Religion news 7 October 2022

Image credit: from Home Office Official Statistics Hate crime, England and Wales, 2021 to 2022

Religious hate crimes increased by 37 per cent on last year

The number of hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales has rocketed by 26 per cent in the last year. Home Office figures show 155,841 hate crimes were recorded by the police in England and Wales from 2021-2022, the highest annual increase for five  years. Religious hate crimes rose by 37 per cent to 8,730, the highest level on record.  40 per cent of those recorded were against Muslims, 23 per cent were against Jews, 8 per cent were against Christians and 4 per cent were against Sikhs. The MP Preet Kaur Gill tweeted that comparing figures for 2021-22 against 2020-21, there was a 28 per cent increase against Muslims; 49 per cent increase against Jews;  3 per cent reduction against Hindus; and 169 per cent increase against Sikhs, with the incidents rising from 112 to 301 in one year. The Home Office says the stats show that the majority of hate crimes are racially motivated and that transphobic and homophobic hate crime spiked after lockdowns eased in 2021. Overall,it was “uncertain to what degree the increase in police-recorded hate crime is a genuine rise or due to continued recording improvements and more victims having the confidence to report these crimes to the police.”

Sikh priest left for dead in attack with no justifiable reason

A 28 year old man who punched a Sikh priest in Manchester city centre and left him for dead has been jailed for three years. Claudio Campos denied he had attacked Avtar Singh, aged 62, because he was wearing a turban. The judge said there was no justifiable reason for the attack. Mr Singh suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, a stroke caused by bleeding on the brain and multiple fractures to his cheek, jaw and eye socket. He remains in hospital requiring 24-hour nursing and medical care. BBC report here

Cutting benefits would be un-Conservative, uncompassionate and un-Christian

Conservative Anglican blogger “Archbishop Cranmer”, aka Adrian Hilton, has issued a stern critique of the Chancellor’s recent fiscal statement, saying that “cutting benefits would be un-Conservative, uncompassionate and un-Christian”.  He said a cut would be a display of the wrong values: “It would cut all hope, making the mentally fragile and physically exhausted even more fragile and exhausted”. He accused the Chancellor of giving a speech at the Tory conference which was totally devoid of compassion for the immediate plight of the poorest and most vulnerable, and said the government had trashed its economic credibility. “With a war in Europe, an energy crisis, inflation, strikes, recession, another looming NHS/Covid crisis and £200bn worth of national debt, the last thing the Government needed was a self-inflicted financial crisis to drain what credibility and confidence remained in the Conservatives after the Boris Johnson era of waffle, scandal and fudge”. His blog is here

Cardinal Nichols warns Prime Minister against moving British embassy to Jerusalem

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has warned the Prime Minister that there would be  “seriously damaging”’ consequences if the UK’s embassy in Israel were moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In a Twitter thread,  the Cardinal, who is head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, said such a relocation would  be seriously damaging to any possibility of lasting peace in the region and to the international reputation of the United Kingdom. He said Pope Francis and leaders of churches in the Holy Land have long called for the international status quo on Jerusalem to be upheld and the city must never become an exclusive monopoly of any party. He could see no valid reason why a move needed to be considered and asked the Prime Minister to reconsider, focussing all efforts on seeking a two-state solution, in which Jerusalem would have a guaranteed special status”. Reuters reports that Palestinians have also voiced concerns. In response, it says the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office said it was reviewing the current location of the embassy “to ensure that we are in the best possible position to continue promoting British interests in Israel, peace and stability in the region, and in support of a two-state solution”.

Texas death row inmate’s spiritual adviser touched and prayed with him as he died

John Henry Ramirez, 38, on death row in Texas, has been executed, while his spiritual adviser was allowed to place his right hand on the prisoner’s chest and hold it there for the duration. The Associated Press reports that the adviser offered a brief prayer as the prisoner died. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Ramirez, saying states must accommodate the wishes of death row inmates who want to have their faith leaders pray and touch them during their executions. After the prayer, Ramirez addressed five relatives of his victim, who was stabbed 29 times in an attack in 2004,  saying he had regret and remorse.

Archbishop meets indigenous leaders in Australia

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has met indigenous leaders during a ten day tour of Australia, where he is scheduled to meet Anglicans who are delivering services to “first nations” groups. Speaking in Perth, he said the church had a leading role to play in reconciliation. He is expected to discuss issues including poverty, homelessness and family violence. During his visit he will meet people affected by climate change causing rising sea levels and catastrophic flooding.

“Fruitful” discussions between LGBT campaigners and CofE bishops

The Church Times reports that meetings held between LGBT campaigners and bishops at Lambeth Palace, were “fruitful”. This was part of the Living in Love and Faith process, where the whole church is engaged in discussions to find a way through deep disagreements on issues of sexuality including same sex marriage. The discussions will be considered within a report to be put before the church’s parliament, the General Synod, in February 2023, when there will be a vote.

 Pope’s visit to Bahrain unveiled

More than 200 world religious leaders will attend the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue in November, where the guests of honour include Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Al-Sharif. This follows a similarly large scale global meeting in Kazakhstan last month. The newly published itinerary for the Pope’s visit from 3 to 6 November, includes meetings with the country’s 161,000 Catholic population and a Mass in the Bahrain National Stadium.

Nerdy trivia buff Episcopalian priest wins American TV game show four times

Episcopalian priest, the Rev. David Sibley has made history by winning almost $80,000 in four consecutive wins on the TV game show Jeopardy.  Describing himself as a “nerdy trivia buff kind of guy”, he told the Religion News Service that he had been trying to appear on the show since college days. As rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walla Walla, Washington, he was encouraged to wear his clerical collar by the show’s producers and made the most of his fame afterwards by tweeting that he would donate 10 per cent of his winnings to the church, and that he was affirming of LGBTQIA+ people: “God loves you. Exactly as you are”. He scored well in chemistry – his first degree; missed a clue about Rapture and another on soccer balls, but reflected: “It’s OK to be wrong sometimes, and it’s OK to do it in front of a national audience”.


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