Religion news 7 October

Image credit: The White House

Church of England concerned for its reputation rather than dealing with child sex abusers

A damning report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse says the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual predators because it was too concerned with its own reputation. It became a place where abusers could hide and perpetrators were treated more supportively than victims. The Bishop in charge of safeguarding, Jonathan Gibbs, told a Religion Media Centre briefing that the Church of England had failed catastrophically in its duty of care and it would spend what it takes to create new safeguarding processes and recompense survivors..  “If we don’t get this right, it undermines fundamentally the credibility of the church”. The report made eight recommendations, which have been criticised for being weak and non-specific, though work continues to follow their guide. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “I pray this report and its recommendations will result in the changes needed to make our Church a safer place for all now and for future generations.” Full report of the RMC zoom briefing here

Former choirboy denies bribe to convict Cardinal George Pell

A former choirboy in Australia, whose evidence helped to convict Cardinal George Pell of sex abuse charges, has denied receiving a bribe for his testimony. Allegations that Vatican funds were sent to secure a conviction, emerged in two Italian newspapers this week. George Pell was convicted and served a year in jail before being dramatically cleared. He has since returned to the Vatican as his rival, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, was sacked amidst allegations of financial irregularity.

Church leaders test positive after White House event

The Religion News Service is reporting that at least two faith leaders have tested positive for Covid19 after  the White House rose garden ceremony to present Amy Coney Barrett as the new Supreme Court justice. They are the University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins and Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. They are among a cluster of nine positive cases connected with that event. Among the other church leaders present, some have continued to travel and preach and many attended a massive prayer march, led by Franklin Graham, in Washington DC the same day.

Turkey ‘bans 60 Protestant church members

The World Evangelical Alliance says Turkey has expelled and banned 60 Protestant church members and it is urging a review of the decisions. The Alliance took its case to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, saying that in the past two years, more than 60 expat Protestant Christians in Turkey have been denied residency “arbitrarily and without due process”. Examples included a Sri Lankan who has lived in Turkey for 20 years, now banned for entering; and a woman who had lived there for 30 years and was deported back to the UK.  The authorities are reported to have said that they constitute a threat to national security. Christian Solidarity Worldwide has reported similar cases in Turkey with American Christians. 

Druid Network growth in 10 years of charitable status

The Druid Network is celebrating its tenth anniversary of charitable status, acknowledging that it is a legitimate religion. Its arguments were that Nature expresses the power of divinity and is sacred, worthy of religious reverence. Six years later it became a full voting member of the Interfaith Network.  There are no secure stats for the number of Druids in the UK, but there are multiple groupings explained in our fact sheet here  This year, Philip Carr-Gomm, the leader of the largest Druid network, the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, stepped down after 32 years.

Christian street preacher in Somerset allowed to continue

Christian preacher Michael Overd has been allowed to continue preaching in the street, after winning a court case brought by Somerset and Avon Police. They had accused him of anti-social behaviour while preaching about homosexuality, abortion and religion and requested an injunction. But only two restrictions were passed – he has been banned from using an amplifier and calling abortionists “murderers” until 2022. He has been arrested and prosecuted several times for street preaching and was represented in court by the Christian Concern Legal Centre. He told Premier Christian Radio that it was no hardship not to use an amplifier as he has a very strong voice.