Religion news 29 January

Image credit: Jewish News

Months of large lockdown weddings in strictly orthodox community, investigation reveals

North London’s strictly orthodox community in Stamford Hill has been staging hosting large weddings for months, despite coronavirus restrictions, an investigation by the Jewish News has revealed. It comes a week after the Metropolitan Police were called in to break up a large wedding at at Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School in Stamford Hill. Community insiders, who have asked not to be named, have told the newspaper that the events have carried on throughout the crisis – with one even happening this week.  An anonymous source said: “These illegal weddings have been going on for 10 months. We’re not talking about one or two. We are talking multiple weddings every day. All have 150-200 guests. At one wedding the bride was Covid-positive.” At an emergency meeting with Jewish organisations, the Faith Minister, Lord Stephen Greenhalgh warned that shameful events such as the school wedding  “could and would not continue,” or there would be consequences.

Methodist church leaders offer weekly messages of hope

The Rev Richard Teal, President of the Methodist Conference and Carolyn Lawrence, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, are supporting the call  for a daily national act of prayer at 6pm, to “lament the horrific loss of life and to find solace and hope during these dark days”. In addition, as the Covid19 death toll surpasses 100,000, they host weekly Facebook sessions where they confront loss, anxiety and despondency, offering words of Christian comfort through grief and dark moments of despair.

Islamist who murdered US journalist Daniel Pearl to be released

An Islamist convicted of beheading American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 must be released, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday (Thursday). The Wall Street Journal reporter had been investigating Islamist militants in Karachi following the September 11 attacks in 2001 when he was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The decision by a panel of three judges to acquit Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh has left the victim’s family in “complete shock”, lawyers told Reuters.

 Singapore terror arrest

Police in Singapore have arrested a 16-year-old boy for allegedly plotting to kill Muslims in two mosques on the anniversary of the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand, the BBC reported. The unnamed teenager, who was detained last month, is alleged to have made detailed plans and preparations to conduct terrorist attacks using a machete against Muslims at two mosques in Singapore. According to a statement from Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs the youth is a “self-radicalised” Protestant Christian of Indian ethnicity. Inspired by the actions of Brenton Tarrant, the government said, he planned to carry out his attacks on 15 March 2021, the anniversary of the Christchurch attacks.

Church  leaders appeal for Syria sanctions to be lifted

Church leaders from around the world have called for the immediate lifting of sanctions on Syria, on humanitarian grounds. They joined a group of 100 politicians, diplomats, and academics in signing letters to President Biden and Boris Johnson.  Signatories include Rowan Williams, George Carey, and three past and present Bishops. The letter says Syria is on the verge of starvation “but the national interests of the United Kingdom can be pursued without using sanctions to collectively punish the Syrian people.”

Early mosque found to the south of the sea of Galilee

The Associated Press reports that archaeologists say they have discovered the remnants of an early mosque near the sea of Galilee in Israel, believed to date to the earliest decades of Islam. The foundations point to its construction a generation after the death of the prophet Mohammad, making it one of the earliest Muslim houses of worship to be studied by archaeologists. Other mosques dating from around the same time, such as the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, the Great Mosque of Damascus, and Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, are still in use today and cannot be tampered with by archaeologists.

Church to pay racial justice reparations

The historic Memorial Episcopal church in Baltimore has committed to setting aside $100,000 to reparations, which will contribute to local racial justice causes, the Associated Press reported. “Our church has a long history of, unfortunately, supporting racial segregation up until 1969, being active participants in it,” said the Rev. Grey Maggiano, rector of the church that was founded in 1860. The program is aimed at showing responsibility for the denomination’s history of racial discrimination as well as the use of slaves.