Religion news 5 August 2022

Image credit: Stan_Wos CCLicense2.0; TimStubbings for Lambeth Conference 2022

Archbishop agrees to meet Sandi Toksvig for a coffee to talk about same-sex marriage

The broadcaster and comedian, Sandi Toksvig, has accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of making a “horrible mistake” in re-affirming that the official position of the Anglican communion continues to be a ban on homosexual practice. At the Lambeth conference of bishops in Canterbury, Justin Welby made a powerful speech saying there was deep disagreement in the Communion, but the controversial 1998 Resolution 1:10 remains valid. It says homosexual practices are incompatible with scripture and cannot advise that same-sex marriages are legitimised. In a two page passionate letter, published on Twitter, Sandi Toksvig says lives are at stake, revealing that she had received death threats for her sexuality, all of which came from evangelical Christians. She asked the Archbishop to call her and have a cup of coffee with her, so she could talk him round. Justin Welby replied, also on Twitter, saying the threats against her were a sin and explaining that the Anglican communion contains deep divisions, but both sides have agreed to accept one another despite this. He said he would love to have a coffee with her. Her tweet has been liked 53,000 times.

Anglicans must work with people of other faiths for the global common good

Anglican bishops across the world are being urged to forge new friendships with a leader of another religious tradition, to enable more work on peace making and projects for the common good. A call noted by the bishops at the Lambeth Conference, said co-operation in the Covid pandemic was an example of this and the pressing challenge of climate change was another. The Bishop of Chelmsford Guli Francis-Dehqani, Iranian by birth, told the conference of the tension which the Anglican Communion faces, with some countries where it is safe to start and maintain dialogue with other faiths, while in others, Christians are persecuted by people of other faiths.  In an emotional address to the conference, she explained that her father was Bishop in Iran when her brother was murdered because of his association with Christianity. The family left Iran for England.

Renewed commitment for Anglicans to strive for Christian unity

Bishop Guli told a press briefing afterwards that interfaith and ecumenical work was very significant for the Anglican communion, through looking outwards, developing partnerships and recognising “that we’re always part of something bigger”. The conference noted a call to re-affirm a commitment to seeking Christian unity, a process started 100 years ago at the 1920 Lambeth Conference. Bishop Guli had experienced positive encounters with the Roman Catholic church, which does not accept women priests, and said that movements towards women’s ordination in the Catholic church had been enormously encouraged by the experience of Anglican women.  The Bishop of St Asaph in Wales, Gregory Cameron, said he had been impressed that “in our ecumenical dialogues, we’re often more ready to keep the discussions going, than we are within our own family”.  

£7 million Hindu Temple opens in Oldham

A new £7 million Hindu Temple has been opened in Oldham, built with money raised by the local community. Volunteers also helped with the construction, which began in 2019. The Mandir has been built on land near the old temple, which was a renovated Baptist church but became too small for the growing community. The new building, with ornate marble gates replicating the front gate of Bhuj Mandir in Gujurat, has landscaped gardens, a multipurpose social space and a grand Mandir Hall. BBC film here.

Hundreds of children adopted from Ireland attempt to trace birth mothers

The Adoption Authority of Ireland says 900 people have registered to trace their parents or child following new laws which provide all adoptees with the legal entitlement to full and unrestricted access to their birth certificate, and birth, early life, care, and medical information. The Guardian reports that 786 are seeking birth parents, mainly mothers, and others are looking for contacts with siblings. 8,000 children were adopted between 1953-2021, with many cases involving the Catholic church. The tracing process is starting in October.

Storming of Azerbaijan embassy in protest at treatment of Shia Muslims

The Mahdi Servants Union, a Shia Muslim organisation, stormed the Azerbaijani embassy in London yesterday, waving flags from the balcony of the building in Kensington and removing the Azerbaijani flag. The organisation is led by Yasser Al-Habib, who wrote the controversial film “The Lady Of Heaven”.  It is believed their complaint was that Muslims are oppressed by the Azerbaijani government. Eight people were arrested.


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