Religion in the News: 6th May – 12th May

Welcome to Religion in the News,

for a weekly round-up of news articles in relation to religion.

This week,

The Guardian reports: ‘Sri Lankan churches hold first Sunday masses since attacks’

Police guarded the entrance to the St. Lucia’s Cathedral in Colombo, Sri Lanka in the first Sunday Masses since the Easter attacks which targeted churches. 

Bags were banned from being brought into the building with  all who entered being searched. Many who attended the Mass lost relatives during the attacks. 

The article goes on to give the perspectives of children who were in attendance when the attacks occurred, including that of Stephan Farnando who served as altar boy at the time, who said ‘I feel better now that I’ve received communion’.

From the article it seems that while many are happy that services are resuming, there remains an air of fear, as the repercussions of the attack continue to affect people.


The Guardian further published the article: ‘Church of England put reputation above abuse victims’ needs, inquiry finds’

An official inquiry into the Church of England concluded that the Church had put its reputation above victims of sexual abuse, with failure of leadership from former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey in the handling of former Bishop, Peter Ball who was jailed in 2015 after over twenty years of allegations of abuse against him.

The Church downplayed the accusations towards Ball, with Ball accepting a police caution in 1993 when he resigned as bishop.

The independent inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse put forward that Ball wanted to ‘use his relationship with the Prince of Wales to further his campaign and return to unrestricted ministry’.

Prince Charles, who had a close relationship with the bishop,  was “misguided” as to the nature of Ball’s activities but claimed he did not try to change the outcome of the police investigations into Ball.

Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells, as well as the Church’s lead Bishop on safeguarding stated in response to the inquiry: 

‘The report states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors and the inquiry’s summary recognises that it failed to do this. It is absolutely right that the church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report.’


BBC News reports: ‘Ghana’s 100-year-old imam who went to church’

Sheikh Osman Sharubutu, Ghana’s, chief imam, attended Catholic services at King Catholic Church as part of his birthday celebration.

As leader of Ghana’s minority Muslim community, he wished for his legacy to be one of peace and inter-faith harmony.

The chief imam’s spokesperson stated:

‘The chief imam is changing the narrative about Islam from a religion of wickedness, a religion of conflict, a religion of hate for others, to a religion whose mission is rooted in the virtues of love, peace and forgiveness’.


BBC News further reports: ‘Cambridge St John’s College chapel marks 150 years’

The university chapel replaced the previous Tudor building in 1869 and aimed to ‘better reflect the size and wealth’ of St. John’s College on Cambridge University.

The building was once considered a ‘white elephant’ according to the article, a building that is an expensive burden, the cost of which is out of proportion to its use.

The College president, Frank Salmon stated that the chapel was integral to life at the college, being used for the development of their choir. Moreover, the use of the chapel for welcome and farewell events for students further signifies the buildings usefulness. 


The HuffPost reports: ‘Amazon Faces Another Claim It Discriminated Against Workers’

Three Muslim Somali women employed at an Amazon warehouse near Minneapolis filed federal discrimination complaints against Amazon due to its failing to accommodate their religious needs while prioritising  white employees for promotion. 

Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group accused Amazon on behalf of the women, urging the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate.

One of the women stopped taking breaks to pray or to use the toilet after fear of falling behind a ‘set packing rate’.

Amazon was further accused of not allowing the women enough breaks during their fasting days, along with Amazon management telling the workers to quit after asking for time off during Eid al-Fitr.

An Amazon spokesperson claimed that the accusations  were not an accurate portrayal of working conditions in the warehouse.

Religious News Service reports on updated Vatican Law, while the Catholic Herald reports that Cardinal DiNardo welcomes the changes to prevent clergy abuse.

The law issued by Pope Francis on Thursday 9th May states that all Catholic priests, and nuns must report ‘clergy sexual abuse and cover-up by their superiors to church authorities’.

Whistle blowers will be protected by the new law, with a system of confidentiality being put in place.

This law hopes to be an effective response to the increase in sex abuse and cover-up scandals in recent years that have damaged the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church.

The law makes 415,000 priests and 660,000 nuns ‘mandated reporters’.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the new law is ‘a blessing that will empower the church everywhere to bring predators to justice, no matter what rank they hold in the church’.


the Independent published a ‘Voices’ piece on the perspective of how the portrayal of Muslims in the media is problematic

In this article, the idea that the media seems to only highlight the British Muslim community’s charity work when it is in response to terror attacks is explored. It argues that this perpetuates the view that Muslims must always show signs of generosity in order to work against the Islamophobic  portrayals of them in the media which  results from a lack of understanding of Islam and Muslims.

Highlighting times when the British Muslim community came together to work with other faiths seems to be part of society’s need to prove that Islam is a peaceful religion, when in fact, Muslim people, and people of all faiths work together all the time anyway, not just during specific events like terror attacks. 

The piece further suggests that the narrative built by media that ‘Muslims are just like everyone else’ is a sign that the mainstream perception of Islam is ‘woefully misinformed’.

Charity is common in Islam, and other religions. Finally, it is put forward that highlighting the charity of Islam only during Ramadan or after a hate crime devalues the work that goes on all year-round. We must work to normalise perceptions of Muslims in either reporting on the charity more often or stopping the reporting of charity in Muslim responses to events as something ‘remarkable or counterintuitive’ as this reinforces ‘false images about Muslims’.

The Muslim News reports on ‘London mosque on lockdown after shots fired’

On Thursday the 9th May, the Seven Kings Mosque in London had an attempted entry by a masked, armed man during Ramadan prayers.

Police later released a statement saying, ‘Police remain on High Road in Seven Kings following a firearm discharge. At this early stage, it is thought that the weapon was a blank firing handgun. There were no injuries or damage caused. The incident is not being treated as terrorism-related.’

Ibraheem Hussain, who was at the Mosque at the time of the incident stated that he feared it could have gone very wrong, and that the Christchurch attacks came to his mind.