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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 -  PSJ UK's website - 
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


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? 
This week we’re digging into something little covered in the media – the decline (and possible rebirth) of the Christian bookshop. Bricks and mortar stores selling Christian resources have been steadily closing down for decades, hit by competition from the internet, declining footfall on the high street, and maybe simply that there are fewer and fewer Christians to sell to. In today’s episode we’re going to explore if the few shops that remain will all eventually shut down too, or has the rate of decline finally slowed? Would it even matter if Christian bookshops became a relic of the past? And is there a better Kingdom-focused use for this network of high street locations, rather than catering to the already-saved?
Five years ago, two suicide bombers targeted Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority in twin deadly attacks on church services. The Palm Sunday blasts in 2017 left 45 worshippers dead and more than 120 injured. For this week’s Newscast we’re diving back into the Premier archive to bring you a fascinating and tragic documentary exploring the impact the Palm Sunday bombings have had on Egypt’s embattled Copts. Premier’s Eno Adeogun travelled to Egypt to make this on an earlier anniversary of the atrocity, and we’re really pleased to share it with Newscast listeners now.
A perfect storm of rocketing prices and bills in everything from petrol to energy to food has meant making ends meet is getting harder and harder for millions, not just in the UK but around the world too. Many people were already struggling as a result of the pandemic lockdowns and recessions, and so the impact of soaring inflation – which hit a 40-year high of 9% in May – has been devastating for those struggling to get by. What can the church do about this? We've gathered a panel of three Christian anti-poverty activists to discuss the cost of living crisis and how believers can be the hands and feet of Jesus during this season.
The Church of Scotland's general assembly voted 274 to 136 just a few weeks ago to change their laws to allow gay marriages in church for the first time. The culmination of years of debate and an even longer campaign, the decision was marked by celebration from some in the church and deep regret from more conservative elements. The Church of Scotland has now become the seventh major denomination in Britain to permit either same-sex weddings or blessings, since gay marriage was legalised in 2014. Today we’re going to think about how the Scottish move may affect other churches also locked in internal conflict over this issue. Will the other hold-outs, most notably the Church of England, soon follow suit in rewriting their marriage doctrine? Is the momentum towards affirming LGBT relationships now overwhelming, or will we see further fracturing and division within British Christians over this flashpoint issue? This week, we're joined by two of Premier’s news team, Sam Hailes and Marcus Jones, to consider where next for the church’s debate on same-sex marriage.
Brian and Bobbie Houston - the Australian power couple who have grown the Hillsong movement from a church plant in the Sydney suburbs to an empire that today spans 125 sites across 27 countries - are the church’s Global Senior Pastors no more. The couple stood down earlier this year amid a series of scandals, including allegedly failing to report Brian’s father’s historic sexual abuse and a mysterious incident when Brian Houston accidentally went into the wrong hotel room at a conference, before spending 40 minutes inside with the female occupant. This week we are joined by Jonty Langley and Graham Nicholls to try and go beyond the lurid headlines about the very public fall of the Houstons to figure out what impact their departure might have for Hillsong and to consider what lessons, if any, we might learn from this sorry episode about accountability and oversight for church leaders.  
Raising awareness around mental health is well embedded in the church, but how well are we doing at actually caring for those experiencing mental health problems in our congregations? In this episode we explore new research from Kintsugi Hope on what those in the pews really think about mental health, plus we interview Christians who live with mental health conditions about what churches must do to become safer, healing spaces. 
In the first episode of this brand new podcast we look at how the church in the Ukraine and around the world responded to the war with Russia. How should we respond when under attack, and how do we know what news to trust?
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