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In the Press

  • A renegade Anglican bishop has been appointed outside the Church of England’s control by a foreign Christian leader, in a significant first step towards a split in the church over the issue of homosexuality.

    Church of England officials were shocked to learn that in a secret ceremony last week, one of its priests was consecrated as an Anglican bishop in England by the leader of a hardline Anglican church in South Africa, in a direct challenge to the Church of England’s authority.

    The Rev Jonathan Pryke, 57, is a curate at a church in Newcastle with orthodox views on homosexuality, and is now also a bishop under the auspices of the conservative Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa.

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  • A Belfast woman has cleared the first stage in a legal bid to have her forthcoming humanist marriage to an international footballer legally recognised.

    Laura Lacole is due to wed Republic of Ireland midfielder Eunan O'Kane at a venue in Northern Ireland next month.

    She is challenging the General Register Office for refusing to officially authorise the ceremony.

    It is due to be conducted by a British Humanist Association celebrant.

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  • The archbishop of Canterbury has said a "moment of opportunity" could be within reach in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after he met political leaders from both sides during a trip to the Holy Land.

    Justin Welby held separate talks with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in which both spoke positively about the possibility of reviving peace talks in the coming months. Abbas had just returned from meeting Donald Trump in Washington, and the US president is due to visit Jerusalem soon.

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  • Thousands of refugees in Germany are converting from Islam to Christianity, although it could carry a huge personal risk for them. Independent churches are especially seeing many new converts.

    Gottfried Martens, a pastor at the Protestant Trinity independent church in Berlin, has already baptized 1200 refugees. He started in 2008 with two refugees from Iran who sought out his congregation. They brought an acquaintance with them, who Pastor Martens baptized. Over the years, more and more refugees came with the desire to change their religion. Now Marten's congregation is well known in Berlin, as hundreds attend sermons there that are given in both German and Persian.

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  • "We are on the cusp of a new reformation", says Gavin Ashenden in an article about conflicts and new initiatives in Anglicanism in Britain.

    The original Reformation, which we remember particularly this year, 500 years after Martin Luther's famous public protest against the Church of Rome, was characterized by often bitter conflict but also led to amazingly fruitful initiatives in mission throughout the world. It involved not just schism between Catholic and Protestant, but the fragmentation of Protestantism into thousands of denominations. We're often told that this 'disunity' is a terrible stain on the body of Christ, and yet there is often far more warm fellowship and productive cooperation between believers in different denominations sharing the same commitment to basic Christian truths, than there is between people of the same denomination together on paper, but internally divided by adherence to different teachings and even opposing fundamental worldviews.

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  • The Chamber of Deputies adopted on Tuesday, May 9, the citizens' initiative that aims to change the definition of family in Romania's Constitution.

    The project passed with 232 votes in favor, 22 against, and 13 abstentions, reports local Agerpres. However, the Senate also has to vote on this initiative before a national referendum will be called to have Romanians decide if they agree or not to making this change in the Constitution.

    At present, the Romanian Constitution defines the family as the free-willed marriage "between spouses". However, the initiative’s promoters want to amend it so that it mentions that a family is the union between a man and a woman. The measure thus aims to make same-sex marriages impossible in Romania.

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  • Police in the Republic of Ireland are no longer investigating a claim that British comedian Stephen Fry uttered blasphemous remarks on a TV show.

    Irish media say the Garda dropped the case as there was no injured party.

    A viewer had complained about comments made by Fry on a TV show in 2015.

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  • Most older Americans say right and wrong never change. Younger Americans—not so much.

    A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found a significant generation gap in how Americans view morality.

    More than 6 in 10 of those older than 45 say right and wrong do not change. For those 35 and younger, fewer than 4 in 10 make that claim.

    That’s a huge shift between generations, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. Older Americans grew up at time when ideas about morality were more stable, he says. That’s no longer true for younger Americans.

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  • Jakarta's outgoing governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was found guilty of blasphemy on Tuesday and sentenced to two years in jail following comments he made regarding the Koran, the central religious text of Islam. The maximum sentence for blasphemy in Indonesia is five years in prison. While staunch Islamist groups pushed for Purnama to receive the full sentence, prosecutors asked for a conditional sentence of two years probation. Purnama's lawyer says the governor plans to appeal the court's ruling.

    While on a work trip late last year, Purnama claimed that Jakarta's Islamic leaders were misrepresenting a principle in the Koran for political gains. The verse in question, which comes from the fifth chapter of the Koran, suggests that Muslims should not have non-Muslim leaders. Purnama implied that his opponents were using the verse to discriminate against Christian candidates like himself. He later apologized for the comments, but did not admit to any wrongdoing.

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  • People who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual report lower wellbeing than the UK average, with much higher levels of anxiety than those who are straight, analysis has found.

    Data from the Office for National Statistics found life satisfaction was highest for those who identified as straight (7.6 out of 10), compared with 7.2 for bisexual respondents and 7.4 for gay or lesbian people.

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