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In the Press

  • The BBC's religious programmes are "tired and formulaic", the Church of England said, as it called for them to be revamped in a similar way to the broadcaster's science coverage under Brian Cox.

    Over Christmas, the corporation will screen a "basic diet" of religious shows, mainly limited to live church services, the Rev Arun Arora, director of communications for the Archbishops' Council in the Church of England, said. It will offer "precious little" original programming on Christianity or the Christmas story.

    He also described the trailer for Christmas, entitled "BBC Oneness", as being full of Christmas imagery but with "no room for any reference to Jesus".

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  • So-called Islamic State has released a video online which claims to show two Turkish soldiers being burned alive.

    IS claims the video is from its Syrian operation, and shows two soldiers captured in late November. The killing came in revenge for Turkish killing of Muslims, the group said.

    Turkey has been fighting IS with both ground forces and air strikes.

    The video has not been independently verified. There has so far been no comment from Turkey.

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  • Religious groups representing healthcare professionals have raised concerns over a proposed change to professional standards that requires pharmacists to ensure their beliefs do not compromise patient-centred care.

    Christian and Muslim groups say that the "significant" shift suggested by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the independent regulator for pharmacy in Great Britain, may jeopardise pharmacists' identity, autonomy and ability to comfortably exercise professional judgement.

    The move, if approved, would trigger a change in the pharmacist–patient relationship and a shift in favour of the needs of the patient. 

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  • Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Word made flesh who by the action of God and the obedience of His blessed Mother, the God bearer, came to dwell among us, Emmanuel.

    In November, I visited Pakistan to express solidarity with Christian communities across the country, which have suffered much over recent years. We remember the slaughter of innocent worshippers on Easter Sunday 2016 in Lahore, and before that the attack on worshippers in Peshawar at Christmas 2013 and many other incidents. Such attacks are not only designed to inflict appalling suffering but also to sow fear in the heart of Christian, and other minority communities. During the visit I spoke with some of the survivors of these attacks, and I was deeply moved and humbled by their extraordinary courage in continuing to be faithful witnesses of Jesus. They spoke of knowing now more than ever that Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

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  • The appeasers, apologists and 'useful idiots' have been out in force over the festive season, busily lighting candles, declaring 'Ich Bin Ein Berliner' and proclaiming that the murderous attack on the Christmas market had nothing to do either with Islam or mass immigration. Thinking of them prompted me to pluck from my shelf one of my favourite books, a slim tome entitled 'Ourselves and Germany', written in the winter of 1937 by the Marquess of Londonderry. Otherwise known as Charles Stewart Henry Vane-Tempest-Stewart, or 'Charley' to his pals, the Marquess could neither write well nor read men well, but his book is nonetheless riveting. It's a timeless reminder of where an educated man's moral cowardice and intellectual stupidity can lead.

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  • When a member of the royal family speaks, the world listens – not only because of their institutional importance but because they speak relatively rarely. Politicians tweet their way through Sunday lunch. The papacy has turned into a flying press conference. A royal, however, plans each sentence weeks in advance.  They are seen and not heard. So when Prince Charles took the risk of talking about religion on Thought for the Day, it had to be because he cared deeply about the subject.

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  • An Anglican church has banned women from applying to its vacant post of vicar on ‘biblical’ grounds.

    Holy Trinity Church in Wallington in south west London will now issue a job advert that specifically excludes female clerics from seeking the job.

    The Church of England said such a move was rare but not unique. A spokesman said that because vicars and priests are ‘postholders’ rather than employees, the church does not fall foul of equal opportunities laws. 

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  • The storm over legislation seen as targeting transgender people is set to intensify in 2017 with several U.S. states proposing measures similar to a bathroom restriction statute in North Carolina that has prompted protests, lawsuits and economic boycotts.

    Four states have legislation limiting transgender bathroom rights that will be on the agenda when lawmakers convene next year, and Republican leaders in other states have said more such bills will be filed soon.

    North Carolina legislators, in a one-day special session on Wednesday, had widely been expected to repeal their law, which requires people to use the bathroom of their birth gender, but the effort fell apart.

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  • Prince Charles has spoken out about the danger of religious persecution, warning against a repeat of "the horrors of the past".

    Delivering BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day, the Prince of Wales said the rise of populist groups "aggressive" to minority faiths had "deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days" of the 1930s.

    In the Christmas message, he urged respect for those of different faiths.

    He said religious freedom was a "choice between life and death" for some.

    It is the third time he has given the address on the Today programme.

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  • Abortion today is an extremely safe, straightforward procedure, provided in a highly regulated environment. One in three women in the UK will have an abortion in her lifetime, funded by the NHS (except if she lives in Northern Ireland). This will usually take place within an NHS hospital or in a centre run by one of the independent charitable providers – the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) or Marie Stopes International (MSI). But just because it is safe doesn’t mean corners can be cut, or providers can pick and mix from rules and regulations, as was unearthed in the course of the care quality commission’s investigation of MSI

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