Religion news 3 March

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‘Shocking, appalling’: response to government cuts in aid to Yemen

The Catholic aid charity Cafod has joined politicians from all parties in widespread condemnation of the government´s decision to halve aid to war-torn Yemen. The reduction is caused by the government’s decision to cut its international aid budget from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of GDP. Josie O’Reilly of Cafod told Premier Christian Radio that the cut was indefensible and a death sentence to millions of Yemeni children, women to men.

Antisemitism petition demands BBC apology for Politics Live debate

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has launched a petition demanding that the BBC apologise for staging a Politics Live debate on “Should Jews count as an ethnic minority?”. The programme was responding to claims that the new Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sawar, was the first ethnic minority leader of a political party. Disraeli, Howard and Miliband were all Jewish party leaders and the presenter, herself Jewish, suggested that as they held high political office, Jews did not need to be seen as a group needing recognition in the same way as others. The petition said the framing of the question was ridiculous and would not be asked of any other minority community in Britain. The BBC said the presenter’s job was to explore why people see things the way they do.

Tackle Islamophobia by offering alternatives

Employers and schools should take active measures to ensure an inclusive workspace, a report on Islamophobia from the Muslim Council of Britain suggests. These include acknowledging that handshakes can be replaced by a hand on the heart or direct eye contact by gazing down. Employers could offer alternative modest uniforms or dress codes, be aware that socialising in a pub is an activity that cannot be shared, and provide halal and vegetarian dishes in canteens. The report includes a poll that found 31 per cent of young people agreed that “Muslims are taking over England”. It says Islamophobia must be tackled, defining it as rooted in racism and a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness.

Breakaway global Anglican group splinters over sex

The conservative Anglican group Gafcon, which split from the global Anglican communion in protest against liberal views, is now facing a split within its own ranks over the same issue. Bishops in the American wing of Gafcon (Global Anglican Future Conference) issued a pastoral letter acknowledging there were  people within its branch of the church who were attracted to the same sex. LGBT people responded by offering support to others. This provoked a rebuke from the Archbishop of Nigeria, Henry Ndukuba, who said the “deadly virus” of homosexuality had infiltrated the American group and its actions threatened the future of Gafcon. Church Times story here

Reform Judaism recognised in Israel

The Israeli High Court has finally allowed non-Orthodox Jews to be recognised on conversion. This means full recognition of Reform Judaism, a move which has delighted UK members. “This is welcome and long overdue,” commented Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain. “At last it gives converts full citizenship in Israel and heals an injustice that we believe should never have been allowed in the first place,” he said.

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