Religion news 5 January 2022

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Image credit; Tyler Merbler, USA CCLicense

Religion ‘at the centre’ of 6 January Capitol Hill attack

Academic research in the United States has concluded that religion was a “thread that weaved through the entirety of the events” in the attack on the Capitol on 6 January last year. Uncivil Religion, compiled by Michael J. Altman from the University of Alabama, and Jerome Copulsky at the National Museum of American History, analysed thousands of social media posts and other documentation to find items relating to religion. Pictures of people wearing a Guns & God hoodie or carrying a Jesus flag were beamed across the world but there was more to see. The authors say the majority of religious symbols came from the evangelical right, but others appeared to identify with Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, as well as expressions of “New Age”, neo-pagan spiritualities and QAnon. The say: “The symbols, rituals, ideas, and identities on display during the rally and attack were as religiously plural as the United States itself.”

Austria allows assisted dying despite Catholic protest

Austria has legalised assisted dying despite protests from the Catholic church. The law limits it to terminally ill adults or those with a permanent debilitating condition, says two doctors must be consulted about the case and orders that patients must wait between two and 12 weeks to reflect on their decision. Vatican News says the legislation came into force on New Year’s Day despite fierce opposition from Austria’s Catholic Bishops.

Calls for UK Jewish charity chief to resign

More than 46 Board of Deputies representatives have signed a letter demanding that trustees of the Jewish National Fund UK charity back calls for chairman Samuel Hayek to resign, Jewish News reports. He is accused of making inflammatory comments about Muslim immigration, detailed in an interview with the Jewish News in December. The letter says condemnation is not enough and there must be zero tolerance of Islamophobia.

Rabbi quits as BBC contributor in protest at report of antisemitic attack

Rabbi YY Rubinstein, who is a regular broadcaster with the BBC, has resigned as a contributor in protest at its coverage of an antisemitic attack against Jewish men in London, after they were disputedly accused of making offensive Muslim slurs. In his resignation letter published on Facebook, he said: “I simply don’t see how I or in fact any Jew who has any pride in that name can be associated with the corporation anymore”.

Australian diocese liable for priest’s sex abuse

In Australia, the Victoria Supreme Court has judged that the Roman Catholic diocese of Ballarat was vicariously liable for a priest’s abuse of a five-year-old boy in 1971. The church argued that Father Bryan Coffey, who was found guilty and imprisoned for sex abuse crimes and has since died, was not a formal employee and so it could not be held liable. But the court found the diocese had general control over the priest and his duties and awarded the survivor $230,000. His lawyers said the verdict would help countless other victims of church abuse in the future.

Fake Indian site offering Muslim women for auction is taken down

A fake online auction site in India, which put up pictures of Muslim women saying they were sale, has been taken down and a man detained for organising it. The site was named “Bulli Bai”, an offensive term for Muslims, included manipulated pictures of women some of whom have been vocal critics of the ruling BJP party. They were public figures such as journalists, academics, activists and artists. No transactions took place.

Sikh army physio from Derby crosses Antarctica solo

Preet Chandi, a British Sikh Army officer has become the first woman of colour to cross Antarctica solo. The army physiotherapist, 32, from Derby is known as “Polar Preet” on her Instagram account, where she charted her 700-mile journey, which took 40 days to complete. She said she decided on the adventure to encourage people to push their boundaries, while raising money to split between a grant helping other women take part in unique adventure challenges and Khalsa Aid.

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