Religion news 1 October

Image credit: London Central Mosque Trust

Poll finds Conservatives who believe Islam is a threat to British way of life

A survey of a sample of Conservative party members found almost half believe Islam is “a threat to the British way of life” and almost two thirds think there are no go areas where sharia law dominates. The poll was commissioned by Hope Not Hate and conducted by You Gov among 1,213 Conservative party members. The former Conservative party chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said: “This is further evidence that the party has a real and serious issue with racism directed at Muslims”.  In May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission dropped plans for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party and the party said it would conduct its own review.

Bishop joins call for universal benefit rise to be permanent

The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler is calling on the government to increase emergency Universal Credit payments permanently. They had been increased by £20 a week for a year from March, because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the News Chronicle reports that 50 charities and the Bishop signed an open letter to the chancellor appealing for the change to be made permanent, saying that the uplift had been a lifeline to families under financial pressure and had stopped a marked surge in poverty levels.

EU anti money laundering investigators start work at the Vatican

European evaluators have started investigating Vatican finances to check compliance with international procedures to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The Vatican submitted to the Moneyval evaluation process after it signed up to the 2009 EU Monetary Convention and this visitation is part of a regular schedule. It starts days after top Vatican Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu resigned following accusations of financial irregularities, which he denies, and as news emerges of Vatican money going into the purchase of expensive properties in London.

Pope accused of sexism for calling his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti”

The title of Pope Francis’ forthcoming encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti” (All Brothers) has been criticised by Roman Catholic womens’ organisations for gender exclusivity. The encyclical, a letter to the church, will be published  this week, and is expected to outline the Pope’s vision for a post Covid-19 age, focusing on the economic, environmental and spiritual changes necessary for this moment. The women’s groups say that the male only title is a distraction and it should include the word “sorelle” (sisters). The Vatican denies this is sexism and says “Fratelli Tutti” is simply a direct quote from St Francis of Assisi. 

BJP former leaders cleared of inciting demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya

Leaders of India’s governing party, the BJP, have been cleared for their alleged role in the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992. Former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, and BJP leaders MM Joshi and Uma Bharti, were among 49 people charged. They denied inciting Hindu mobs to demolish the 16th Century mosque in Ayodhya, a disputed site which Hindus say was the location of temple to the Hindu god Lord Ram. The demolition sparked violence that killed 2,000 people. The court said there was insufficient evidence to prove the demolition had been planned.

Boris Johnson’s godmother “terribly pleased” his son is baptised at Westminster Cathedral

The author and playwright, Rachel Billington, who is a Catholic and Boris Johnson’s godmother, says she is delighted that he and his partner Carrie Symonds, chose to have their son baptised at Westminster Cathedral. She told the Telegraph: “I was surprised, but I gather that Carrie is a Catholic. I’m terribly pleased about it – and to have the baptism in the Lady Chapel at the cathedral, too. I particularly love it.”