Religion news 4 May

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Places of worship re-opening

  • In Germany, churches began to open this weekend with restrictions including no singing.   Cologne Cathedral, a world heritage site which usually sees 20,000 visitors a day, had a congregation of just 120 for the first mass for six weeks.  Public services resume on Wednesday.  Meanwhile, mosques  will re-open after May 9th  also observing restrictions such as fewer attendees, face masks and social distancing. Communal gatherings during Ramadan remain suspended.
  • Churches in Spain will re-open this week, also with restrictions such as confessions being heard at a distance, to observe social distancing.
  • In America, Liberty Counsel launched a campaign for churches to re-open on Sunday May 3rd. Churches in Montana have re-opened with restrictions. In Georgia, the governor has  allowed services to take place, but, according to the Religion News Service, many churches decided against it on grounds of public health. In Kansas City, Texas, small religious gatherings limited to 10 people will be allowed from Weds 6th
  • In Scotland, the Roman Catholic church is planning a phased re-opening of churches that could include the removal of pews, and the exclusion of the sign of the peace, where people shake hands as a sign of friendship, the use of holy water and hymn books.
  • Two bishops in the Church of England got into a disagreement on twitter about the decision to shut churches, even from priests, during the coronavirus pandemic. Bishop Helen Ann Hartley, from Ripon, said priests not being in a church building was a sign of solidarity with the people. But Bishop Pete Broadbent, from Willesden, said a priest needs to be in a church to pray for the parish, as well as engaging in community work, ‘fulfilling our proper calling as spiritual leaders in the community and doing what we were ordained for’. The exchange is here

Volunteers at Exeter Cathedral are making NHS scrubs instead of vestments and kneelers, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. They have made 10 with another 14 on the way.

Christian music on the internet – The choral scholars of St Martin in the Fields will release recordings of five songs each week, to help churches compile online worship.  Meanwhile more than 65 churches recorded a ‘UK Blessing’ on youtube which has been seen by more than 350,000 people

A poll by the Christian charity Tear Fund has found that nearly half of adults in the UK (44%) say they pray and a quarter (24%) have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown. The poll of 2000 people, by SavantaComres, also suggested online services and prayer were more popular with people aged 18-34 than the over 55s. Tearfund  is an aid agency and says often prayer and action go hand in hand.

A BBC London report says the Kingdom Church in Camberwell is continuing to sell a fake cure for coronavirus. The bottle of oil is priced at £91 and the church is reported to have told the reporter that 2000 have been sold.  The church is already under investigation by the Charity Commission

The Interfaith Network for the United Kingdom has issued a statement following an article in the Sun on the eve of the pagan festival Beltane, which described the people who would celebrate the festival as oddballs. The statement called for greater religious literacy and respectful engagement.

A 21 year old journalist in America, has launched a new online publication for young Muslims. Al-Khatahtbeh grew the site out of an Instagram following of over 135,000 people. He told the Religion News Service that he wanted to build a community and said few mainstream news media organizations featured the voices of Muslims – even on liberal news outlets, Muslims rarely got a seat at the table.

The government in Burkina Faso, west Africa, lifted coronavirus restriction orders to allow Muslims to pray in mosques during Ramadan, provided that people wear masks and observe social distancing. . Reuters reports hundreds of people attended prayers


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