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Earlier in the autumn the Anglican Network in Europe consecrated three new bishops. This small group of about 35 churches, all Anglican but not part of the official Church of England, is busily growing and expanding, in part as it expects more conservative churches to defect from the C of E as the established church begins debating whether to permit gay marriage in church for the first time. While ANiE, as it is known, is small and far from a meaningful rival to the more than 12,700 parishes of the official Anglican denominations in Britain, its rise tells us something interesting about the state of play for conservative evangelicals. This week, I’m speaking to one of the new ANiE bishops and a well-connected evangelical church historian to try and understand what the network wants to be, and why it matters.
Last month, seven long years after it began, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, or IICSA, concluded by publishing its final report. Established in 2014 in response to fears of a Jimmy Savile-style abuse scandal lurking among high-level Westminster politics, IICSA has spent years examining the story of child abuse in England and Wales, hearing survivor’s testimonies, gathering evidence and scrutinising institutional failures. Now the £186m inquiry has finished its work and published its call for change in a sober yet devastating 468-page document. The church does not get off lightly. Of the 17 formal investigations IICSA carried out, an astonishing seven were focused on abuse linked to the church, including in-depth scrutiny of both the Catholic and Anglican Churches, as well as several church schools, bishops and dioceses. And among the horrifying accounts by victims are plenty from those who suffered at the hands of vicars and priests, bishops and monks. What did IICSA uncover about church-related child abuse? How will its recommendations affect churches? Did church authorities cooperate with the inquiry or does a culture of defensiveness still reign? And, perhaps most importantly, will IICSA cause any meaningful change for victims and survivors? This week, I’m joined by a safeguarding advocate, an abuse lawyer, and a survivor to talk about the end of IICSA, and what comes next.  
Patriarch Kirill, the controversial head of the Russian Orthodox Church, declared last month that Russian soldiers conscripted into battle in Ukraine who died would have their sins washed away automatically. Despite the mounting evidence of war crimes committed by Russia during their unprovoked invasion and the fact that millions of Ukrainians worship in churches affiliated to the Moscow Patriarchate, the church has remained in lockstep with the Kremlin throughout, defending the war as righteous and just, perhaps even holy. Why has it stuck so close to Putin and his vicious and dirty war? What is the complex relationship between Russian Orthodoxy and Russian nationalism? And is there any hope for other world churches trying to engage with the Russian church in an effort to bring the fighting to an end?
When Rishi Sunak became prime minister last month, much was made of his groundbreaking ascent to Number 10. But as well as being the first ethnic minority politician to win the premiership, Sunak is also the first Hindu. Indeed, he’s the first non-Christian religious prime minister the UK has ever had. This fact has gone largely unmentioned in the media coverage, but is it actually significant to have a Hindu in Downing Street? Does anyone really care, and should we as Christians? Has he had an easier ride from the press compared to prominent Christian MPs such as Tim Farron? This week we’re gathering the Premier Christianity team to consider Sunak’s faith, how it might influence his politics (or not), and what it might mean for the church in Britain to be working under a non-Christian prime minister for the very first time.
Today we’re considering the painful question of how the church should reckon with its historic links to slavery. Every year, the entanglement of churches with the slave trade in the past is becoming clearer and clearer. Some Christians owned slaves, others profited from their labour, and sometimes this money was used to build churches or endow institutions. Does this matter? Is it worthwhile digging up centuries-old links nobody today would defend? And are financial reparations to the descendants of those enslaved by our predecessors a good Christian response to these revelations?
New research by the think tank Theos has offered a fascinating insight into those in the UK who say they are non-religious. It turns out this group is a complex mix of hardline atheists, apathetic agnostics, and ‘spiritual but not religious’ types. This week we are joined by the authors of the report and another academic who specialises in studying non-belief to understand more about the people who tick ‘none of the above’ on surveys about religion. We’ll also be discussing how should all of this reshape how the Church responds to the decline of faith and reaches out in mission and evangelism to non-Christians… You will shortly be able to download the report from Theos on their website here: https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/research 
This week we’re exploring yet another bitter controversy in the church’s ongoing wrangling over gay marriage. The daughter of the iconic anti-apartheid leader and South African archbishop Desmond Tutu was refused permission by the Church of England to lead the service for her godfather’s funeral because she is married to a woman. She accused the church of a ‘stunning lack of compassion’, while the bishop who would not give her the licence needed admitted the decision ‘violated all of my pastoral instincts’. So what might this episode tell us about where the debate has got to, and where it might be heading, ahead of a crunch decision by C of E bishops in the next few months which could bring its torturous decade-long discussion on sexuality into its final showdown? I’m joined by Sam Hailes from Premier Christianity to try and read the runes about what this funeral row might mean for the future of the church. Listen to the full interview with Mpho Tutu Van Furth on The Profile podcast from Premier here: https://pod.link/1188653078/episode/e2efb23707c7c3bd2b0640a6b5b9b5c8 
Today’s episode is a little different to normal because we’re going to be handing over the show to a wide range of Christians – church leaders, ministers, worship leaders, bishops and others – to share their own personal reflections on Queen Elizabeth II. Her life, her faith and how her seventy year reign impacted them and their spiritual journeys. The late queen was not only the longest-reigning monarch in British history and the head of the Commonwealth, but also a proud follower of Jesus who inspired believers across the world with her humble yet deeply-held faith. This episode should give you just a flavour of the legacy on the church Elizabeth leaves behind.
This week we’re digging into a fascinating new survey which suggests younger generations might be more open to faith than their parents. The poll was published last month and found 56% of those aged 18-34 had prayed in their lives. This was much higher than the 55 and above cohort, where only four in ten of those surveyed said they had ever tried prayer. Commentators, including from the Church of England who commissioned the survey, have suggested the findings tell the lie to the common trope that interest in spirituality has been dwindling with every year that passes. Instead, maybe GenZers and Millennials are actually a really promising generation to evangelise to? Has the church been asleep at the wheel and missed a trick in trying to reach these prayerful young adults? Or is this actually a classic case of over-enthusiastic Christians reading far too much into a vaguely worded survey? In today’s show we’re asking two Christian journalists to help us unpick the findings of this survey and explore if there really might be a generational shift in secular Britain underway.
Today, Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest at a funeral attended by hundreds of international leaders and watched by millions around the world. Soon, our focus will inevitably shift from mourning the Queen to scrutinising her son, and our new King. On this week’s show we’re exploring what the accession of Charles to the throne might mean for the church – both the Church of England he is now the Supreme Governor of, but also the community of believers across Britain in general. As Prince, Charles rattled cages with some of his remarks about faith and there remains uncertainty and confusion about his own relationship with religion. Will his reign offer change or continuity with his mother, who became perhaps the most admired public Christian in the land? Will he defend the faith, as every one of his predecessors has since Henry VIII, or move the monarchy forward to a multifaith, pluralistic age?
When the first covid lockdown hit, back in the spring of 2020, it was a devastating blow for big Christian events. With everyone legally mandated to stay at home, everything from Word Alive to Big Church Day Out to Focus was forced to cancel their gatherings, sometimes with just a few weeks’ notice. At the time, some feared some conferences wouldn’t be able to bounce back from this bolt from the blue, with losses of up to a £1m predicted for some events. There were dark warnings that alongside the many other losses from coronavirus, it might claim another unexpected victim: the Christian summer festival. But those fears have turned out to be wide of the mark. This year, all the major events cancelled in 2020 returned in person. In today’s episode we talk to those running three of the biggest conferences to find out how they survived covid, what it was like to bring their events back, and how the two years of lockdown might have changed the Christian festival for good.
This week we’re diving into the world of the Catholic Church’s ambitious reform programme. Pope Francis launched a drive to overhaul the church last year, urging Catholic leaders in each country to hold synods which would consult ordinary, lay believers about the issues they wanted change on. But what happens if the answers coming back from the Catholics in the pews aren’t what the Vatican want to hear? A row has broken out this summer between the German Catholic Church – which has led one of the most far-reaching and radical synodal programmes – and Rome. German lay Catholics have said they want change on flashpoint issues such as married priests, women’s ordination and blessings for gay unions. But the Vatican has pushed back hard, insisting that the synodal processes were not intended to open up sweeping doctrinal reforms and warning the German path could lead to outright schism in the Catholic Church. 
In amongst the comings and goings of Westminster over the last few weeks, there might have been one event that slipped your attention. The International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief saw religious leaders flock to central London to talk about persecuted people of faith. Whether it is Christians being attacked in Nigeria – as we heard about just a few weeks ago on the show – or Muslim Uighurs facing a possible genocide from the Chinese regime, there is no shortage of persecution crises around the world right now. Hosted by the UK government, the conference brought together international politicians, civil society groups, parliamentarians from around the world, and dozens of faith leaders to raise the profile of freedom of religion and urge governments everywhere to step up action to protect persecuted minorities. Premier’s Sophie Drew was there and brings this report featuring Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Charles and former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Twelve-year-old Archie Battersbee was found unresponsive and severely brain damaged at his home in April. He never regained consciousness and had to be put on ventilation to be kept alive in hospital. For several months he was the subject of a legal tussle between his doctors who believed he was brain dead and that his life support should be turned off, and his parents who argued he could recover and fought to keep his life support on. Eventually, the hospital won out, and Archie was allowed to die. In this week's show we hear from Archie's mother about how the family's growing Christian faith sustained them, and also try to unpick the legal and religious arguments at stake in the courtrooms. And finally, we look into the contentious role of the Christian Legal Centre, who have played a central part in a series of similar controversies around severely ill children in recent years. 
Christians are no strangers to the world of boxing. In fact there is a disproportionate number of believers competing compared to other sports. Not an event goes by without someone having a Bible verse written on their shorts or someone giving glory to God in a post-fight TV interview. So what draws people to this dangerous game and does a belief in God give you an advantage in the ring? For this week’s episode we’re handing over the microphone to Premier’s Marcus Jones, who has explored boxing and Christianity’s complicated relationship.
Last year, more Christians were killed in Nigeria than the rest of the world combined, according to data from the charity Open Doors. And attacks against believers have only increased in 2022, culminating in a horrific atrocity in June when at least 40 worshippers were killed during a Pentecost service. Yet even as the shootings, bombings and kidnappings increase, Nigeria’s government, the international community and the global church seem strangely unconcerned and mostly inactive. Why is the Nigerian Church under such persecution, and what factors are behind the recent rise in attacks? What can be done to stop it, and how can Christians elsewhere in the world speak up for their brothers and sisters risking their lives to go to church? This week we’re joined by two Nigerian experts, Ayo Adedoyin and Khataza Gondwe, to tackle the urgent question of persecution in Nigeria. Find out more about Christian Solidarity Worldwide's work in Nigeria - https://www.csw.org.uk/our_work_country_nigeria.htm  PSJ UK's website - https://psjuk.org/ 
On the 24th of June, one of the most momentous US Supreme Court decisions of the past century – Roe v Wade – was overturned. The constitutional right guaranteeing abortion for American women in all 50 states, which had stood since 1973, was no more. In the month or so since, the consequences of the end of Roe have started rippling out in all directions. Many states have already banned or severely restricted abortion, and others are planning to do so. And across the Atlantic, America’s rapidly changing abortion landscape is likely to also have repercussions here in the UK as well. This week we speak to a handful of British people working, campaigning and thinking about abortion, to consider what impact the overturning of Roe v Wade might have and how Christians should view this current moment – crisis, opportunity or both?
The Lambeth Conference

The Lambeth Conference

2022-07-1735:18

Next week, more than 600 bishops from around the world will descend on Canterbury to spend two weeks in prayer, worship, Bible study and discussion. Fourteen years in the making, this will be the 15th Lambeth Conference – a gathering of every bishop in the 46 independent churches that make up the Anglican Communion. But all is not well within global Anglicanism. Huge divisions on sexuality and marriage have left different Anglican churches heading in different directions. So what will actually happen at this much-delayed Lambeth Conference? What is at stake in the discussions between bishops and will any meaningful decisions get made? Or will bitter disagreements about gay marriage ultimately tear the Communion apart? Joining us this week to unpick the Lambeth Conference are former bishop Graham Kings, church journalist Madeleine Davies, and vicar, theologian and blogger Ian Paul.
This week we’re digging into the thorny question of whether church leaders should get involved in politics. The British government’s new policy of forcibly sending asylum seekers to be assessed and resettled in Rwanda has provoked unprecedented criticism from Church of England archbishops and bishops, and other prominent Christian voices. Justin Welby famously said in a sermon the plans would not stand up to the judgement of God. But, as normally happens, their intervention was met with a stern backlash from many MPs and ministers. Stick to religion, they were told, and don’t try to baptise your unpopular left-wing views in the language of faith. Is it right for Christian leaders to express political opinions and attack government policy? Is the allegation that bishops only criticise right-leaning governments actually true? And how can the church defend its right to speak into questions of morality and values, without antagonising its own members on either side of the political spectrum? Joining me this week to think these issues through are Sam Hailes and Emma Fowle from Premier Christianity magazine.
Franklin Graham, son of famous US evangelist Billy Graham, is in the middle of a UK evangelistic stadium tour. It's a triumphant return for the American preacher after his last attempt at a UK tour in 2020 saw all eight venues cancel on him after pressure from activists opposed to his language on same-sex relationships. But is Graham’s brand of no-holds-barred American evangelicalism likely to find a hearing in post-Christian Britain? Do big stadium evangelistic crusades even work anymore? Or should the UK church be standing up his freedom of speech and resisting cancel culture, regardless of our personal views on his politics? 
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