Britain

When the queen dies: What, precisely, will cause England to slide into grief?

When the queen dies: What, precisely, will cause England to slide into grief?

I guess it is sort of strange to complain about a heavy emphasis on business and economics in a story published at BusinessInsider.com.

Nevertheless, I found myself wanting to know more after reading the recent feature that ran with this headline: "The death of Queen Elizabeth will be one of the most disruptive events in Britain in the past 70 years." Yes, I sense a religion ghost here.

I have read several reports about the planning that is going on behind the scenes, as British leaders brace themselves for this seismic shift in their culture. There are so many details to describe and, yes, lots of them are linked to economics and trade.

England's currency will need to change, along with all passports. God Save the Queen will, of course, return to God Save the King. Police uniforms will be tweaked. Old questions will resurface about the status of the monarchy and the British Commonwealth. The public events linked to her death will cost billions of pounds.

Check out this overture. It may even help to read it out loud, to get the reverent tone right:

Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, is not going to live forever.

Since ascending to the throne in 1952, the monarch has seen 13 prime ministers serve Britain and lived through another 13 US presidents. She's now 92. At some point -- not for many years yet, we hope -- Queen Elizabeth II's reign will come to an end.

But what happens then? For at least 12 days -- between her passing, the funeral and beyond -- Britain will grind to a halt. The chaos will cost the UK economy billions in lost earnings. The stock markets and banks are likely to close. And both the funeral and the subsequent coronation will become formal national holidays, each with an estimated economic hit to gross domestic product of £1.2 billion to £6 billion($1.6 billion to $7.9 billion), to say nothing of organisational costs.

Yes, that's a lot of money and that's part of the story.

However, there are even larger issues lurking in the background that, frankly, have to do with history and national identity.

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The Independent somehow manages to quote zero Jews in news about Jewish school

 The Independent somehow manages to quote zero Jews in news about Jewish school

How many Jews does it take to write a newspaper story about same-sex education in private schools?

When the article is about an Orthodox Jewish school, it would be nice to have at least one.

It would be especially appropriate to quote an Orthodox Jewish scholar familiar with British laws affecting religious liberty.

The Independent ran an article on a government report that found an Orthodox Jewish girls school did not meet its standards in providing instruction to its pre-teen students on LGBT issues. The article entitled “Private Jewish school fails third Ofsted inspection for not teaching LGBT issues” is a fiasco, in terms of journalistic integrity.

It talks about and around the subject of the story, giving voice to critics, but does not speak with the subjects -- not one person who could offer an explanation why a Jewish Orthodox school might not be all that keen to conform to the cultural standards of The Independent and its left-wing readers.

The lede sets the tone for the story -- by being shown false by the second sentence of the story and setting forth The Independent’s biases.

A private, faith-based school in London has failed its third Ofsted inspection for refusing to teach its pupils about homosexuality.

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Grating Eggs-pectations? Omission of 'Easter' nod roils world press, British prime minister

Grating Eggs-pectations? Omission of 'Easter' nod roils world press, British prime minister

Perhaps the greatest celebration of the Christian calendar is Easter, the commemoration of Christ's resurrection. Though not specified by that name in the Bible, the fact that Jesus rose on the third day, as promised, is of great comfort and inspiration to believers around the globe.

The resurrection, and not the advent, is what many believers would assert distinguishes Christian faith from other world religions.

Some traditions that have attached themselves to Easter are, one could say, rather extraneous to the biblical narrative. There's no scriptural mention of bunny rabbits or eggs of any sort in connection with the resurrection or with the early church, for that matter. But never mind: such elements of the celebration are enjoyed by many children in many lands.

Youngsters in England's fair and pleasant land, as William Blake called it, were in peril of hunting for special Easter eggs -- chocolate candies, actually -- without knowing that this was Easter.

Forget the calendar, it's the branding that matters. Calling it "Cadbury's Great British Egg Hunt," without the E-word, was this side of blasphemy.

Or so saith the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. John Sentamu, the Church of England's Archbishop of York and Primate of All England, second in rank behind the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. Justin Welby.

Sentamu's complaint was made via Britain's Daily Telegraph, but it jumped the pond rapidly, gaining space in The New York Times, no less:

[Sentamu] lamented that omitting an explicit Easter reference was akin to “spitting on the grave” of John Cadbury, a Quaker who founded the company, which initially sold cocoa and drinking chocolate, in Birmingham in 1824.

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That getting religion thing: 'Religion and the Media' group launched in British parliament

That getting religion thing: 'Religion and the Media' group launched in British parliament

If you have followed GetReligion very long then you are probably aware that questions are also be asked on the other side of the Atlantic about the fact that a high percentage of mainstream journalists just don't understand the basic facts about many religious news events and trends.

In England, a group called Lapido Media is at the heart of most of these "getting religion" discussions. It's work in the field of media literacy has been mentioned quite a bit here at GetReligion in the past.

Now the discussion has moved a notch or two higher, according to a recent notice posted online. To make a long story short, we're talking about the launch of a new "All Party Parliamentary Group on Religion and the Media."

Brainchild of Yasmine Qureshi, Pakistan-born MP for Bolton South East, and moderated by Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, it is part of a range of responses to the Living with Difference Report (.pdf here) published earlier this year by the Woolf Institute’s Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life in Britain.

The theme of an initial round-table discussion was "Is there a perceived lack of religious literacy in the media?" The speaker was a friend of this blog, Lapido Media founder Dr Jenny Taylor.

You can click here to get a .pdf document of her remarks. Please do so. But here is a short taste:

I speak as a journalist who trained with the Yorkshire Post and has worked in news all her life except for the five years of my doctorate which was completed in 2001, before 9/11.
For sure the media has a problem with religion. After all, as Bernard Levin famously quipped: "Vicars rhymes with knickers.’ It’s difficult to take seriously."
It was not until my own eyes became religiously attuned that I realized the West had become a menace to the whole world because of its secularist blinkers.

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How much longer might British headlines exclaim, 'God save the Queen'?

How much longer might British headlines exclaim, 'God save the Queen'?

The Telegraph, a United Kingdom center-right broadsheet, recently ran this headline: "Britain is no longer a Christian country and should stop acting as if it is, says judge."

It topped a story about the findings of a two-year study on the place of religion in official British life in today's multicultural milieu. The judge referred to is an ex-judge, who's also a baroness, who chaired the study conducted by the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, a non-government body.

Good piece of work, I thought the first time I read the head (an abbreviation cherished by newspaper copy editors in a universe fading, alas, into the far, far past). Then I read the story. And I concluded that, as with so many headlines that try to compress a complicated story line into a few words, it actually mislead.

Journalism truism: Headline writing is much more difficult than it looks.

OK, enough with the Journalism 101 stuff. Let's get to the meat of the story.

Yes, British churches have witnessed a steep decline in attendance. Nearly 60 percent of the British population still calls itself Christian, but only 25 percent say they are religious, according to a 2011 national census report.

Church of England attendance decline has been particularly steep. Sunday attendance was reported in 2012 to be about half of what it was 45 years earlier.

But where the aforementioned headline failed is in its conflating traditional Christian belief and practice with the more nebulous, and harder to measure -- but still critically important -- touchstone of cultural Christianity. Cultural Christianity may fall short in the minds of church officials and traditional believers, but it's still the ground of self-identity for the majority of Brits.

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