By Gillan Scott, God and Politics in the UK
By Gillan Scott, God and Politics in the UK
The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, led the final plenary session at 'Faith in Conflict', an ecumenical conference exploring how conflict is handled across the church.
“This conference is some years in the making. I have always been hopeful that it would mark a step for the Church of England’s capacity when dealing with conflict. In fact, it is proving to be much more significant than that, setting a clear and radical path for our opportunity to be peacemakers and confidence builders in our society.”
70% of 7-11 year olds believe in “a god” according to the survey of 1,200 7-21 year olds in the UK, conducted by Girlguiding UK. The figure for 11-21 year olds is 55%, an increase on the same figure from the 2009 poll conducted by the same organisation.
From God and Politics UK
From God and Politics UK
By Richard Garner, Independent
More than 100 religious groups have applied to the Government to open one of its free schools, official figures have revealed for the first time.
They include the Plymouth Brethren – an exclusive religious sect which refuses to teach technology and preaches creationism – which has put in 14 applications to bring existing private schools they already run into the state sector. All the applications have been refused.
The figures show that 132 of the 517 applications to open free schools in the past couple of years have come from faith groups. These applications include 31 from Muslim groups.
The information emerged after the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, bowed to a ruling from the Information Commissioner to release the details of all applications – including whether they were for a faith school and of which denomination. Faith groups seeking to open their own schools included Jews, Hindus and Sikhs and Christians.
By John Bingham, Telegraph
Britain is becoming increasingly reliant on churches and religious groups to meet “crucial” needs once met by the state, a minister will admit today.
Baroness Warsi will defend the right of Christians, Muslims, Jews and others to publicly practise their faith insisting that “people who do God do good”.
Her comments come in a speech in London marking the first anniversary of a landmark visit to the Vatican by a delegation of ministers in which she claimed that British society is under threat from the rising tide of “militant secularisation”.
It comes as new research lays bare the scale of Britain’s growing dependence on religious groups to meet social needs in the midst of recession.
Churches alone are providing almost 100 million hours of unpaid volunteer work on social projects a year, up by more than a third in two years, while donations for such work are up by a fifth, it found.
Lady Warsi, a practising Muslim, will tell a meeting in the Houses of Parliament that faith groups can “reach areas of need that Government cannot”.
Her comments echo a call last month by the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, for churches to step in and do things which the state has “run out of the capacity to do”.
He said the financial crisis could signal the “greatest moment of opportunity since the Second World War” for churches to grow.
February 4th, 2013 Jill Posted in Faith Comments Off
By Anugrah Kumar , Christian Post
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, defeated prominent atheist professor, Richard Dawkins, in a debate at the University of Cambridge in England on Thursday night, as a vote taken at the conclusion of the debate ruled that religion does have a place in the 21st century.
The debate motion that "religion has no place in the 21st Century" was well-defeated at the event held in front of an audience of about 800 people, mostly students, at the Cambridge Union Society's chambers, according to the U.K.'s Independent newspaper.
Dawkins lost the debate by 324 votes to 136, as he failed to convince the house that religion has no place.
"Religion has always been a matter of community building, a matter of building relations of compassion, fellow-feeling and, dare I say it, inclusion," Williams, who stepped down as the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion on Dec. 31, said in his address. "The notion that religious commitment can be purely a private matter is one that runs against the grain of religious history."
From Ancient Briton
Yesterday in his statement to the Commons on the Algerian crisis, the Prime Minister referred to the threat of Islamist terrorism inspired by an ideology that is an 'extreme distortion of the Islamic faith' which holds that mass murder is not only acceptable but necessary in an attempt to divide the world into a clash of civilizations. Convinced that democratic principles are the answer to Islamic ideology, previous attempts to impose Western democratic principles including the West's backing of the Arab Spring have backfired for Christians in Islamic countries. As Metropolitan Hilarion put it [see previous entry under 'Media Ignores Religious Persecution']: "In Iraq only one tenth of a million-and-a-half Christians that lived there ten years ago have survived. In Egypt we are witnessing a mass exodus of Christians. There are practically no Christians left in Libya. Ninety five percent of Christians have abandoned Homs in Syria."
[...] So what is the Government doing to protect our Christian heritage and values? Well they will not force churches to perform same-sex marriages, that can be left to the European courts. Currently they are rushing through legislation that has not been properly thought through to change the law of succession – but not to the satisfaction of one Labour MP who is gathering support for an amendment that will 'extend the protection' to include the eventuality that the child is gay or lesbian. If by then we are a Muslim nation the heir is, in that event, more likely to be hanging from a crane than sat on the throne.
By Cristina Odone, Telegraph
[...] Europe no longer accepts conscientious objectors.
January 11th, 2013 Jill Posted in Faith Comments Off
By Louis Markos, First Things
[...] The more I reflect on these difficult and painful questions … the more I come back to one simple answer. We must learn to follow Christ’s admonition to love the sinner but hate the sin. For too long the church has allowed its righteous hatred of the sin of homosexuality to morph into a hatred (and fear) of the homosexual himself. We have held strong to God’s moral standards, but in doing so we have lost our compassion for those held in the grip of a disordered desire. Those who struggle with a gay or lesbian orientation have feared that if they shared their struggles, they would be cast out of the church and treated as pariahs. And, in many cases, their fears have been justified.
Alas, over the last several decades, the church, in trying to make up for her lack of compassion and Christ-like love, has overcompensated. Today, many families and churches have allowed their commendable love for the sinner to morph into an acceptance and even a love for the sin itself. Those in the former group lack a full understanding of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness, seen so powerfully in his insistence on eating in the homes of prostitutes and tax collectors. Those in the latter group lack a full understanding of the true nature of sin. When we engage in sin we are not just breaking a societal code or offending refined sensibilities; we are living and acting in rebellion against our Creator and his desire for our lives. And when we do that, we inevitably hurt ourselves and pervert our nature.
Some argue that it is impossible to love the sinner while hating the sin, but C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, has disabused us of that argument. We all know how to love the sinner and hate the sin, for we do it every day—to ourselves. I hate the sinful things that I do, yet I continue to love myself. Indeed, the reason I hate my sinful behaviors is because I know that they are preventing me from being the person I should be, that noble person that I am in those fleeting moments when I conform to the image for which God intended me.
January 9th, 2013 Jill Posted in Faith Comments Off
By Tim Ross, Telegraph
Religion is too often seen as “a social problem” or an “embarrassment”, Rowan Williams suggests today, as he bows out after 10 years as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Dr Williams will use his final New Year’s message, to be broadcast this afternoon, to offer a vision of faith as the “wellspring of energy” driving selfless efforts to make society fairer.
The message follows a disclosure from one of Dr Williams’s closest colleagues that the Archbishop has been “deeply hurt” by the criticism he has received during his often controversial tenure.
In his broadcast, Dr Williams highlights the work of the Robes project in London, where more than 20 churches work together to offer food and shelter to the homeless.
“Religion here isn't a social problem or an old-fashioned embarrassment,” he says.
“It's a wellspring of energy and a source of life-giving vision for how people should be regarded and treated.
“So let's recognise this steady current of generosity that underlies so much of our life together in this country and indeed worldwide.
“It's all based on one vision – to make our society, our whole world, work for everyone, not just the comfortable and well off.”
by Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph
The Muslim Council of Britain has a more prominent role in public debate than the Archbishop of Canterbury, according to a study.
The decline of the Anglican Church as the country’s main religious voice is confirmed by findings from the Henry Jackson Society.
The study, which monitored statements by religious groups and media coverage of religion over the past decade, also found that the Roman Catholic Church had a more prominent role in public debate about religious issues than the Church of England.
Catholics focused heavily on pro-life issues and personal morality. Statements made by the C of E, in contrast, were more likely to be about overseas aid, foreign policy and poverty.
The findings come after figures from the 2011 census showed a 13 percentage-point drop in people identifying themselves as Christian, from 72 to 59 per cent.
About one in four was identified as having no religion, a rise of nine per cent and the second largest group. Yet despite the decline in Christian belief, the number of religious statements — across all faiths – increased as religions became more assertive.
by Steven Swinford, Telegraph
The Church of England should consider opening its doors to congregations from other faiths including Muslims and Hindus, the head of the Countryside Alliance has said.
Sir Barney White-Spunner said he was concerned that churches in villages and towns were falling into disrepair and not being used enough.
He said he was “hugely excited” about opening up churches to other Christian denominations and, in the longer term, other faiths.
He also proposes making churches into community centres which host local markets, nurseries and even police contact points.
Sir Barney, a Roman Catholic, said: “Personally I think it would be hugely exciting, it would restore life and vigour to these incredibly important buildings.
“The poor old Church of England is faced with an enormous bill to maintain these wonderful structures. I happen to be a Roman Catholic.
“I would love to see Church of England, Catholic and other Christian denominations sharing. If you look in an English village or a small English town the church tends to be the dominant building.
“I happen to be Roman Catholic, and quite a lot of our churches are rather unattractive, some not inaccurately described as post-war Nissan huts. The future is in sharing.”
By Peter Saunders, CMF
While the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster addressed Syria, women bishops and gay marriage respectively the Queen kept her Christmas message short, direct and simple.
Building on the spirit of togetherness and friendship captured in 2012 by the London Olympics and Diamond Jubilee celebrations she then praised the spirit of service displayed by the armed forces, emergency services and health workers before saying that all of us should reach out beyond ‘familiar relationships’ to serve others.
But then she really cut to the chase (see full text here).
'At Christmas I am always struck by how the spirit of togetherness lies also at the heart of the Christmas story. A young mother and a dutiful father with their baby were joined by poor shepherds and visitors from afar. They came with their gifts to worship the Christ child. From that day on he has inspired people to commit themselves to the best interests of others.
December 19th, 2012 Jill Posted in Faith Comments Off
People with no religious affiliation now make up the third-largest global group in a new study of the world's faiths – coming after Christians and Muslims but just before Hindus.
The study, based on extensive data for the year 2010, also showed Islam and Hinduism are the faiths most likely to expand in the future while Judaism has the weakest growth prospects.
It showed Christianity is the most evenly spread religion, present in all regions of the world, while Hinduism is the least global with 94 per cent of its population in one country, India.
Overall, 84 per cent of the world's inhabitants, which it estimated at 6.9 billion, identify with a religion, according to the study entitled 'The Global Religious Landscape' issued by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on Tuesday.
The 'unaffiliated' category covers all those who profess no religion, from atheists and agnostics to people with spiritual beliefs but no link to any established faith.
'Many of the religiously unaffiliated do hold religious or spiritual beliefs,' the study stressed.
Many people think religious convictions should be kept out of the public square, aruging (among other things) that religion is irrational. Religious people might do some good (it is conceded) but religious belief cannot be reconciled with serious moral reasoning.
By Joanna Moorhead, Guardian
As the government plans to reform RE teaching, we asked professionals and parents what they would like to see taught in religious education in schools
Stephen Lloyd MP, Eastbourne and Willingdon
RE is falling off the curriculum, and we need to get it back on. What has happened is that because it wasn't included in the Ebacc subjects, it has been sidelined. And the thing is, RE really does matter: children need to understand faith issues and the different religious traditions, and if they don't, the consequences could be very serious. I'm chairing a new all-party parliamentary group on religious education and we're currently conducting an inquiry into the teaching of RE in this country – and I can tell you that our report will be hard-hitting, because RE needs to be properly taught.
Rosemary Rivett, National Association of Teachers of RE
RE is meaningful in any society where beliefs and values are important: it's about getting pupils to engage with the big questions of life. Over the last few decades, RE has been built up into an important and rigorous subject – and what is shocking is how quickly it has been marginalised, because of all the changes going on in education. We've got to ensure that it continues to be taught in all schools, and also that it is taught by specialist teachers.
Lesley Prior, senior lecturer in religious education at the University of Roehampton
When you ask children what they think about RE, they say they like it because it's the one lesson that's about what they think, rather than what they know. I don't think it should be about filling children with facts and figures – it should give them a chance to engage with the big questions of life, such as 'how did the world begin, and what happens after we die'? I think we're moving towards this inquiry-based approach to RE – and the Ofsted report on the subject, which is out soon, is likely to advocate that.