Religion news 8 December

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Labour’s shadow faith minister resigns after “misjudged comments” in a RMC zoom briefing

Labour’s shadow faith minister Janet Daby has resigned for what she has described as “misjudged comments” during a Religion Media Centre briefing, about registrars who object to carrying out same-sex marriages. She was asked whether “a special arrangement for the believer” could be made in cases where officials have been sacked for refusing to carry out marriages of same-sex couples. She said: “I think there needs to be something in place that respects people’s conscience and views of faith, as well as protects people’s rights so that they can be treated equally”.  Legal guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission says that when someone is providing a service, an individual’s religious belief cannot lead them to discriminate against customers or “service users”. Yesterday, Janet Daby said she sincerely apologised and was proud to support same-sex marriages. Full story here. The zoom briefing is available on our you tube channel here

Profound legacy of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks honoured in memorial service

 Prince Charles led tributes during a memorial service for Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who died last month aged 72.  He said they were contemporaries and he had come to value his counsel immensely. He was an irreplaceable loss to the world and he would miss him more than words could say. Other world political and religious leaders, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Justin Welby joined in the tributes in an online ceremony broadcast on Sunday evening.

Pope Francis to visit Iraq

Pope Francis is planning to visit Iraq on a four day trip that will take in Baghdad, Mosul and the Biblical sites of Ur and Ninevah. He had flagged his interest in a visit in June 2019, but on Monday the Vatican indicated that the visit was now in sight. Vatican News reports that the Pope has earlier said that he thinks constantly of Iraq and hopes it can face the future through the peaceful pursuit of the common good. In January this year, the President of Iraq, Barham Salih, met the Pope at the Vatican and spoke about “preserving the historical presence of Christians in the country” and “highlighting the need to guarantee their security and a place in the future of Iraq.”

Britain’s best mosques

The Beacon Mosque awards 2020 were awarded at the weekend, to celebrate the quality of leadership and contribution of mosques to the community, especially during the pandemic. The awards are sponsored by Faith Associates, whose CEO Shaukat Warraich said the UK’s mosque leadership together with the thousands of volunteers that run and maintain them, have excelled in the global crisis, supporting all communities and providing a centre for coordinating local initiatives. The Best Run Mosque award went to Al Madina Mosque, Barking; and the best mosque for Covid-19 response was Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre,  Birmingham. The most impactful Imam was Ijaz Shaami. From Nethertom Islamic Trust, Dudley.

Hindu nationalist group claims victory as journalist’s account is suspended

The Guardian reports that the Twitter account of the Indian journalist Salil Tripathi has been suspended, after he tweeted on the anniversary of the 1992 attack on the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, northern India,  and critiqued “India’s shrinking democratic space”. He is chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison committee and writers including Salman Rushdie and Amitav Ghosh have expressed their anger. The Hindu nationalist group Deshi Army, which as been praised by hardline Hindu nationalists, has claimed its campaign led to the suspension.