Religion news 5 Feb

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QAnon Republican congresswoman stripped of committee membership

Marjorie Taylor Greene, an American Republican congresswoman and supporter of QAnon, has been stripped of her roles on the budget, education and labor committees as a punishment for her incendiary comments on social media. Taylor Greene, elected to represent Georgia in November last year, supported many of the causes that fuelled the insurrection on Capitol Hill. QAnon is a conspiracy theory that a deep state of paedophiles and wealthy people runs the world and that Donald Trump waged war against them. She “liked” posts calling for violence against Democrats, claimed that school shootings and the 9/11 terror attack were staged events, and suggested Muslims should not serve in government. Before the vote she failed to apologise, simply regretted some words from the past.

CofE says it’s ludicrous to be accused of cuts equal to the dissolution of the monasteries

A leaked document to The Sunday Times suggesting that the Church of England would have to prune the number of clergy because of loss of income through the pandemic, is still causing ructions. Another article, in The Spectator by a “rural parish volunteer”,  Emma Thompson, said clergy cuts and selling assets was the biggest act of church vandalism since the dissolution of the monasteries and would end the CofE as we knew it, leaving a remote institution with central control.  Church leaders have responded robustly. Senior official William Nye said the comparison was ludicrous. There was no national plan for cuts to clergy or to buildings, he said. The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell denied that clergy would be “pushed out” as a cost-cutting measure. Some posts were being left empty when people retired but the church would ensure any cuts were distributed fairly round the country. Writing in the Church Times, he said the leaked document did not contain any proposals, but was “a first go, designed to stimulate creative discussion”.

Curate apologises for saying clap for Captain Sir Tom is ‘cult of White British Nationalism’

A young chaplain about to start work as a curate at All Hallows by the Tower, near Tower Bridge in London, is being investigated after posting on Twitter that the national clap for Captain Sir Tom Moore was a “cult of White British Nationalism”. The Rev Jarel Robinson-Brown’s comments provoked a furious response with the Diocese of London saying they were unacceptable, insensitive and ill judged.  3,000 people signed a petition demanding he be sacked. The curate, who was appointed only last month, apologised for the insensitive timing and content of the tweet, which he deleted and then closed his whole account. But the backlash brought out his supporters, angry that he had been targeted with racist and homophobic abuse. He is bringing out a book this year Black, Gay, British, Christian, Queer – Church and the Famine of Grace. The Archdeacon of London is investigating.

MPs demand government takes firm action against China’s treatment of Uighurs

Conservative MPs have urged the government to “stop this nonsense” and ensure that trade can be stopped with countries committing genocide. Action has been demanded in recent months as the world sees reports of atrocities by the Chinese government against the majority Uighur population. MPs and Lords have tried to push through legislation giving courts the power to declare a country guilty of genocide, but the Commons has rejected the plan. Yesterday Nus Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden,  secured an urgent question where the arguments were rehearsed for another time. Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged the Government to “stop this nonsense” and take action.  Others called for a  “meaningful” compromise saying this is a tragedy demanding moral recognition. The bill comes back to the Commons for another vote, on Tuesday.

First woman leader of Muslim Council of Britain says female imams not in her remit

Zara Mohammed, 29, four days into her role as the first female leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, was given a combative interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour which centred on female Imams.  She was asked to repeatedly answer questions on the number of female imams in the UK and whether Muslims would follow some Christians and Jews in allowing women to be religious leaders. She said her role was organisational not theological and the discussion around female imams was religious.

Half of mosque committee in Lancashire have died of coronavirus

Four people on a committee of eight at the Ghausia Masjid in Nelson, Lancashire, have died of coronavirus. The Lancashire Telegraph reports that they include the mosque president, the treasurer and two committee members.  Imam Qari Khalid Mehmood said it had been a difficult and sad time, with one death a year ago, and three in the autumn. He believed the cases were transmitted in the community as they were not attributed to anyone in the mosque, which is now closed to worshippers.

US church gets $3bn in aid despite hefty cash assets

The Roman Catholic church in America received an estimated $3bn from government relief funds,  despite sitting on $10bn, according to an investigation by the Associated Press. It said scores of Catholic dioceses received aid through the Paycheck Protection Program and others through the small business relief fund. Reporters pieced together the story from 112 diocesan  financial statements and concluded that the Roman Catholic Church was “perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the paycheck program”.  AP reports that church officials have said their employees were as worthy of help as workers at main street businesses, and that without it they would have had to slash jobs and curtail their charitable mission. Full story here

Medieval Cornish plays of the creation and Easter story to be re-enacted in September

Three plays written in medieval Cornish from the 14th century are to be performed this autumn in an ancient amphitheatre at St Just in Penwith near Land’s End. The Ordinalia cycle – three plays that tell the story of the creation, the passion and the resurrection — is believed to have been written by the clerics of Glasney College in Penryn.  The cycle will be performed in September for the third time in 300 years as part of a two-week festival of Cornish culture. Professionals will be joined by actors from the community and it is hoped the event will be repeated every three years.