Displaying items by tag: Religion
Cornerstone, a Christian adoption and fostering charity, tried to overturn earlier judgments finding it had discriminated by only accepting heterosexual evangelical Christians as potential carers. The Court of Appeal agreed that the judge had been unduly dismissive of the importance of Cornerstone’s evangelical faith to its work and mission, but ruled that this did not justify sexual orientation discrimination in the furtherance of that mission. Cornerstone sought to argue it did not discriminate on the ground of sexual orientation but rather on behaviour, a distinction which was rejected by the court. However, this distinction is central to how many evangelical churches and organisations engage with issues of sexual orientation and identity within a biblical frame. As such, this highlights a growing chasm in societal and traditional evangelical approaches to human sexuality, making future challenges in this area highly likely. Cornerstone intends to appeal this latest decision.
On 16 October a group of 17 Christian missionaries, including five children, were abducted by an armed gang in Haiti while returning from a visit to build an orphanage. Having travelled there with the US-based Christian Aid Ministries, they were seized when the gang set up roadblocks east of Port-au-Prince. The island has the worst global record for kidnapping, with gangs active in many areas. The notorious 400 Mawozo gang, known for kidnappings and killings, abducted the 16 Americans and one Canadian, as they were travelling to the airport where some were due to fly home. One of the abducted Americans sent a WhatsApp message calling for help as the kidnapping took place. It read, ‘Please pray for us! We are being held hostage; they kidnapped our driver. Pray pray pray. We don’t know where they are taking us.’ Among those kidnapped is an 8-month-old baby: see
A mob of 300 chanting ‘Hail Lord Ram! Victory to Lord Ram’ attacked the House of Prayer church, destroying CCTV cameras, lights, fans, musical instruments and furniture. Eva Lance, the church leader, tried to call the police but couldn’t connect. The mob tried to set fire to vehicles parked outside and attacked twelve church members. One man was beaten semi-unconscious, a woman’s hair was pulled out and a young boy was found lying in a pool of his own blood and vomit after having his ears cut off and being badly beaten. He was hospitalised. The police opened an investigation naming Eva’s former school principal and a member of a right-wing Hindu group among those responsible. Then the mob filed a counter case against the victims, accusing them of non-bailable offences like molestation, robbery and organised crime. Christian Solidarity Worldwide said the involvement of the police and community leaders in this attack must be a wake-up call to India’s lawmakers.
Church weddings have fallen to a historic low, with fewer than one in four choosing a religious ceremony. Reverend Sue Davies-Fletcher said a church is a beautiful and special place in which to make really big marriage promises, celebrate love, and be blessed. Many couples who come to church to marry find themselves becoming part of a church community that can support them through their married life. The county's 600+ Anglican churches are often Grade I listed in stunning locations. The Archdeacon of Exeter said couples who had married in the midst of Covid might now like to consider a church blessing to celebrate their wedding with family and friends who could not previously attend their special day. Such a blessing might also take place on a special anniversary. Pray that getting married in a church will be much more than just tradition, and that God will speak clearly to the many couples who don't yet know Him.
Last week 560 men, women, and children who were on paid flights and ready to evacuate were blocked at the last minute and had to return home. However, over 200 of these persecuted Christians cannot go home. They have nothing but the clothes on their backs and are in imminent danger. Just when things seemed hopeless, God provided a new temporary housing option. Please pray for God to clear the way for these flights to take off and provide safe places of refuge outside Afghanistan. Pray for encouragement for those who were sent home; may the Holy Spirit move in their hearts and remind them they are seen by our Lord. Pray for protection for those who will remain inside Afghanistan, continued provision for their daily needs, and a clear plan for long-term ministry and support.
A report has shown that the Church prioritised protecting the institution over victims who were urged to stay silent. The number of abused minors rises to an estimated 330,000 when including victims of people with other links to the Church, like Catholic schools and youth programmes. Between 2,900 and 3,200 abusers worked in the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2020, out of a total of 115,000 priests and other clerics. ‘The Church is the place where the prevalence of sexual violence is at its highest, other than in family and friend circles’, said the report, which found that children were also more likely to be abused within Church settings than in state-run schools or summer camps. This report follows similar ones from other countries.
Mobs are targeting Christian households, led by aggressive Hindu vigilantes known for their hardline approach. Churches are vandalised, pastors are beaten or abused. Congregations are broken up by mobs and believers hospitalised with injuries. The police raid church services to threaten and arrest congregations. This persecution coincides with renewed attention on a longstanding claim that a string of forced conversions are taking place in Chhattisgarh. Speeches, rallies and press statements have openly attacked Christian pastors and believers for allegedly converting tens of thousands of people from tribal communities and poor, lower-caste Hindu families. They are alleged (without evidence) to have been lured into churches by proselytising pastors offering cash payments, free medical assistance, and foreign trips, funded by foreign donors. Dozens of ‘anti-conversion’ rallies have been held in the past month.
Oxford Diocese has launched a contemplative toolkit in response to the growing mental health crisis among young people. It is a time of daily reflection founded on ancient pathways and practices of meditation and prayer that have resourced, benefited, and healed Christians for generations. The increase in the use of digital technology and social media is placing young people in danger of becoming less connected with their families and communities and leads to increased mental health issues as self-worth is measured against online profile popularity. A quarter of a million children struggle with their mental health as a result of the pandemic. When the whole of education seems to be about targets, results and pressure, this toolkit gives students the chance just to be, rather than do. It complements the Prayer Spaces in Schools programme, enabling prayer and reflection into school life for the year. It also enables pupils to run the sessions themselves and share reflections with their peers.
Rev Yvonne Clarke was ordained as a deacon in 1987 and has served All Saints Shirley, in Southwark Diocese, for over 20 years. On 29 September the diocese decided to divide the parish between St George’s and St John’s, resulting in Rev Clarke losing her home and her job. She is considering appealing against the decision, saying the move felt ‘personal’ and was motivated by racism. The diocese said its proposal was due to ongoing concerns over the church's finances and governance. Rev Clarke said she is now in discussions with her legal team and supporters to consider an appeal to the Privy Council.’ The diocese said it welcomed the decision of the pastoral committee of the Church Commissioners for the better provision of ministry and mission, as All Saints Spring Park is not viable in its current form.
Pastor Peter Simpson, a Methodist minister, was preaching outside Uxbridge Station in August when 14 officers approached him. The Met Police confirmed that officers had received complaints that a man was using homophobic language and had given words of advice to him. Pastor Simpson denies using homophobic language and said that with two other church helpers he was preaching a straightforward Gospel message: 'All who have sinned and come short of the glory of God, need salvation'. He had spoken about how much the nation has turned against God, and how immoral abortion is. He also had said, 'We have also redefined marriage, contrary to God's law, it can only be between one man and one woman.' Within 15 minutes of preaching the police came and said they had received multiple complaints, even though no one had complained directly to Pastor Simpson. The police asked him to leave the area, and no arrests were made.