Religion news 17 September

Image credit: America magazine

American Jesuit magazine says Trump is a threat to the constitutional order

The established magazine America:The Jesuit Review has come out forcefully  against Donald Trump in the forthcoming Presidential election. In a blistering editorial, it said he “represents a proven threat to the constitutional order”. Since its founding in 1909, the magazine has covered 27 election campaigns and said it always had two overriding concerns: the moral character of political decisions in light of Catholic principles and the necessity of preserving the American constitutional order. It says that Donald Trump has shown little regard for constitutional norms or the common good. And it warns that without the safeguards of the rule of law, a free press, constitutional use of the military and respect for the separation of powers, America will descend into prolonged factional conflict, which would mark the beginning of the end of a republican form of government.

Decline of religious affiliation in Scotland

A Scottish social trends survey suggests religious belonging continued to decline in 2019, with 56% of adults reporting that they do not belong to any religion. This coincides with a sharp decrease since 2009 in the numbers of people who belong to the Church of Scotland, down from 34% to 20% of adults. At the same time, 78% of the people in Scotland have a strong sense of belonging to their neighbourhood with 85% saying they can rely on friends and relatives for support. The Scottish Household Survey is produced each year by the Scottish government.

Vatican rejects UN resolution on covid19 because of abortion

The Vatican has slammed a United Nations resolution on combatting the coronavirus as concerning and divisive, because of a section on a woman’s sexual health and reproductive rights.  Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Vatican’s representative at the UN, rejected the section because it included abortion rights as a health service.  He was also concerned about the ethics surrounding the content of vaccines which may use foetal cells  and wanted more secure rights for older people.

Sheffield Cathedral choir forms in exile

The Guardian reports that the choristers of Sheffield cathedral who were sacked in June, have formed an alternative choir in exile called the ‘Steel City Choristers’. The decision to get rid of the entire music department was made by the Cathedral authorities who said they wanted more diversity. It caused a bitter row, a petition of 8,400 signatures and the threat of legal action. The choir in exile is to be led by Joshua Stephens, who resigned as the cathedral’s master of music in June, the fourth to depart in five years. A cathedral spokesperson said the dean and chapter wished the new choir well.

Witchcraft attracts hundreds of thousands on social media

Witchcraft is booming on social media, with people all over the world sharing spells, stories and practices. Several journalists have reported on the phenomena. CNet said there is a divide between young ‘baby witches’ who are dabbling in the art, and older witches who fear their reputation if young enthusiasts make mistakes. TikTok has the biggest reach and even its own sub group ‘Witchtok’. Some witch accounts have half a million followers. Earlier this year, baby witches on TikTok ‘hexed the moon’, a viral event that even made it into the New Scientist. Alexandre on Twitter has 100,000 followers and the witch site on Reddit has 183,000 followers.  

Glasgow synagogue becomes listed building

Langside synagogue in Glasgow, barely 100 years old, has been listed by Historic Environment Scotland. It is one of only two eastern European-style synagogues in the UK, decorated in a folk-art similar to synagogues in Poland, Ukraine, and Romania. It was built in 1927 but closed six years ago and has been threatened with re-development since. The listing means potential developers will now be required to take into account the special architectural or historic interest of the building.

York Minister bells ring out in honour of Gerald, the Cathedral cat

The bells at York Minster have been rung to mark the death of the cathedral’s cat. Gerald, a six-year-old Bengal, was a familiar sight while patrolling the tourist areas. His owner lives in the adjoining Chapter House Street and said he was very good looking, great at making friends and well loved by cathedral staff. He was found dead on Monday from unknown causes. People from around the world have sent their condolences and the Dean of York has given permission for Gerald to be buried in Dean’s Park beside the cathedral.