Week commencing 19th April 2021

The BBC features a report on how clergy are speaking out about racism in the Church of England. Claims are made that staff within the Church have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements when paid compensation for racial discrimination. The BBC Panorama programme focuses on this story.

The Guardian reports that activists in Poland are urging people to think before declaring themselves Catholic in the country’s census. The previous census showed that 96% of Poland’s population identified as Catholic, a boon to right wing politicians and paving the way for conservative and controversial law-making. Activists are hoping that only those who truly think of themselves as practising Roman Catholics will tick that box in the census. 

Montreal CTV News runs with the report on a controversial secularism law which has been upheld by the country’s law courts. The law outlines exemptions, which includes English schools, from bans on religious dress and symbols in public institutions, resulting in a two tier system. Most Muslims attend French-speaking schools and are disproportionately impacted by the ban.

The BBC reports the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments regarding non-disclosure agreements in cases of race discrimination in the Church, featured in a Panorama programme on the BBC. The Archbishop has publicly condemned the use of such orders and is strongly suggesting the practice should cease within the Church. 

News outlet religionnews.com reports that a group of black faith leaders in LA have come together to publicly ‘praise’ the verdict in the George Floyd case. The ex-police officer on trial for his murder has been found guilty on all counts. The church leaders reiterate that police racism and brutality needs to be tackled. 

Religion News Service also carries a feature on a new app being tested by Facebook that allows members of groups to ask for and respond to requests for prayer. Users can click a ‘pray’ button to let post authors know they have been prayed for. The feature is being trialed with a small group of users in the US. 

 The Guardian reports that the American Humanist Association has stripped Richard Dawkins of his Humanist of the Year award, given to him 25 years ago. The well-known atheist and scientist tweeted comments about trans people last month. The AHA described Dawkins’ comments as ‘demeaning to marginalised groups’.

The Church Times runs with an article on the compulsory redundancies threatening the Theology and Religious Studies department at Chester University. More than 800 religious leaders and academics have signed a petition calling on the university authorities to end the act of ‘vandalism’ on the department.