Religion in the News: 26th Jan – 2nd Feb

Week 1: 26th – 2nd Feb 2019

This week for Religion the News,

The Guardian reports: “Trans people are welcomed by  Church of England members”

Previously in the week, it was reported that over 2000 clergy and laity signed up to a letter calling for the guidance on welcoming  trans people into the Church of England to be changed or withdrawn, claiming that “the notion of gender transition is highly contested in wider society”.

However, Rev Stephen Terry stated that this view of the Trans community is not the majority, neither does it represent the views of the whole Church of England. He stated that “Most Christians get on with the divinely appointed task of loving their neighbours as themselves”.


The Guardian further reports: “Newcastle Islamic school staff ‘afraid’ after racist vandalism”

A racist attack was carried out this week at the Islamic school Bahr Academy in Newcastle, when “swastikas and anti-Muslim graffiti were sprayed on walls, ” and copies of the Qur’an were found strewn on the floor when police entered the building. The building became an Islamic school in 2010, but broken windows and burglaries were common for the building according to the Principal, Muhammeh Abdulmuh. 

Support for the school from the wider community grew after the attack, including the Bishop of Newcastle who later visited the school, and with Principal Abdulmuheet stated that  “we are united against this type of hate.”


The Guardian further reports: “Hunt: postcolonial guilt hindering fight against Christian persecution”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt claimed that Britain’s “postcolonial guilt” is stopping the country from combating “the deepening persecution of Christians across the world”.

Hunt stated at the opening of an independent review into the government’s defense of persecuted Christians, led by Bishop Philip Mounstephen, that he aims “to banish hesitation to look into this issue without fear… because of our imperial history, because of the concerns… people might have in linking the activities of missionaries to the 19th century to misguided imperialism”. 

Hunt further claimed that 80% of people suffering religious persecution are Christians, in countries such as: “Egypt, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, North Korea, but also China and India,” while adding that the review would not be a “lever for right-wing Islamophobia”.

Al Jazeera reports: “Pakistan court upholds Aasia Bibi’s blasphemy acquittal”

The acquittal of Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, from her charge of blasphemy in Pakistan allows her to leave the country free of all charges, as the supreme court in Pakistan rules.

The ruling sparked backlash, and days of protests from across Pakistan, with the far-right group ‘TLP’ (Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan) calling for its members to be “ready for action” and protesters calling for Bibi to be “murdered”.   

Any insult of Islam (Blasphemy) in Pakistan is a hugely inflammatory issue.

Amnesty International, protective of Bibi, called for her to be allowed to reunite with her family.

The Independent.IE reports: “BBC announces Year Of Beliefs examining religion and ethics in modern Britain”

The BBC is said here to have announced the launch of religious programming, running for a year, showing faith in Britain, how it is shaping & dividing the country today.

The programming will explore religious beliefs of the country’s citizens, and their views on topics such as medicine, sexuality, parenthood, and extremism, and look into how these are dividing society up in new ways.

The programming will include exploration into the LGBT community’s place in Christianity, particularly in the Church of England.

The Religion News Service reports: “Kenyan Supreme Court overturns ruling allowing hijab in Christian schools”

The Kenyan Supreme Court reversed a lower-court order allowing Muslims students to wear the hijab at school. Muslim leaders & civic groups were pushing for acceptance of the head-covering in church-owned schools, while Christian educators have resisted the move.

The Muslim leaders and civic groups are claiming that the move inhibits the children’s right to worship.

Previously (in 2016) Kenya’s Appellate Court ruled that headscarf banning is unlawful, and preventing students from practising their religion in this way is unconstitutional. However, school dress-code has now been given over to schools to decide upon.

Sheikh Ali Juma, ciar of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims in Narok County stated that “Asking the girls to remove the hijab is equivalent to asking the Catholic nuns to remove their veils”.


BBC News reported this week on an article presenting African Christian congregations of London ‘In pictures’. Here, photographer Simon Dawson has taken many pictures of members of the African Christian congregations over the past year. Presented in this piece are the celebratory events that have taken place within the congregations, including mass baptisms and religious services.