Week commencing 10th May 2021

The BBC reports that priests in Germany are blessing gay couples, defying orders from the Vatican. The ‘Love Wins’ movement emerged this year after the Catholic Church stated that God cannot bless sin. The movement has produced a map showing all the churches offering the blessings in the coming days.

Also on the BBC, Hindu pilgrims in India are being labelled as super-spreaders of coronavirus, following the Kumbh Mela festival which sees millions of Hindus gathering in a Himalayan town. With growing fears that those returning home could start to infect others, several state governments ordered a 14-day mandatory quarantine and warned of strict action against those who withheld information about their travels.

The BBC also report on the UK Government’s plans to consult widely before going ahead with a legal ban on conversion therapy, practices which are intended to alter people’s sexuality. Concern for religious freedoms and the protection of therapists has been raised in some quarters after the ban was first proposed.

Religion News outlet reports that several women have been recognised as pastors in the churches belonging to the Southern Baptist Convention, despite the denomination’s ban on women in such leadership positions. Saddleback Church is one of the largest churches affiliated to SBC and ordained three women pastors at the weekend. A ban on women pastors was added to the Baptist Faith and Message, the SBC’s doctrinal statement, in 2000, stating that “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

The Guardian reports that new guidance is being issued by the Church of England for the review of monuments within churches that contain references to slavery and colonialism. Guidance to be issued this week encourages the C of E’s 12,500 parishes and 42 cathedrals to scrutinise buildings and grounds for evidence of contested heritage, and consult local communities on what action to take.

The Washington Post runs with a report that Facebook has removed a conservative religious page that allegedly promotes misleading information about coronavirus. LifeSiteNews, an often faith-themed website that Snopes.com describes as “a known purveyor of misleading information,” announced the Facebook ban on its own website Tuesday.