Religion news 24 September

Image credit: Stonehenge Dronescape

Archbishops warn of division, hunger and isolation in second coronavirus wave

Dire warnings about the impact of the second wave of the coronavirus have been voiced by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York – the most senior leaders of the Church of England. In a letter to the Bishops, Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell say divisions are deeper, there are concerns about hunger and evictions, the vulnerable and elderly are at risk of isolation and people are weary and tired. Concerned about the decline of the economy, they call on the banks to “be merciful to others”, as the nation was to them in the 2009 crash.  In the first lockdown, church leaders were criticised for ordering churches to close, including to clergy. Now they say: “We will need to be more critical in our response to restrictions that are above and beyond government regulations.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Trailblazer in life and death

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is lying in repose at the Supreme Court – the first woman and Jew to do so. A towering icon for progressives, tributes were paid to her bravery and tenacity in her 27 years work on the court, as well as to her compassionate nature. Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of complications from pancreatic cancer at the age of 87, just as the Jewish New Year began. Jewish tradition says that a body must be buried within 24 hours, with exceptions for the Sabbath. But in a break with the rule, the burial will take place next week at Arlington National Cemetery, beside her husband Martin, in a private service. 

Churches say EU should be more compassionate towards migrants

Christian organisations are appealing to the EU to be more compassionate towards migrants and refugees. A joint statement by 12 organisations co-ordinated by the World Council of Churches says the recent fire in Moria camp on the island of Lesbos in Greece, highlights longstanding shortcomings of EU migration and asylum policy. The statement says: “We expect the EU to reject the discourse and politics of fear and deterrence, and to adopt a principled stance and compassionate practice based on the fundamental values on which the EU is founded”. They call for support for people on the move and for their host communities, saying society has a solemn responsibility towards migrants.

Campaign to restore Nepal as a Hindu country

The former Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal, Kamal Thapa is renewing his call for Nepal’s Hindu identity to be restored. Nepal was the world’s only Hindu kingdom until 2008, when it was declared to be secular following a  revolution which abolished the monarchy and led to a communist Maoist government. The news website OpIndia says that secularism has perversely led to an evangelical Christian revival, with 10 per cent of the country reported to have been converted, despite the fact that proselytism is banned. The demographic change has fuelled the campaign for the country to revert to its Hindu status.  

Irish chef carries sacred flame to the sacred heart of Ireland

Darragh Carroll, a 26 year old chef, has arrived in Ireland after a nine month journey on the sea, carrying the spark of a sacred flame from Norway to rebalance Ireland’s natural energy.  The Irish Examiner tells how the flame was first sparked at an ancient stone circle in Norway when Darragh had a vision to carry the flame to the mythological and sacred heart of Ireland, the Hill of Uisneach in Co. Westmeath. When the fire is extinguished, Darragh believes the fusion of fire and water will spark the healing of the land and people. The ceremony is planned for 31 October, the ancient pagan festival of Samhain.

Drone witnesses the autumn equinox at Stonehenge

The autumn equinox has been witnessed at Stonehenge but without the usual 800 pagans and druids who make the pilgrimage. English Heritage cancelled the event due to fears about the spread of the coronavirus. It offered to accommodate 30 people from the ‘Round Table’ which represents the group, but senior druid ‘King’ Arthur Pendragon rejected this as elitist. The group said that to choose one over another would be unfair. The Stonehenge picture above was taken by a drone.