Religion news 8 October

Image credit: Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick

Irish church leaders urge politicians to reach a Brexit deal strengthening the relationship with Britain

Irish church leaders are appealing to politicians in Westminster and Brussels to hammer out a Brexit deal with urgency and generosity. In a joint statement, they say both sides need to strengthen relationships of trust and mutual respect across the British Isles. The statement from leading Irish Presbyterian, Church of Ireland, Catholic and Methodist clerics was published as the negotiations enter a crucial phase with days to go before the 15 October deadline. The Newsletter reported that the statement pointed to lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic, to manage risk collaboratively. The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, the Rev John McDowell, said: “With limited time remaining to prepare for the outworking of Brexit, it is in everyone’s interests to achieve the clarity and security an agreement will provide.”

Rihanna apologises after dance video using an Islamic Hadith caused offence

The global fashion and pop icon Rihanna has apologised after provoking outrage from Muslims for using the words of the Prophet Muhummad in the backing for a raunchy dance routine launching her latest lingerie range. Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show features dancers modelling a lingerie range to backing music, including a setting of the Hadith — revered sayings of the Prophet. It used the song Doom by the London-based producer Coucou Chloe, who picked the rhythm of an Imam reading a passage about the day of judgment and set it to a dance beat. 

Humanists join US faith and conscience coalition to support Biden for president

Much has been written about the importance of the white evangelical and Catholic voting blocs in the US presidential election. Now the humanists have joined the discussion, with the new group “Humanists for Biden” joining the Biden-Harris attempt to form a coalition of communities of faith and conscience. The Religion News Service reports that humanists and “non religious” form 30% of the Democrat vote but have traditionally had a low turnout rate. The new group says many Americans are united by humanistic values such as a belief in science, support for racial justice, pluralism and inclusion.

Public inquiry hears opposition to Holocaust Memorial in Westminster

A public inquiry into the construction of a Holocaust Memorial in a park next to the Houses of Parliament, has begun in London. The design of tightly spaced high walls with walkways in between, has proved controversial with fears that it will ruin a green space and overpower the area, which includes monuments to reformers. The Guardian reports that Rabbi Jonathan Romain told the inquiry that monuments do not stop antisemitism, but education would have a greater impact.  The inquiry is scheduled to last five days.

Catholic bishops criticised for choosing “gender biased” Bible translation

More than 200  people have signed a petition  in protest at the Catholic Bishops’ decision to use a version of the Bible that is said to be not gender inclusive. They believe the choice of the English Standard Edition shows the church treats women as second class citizens. Examples include using the word ‘brothers’ or ‘men’ instead of ‘people’. The petitioners hope that the Bishops will listen to the “anger, disillusionment and disbelief” from faithful women protesting at the decision.

Sikh Gudwara lights up in purple for victims of domestic abuse

The Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick is lighting up in purple this month, to raise awareness of domestic violence. The president of the Gurdwara, Jaswinder Singh, said domestic violence had surged during the Covid-19 pandemic and it was important to talk openly about it, in order to create change. The Express and Star reports that Black Country Women’s Aid is overwhelmed to have the Gudwara’s support and the light will send a message of hope.