Religion news 3 September

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Faith leaders glad international development spending will be maintained

Government reassurances that the international aid budget will remain at 0.7% of GDP have been welcomed by aid agencies and faith leaders. The Bishop of Bristol Vivienne Faull said she was glad the House of Lords had been told that the commitment would be honoured. There had been suggestions that the budget would be slashed in an attempt to deal with the deficit following Covid 19. But Dominic Raab, speaking on the day when the Foreign Office and International Development office merged, denied the reports.

Bishop stands in solidarity with climate protesters

The Bishop of Reading Olivia Graham lent her support to Christians involved in the climate action protests over the past two days in London and other major cities in the UK. She said in a tweet: “It’s increasingly clear to an increasing number of people that our planet & human race are facing an existential crisis. It’s a privilege to be here with other people of faith to stand in solidarity, hope & love & to surround the XR (extinction rebellion) witness with our prayers”. There are reports that several Christian protesters were arrested.

Christian crowd funding for 17 year old shooter’s defence costs

A Christian crowd funding site in the States has raised nearly $300,000 to pay for the defence costs of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17 year old who is charged with killing two people in the riots in Kinosha. The disturbance broke out after a police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, in front of his children, paralysing him from the waist down. TV footage shows protesters running along a street and shots being fired. The Religion News Service reports that other crowd funding campaigns for the victims raised only a fraction of this sum.

Hindus for Biden – or Trump

A campaign group ‘Hindus for Biden’ has been set up in the States  to garner support from two million members of the faith community. The first meeting is due to take place today (Thursday 3 September). The Financial Express says it follows the launch of ‘Hindus for Trump’ a fortnight ago. This is believed to be the first election where both sides have targeted Hindus.

Facebook accused of supporting BJP anti Muslim posts

Opposition members of the Indian parliamentary panel have accused Facebook of favouring the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after reports that it was slow to take down posts. The Wall Street journal suggested that Facebook had opposed taking own posts labelling Indian Muslims as traitors, in order to keep in with the government – something Facebook has denied. Reuters reports that the politicians were also concerned that Facebook was taking paid adverts from government ministries.  In return, BJP politicians accuse Facebook of prejudice towards the Congress party. Facebook maintains it is neutral and will remove content that violates its community standards. The hearing will resume later this month.

Saracens number 8 – a person of Jesus who did not “take the knee”

Saracens rugby player Billy Vunipola has told a sport podcast that he had not “taken the knee” in support of Black Lives Matter at a match last weekend because he objected to the movements’ actions against churches.   Clubs vary in the way they support anti racism messages. Some take the knee in unison, others wear anti racism slogans on their kit. Vunipola told The Good, The Bad & The Rugby that the movement was not aligned with what he believes. “Even though I am a person of colour, I’m still more a person of, I guess, Jesus.”