Category : England / UK

(Church Times) PM Theresa May apologises to Windrush British citizens

After pressure from campaigners, the Prime Minister was forced into a U-turn this week after she initially refused to meet Caribbean leaders to discuss the plight of the “Windrush generation” — a reference to the ship Empire Windrush, which, in 1948, brought workers from the West Indies to Britain — who face deportation despite living in Britain for decades…

Thousands of people from the Caribbean, including children who travelled under their parent’s passport, made their home in Britain between 1948 and 1971. Owing to a lack of paperwork, many children of the Windrush generation have struggled to prove that they are in the UK legally, and have faced the prospect of deportation and the suspension of benefits or access to health services.

In a meeting on Tuesday, Theresa May apologised to the 12 Caribbean heads of government for the treatment of the Windrush citizens, and promised that no one would be deported.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Caribbean, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Religion & Culture

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–‘I’ve been doing Thought for the Day for thirty years but I never thought that in 2018 I would still have to speak about antisemitism’

It’s happened because of the rise of political extremism on the right and left, and because of populist politics that plays on people’s fears, seeking scapegoats to blame for social ills. For a thousand years Jews have been targeted as scapegoats, because they were a minority and because they were different. But difference is what makes us human. And a society that has no room for difference has no room for humanity.

The appearance of antisemitism is always an early warning sign of a dangerous dysfunction within a culture, because the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.

At the end of his life, Moses told the Israelites: don’t hate an Egyptian because you were strangers in his land. It’s an odd sentence. The Egyptians had oppressed and enslaved the Israelites. So why did Moses say, don’t hate.

Because if the people continued to hate, Moses would have taken the Israelites out of Egypt, but failed to take Egypt out of the Israelites. They would still be slaves, not physically but mentally. Moses knew that to be free you have to let go of hate. Wherever there is hate, freedom dies. Which is why we, especially leaders, have to take a stand against the corrosive power of hate.

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Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Religion & Culture

([London) Times) Patients ‘expect GPs to heal their souls’ as the church’s role declines

Family doctors say that they are the “new clergy” and need to know what to do when patients come to them lacking meaning and purpose in life.

GPs are increasingly seeing patients with complex problems driven by social and emotional difficulties and are growing frustrated by having little to offer other than pills, a study has indicated. They are embarrassed to talk about “spiritual” questions and researchers argue that they need to be comfortable telling people about the importance of community.

Alistair Appleby, a GP who carried out the study of his colleagues’ attitude to spirituality, said: “There is an urgent need to recognise the value of community, connection and self-esteem and look at meaning and purpose in life.”

Dr Appleby said that Britain’s reluctance to talk about religion publicly had hampered discussion of deeper questions. He began the study because “I felt I was particularly bad at it. There were several occasions when I was with patients when it was fairly clear that I had not made the human connection that they hoped for.”

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Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(BBC) Service held to ‘cleanse’ Salisbury after nerve agent attack

A special service has been held in Salisbury to “symbolically reclaim the city for the common good” following the nerve agent attack on 4 March.

The Bishop of Salisbury hosted the service of “cleansing and celebration” at St Thomas’ Church, near where Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found.

The service, which was open to all faiths and none, involved prayers to cleanse the site and the city.

It was followed by a procession to the bench where the Skripals were found.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Russia, Terrorism

(Guardian) NHS appoints humanist to lead chaplaincy team

A humanist has been appointed to lead a team of NHS chaplains, in a move that reflects growing demand for emotional and spiritual support from people who do not identify with any organised religion.

Lindsay van Dijk will lead three Christian chaplains and a team of 24 volunteers, including a Catholic nun, a Buddhist and a Bahá’í, at the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust. The world-renowned spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville hospital is part of the trust.

Although there are two other humanists among the NHS’s paid chaplains, it is the first time that chaplains in hospitals and hospices will work under a non-religious leader.

Van Dijk, 28, told the Guardian: “A lot of people don’t have an organised faith, but still have spiritual and emotional needs at difficult times. Often people are trying to make sense of their lives and the situations they find themselves in.”

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Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(Wales Online) The remote Welsh chapel where there’s only one worshipper left

As you walk into Evan Thomas Jones’s farmhouse you are hit with a scorching dry heat and the smell of burning wood coming from the old Rayburn stove in the small cluttered kitchen.

Perched on the edge of a hill, the farmhouse is exposed to the cutting wind that blows over the Brecon Beacons and the warmth inside is delightful. Out of the window you can see the peaks of Pen y Fan and Corn Du disappearing into cloud and still coated with the early spring snow. If this was a hotel, tourists would pay a premium for these views.

But the man looking out the window is anything but a tourist. Standing straight and strong at about five foot eight, 85-year-old Evan wears green wellies, jeans and a jacket. From the window he points out the details of a valley where his family have lived for hundreds of years.

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Posted in --Wales, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Spectator) Theo Hobson–why young believers need to accept faith is controversial; Are millennial churchgoers trying (too hard) to make the church a safe space?

I shouldn’t have been too surprised. I encountered similar sensitivity in a previous attempt at a side career a few years ago: teaching Religious Education at a private school. The textbook contained Michelangelo’s famous image of God creating Adam. I made a jokey reference to the childlike littleness of Adam’s genitalia, despite his muscle-man physique. Big mistake. One of these 11- or 12-year-olds reported the comment to a parent who reported it to the head who hauled me in for a surreal conversation about the mentionability of Edenic pudenda. I bet science teachers are allowed to mention penises, I protested — why shouldn’t humanities teachers, especially if the penis is actually depicted in the approved textbook?

So are holy snowflakes smothering the C of E? I consulted the vicar of a north London church who had worked at a cathedral, where his role included commissioning works of art. ‘What I’ve noticed is that sensitivity has become more secular than religious — it used to be that people were nervous of doing or saying something sacrilegious; now they’re more likely to worry about giving secular offence. And often they are not really offended themselves but are imagining other people’s reactions; they are upset on others’ behalf. So I sometimes have to persuade parishioners that something is not as problematic as they fear.’

A vicar of a central London parish told me that some of her parishioners are excessively worried that traditional Christian themes might seem illiberal. ‘We were planning a series of Lent talks last year, and brainstorming for a theme. I thought “sin” would be pretty uncontroversial, but the most vocal members of the group were dead set against it. That’s the image of religion we want to get away from, they said; it sounds so judgmental.’ But faith is controversial. There’s no getting away from it, and that’s no bad thing. Anything worthwhile is and should be challenging.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(Church Times) Church in Salisbury to host ‘service of cleansing’ after the poisoning of the Skripals

A church in Salisbury will host a “service of cleansing and celebration” after the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the city last month.

St Thomas’s, in the centre of Salisbury, will hold the service at 3 p.m. on Sunday, metres away from the site of the bench where the Skripals were found outside the Maltings shopping centre. The Rector of St Thomas’s, the Revd Kelvin Inglis, said that the service would end with a procession to the spot where the pair were found.

The Skripals are believed to have been poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, and the fallout from the attack on them has resulted in the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK and its allies, since the Government concluded that it was “highly likely” that the blame lay with Moscow (News, 16 March23 March). More than 20 countries around the world expelled Russian diplomats: the UK required 23 to leave; and the United States, 60.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Ms Skripal had been discharged from hospital, and that Mr Skripal was also making good progress and would leave “in due course”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Russia

(CEN) Peter Brierley–Older churchgoers today

The number of older people, 65 and over, attending church on a Sunday in England is increasing. There were 810,000 going to church in 1980, and 980,000 in 2017 (a 21 per cent increase). In Scotland, however, the numbers are respectively 190,000 and 170,000 (an 11 per cent decrease).

The proportion of older people in church in England is also increasing. It was 18 per cent in 1980 and 34 per cent in 2017; in Scotland the percentages were 21 per cent and 42 per cent respectively, also increasing significantly. In the population, numbers of those 65 and over are also increasing.

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Posted in --Scotland, Aging / the Elderly, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(BBC) UK Student suicide rates overtakes that of non-students

The suicide rate among UK students is higher than among the general population of their age group, say researchers.

A study from the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention says it means for the first time students have a higher suicide rate than non-students.

The Hong Kong-based researchers say that female students were particularly likely to have a higher suicide rate.

Researcher Edward Pinkney says it shows a “real problem in higher education”.

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Posted in Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide, Young Adults

Generation Y still hope to walk down the aisle according to new Church of England Research

Millennials still value marriage with almost three quarters of those who are unmarried (72%) intending to tie the knot, according to new research by the Church of England.

While official figures recently showed a decline in the marriage rate, a study commissioned by the Church of England’s Life Events team suggests that 18-to-35-year-olds still dream of having their big day.

More than 1,000 unmarried young people were asked about factors that would influence their wedding plans for the research.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Young Adults

(WSJ) A Mad Night for European Soccer—and a Pair of Boston Owners

Two upsets 1,300 miles apart lit up European soccer’s most prestigious tournament on Tuesday night, one in Manchester and one in Rome. But the impact of those results, which stunned the soccer world, was felt by fans far beyond either city.

Specifically by a couple of Boston-based billionaires with a habit of buying sports teams: John W. Henry and James Pallotta.

Neither name is exactly chanted from the stands here in Europe, but without their investments, Tuesday night’s stunning results in the Champions League might never have happened. First, Henry’s Liverpool—the team he acquired in 2010 after helping to turn around the Boston Red Sox—knocked off the Premier League’s dominant force, Manchester City. Then, in Italy, Pallotta’s Roma stunned Spanish giant Barcelona, marking the club’s most significant result since he added it to a portfolio that also includes the Boston Celtics in 2011.

Between them, Henry and Pallotta have sunk over $1 billion into their respective clubs. But in European soccer, that is simply the price of doing business. Despite years of investment, this is the first time in either one of their tenures that their clubs have qualified for Europe’s final four. There, they can expect to meet perennial contenders Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who are both in commanding positions in their own quarterfinals.

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Posted in England / UK, Europe, Italy, Men, Sports

(The Herald) Karin Goodwin–Secular Scotland: Losing our religion?

Once the church was an anchor. It was not just about the Sunday sermon, it was central to political life and in the forming of young minds, educating children across Scotland. It provided alms for the needy and laid down a strict moral code that informed – or controlled, depending on your point of view – how Scots lived their lives from birth to death, taking in marriage along the way. But as the remaining church bells ring out to celebrate Easter [the first] Sunday [in April 2018] many question the church’s role today.

The last census in 2011 showed that just over half of the population considered themselves religious, with 24 per cent identifying as Church of Scotland Christians and 14 per cent as Roman Catholics. The Scottish household survey in 2016 suggested those numbers were falling, with those who identify as religious now in the minority at 48.5 percent.

Attendance at Sunday services is also at an all-time low – just seven per cent go to church, according to the 2016 Scottish Church Census. The figure is expected to fall to around five per cent by 2025, about the number that attend a book group.

The hold of religion has been stripped back in all sorts of ways.

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Posted in --Scotland, Religion & Culture

(Mirror) Punters would lose £500 a session under Gambling Commission’s recommendation for fixed bet terminals to set the maximum stake at £30

Gambling addicts will lose more than £500 a session if the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals is set at £30.

Government minister Tracey Crouch wants a £2 limit on the ­bookies’ shop machines – nicknamed the crack cocaine of gambling.

But her plans received a blow from the Gambling Commission – the body that advises the Government – which has recommended she sets the top stake at £30.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Theology

(COEiP) Church of England Bishops highlight consequences of the two-child limit in letter to The Times and blog post

Sir, Today the “two-child limit” policy, which restricts tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in a family, has been in place for a year. The policy is making it harder for parents to achieve a stable and resilient family life. By 2021, 640,000 families will have been affected. Most are low-earning working families, most have three children and some will have made decisions about family size when they were able to support children through earnings alone, but later claimed tax credits or universal credit after bereavement, redundancy, separation, disability, illness or simply low pay.

The policy is expected to tip an estimated extra 200,000 children into poverty. It also conveys the regrettable message that some children matter less than others, depending on their place in the sibling birth order.

It is a grave concern that there are likely to be mothers who will face an invidious choice between poverty and terminating an unplanned pregnancy

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Theology