Religion news 6 November

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Cardinal predicts government U-turn on public worship as Health Secretary says conversations continue

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales is predicting that the UK government will U-turn on the ban on public worship during a four week lockdown. In a BBC interview, he said the decision was not backed by scientific evidence and “clearly shows a misunderstanding of the importance of religious faith”. It has emerged that no faith leaders were consulted before the ban was announced and despite subsequent back to back meetings with faith leaders and an open letter of protest, the government refused to budge. Yet the Cardinal told the BBC Today programme: “I think it will be changed”.

Health Secretary: conversations continue:

MPs joined to urge a reversal of the ban. The Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that conversations were continuing with faith leaders over the ban. “Ministers are talking to faith leaders to do everything we can to reach an accommodation as soon as possible.” Theresa May said banning worship meetings could set a ‘dangerous’ precedent because making it illegal to conduct an act of public worship, for the best of intentions, sets a precedent that could be misused for a government of the future for the worst of intentions.

Five new Muslim legislators in the United States

American states elected their first Muslims into the state legislatures. All five are Democrats and represent Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. The Religion News Service quoted one saying their election would help defeat the violent rise of Islamophobia by forcing the Muslim perspective on health care, the economy and the criminal legal system.

French envoy to defend freedom of religion in cartoons row

The Guardian reports that France may appoint a special envoy to explain the President’s defence of freedom of expression, following the beheading of a teacher in a Paris street. The attacker objected to the teacher using cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a lesson. President Macron’ s defence of freedom caused a backlash in Muslim countries, with French goods boycotted and diplomats recalled. He has said France would double the number of police guarding its borders to combat terrorism.

Thai airlines route over Buddhist sites

Another Guardian story: Thai Airways has launched a special flight that will cruise over 99 holy sites, allowing passengers to chant Buddhist mantras from the sky, in its latest attempt to boost its revenue. The airline was struggling even before the coronavirus pandemic, and the closure of Thailand’s borders has been a devastating blow.

Former magistrate appeals against sacking over same sex adoption 

Richard Page, a former Kent magistrate is appealing against a decision to sack him for his views on same sex adoption. The Court of Appeal is hearing the case   in a legal battle funded by the conservative organisation the Christian Legal Centre. Richard Page says he was sacked in 2015   because he expressed his Christian views on parenting following a same-sex adoption case. It was said he was “biased and prejudiced against single-sex adopters”

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