Displaying items by tag: Religion
During lockdown written answers were given to various bishops’ questions on free school meals, on coal and renewable energy in India, on modern-day slavery and the two-child benefit limit. Parliament met in Westminster and online from 2 June. The Bishop of Chelmsford began each virtual sitting day in the Lords with prayers, spoke in a debate on the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked the Government about reducing poverty by raising universal credit payments. The Bishop of St Albans entered the debate on Hong Kong protests and supported regulations on direct payments to UK farmers; while the Bishop of Winchester asked the Government about the impact of Covid-19 on apprenticeship schemes. Also, 2020’s national parliamentary prayer breakfast will be live-streamed this year on Tuesday 30 June from 8.30am. The Rt Revd Dr Graham Tomlin will address the theme of ‘Hope and peace in a time of fear and suffering’. See
Christian Concern recently urged the Government to trust pastors to reopen churches, as churches are more than Sunday services. They are food banks, restore people's mental and spiritual wellbeing, and offer many other vital services. If workplaces throughout Britain are trusted to make wise decisions around reopening, why not the church? The one-size-fits-all ban treats gathered church worship as a luxury and wrongly stops responsible pastors from making the decision themselves. The government has asked for more time to respond to the reopening request, saying collective worship could take place next month. See
As attacks on Christians continue in northern Nigeria, we can pray for Christians there, asking the Lord to end the killing and suffering for being a believer. ‘Father, may their witness be vibrant, as a lamp set on a hill. May their lives and actions demonstrate Your goodness. Give them hearts for reconciliation and forgiveness instead of revenge. Heal the broken-hearted. Comfort the mourning. Bind up the wounded. Be a father to the fatherless. Let our brothers and sisters know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of You. May they be rooted and established in Your love. O Lord, empower those who minister in the most difficult areas with new strength. Refresh their spirits and fill their cups to overflowing. May the gospel of Your peace that they share bring peace to this place of turmoil.’
Islamist violence against Christians has surged, causing thousands to flee their villages. Recently armed jihadists launched three attacks within 48 hours that left 58+ dead. Fifteen died when a convoy of Christian traders, including children, was attacked on 29 May. On 30 May, Islamists opened fire at random in a cattle market, killing 30+ people and injuring many more. On the same day a humanitarian convoy was attacked, claiming the lives of six civilians and seven soldiers. Another twenty were injured, and a number were reported missing. A survivor said it was clear that militants were targeting Christians and humanitarians taking food to a camp of mainly Christian villagers who fled jihadi violence. The vicious attacks targeting Christians began in April 2019 when a pastor, his son, and four members of his congregation were shot in cold blood for refusing to convert to Islam.
The Tory MP for Loughborough asked Mr Johnson during PMQ: ‘Local church leaders have contacted me about access to churches for services, to help tackle loneliness. Please could I ask that religious faiths be allowed to let people into their places of worship, observing social distancing within their premises, and that wedding venues be allowed access for bookings?’ The Prime Minister said he understood the urgency many people feel about the need to reopen places of worship, but highlighted the risks it could cause to the public if done prematurely. ‘We are not there yet. It is vital that the people of this country understand the continued need to push down on the infection rate.’
We are living at a historic time, in terms of international health. Never has a pandemic had the physical, economic, and social impact of Covid-19. But we are also seeing an unprecedented moment in the history of the church. In missions today, there is a convergence of five major events that have never happened before, say the One Challenge global research team. Five major mission milestones are coming together. Every known people group in the world has been ‘adopted’ by at least one body of Christians to take the gospel to them. By 2025, a translation of the gospel should be started in every known language in the world. Churches, denominations and mission agencies are working together as never before. The technology exists to deliver the gospel to every person on earth. The nations and people of the world are being prayed for through a vast number of prayer networks of millions of people.
On 1 June Donald Trump declared himself the ‘law and order president’, vowing to use military might to remove people demonstrating against George Floyd’s murder and the persecution of black people. Tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets were used against peaceful protesters. Then Trump visited a church and held up a Bible. The Bishop of Washington said the president ‘raised the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition outside a church in my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message opposing the teachings of Jesus’. Jesuit James Martin tweeted, ‘This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. God is not your plaything.’ Rabbi Moline said, ‘Seeing President Trump in front of a Church holding the Bible in response to calls for racial justice - right after using military force to clear peaceful protesters - is the most flagrant misuse of religion that I have ever seen.’
The URC has said Dominic Cummings should ‘consider his position’ following his account of his 260-mile trip to his parents’ farm when he and his wife were ill, despite government advice to stay at home, especially if you had coronavirus. It said his actions were a blow to trust and integrity. ‘Dominic Cummings’ explanation of his actions shows how important it is to maintain a clear sense of what is right and wrong, along with the ability to be sorry for mistakes made; none of which he displayed. Trust is built on integrity and his actions have been a blow to both.’ Some bishops have received death threats after commenting on Cummings. The Bishop of Worcester was warned, ‘Stay out of politics or we’ll kill you’. The Bishop of Ripon was told, ‘Stay out of politics or it will be the death of you’. The Bishops of Newcastle and Liverpool also received hate mail. See
Asia’s youngest democracy is grappling with political instability that has hampered efforts to reduce poverty, stamp out corruption, and develop its rich energy resources. Though the prime minister had tendered his resignation after failing to pass the budget several times, he withdrew his resignation to help lead the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, and has called for a state of emergency while approving a $250-million fund to fight it. As this mostly Catholic nation recently celebrated Easter, we stand with them and declare that Jesus is ‘the resurrection and the life’ over East Timor. We declare that traditional and nominal religious following must be shaken off, and speak of a coming to life of real and loving relationship with the Saviour. See also
If the world consisted of 100 people, 20 would live in a slum; 42 would never hear about Jesus; 49 would live on less than £1.50 a day. Please pray for the many missionaries working to preach the Good News to the poor (Luke4:18a). Jesus was clear that everyone has a right to know and to choose to follow him in ways that are culturally appropriate for them. Pray for abundant distribution of Bibles and teaching materials for the various unreached people groups. 81% of these people live in Asia and the Arab world. Jesus also said that there should be freedom for the prisoners (Luke 4:18b). Families can be trapped for generations, feeling hopeless and out of control. Jesus had a lot to say about poverty and its effects, so pray for God to empower all who engage with communities and address issues such as income-generation, vocational training, education, and social justice. See also