Religion news 5 November 2021

Image credit: pxfuel

Islamic Relief urges government to help all places of worship become net zero

Islamic Relief is using COP26 to urge the UK government to set up a green fund for houses of worship of all faiths to support their transition to net zero emissions by 2050. It says historical, cultural and iconic buildings are often the most used buildings for worship and community use. It urges the government to hold talks with faith leaders to ensure people of faith are properly engaged towards meeting net zero targets. Its campaign was highlighted with the funding of 130 solar panels at Glasgow Central mosque, the largest mosque in Scotland, a project which was unveiled as world leaders visit the city to take decisions on global initiatives.

Tributes paid to the entertainer Lionel Blair

The Jewish News has paid tribute to Lionel Blair, the entertainer, who has died aged 92.  It charts his story born to Lithuanian parents Myer Ogus, a barber, and his wife Debora Greenbaum, who lived in Montreal. They moved to London’s Stamford Hill where he was raised. The tribute says the family was Jewish but not observant.  Lionel Blair went on to carve out a 70 year career as an actor, tap dancer, presenter and choreographer. His wife Susan died in 2006, after 42 years of marriage and they leave three children.

Launch of e-magazine “Proudly Muslim and Black”

The Muslim Council of Britain has launched the first edition of the Proudly Muslim and Black project’s E-Magazine,  which aims to celebrate the contributions, history, and heritage of black Muslims in Britain today. It will be a quarterly digital publication and the first articles feature Khadeejah, Founder of The Black Muslim Girl online platform, book reviews on the history of Islam in Africa, and the work of Everyday Muslim.

Call for buffer zones around abortion clinics in Scotland

The Green party in Scotland is calling for 150 metre buffer zones to be created around abortion clinics after reports that there are seven active protests outside hospitals and clinics targeting women.  Gillian Mackay, Green MSP, said protests do not need to be loud or physically aggressive to be intimidating and people had a right to privacy and to be able to access essential, medical services. Buffer zones are in place in Australia, Canada and some parts of England.

Texas voters support measure to prevent state closing churches

Voters in Texas have supported a measure preventing governments from taking action to limit religious services, such as the bans imposed during the Covid-19 crisis. Under the Texas constitution, measures passed by the state’s legislature require voter approval. Only 9 per cent voted this time, but 62.4 per cent of them voted to support the measure. The Religion News Service reports that supporters believe churchgoers should be in charge of their own health care decisions. Opponents say it sends a damaging message that religious people are more concerned about special treatment than they are about the good of their communities. It is reported that 50 similar bills are being considered across the United States.

European anti Muslim discrimination poster withdrawn over hijab controversy

The Council of Europe has withdrawn posters for an anti Muslim discrimination campaign, after objections from France. The poster showed a woman with one half of her head dressed in a hijab and the other without, with the slogan “Beauty is in diversity as freedom is in hijab”. The BBC reports that several prominent French politicians condemned the message saying it encouraged women to wear headscarves, contradicting the secular values of France. The campaign was led by the inclusion and anti-discrimination department of the Council of Europe, which deleted tweets after the complaints.

Pope says sex abuse is a culture of death and must be eradicated

Pope Francis has told a conference on safeguarding that all who work with children must “eradicate the culture of death” that is sex abuse, explaining that abuse is a betrayal of trust which leads to death. He said there must be a permanent process towards life and the future, on which children must be able to rely. The Pope added that he wanted adults to renew an educational alliance, building protection for children between the generations and between the different contexts in which children grow up.

258 sex abuse cases in the Catholic church in Nebraska since 1930

The Associated Press reports that 258 people have made credible allegations of sexual abuse against 57 Catholic church officials in Nebraska,  going back to 1930.  But prosecutors can’t charge any current or former church officials with a crime because the statutes of limitations have expired in the vast majority of cases, the Attorney General Doug Peterson told a news conference.  In one case where charges were still possible, he said the accuser declined to participate in a prosecution. He was outlining the contents of a report into sex abuse which said more than 90 per cent of the victims were boys, usually young teenagers who were altar servers. The report said many that high-ranking church leaders knew about cases but didn’t report them to the authorities.

The minister in Shetland, with a parish 197 miles long

The Church of Scotland minister in charge of all the churches in Shetland, the Rev Dr Fran Henderson, has made a film showing her entire parish,  from Skaw Beach in the north to Sumburgh Head Lighthouse in the south. Shetland has 16 inhabited islands and the film shows her sometimes perilous journey travelling the 197 miles from the north to south of her parish, which took her 12 hours to complete. The film was made to illustrate the challenges of ministry in a remote part of the country. There are three ministers, but lay people also have ministry roles and step in when clergy cannot attend because of poor weather breaking transport links. As church attendance declines, she has the task of presiding over the closure of 20 church buildings, leaving just 11 with congregations. Some are being bought by local communities, which have generational and emotional links to the places, in order to save their future as community centres.

Creating Connections: sign up in Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth and Birmingham

The Religion Media Centre has launched a project this autumn to enhance religious literacy and understanding in a landscape often fraught with misconceptions and assumptions on both sides. Creating Connections, where Religion meets the Media features a series of events to improve links between religious groups and journalists in England. They are an opportunity to explore the way religion and worldviews are interwoven into community life and it is hoped that key stories on religion and belief will be brought to life and lasting contacts for the future will be made. Reserve a place using the links below. All events take place in the afternoon. The Leeds event was last week. Here are the next four:


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