Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom
Speaking on a beach in Cornwall at the G7 summit, ITV's Robert Peston asked Boris Johnson whether he is now a practising Roman Catholic, having recently married in Westminster Cathedral. The Prime Minister replied, ‘I don't discuss these deep issues, certainly not with you’. Peston laughed and followed up by saying that Sir Keir Starmer has said he does not believe in God, and asked again if Mr Johnson did. The Prime Minister paused then referenced Psalm 14: ‘The foolish man has said in his heart there is no God’. Peston accepted his answer and finished the interview. The sentence also appears in Psalm 53. The rest of the verse describes those who deny God: ‘They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.’
On 16 June Parliament rubber-stamped extending lockdown rules in England until 19 July. Scientists say Covid is growing - with much of it being driven by younger people who are not yet immunised. However, tentative signs in the latest daily data suggest growth may be beginning to slow. The rollout of vaccinations to younger people is key to reducing further spread. Rising infections have boosted a seven-day average to 7,888 cases. The UK recorded 9,055 cases on 16 June - the highest number since 25 February. Hospitalisations have also increased, but daily deaths remain low, with a weekly average of nine deaths within 28 days of a positive test. The Government has clearly announced that it wants to vaccinate all adults in the period between now and 19 July. That will make a very big difference and increase the overall population immunity.
Justin Welby said, ‘The world is facing a crisis of truth. Claims and counterclaims about the virus, vaccines and the effectiveness of government responses take centre-stage globally. Conspiracy theories circle the globe; misinformation causes repercussions. We need to learn to judge the information we receive, think critically and kindly, and act accordingly.’ There has been a rise in conspiracy theories, anti-vaccination campaigns and growing confusion as people question whether Covid-19 is really a threat. Social media stand accused of spreading misinformation faster than reliable facts and corrections. Is the vaccine safe? Are the statistics accurate? How likely am I to get Covid? The postmodern idea of all truth being relative falls far short of the mark when the truth can save your life.
Leaders arrived at the summit with a global pandemic crisis raging around them, but the hard truth is that they left Cornwall having failed to take the real action needed to end the pandemic. G7 leaders said their commitments are just the beginning- a foundation on which they can build but there was little detail on how. UNICEF said, ‘This G7 commitment is the beginning of the action required to end this pandemic. However, the urgent need immediately to share more vaccines with the world remains.’ Pray for the richest countries, with the power to do something, to deliver vaccinations globally and quickly. These nations pledged to spend $100bn a year to help poor nations deal with cutting emissions and global warming, but only two nations came up with firm promises to stump up the cash. Pray for every nation which made the pledges on climate change to honour them.
Lament for the children and young people missing from the pews is ‘the heart’s cry of the Church’, the Archbishop of York said this week. He described his visits to churches mainly populated by older people and sometimes with no children or young people at all. ‘When I speak to them and ask them about their hopes and dreams for their church, almost without exception the first thing so-called older people say is “We wish there were more children and young people here.”’ Dr Sanjee Perera, the Archbishops’ adviser on minority ethnic Anglican concerns, spoke of decades of youth work in Anglican provinces that felt like ‘an exhausting losing battle’. Youth pastor Amanda Neill acknowledged that having a large youth group of more than 50 young people was ‘definitely unusual’. Young people think that the Church is outdated and irrelevant.
Kent county council is refusing to accept any more unaccompanied child migrants, after warning its services were at breaking point for the second time in less than a year. The county is locked in a battle with the Home Office, and has issued legal proceedings against the home secretary, saying the level of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the county had reached ‘unsafe’ levels. Kent’s cabinet member for integrated children’s services said the council had taken the move as it was clear that the Home Office did not intend to use existing powers to direct other local authorities to receive their fair share of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Kent has nearly double the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in care that the government says it is safe to have.
Child protection services in England do not provide enough early support, says an independent review. With council budgets squeezed over the last ten years, spending has increasingly focussed on expensive crisis services which local authorities are legally required to provide. This means that cuts to early support for vulnerable families have dwindled, causing even larger needs for investigative interventions in ‘crisis’ situations. The current system is unsustainable and failing young people. Over the last three months, the review team spoke to over 1,000 young people, families and staff working in children's services. They found a system under significant strain with an increasing number of families being investigated. Deprivation was a key factor among families needing help. Many asking for support found assessments and investigations added to their stress. The annual number of inquiries into whether a child is at risk of significant harm has risen to 201,000. But 135,000 needed no child protection plan. Concerns about risk have unnecessarily dominated workloads.
The UK has accused France of the ‘offensive’ remark that Northern Ireland is not part of the UK. Since 2016 the two sides have been trying to work out how to deal with post-Brexit trade and Northern Ireland’s land border with the EU. The latest spat is centered on sausages. When Boris Johnson met Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit, he asked him to imagine if Toulouse sausages were barred from sale in Paris, which left Macron ‘astonished’. He told him Toulouse is part of the same territory, and inaccurately said, ‘Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom’. Johnson furiously replied, ‘Northern Ireland and Britain are part of the same country.’ After the testy exchange Johnson told the media, ‘Some of our friends seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country and a single territory. I think they need to get that into their heads.’
Some schools became hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Students staged a number of demonstrations. Angry protesters gathered outside a Leeds school to support anti-semitism when the headteacher called the Palestinian flag a ‘call to arms’. During a protest at Clapton Girls’ Academy students sat down and chanted, ‘Free Palestine’, refusing to return to lessons. They did so after teachers removed posters about the Palestinian struggle from the walls of the schools. A north London school removed images of the Palestinian flag from school noticeboards, and told parents that schools were ‘apolitical organisations’ and ‘not to use political messaging to a captive audience’. Manchester’s Loreto College closed after hearing of planned demonstrations. A Jewish teacher in a non-Jewish school was bullied by students and resigned. Twenty-five teachers from a Jewish school quit their trade union to protest against its call for participation in pro-Palestinian rallies.
A 2017 survey found that very few practising Christians decided to become Christians during adulthood. The UK is becoming more secular, with churches declining and fewer believers. As a nation we are losing our Biblical foundation, and our culture is paying the heavy price of change. Many people have a false impression about what the Bible says because they have never actually read it for themselves. The survey defined 'practising Christians' as people who read or listen to the Bible at least once a week, pray at least once a week, and attend a church service at least once a month. The Pocket Testament League is full of Christians who have committed to reading the Word of God, carrying the Word with them wherever they go, and sharing the Word with others. They ask, ‘How will our friends and neighbours ever know about the transformative power of Jesus unless we share the Word of God with them?’ Like-minded Christians are invited to join them in sharing the Word and fulfilling the Great Commission.