Bishop deplores ‘ Stansted 15’ convictions
THE Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, has criticised the conviction of a group of activists this week. The “Stansted 15”, arrested after a protest at Stansted airport last year against a charted night flight’s taking deportees to Nigeria, were found guilty on Monday under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act, a law passed in response to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. In a “call to prayer”, Bishop Cottrell said: “The specific charges brought against them are outrageously disproportionate. By peacefully preventing a flight from taking off, their actions have drawn attention to a much greater injustice. In fact, the Stansted 15 did nothing that was likely to put anyone in danger. They were acting to prevent harm. . . As they await sentencing, they intend to appeal their convictions. I earnestly look forward to the day of their speedy exoneration. Please join me in praying for them.” He had previously praised their actions (News, 6 April).
Secularists criticise faith-school provision
BETWEEN 45,000 and 60,000 families live in areas where the availability of secular schools is “extremely restricted”, and where their three closest schools are faith schools, a report by the National Secular Society (NSS) states. The NSS is urging the Government to allow access for all children to a “non-faith-based and fully inclusive school”. The report also says that almost 8000 children were assigned to a faith primary school against their families’ first-choice wishes.
App announces Bible verse of the year
A BIBLE app, YouVersion, which has been downloaded more than 350,000 times around the world, has named Isaiah 41.10 as the most popular verse of 2018. The verse, which was posted, bookmarked, and highlighted more times than any other on the app (which has been downloaded in every country since 2008), reads: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This was also the most popular verse in France, Chile, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, South Africa, Spain, and the United States. The most popular verse in the UK was Jeremiah 29.11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” This was also the most popular verse on the Bible search engine Bible Gateway. The most searched-for word on the website was “love”.
Parliamentary group seeks information
THE Christians in Parliament All-Party Parliamentary Group has opened an inquiry into the experiences of Christians in the UK. The inquiry, “Being a Christian in the UK Today”, will look into “how living out Christian faith interacts with public institutions such as Parliament, central and local government, and other professional and regulatory bodies”. The consultation, which closes on Sunday, can be found at www.christiansinparliament.org.uk/inquiry.
Statue of Mary in crib scene decapitated
A LIFE-SIZED nativity scene outside All Saints’, Ipswich, has been vandalised, resulting in the decapitation of a model of the Virgin Mary. Within days of its being set up, the figure representing Jesus was stolen, and, on Monday morning, Mary was found headless. The Assistant Curate of All Saints’, in the Triangle Benefice, the Revd Daniel Morrison, said: “I am really sad about it. I don’t know who is responsible. It is just a shame.”