Religion news 5 April 2022

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Image credit: Serge Serebro cc-by-sa

Patriarch Kirill preaches of Holy Russia in “dangerous” sermon

A sermon last Sunday by Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, has caused alarm. Dr Katie Kelaidis, an Orthodox scholar writing in Religion Dispatches, says it was far more dangerous than any other in recent weeks. In the Cathedral of the Armed Forces, he said Russia was fighting fascism in Ukraine just as it had in the Second World War. He then redrew history in a version which Dr Kelaidis says, obliterates Ukraine from the map. He blamed various forces for dividing Russia and Ukraine and referred to all people living in those territories as “Holy Russians.” Katie Kelaidis’ report is here and the sermon here.

World Council of Churches appeals to Russia: stop the bloodshed

The World Council of Churches has issued its strongest condemnation of the atrocities in the district near Kyiv, after charred and tortured bodies were found, with hands  tied behind their backs and civilians shot in the back of the head. The WCC has come under pressure to expel the Russian Orthodox church for supporting Putin, though no organisations have yet tabled this request, only individuals.  In a statement issued yesterday the WCC said: “We appeal to those responsible for conceiving, pursuing and supporting this war, to stop the bloodshed and destruction, and to save the lives of all the children, women and men in the way of their ambition.”


Christians join emergency call to take action on climate change

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there must be rapid, deep and immediate cuts in CO2 emissions. But even with this, there needs to be new technology to suck CO2 from the skies. Meanwhile Christian Climate Action have been taking direct action, sitting in roads preventing oil tankers from leaving ten major oil facilities in the UK. They are also organising a campaign for churches to  hang banners on buildings and bridges, appealing for an end to investment in fossil fuels. This is ahead of the April Rebellion – an Extinction Rebellion climate protest which is taking place in London from 9- 17 April (Easter week).

Church leaders object to omitting transgender people from conversion therapy ban

Fifteen Church leaders, have written to the Prime Minister urging him to include transgender people in the proposed ban on conversion therapy. The signatories include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, three Deans and the Rev Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Trust. But after a weekend of reported lobbying, the government failed to change its proposal to ban conversion therapy for all except transgender people, and the bill will be in the Queen’s speech in May. The exclusion has outraged campaigning groups and more than 100 have withdrawn from the government’s first global  “#Safe to be me”  conference in June, including the Christian group One Body One Faith.   (The Religion Media Centre zoom media briefing today at 1200 is on this story. Register for a place here )

Mayor says Ramadan will be enjoyed without lockdown rules

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said that Ramadan should be enjoyed without lockdown rules, though it would be wise to be cautious, as Covid is still spreading. . In an interview with Muslim News he revealed that Ramadan is tough for him and the thing he misses most is not having caffeine. Free from restrictions, he said Muslims were looking forward to enjoying Ramadan as lockdown rules had made it much harder to pray together and break the fast. He appreciated that Londoners respected and understood Ramadan and he was “very excited” to announce that Eid in the Square is coming back at the end of the festival. Read the Muslim News interview here

New church movement pioneer Gerald Coates has died aged 78

Gerald Coates, the evangelist who founded the Pioneer network of churches, which challenged the established denominations in the 1960s, has died aged 78. His generation emerged from the charismatic renewal to start new churches in homes and small communities, shaking the status quo. Premier Christian News reports that Pioneer started as five people meeting in Cobham, grew to six hundred, and then became a network of churches, which is now global. Tributes from friends say he was controversial and flamboyant.  

Cheeky Pandas cartoons to mark the Queen’s Jubilee and the fruits of the spirit

Half a million cartoon books “Queen CJ and the Bouncy Castle” will be distributed to primary schools to mark the Queen’s Jubilee. They are in the children’s cartoon series “The Cheeky Pandas” by Paul Kerensa and Pete James, with contributions from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Rev Nicky Gumbel, of Holy Trinity Brompton. The book illustrates the Queen’s 70 years of service and challenges children to follow her example.

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