Religion news 4 June 2021

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Bishop in Wales apologises for tweeting “never trust a Tory”

The Bishop of St David’s, Dr Joanna Penberthy, has apologised and closed her Twitter account after tweeting: “Never, never, never trust a Tory”. She posted the offending tweet on 25 May while responding to a message about perceived threats to devolution in Wales. Dr Penberthy, aged 61, had shared political views before on Twitter and apologised for causing upset and offence. She said: “While I hold strong political views, I have expressed them on Twitter in a way which was both irresponsible and disrespectful and I deeply regret this. I have now closed my account down.” The Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies told the Church in Wales: “All told, this is not a good look.” St David’s diocese is based in Camarthen in south west Wales. Joanna Penberthy is from Cardiff. Her CV includes a PhD in quantum physics.

Pakistani court acquits Christian couple sentenced to death for blasphemy

Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, a Christian couple in Pakistan, have been acquitted from a sentence of death for blasphemy. They were jailed in 2013 after being convicted of sending a text message insulting the prophet Mohammed – even though both are illiterate. The EU and human rights groups had petitioned for their release, condemning Pakistan for failing to protect religious minorities, and said several dozen people are currently in prison on blasphemy charges.

President Biden may meet the Pope in Rome on his European tour

President Joe Biden might meet the Pope on Thursday 15 June, following the G7 leaders meeting in Cornwall and a NATO summit. The Catholic News Agency cites Vatican sources saying President Biden, a committed Roman Catholic, might travel to Rome before flying to Geneva to see President Putin. In November last year, days after Biden’s election to the presidency, Pope Francis called to congratulate him on his victory and also extend his blessing. They are reported to have spoken about the plight of the poor and marginalised,  the importance of welcoming refugees and the need to address the climate change crisis.

Restrictions in Germany to contain spread of political Islam

The ruling Christian Democratic Union party in Germany, has approved a wide-ranging paper to contain the spread of political Islam in Germany. The report, “Preserving Free Society, Promoting Social Cohesion, Fighting Political Islamism,” says that areas in Germany, where sharia law overrules German law, are in danger of becoming “parallel societies.” The paper also warns that foreign governments control many mosques and Islamic associations, which threatens Germany’s liberal democratic order. It says a recent wave of jihadi attacks in Germany and elsewhere in Europe requires urgent measures to stop the “poison” of extremist ideology from gaining further ground on the continent. It proposes improving research and analysis of political Islam in Europe and the methods by which it spreads; banning the foreign funding of mosques; reducing the number of foreign imams active in Germany and reversing the German government’s promotion of dialogue, which, it says, has legitimised extremist groups.

72 hour camping worship marathon in Sussex despite pandemic fears

A 72 hour worship camping event is going ahead at the end of August, despite Covid-19 restrictions and fears. Organised by “David’s Tent” the worship starts on Friday 27 August, ending on bank holiday Monday. Now in its ninth year, it is inter denominational and takes place on the Witson estate, near Shoreham, Sussex.

Staycations exploring the UK’s rich heritage of sacred spaces

The National Churches Trust has produced a guide to help tourists visit interesting and picturesque churches throughout the UK this summer. Explore Churches lists thousands of  buildings and sacred spaces, where there are pilgrimages, guided tours or just written guides to aid knowledge and reflection. The Trust believes churches, chapels and meeting houses are ‘treasure houses’ of heritage, history and community. They may contain ancient carvings but few ancient sites are built in the style of one architectural period. The Trust says: “Churches show the evolution of British culture, local heritage, family history and tales of human events and achievements, embellished with architecture, art and craftsmanship”.

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