Week commencing 29th March 2021

The Church Times highlights the arrest and appearance before magistrates of a group of clergy who are members of Extinction Rebellion. Charged with obstructing the highway in a protest last October, Rev Helen Burnett told the court of her commitment and calling to help save the planet from climate catastrophe. 

The BBC follows up on the story about a religious studies lesson in a Batley school that sparked protests because pupils were shown the Charlie Hebdo cartoon, which are highly offensive to Muslims. Several local residents are interviewed about the incident and the debate around blasphemy and free speech. 

The Guardian runs an opinion piece entitled ‘How do faithless people like me make sense of this past year of Covid?’. John Harris wrestles with the lack of narrative for people without faith and discusses the fear of illness and death without a religious framework.

In the US, news outlet NPR runs with a new study that suggests less than half of the population in the US belongs to a religious congregation, calling it a ‘dramatic trend away from religious affiliation’. 

NBC News in the US reports on a new bill in France that is designed to tackle extremism. In an attempt to place emphasis on the secular status of the country, the proposed legislation will require community and religious organisations to sign up to a charter of national principles – liberty, equality and fraternity. President Macron is being accused of both pandering to right wing discourse and for being too passive about radicalisation.