Week commencing 15th March 2021

The BBC reports that interfaith couples are now feeling under threat in India, after a new anti-conversion law was passed. Conversion through marriage is now prohibited, following the circulation of a ‘baseless’ theory that Muslim men seek relationships with Hindu women for the sole purposes of converting them to Islam. 

Also reported by the BBC is the statement issued by the Vatican office responsible for doctrine which says that the Catholic Church is unable to bless same-sex unions. It is ‘impossible’ for God to ‘bless sin’, according to the Vatican. Progressive Catholic groups have expressed concern and disappointment with this reiteration of the Church’s position on same-sex marriage. 

The Guardian reports that a Catholic order of priests has pledged $100m for reparations to Black people it sold and bought as slaves. The Jesuit Conference of Canada and US have announced the fund-raising as part of a process of ‘truth and reconciliation’. The pledge is thought to be the largest amount to be offered by the Catholic Church as atonement for its involvement in the slave trade. 

Al Jazeera reports that girls in schools in Indonesia are being coerced and bullied into wearing religious attire. Human Rights Watch report that non-Muslim students are requested to wear hijab in lessons, but a still marked out as non-Muslim by their peers. Human Rights Watch have published a report that highlights the increasing religious intolerance in Indonesia.

The Guardian also comments on the discovery of fragments of scrolls, containing parts of the Hebrew scriptures, by Israeli archaeologists. The fragments are thought to be Greek translations of the books of Zechariah and Nahum from 2nd Century CE. 

Religious groups are warning against the ban on conversion therapy, which is reported by the BBC. The Evangelical Alliance is concerned that church leaders will be criminalised under legislation that aims to prevent ‘treatment’ designed to change a person’s sexuality. 

In this report from the BBC, concerns are raised about religious misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine. Whilst religious leaders are encouraging people to be vaccinated, the reportage suggests other religious voices are undermining these efforts.