British Muslims give £1bn a year to charity
British Muslims donate £1bn a year to charity, according to a report from the Ayaan Institute, a Muslim thinktank. The report, “Aiding the Ummah: Analysing the Muslim Humanitarian Charity Sector in the UK,” says that British Muslim humanitarian charities raised £708m for causes in 2020 and combined with Muslim giving to UK charitable causes (including 2752 mosques and prayer venues), means UK Muslims reach the £1bn figure. The report says there has been a 91 per cent growth in the number of such Muslim charities in the last 20 years. Since the War on Terror in 2001, it says the work of Muslim charities has increased and been under great scrutiny and pressure, with many charities “facing investigations, constant media intrusion, and scrutiny of their work and activities…The Islamic faith has provided us with the tools to provide for the welfare needs of the Ummah, whether states and politicians are working towards those goals or not.”
Holy town of Joshimath sinking under the weight of new construction
The holy town of Joshimath in the north of India, nestled in the Himalayas, is sinking into its foundations with newly constructed tunnels, roads, multi storey hotels and hundreds of homes unable to be supported on land formed from earlier landslides and earthquakes. The Associated Press explains that Joshimath is said to have special spiritual powers and believed to be the place where Hindu guru Adi Shankaracharya found enlightenment in the 8th century before establishing four monasteries across India. But the growing incidents of subsidence have led to government compensation and court cases to stop developments, amid fears that the whole ancient history of the area is under threat. AP feature here
Poll on whether support of same sex marriage is a bar to high office
Scotland is divided over whether or not opposing same-sex marriage should be a bar to political leadership, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by the think tank Theos. It found that 40 per cent of people in Scotland think opposition to same-sex marriage should be a bar to holding a top government job versus 44 per cent who think it should not. The Times reports that in Britain as a whole, only 31 per cent of voters said politicians opposed to same-sex marriage should be allowed to hold a top government job, while 50 per cent said they should not. The online survey of 2,000 people was conducted days after the SNP leadership hopeful Kate Forbes said she would not have voted for same sex marriage, on the grounds of religious belief, if she had been an MSP at the time. The resulting furore has opened a public debate on how private religious views are compatible with leadership of a political party. The RMC is holding a briefing on this topic at 1200 today, including guest Nick Spencer, senior fellow at Theos. See details below.
Evangelical teacher charged after misgendering trans pupil
The Christian Legal Centre is acting for a maths teacher who lost his job and is facing charges of professional misconduct after misgendering a trans pupil and inappropriately sharing his religious beliefs. Joshua Sutcliffe, aged 32, says he was unlawfully targeted and punished because he had been vocal about his evangelical Christian beliefs. Christian Concern explains that he is a street preacher and has given out Bibles to the public. The Teaching Regulation Agency has accused him of conduct negatively affecting pupils on multiple occasions during his time at schools in Oxford and London. He denies the charges of professional misconduct. Guardian story here
Attempt to dismiss sex assault charges against US Cardinal McCarrick
The Associated Press reports that lawyers for the former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick have applied to dismiss charges of sexually assault against him on the grounds he 92, suffering from dementia and not competent to stand trial. McCarrick has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he sexually abused a boy at a wedding reception in 1974. He is the only U.S. Catholic cardinal, current or former, to be criminally charged with child sex crimes. Prosecutors are seeking more expert opinion on his competency to stand trial.
Pope to visit Hungary at the end of April
The Pope has announced that he is to visit Hungary from 28 – 30 April at the invitation of civil and church authorities. Vatican News says that more than half of Hungarians are Christian, and at least 37 percent of the population identify as Catholic. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, nearly one million Ukrainians have travelled through Hungary as refugees. A week ago Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, said the European Union was partly to blame for prolonging Russia’s war in Ukraine. It had fanned the flames of the war by sanctioning Russia and supplying Ukraine with money and weapons, rather than seeking to negotiate a peace with Moscow.
Six Anglican cathedrals join national children’s singing project
Six Church of England cathedrals have joined the National Schools Singing Programme allowing thousands of children to engage in high quality cathedral music. The programme says it will operate in some of the most socially marginalised and economically deprived areas in the UK and is a significant milestone in tackling declining engagement with music in state-schools across the UK. The cathedrals are: Sheffield, York Minster, Derby, Leicester, Liverpool, and Newcastle.