Religion News 6 August

Image credit: @GinoRaidy

Governments, aid agencies and faith charities rush to help the people of Beirut

Aid is flowing into Lebanon as the humanitarian crisis following the massive explosion becomes shockingly clear. More than 100 people were killed and 5,000 injured. The UK government has announced a package of assistance including search and rescue teams, £5 million in emergency humanitarian aid, help for the armed forces and a clinical advisory team. Aid agencies, including faith based charities, are appealing for donations to provide help on the ground. Lebanon is 54% Muslim and 40% Christian and the many faith charities involved are appealing for volunteers and money to provide immediate relief. People are homeless, without food or medical supplies and have lost their jobs. The country was already reeling from Covid19 and economic meltdown. Story here

John Hume: “A meaningful life

The funeral of John Hume, the Northern Ireland politician credited with being the architect of the peace process, has taken place at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry. It was a quieter and smaller service due to the coronavirus, and his family had expressed a wish that people should not line the streets in order to observe social distancing rules. But political leaders from north and south of the border were there and messages were read from Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama, who said “His deep conviction in the power of dialogue and negotiations in resolving the problem in his homeland has been an example of non-violent resolution of issues. It was his leadership and his faith in the power of negotiations that enabled the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to be reached. His steady persistence set an example for all of us to follow..His message about peace and non-violence in the resolution of conflict, no matter how protracted or difficult it may seem to be, will long survive him. He lived a truly meaningful life.”

Jesus Army leaders’ response to sex abuse allegations

The BBC has obtained a leaked report into how allegations of abuse within the Jesus Army Christian sect were dealt with by senior leaders. The organisation was dissolved last year after losing thousands of members following claims of historical sexual abuse.  The Jesus Fellowship Survivors Association  was set up in 2013 to enable the truth to come out and justice to be served. The sect was characterised by street based evangelism, double decker buses emblazoned with banners carrying supporters to town centres and community living. Launched 50 years ago by evangelical and charismatic Christians, it grew to 3500 members before its demise.

New Hindu Temple in Ayodhya

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the cornerstone of a new Hindu Temple in Ayodhya, the site of a mosque that was destroyed by mob violence in 1992. The religious history of Ayodhya is disputed, with Hindus believing it is the birthplace of Rama and Muslims building a mosque there in 1528. Last year the Indian supreme court ruled that the land should be handed to a government created trust to allow the building of a Hindu temple on the site. The court also said five acres of land should be given to a Muslim charitable trust to build a mosque. The setting of the cornerstone fulfils an election promise made by the Prime Minister, who said the site has been “liberated”.

Rebellion brewing among Roman Catholic nuns

A Roman Catholic journalist has criticised an article in a prominent Jesuit magazine which said nuns were manipulated and exploited by mothers superior who abused their power. Lucetta Scaraffia said the article was an attempt to undermine the newly found voice of nuns, because it suggested that if they spoke out, church authorities would ‘air their dirty laundry’ in public. She has investigated and published stories of sexual abuse against nuns and criticised the Vatican for filing to respond appropriately, predicting that the church will have to deal with a rebellion brewing amongst womens’ religious orders.