News in Brief
There were 434 humanist weddings in Scotland in 2006 following legal recognition of the service in June 2005. Figures obtained from the Humanist Society by BBC Scotland show an increase from 80 in 2004. Previously, a marriage service was only legally binding if carried out by a minister of religion or a registrar.
Caught on YouTube
A Roman Catholic priest in Australia has gone on extended leave after he was filmed shouting and swearing at a group of skateboarders in his cathedral grounds and the film was put on YouTube. The footage received thousands of ‘hits’ or viewings on the video-sharing website. The priest has apologised for his outburst and for the scandal it has generated.
Thieves take lead and copper
A major insurer says thefts of lead and copper from churches and historic buildings have risen dramatically since 2005. In 16 months the company has received 750 claims, totalling £1.2 million. Organised gangs sell the metal to countries such as India, China and Dubai, which are eager to find materials for their booming manufacturing and building industries.
Christians targeted in Iraq
An Islamic group called the Islamic Emirate of Mosul (IEM) has threatened to kidnap or kill all Christians at the Mosul University, whether students or staff, if they do not leave the campus. The statement, posted on the streets of Mosul in northern Iraq, also threatened to behead any Christians remaining in the city. The IEM has already killed seven Christians in Mosul.
The number of full-time clergy in the Church of England is predicted to fall to 7000 in the next 10 years, creating a serious shortage of parish workers. The level is less than half the figure of 50 years ago. The total number of paid vicars is declining by an average of about 100 a year according to unpublished figures seen by the Daily Telegraph.
Children and cannabis
Children as young as eight or nine are using cannabis. One expert even treated a child of six. Children obtain cannabis and other drugs from older siblings or school friends. Doctors warn that cannabis may be particularly harmful for children, leading to depression and schizophrenia.