Religion news 11 January

Muslim doctors say Covid-19 still has disproportionate impact on ethnic minorities

The British Islamic Medical Association issued a strongly worded plea this weekend, urging Muslim communities to stay at home during the lockdown, to stop the spread of the virus, limit hospital admissions and ease the strain on the NHS. It said: “We are continuing to see ethnic minorities being disproportionately impacted.” It is also promoting vaccination education and uptake among the elderly and at risk groups. In its statement, it said the government’s response has been ineffective and hospitals are struggling to cope despite increasing their capacity, with plans in place to ration care when capacity breaches.

Places of worship shut voluntarily

Many places of worship took the decision not to open for public gatherings this weekend, because the risk of passing on the coronavirus was too high. This is despite national government guidelines which permitted them to stay open. Councils in Bath, Lancashire, Essex and London boroughs wrote to faith leaders urging them to close. The mayor of London told the prime minister that places of worship in the capital should shut immediately because of the state of emergency in hospitals and the high rate of infection.

Pope to have Covid-19 vaccination this week

The Pope will receive a vaccination against Covid-19 at the Vatican this week. The news follows an announcement that his doctor, Fabrizio Soccorsi, has died at the age of 78 from Covid-19 complications. The Vatican newspaper said he had been in hospital since 26 December for cancer treatment and had been the Pope’s physician for five years.

Faith leaders condemn Capitol Hill insurrection

Pope Francis has appealed to Americans to promote democracy and reconciliation after the insurrection on Capitol Hill. In his Sunday address, he urged people to soothe tempers, promote national reconciliation and protect the democratic values rooted in American society. The common good could be built through encounter and care, he said.

Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopalian church in the US, has spoken with passion about the “desecration” of the Capitol by “vandals”. He said the nation was wounded and democracy threatened. People should choose love and community; the alternative was “the abyss of anarchy, of chaos, of hatred, of bigotry, of violence, and that alternative is unthinkable”.

The Archbishop of Wales John Davies has joined calls for Donald Trump to be removed from office, by invoking the 25th amendment to the US constitution . He said Trump’s behaviour “is so gross, obvious and anti-democratic, it should not be allowed to pass”.

National Public Radio has collected quotes from many evangelical leaders, nearly unanimous in their condemnation of the assault.

Chaplain prayed and read scripture as Capitol intruders rampaged

The Religion News Service has spoken to the chaplain of the US House of Representatives who prayed and read from scripture as senators were forced to shelter during the insurrection. Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben, the former US Navy chief chaplain, was asked to pray as people began to leave the chamber and once there, she read from Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength”. As she talked to people in varying states of distress, she met many of her new community for the first time. Fascinating interview here

United Nations Green named outside Westminster Central Hall

Methodist Central Hall in Westminster has commemorated the first United Nations general assembly meeting held there in 1946. Now, 75 years after its founding, the grass outside Central Hall’s front door has been renamed from Broad Sanctuary Green to United Nations Green. The Rev Tony Miles said Central Hall was chosen to launch the UN because it had the atmosphere of prayer. The renaming coincides with a virtual visit by the UN secretary-general to mark the 75th anniversary.