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Devil to be axed from some baptism services

The Devil will be omitted from some baptism services after the The Church of England backed a new simplified version in an attempt to appeal to people with no religious background.

The devil will no longer feature in some baptism services. Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The current baptism service in the Common Worship asks parents whether they will "reject the devil and all rebellion against God", "renounce the deceit and corruption of evil" and "repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour".

The new alternative service asks them only to say that they "turn away from sin" and "reject evil."

Members of the General Synod, meeting at York University, were told that the new version appealed to parents, godparents and relatives when it had been piloted throughout the country, before approving the changes.

The Rt Rev Robert Paterson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, who proposed the new text said: "We all know that for many people, the Devil has been turned into a cartoon-like character of no particular malevolence."

Widdecombe: Being a Christian in modern UK is 'difficult'

Former government minister Ann Widdecombe has claimed that being an active Christian in modern Britain is "very difficult", during an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.

Ann Widdecombe said it was 'difficult' being a Christian in modern Britain. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive

The ex-MP, who converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism in 1993, blamed "quite militant secularism" and equality legislation for people feeling they could not express their faith.

She said: "Christians now have quite a lot of problems, whether it's that you can't display even very discreet small symbols of your faith at work, that you can't say 'God bless you', you can't offer to pray for somebody.

"If it's an even bigger stance on conscience that you're taking, some of the equality laws can actually bring you to the attention of the police themselves.

"So I think it is a very difficult country now, unlike when I was growing up, in which to be a Christian, an active Christian at any rate."

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Clegg accuses Church leader of 'exaggerating' problem

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has defended the coalition's welfare reforms in the face of the latest onslaught from the church, insisting it was right to withdraw benefits from claimants who refused to look for work.

"At a time when we inherited this massive black hole in our public finances there is nothing fair about simply saying we are not going to deal with our debts, we are going to let our children and our grandchildren do it," he said, speaking on his weekly LBC radio phone-in.

"You inevitably can't duck the fact that some of those savings come from a quarter of total public spending.

"I have a huge amount of respect for Vincent Nichols, but I think that to say that the safety net has been removed altogether is an exaggeration, it is not right. We are trying to get the balance right."

27 bishops: 'Half a million people visited food banks'

Twenty-seven bishops said that politicians had a "moral imperative" to do more to control food price hikes and to make sure that the welfare system offered the poor an essential safety net from hunger.

We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must 'heat or eat' each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

– 27 Anglican bishops in a letter to the Mirror

In a letter to the Mirror, they said: "Half a million people have visited food banks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year."

27 bishops and 16 clergy 'attack coalition welfare policy'

Some 27 Anglican bishops and 16 other clergy have accused the coalition of creating hardship and hunger, according to the Mirror. The newspaper reported that Britain’s leading bishops denounce David Cameron’s welfare reforms for creating a “national crisis”.

Prime Minister David Cameron. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

In a letter to the Daily Mirror, the bishops and faith leaders said the PM has a “moral duty” to act on the growing number going hungry.

Read: PM hits back at Archbishop in welfare system row

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Bishops condemn 'punitive' welfare reforms

Twenty-six bishops have condemned the Government's "punitive" welfare reforms in an open letter to the Daily Mirror.

The bishops criticised the reforms which they say have forced people into food and fuel poverty.

The letter states that too many people are having to choose between "heat or eat" as a result of "cut backs and failures in the benefit system".

The Anglican bishops wrote:

Half a million people have visited food banks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.

We often hear talk of hard choices.

Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must 'heat or eat' each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

– Letter sent by Anglican Bishops condemning welfare reforms

Cameron: Benefit reforms offer unemployed 'new hope'

The Prime Minister has said he is giving the unemployed “new hope and responsibility” by cutting benefit payments and claims his welfare reforms, according to the Telegraph

The newspaper reported that David Cameron said it was part of a “moral mission” for the country.

Cameron say benefit reforms offer the unemployed 'new hope' Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mr Cameron argues that the recent criticism of the changes by the Archbishop of Westminster is “simply not true”.

He said the overhaul of the benefits system, led by Iain Duncan Smith, was about “doing what is right” and not simply “making the numbers add up”.

Read: PM hits back at Archbishop in welfare system row

PM: Archbishop of Westminster wrong about welfare

David Cameron says he is giving the unemployed “new hope and responsibility” by cutting their benefit payments.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister responds to Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, who said changes to the welfare system had left many in “hunger and destitution”.

David Cameron has responded to comments from Rev Nichols about changes to the benefits system. Credit: Press Association.

Watch: Rev Nichols: No doubt welfare system needed reform

In the article, Mr Cameron argues the Archbishop of Westminster’s criticism is “simply not true” and says the overhaul of the benefits system was about “doing what is right” and not simply “making the numbers add up”.

Rev Nichols: No doubt welfare system needed reform

The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Rev Vincent Nichols, has told Political Editor Tom Bradby he is in "no doubt the social security system to be reformed".

But added: "At the moment, there are people who are left in destitution and hunger and in a country as intelligent and resourceful and as affluent as ours, I believe they are problems we should tackle."

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