for reconciliation.


The spouses of same-sex couples are allowed to attend but only as observers. Catherine Pepinster, writing for the Religion News Service, reveals that they were told they can attend meals but are banned from Bible study. Several bishops have chosen not to attend rather than put their other half through this rule.

The Lambeth conference plenary sessions for all 650 bishops are held in the new sports hall at the University of Kent. The floors have been protected for seating, but the hall has no air conditioning. The bishops will have to make do with open doors.

Other news

Demonstrators urge Pope to take action on land seizure rules

Pope Demonstrators unfurled banners during a mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Canada, demanding that he rescinds the papal decrees behind the “Doctrine of Discovery” which allowed colonisers to seize lands belonging to indigenous people. The Pope is visiting the country to apologise and seek forgiveness for the church’s actions when running residential schools, where children were abused., beaten and worse, with mass unmarked graves recently discovered at former school sites. The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also appealed for the Pope to address the issue during private talks. Some other denominations have already formally repudiated the doctrine.

Christian Legal Centre takes Archie Battersbee fight to the UN

The Supreme Court will not intervene in the case of Archie Battersbee, the 12 year old who has been declared brain dead after an online stunt went wrong in April. The court refused the application, the latest in a series of hearings to prevent Archie’s life support system being switched off. His mother, Hollie Dance,, said  he had squeezed her fingers and started opening his eyes, and she knew of miracles were some people recovered from being brain dead.  The parents are represented by the Christian Legal Centre which says it will take the case to the United Nations

Row over statement on violence against women after sexual health rights removed

The Guardian reports that Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands are refusing to sign a statement on gender equality drawn up after the Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief , because it has had commitments to women’s reproductive and sexual health rights removed. The original version circulated at the Conference received 22 signatures. The amended version produced  by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office to clear up “a perceived ambiguity”, has since attracted just eight signatures.  The statement asserts that millions of women and girls experience discrimination, inequality, and violence on the grounds of both their religion or belief and their gender.

Neasden Temple hosts festival in honour of its founder

Neasden Temple, the largest Hindu temple outside India, is hosting a ten day  Festival of Inspiration in honour of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, born 100 years ago. He was the founder of the Temple otherwise known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, which was opened in 1995. Since then 10.5 million worshippers and visitors from over 120 nations of all faiths and backgrounds have visited. Thousands of visitors  have joined the festival which sprawls over the seven acre site, with music, dancing, festival food and children’s activities.


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