Religion news 30 May 2022

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The Queen: Christianity’s defender in a golden era of interfaith dialogue

As the Queen marks her Platinum Jubilee, faith leaders and authors have concluded that those 70 years have witnessed her spiritual leadership and engagement with faith groups across the spectrum of belief. In a Religion Media Centre briefing, her years on the throne were described as “a golden era of interfaith dialogue” with her personal commitment to the Christian faith clear to everyone. Among the commentators, Catherine Pepinster, author of Defenders of the Faith, explained how the Queen’s private faith is intertwined with her public constitutional role, and suggested that her personal commitment, expressed clearly in Christmas messages, had seen her become “the defender of Christianity”. Full report here. See the briefing here

Archbishop: social media polarising society

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has told the Daily Mail  that social media is polarising society, giving people a loud voice creating colliding “waves of opinions”. He was speaking after launching his book “The Power of Reconciliation”, where he says damaging conflict can be transformed into healthy disagreement. In the interview,  he defended his comments on partygate when he had tweeted that good standards in public life need to be rediscovered. “The idea that I shouldn’t be political… is a nonsense. Everyone is political”.

March, prayers and heckling as faith leaders challenge America’s gun laws

Interfaith leaders joined a mass demonstration outside the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston, appealing for legislation to require universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. They assembled days after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in a school in Uvalde, 300 miles away. Katherine Keenan, reporting for the Religion News Service, says faith representatives spoke of the widespread threat from gun violence to society, including at places of worship. Opponents heckled and jostled, with mounted police and security guards keeping them apart. Christian, Muslim and Buddhist communities gathered to make speeches pressing for change.  One faith activist said anyone who says they are a Christian and belongs to the NRA, should repent, saying: “You cannot create peace with a gun”.

Bishop launches emergency toolkit to help vulnerable people in Wales

The bishop of Llandaff in south Wales has launched a toolkit to help churches provide services for people in need during the cost of living crisis. It includes information on setting up food banks and community pantries, and speaking out to effect change. A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report says almost a quarter of people in Wales live in poverty. The Welsh government further reports that up to 45 per cent of households in Wales experience fuel poverty. Bishop June Osborne says she is deeply concerned at the cost of living crisis “which is having a devastating impact on our most vulnerable people”.

Kosher food hikes of 25 per cent leave Jewish families in need

The Jewish Chronicle reports that the Jewish charity Gift says it has seen a 50 per cent rise in the number of families asking for help in the last year. It points to a particular problem with kosher food, where prices have risen by 25 per cent in a year. It says the cost of living crisis means Jewish children are going to bed hungry and parents are having to choose between buying clothes or food. Gift provides families with a weekly food parcel. A year ago they supplied 250 families, now that number is 350.

Islamic Research Foundation International ordered to wind up

The Charity Commission has ordered the winding-up of Islamic Research Foundation International, a charity funding Peace TV programmes which “encouraged hate speech and violence”. In a statement, the Commission said it has found the trustees mismanaged the charity, including their decision to continue to fund Peace TV channels despite several breaches of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code. IRFI was registered in 2007, with the aim of advancing the faith and religious practices of Islam. The charity was removed from the register on 11 May 2022. Full report here

Former CofE comms director becomes bishop

The former Church of England communications director, Canon Arun Arora, is to be the next Bishop of Kirkstall, in Richmond, north Yorkshire. He becomes the ninth bishop of minority ethnic or global majority heritage and is former co-chair of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce, which produced the report “From Lament to Action”, last year.


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