Religion news 6 January 2022

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Religious groups unite to fight nationality and borders bill

Demonstrations were held outside Parliament yesterday in protest at the Nationalities and Borders Bill, which would give the home secretary the right to remove British nationals of their citizenship without informing them first. Civic and religious leaders have united against the bill including the Muslim Council of Britain, Sikh Council UK, Jewish Council for Racial Equality and the Christian Muslim Forum. They say it is “a route to disenfranchisement and even deportation of people of colour on an unprecedented scale”. The bill was passed by the Commons in December by 298 votes to 231 and it came before the Lords for its second reading yesterday.

Pope Francis encourages adoption

Pope Francis has encouraged families to “take the risk” of adopting children. At his Wednesday general audience, he continued a series of teachings on St Joseph, whose place in Jesus’s life showed that “adoption is not based on a secondary type of bond with a child, but rather exemplifies a high form of love”. Pope Francis recalled that the practice of adoption was much more common in ancient times in the East than now, including the right to name a child and legally recognise them as belonging, providing them with a home.

Nurse wins case against NHS trust after refusing to remove cross necklace

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has unconditionally apologised to a senior nurse who won her claim for constructive dismissal after refusing to remove a cross and chain necklace. An employment tribunal found the trust had harassed and discriminated against Mary Onuoha, now 61, who was removed from her job after 18 years. She said she had worn the cross without causing harm, while other women members of staff also wore clothes associated with their religion. Her case was supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

Antisemitic bus attack report may go to Ofcom

Jewish News reports as an exclusive that Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, will meet the BBC director-general Tim Davie this month in a continuing dispute over a report published at the end of last year. It concerned an antisemitic attack on Jewish men on a bus in Oxford Street, as they were celebrating Hanakkah. The report said anti-Muslim slurs could be heard from someone on the bus, but this has been disputed. Jewish News says it has been told that the case could be raised with Ofcom if the BBC response is unsatisfactory to the complainants.

Casting of Helen Mirren as Golda Meir criticised on grounds of religion

Dame Maureen Lipman has criticised the casting of actress Dame Helen Mirren as the Israeli prime minister Golda Meir in the film Golda because she is not Jewish. The casting of non-Jews to play Jewish roles has provoked a lively debate in the Jewish Chronicle. Director Patrick Marber dismissed the objection saying it “denies the actor the fundamental challenge and right to become someone else to impersonate another human being from another time, from another culture from another religion and another sexuality and other gender”.

Complaint over antisemitic caricature of Harry Potter film goblins

JK Rowling has been criticised for modelling the goblins at Gringotts Bank on “antisemitic caricatures”. Jon Stewart, the comedian and former Daily Show host, made the accusation during a podcast published two weeks ago. In reply, JK Rowling’s agent Neil Blair said she did not have “an antisemitic bone in her body” and Jon Stewart should apologise for a false smear. Late on Wednesday, Jon Stewart tweeted a rebuttal saying his podcast conversation was light-hearted and the media’s reporting of it was out of context. He did not think JK Rowling or the Harry Potter films were antisemitic.

Leicester Cathedral closes for almost two years in multi million pound renovation

Leicester Cathedral is closing until autumn 2023 for extensive building works costing £12.7m. The structure is being upgraded and a new visitor and learning centre is being created to cater for the tenfold increase in the number of visitors following the burial of King Richard III in the cathedral in 2015.

Garden memorial to victims of Manchester arena attack

The “Glade of Light” memorial garden has been opened in Manchester to commemorate the 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena attack almost four years ago. Featuring a marble ring surrounding a circular path and planted area, it stands next to Manchester Cathedral near the scene of the attack and allows space for people to pray and remember those who died. Bereaved families have embedded memory capsules with mementos and messages inside the halo marble surround.

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