Religion in the News: 10th Feb – 18th Feb

Week 3: 10th Feb – 18th Feb

Welcome to this week’s Religion in the News Blog,

From this edition forward the blog will be published on a Monday, covering the previous weeks religion-based news.

This week in the News,

The Guardian reports: ‘Ukraine deports Orthodox bishop after stripping citizenship’

Ukraine stripped Orthodox bishop, Gedeon of citizenship, further barring him from entering Ukraine after he was alleged to have dual Ukraine-US citizenship. 

Ukraine’s interior ministry blogged, announcing the deportation of the bishop, stating that “…Also, he actively supported Russia’s armed aggression in Ukraine.”

Russia called for the US to intervene in the matter, after condemning the deportation of Bishop Gedeon.

The bishop, whose given name is Yuriy Kharon, works at the Russian-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate gained the US passport after serving abroad, says church spokesperson in Russia.


The Guardian further published the article: ‘Hungary tells UK Jewish group to ‘mind its own business’ over antisemitism’

Marie Van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews was accused by Hungarian minister, secretary of state Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky, of ‘politically motivated lying’ regarding a meeting between the two in which she raised concerns over antisemitism in the Hungarian government.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews raised concerns including the topics of: The Hungarian Government’s use of antisemitic tropes, moves to downplay roles of historical Hungarian leaders in the Holocaust, the Hungarian government’s attitude towards Muslims and migrants, and the relation of this attitude to Jewish communities in Hungary, and the language used by Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, when referring to Hungarian Jewish philanthropist, George Soros using antisemitic tropes during an election rally.

The secretary of state, Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky, emailed Marie Van der Zyl to say that he rejected the allegations of antisemitism, calling ‘the whole cause’ a ‘simple lie’, further accusing Van der Zyl of “white-washing… antisemitic tendencies in the [UK] Labour party”.

Marie Van der Zyl responded to the email, being disappointed by the Secretary of state’s response. stating:

“We came to raise serious issues with you in a constructive spirit.” 


BBC News reports: ‘Protest at ‘gay conversion therapy’ film at Belfast church’

Forty demonstrators against the film ‘Once Gay – Matthew and Friends’ gathered ahead of its first screening on Thursday 14th February at the Townsend Presbyterian Church in west Belfast, claiming that said film promotes “gay conversion therapy”. 

The screening was organised by the  Christian Group ‘Core Issues Trust, with the head of the organisation, Mike Davidson, stating that the group offers “standard psycho-therapeutic and counselling approaches that explore sexual fluidity in [individual’s] lives”, not “gay conversion therapy”.

Malachai O’Hara lobbied against the church screening, and stated his concerns that showing the film showed Townsend Church offering support for the idea that “being gay can be prayed away”, and how this is a dangerous message for LGBT people, along with stating that the message is as “silly as the notion that being heterosexual can be prayed away”.


Religious News Service reports: ‘Vatican defrocks former US cardinal McCarrick over sex abuse’

Pope Francis defrocked ex-U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick due to the Cardinal being found guilty of soliciting sex during confessions, and sexual crimes against minors and adults.

Officials in the Vatican “imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.”

James Grein, one of the main accusers of McCarrick, expressed hope that McCarrick “will no longer be able to use the power of Jesus’ church to manipulate families and sexually abuse children.”


Religious News Service further reports: ‘Mormon missionaries can now phone home once a week’

Latter-day Saint missionaries can now contact their families once a week while away from home.

The leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave the new guidelines on Friday 15th February, Moreover, in the statement it is made clear that full-time missionaries must be careful in deciding how long to spend communicating with home, and to consider their companions in missionary services. 


The Independent reports in ‘Voices’: ‘To women vicars like me, it’s no surprise there are still people who believe we shouldn’t exist’

Jody Stowell writes this piece on the “worryingly common perspective” seen in a sexist tweet this week, which claims:

“A woman who claims to be a pastor is … just as a [sic] bad as a sex offender who is hired as a pastor.”

Stowell puts forward that this sort of thinking is part of what women in leadership positions have to deal with constantly, it is not uncommon. She states that the environment we live in supports the idea that women are “not quite” priests.

Stowell goes on to say how women (before the legislation in 2014 allowing women to become vicars) who had a “calling” to the role may not have had their calling fulfilled, and how the lack of support from the church could stop them from living who they are as made by God. She states that it is often that the church must catch up with God. 


And finally, 

Religious News Service published a ‘photos of the week’ piece, highlighting images of ‘religious expression’ around the world during the past week. In this, Valentine’s day, the ‘Cham’ dance festival as part of the Tibetan New Year, and more are presented.