Religion news 4 October 2021

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Danube floods. (Image credit: lmaresz_Pixabay)

Forty religious leaders meet in Rome to appeal for action on climate change

Forty religious leaders meet in Rome today (Monday) to urge world leaders to put their name to a common statement for progress at Cop26, the global environment conference which meets in Glasgow in November. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, told Reuters that he hoped faith groups from every major tradition, and faith families within the political community, would raise ambitions for what can be achieved. He said the meeting “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” would illustrate that world religions have in common, through scriptures and traditions, the basis of a renewal of the relationship with the environment and the planet.

Frightening’ report reveals 3,000 paedophiles in French Catholic church since 1950

An independent commission into child sexual abuse in the French Catholic church, which is due to report back this week, will reveal that about 3,000 paedophiles have operated inside the church since 1950. The commission’s head, Jean-Marc Sauvé, told the news agency AFP that this was a minimum estimate. The interview has been widely quoted across the world. The commission was set up in 2018 after Pope Francis obliged people to report abuse to their superiors. AFP quotes a Bishop saying the figures were “frightening” and a commission member who said it would “have the effect of a bomb”.

Songs of Praise congratulated by the Queen on its 60th anniversary

Songs of Praise, the world’s longest running religious television programme, has celebrated its 60th anniversary with a special service at Westminster Abbey and a message from the Queen. “For sixty years ‘Songs of Praise’ has drawn together congregations and BBC viewers throughout the United Kingdom in collective worship. During that time, the programme has shown Christianity as a living faith not only through hymns and worship songs, but also by featuring the many people who have put their faith at the centre of their lives. I congratulate Songs of Praise and all those involved in the programme on its 60th anniversary.” First shown on BBC One in 1961, the programme was produced in house until 2017, when it was taken over by the independent companies Avanti Media based in Cardiff and Nine Lives Media in Manchester. Its traditional prime time early evening scheduling on Sundays, has shifted to the early afternoon.  

More than three quarters of all CofE churches went online during the pandemic

A report from the Church of England’s Research and Statistics Unit has analysed the take up of online services during the lockdown from March – July 2020. In a survey of 12,700 churches, it found more than 9,000 churches (78%) offered church online, via email, post and telephone when the buildings were shut.  More than 8,000 (69%) offered livestreamed or pre-recorded services. This offering continued until October, despite buildings being allowed to open again. The report author, Dr Ken Eames, said he guessed that the Church of England had massively exceeded expectations

Liturgies produced to challenge the dynamics of racism in the church

The Church of England has produced liturgical resources for Black History Month. They include forms of worship, prayers and materials for us in Bible studies, youth work and music. The CofE says: “The Church has immense formative power within the wider community and such power begins in our worship of God”.  It says the church is not free from the dynamics of racism, where power protects privilege.  

Woke – a new religion without God, mercy or hope

Tim Stanley, writing in the Telegraph, considers the suggestion that “woke” is a spin off from Christianity, a new religion without God. He identifies characteristics of Calvinist pessimism with persistent confessing of sin. Judgment at the end of the world finds its parallel in climate change as a consequence of sin against the planet. Original sin finds its equivalent in pollution, slavery and historical crimes. Puritans identified the elect by their works, he says. Wokeness is similarly identified by “how one acts, votes, dresses and, crucially speaks”, with its own liturgical language e.g. “intersectional, heteronormative”. But he concludes that the absence of the divine results in no mercy, no end point, no hope and no perfect justice. “Woke is a recipe for conflict. The best in religion brings inner peace”. Read his report here: and read our own earlier take from Andrew Brown here

Fears the Southern Baptist Conference could be bankrupted over sex abuse allegations

The executive of the Southern Baptist Church in the USA is embroiled in a stalemate over an investigation into sexual abuse in the church. It is due to hold its third meeting in three weeks, stuck over granting access to third party investigators.  Failure to come to a decision has led to accusations of a cover up and fears of the denomination being bankrupted if it allows full transparency. Bob Smietana explains the story for the Religion News Service  

Donald Trump: No one has done more for Christianity than me

Donald Trump has told the Christian TV station The Victory Channel that no one has done more for Christianity, or evangelicals, or religion itself, than him. His evidence was the Johnson amendment, allowing churches to support political candidates, and the Mexico City policy, which prevents foreign organisations favouring abortion from having US family planning funding.  He criticised his successor Joe Biden as being “terrible” on the subject of abortion.  He also added that nobody had done as much for Israel as him. There is widespread speculation that Trump will run to be the Republican candidate for presidency in 2024.

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