Premier Christian Newscast

Premier Christian Newscast

The podcast, brought to you by Premier, which takes you deeper into the stories impacting Christians around the world. Each week, we’ll dig into a particular issue, hearing from those directly involved or with a vested interest to make sense of the story and why it matters.


March 27, 2023 37 min

Almost exactly ten years ago, on 13 March 2013, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis. In the subsequent decade, this previously obscure Argentinian cleric has revolutionised the papacy while steering the Catholic Church through sweeping reform, inside and out. He’s scandalised conservatives and thrilled some progressives, while overturning what the watching world assumed popes had to be like.

In today’s episode we speak wit...

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In January, Pakistan’s parliament passed through tough new blasphemy laws. Already boasting some of the strictest prohibitions in the world which include the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, the new laws extend protections to the prophet’s wives and close companions, creating new offences with penalties up to life imprisonment. But Pakistan’s increasingly harsh blasphemy legislation is a disaster for religious mino...

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March 6, 2023 59 min

It all started on an ordinary Wednesday evening chapel service on 8 February, at a tiny Christian college in Kentucky called Asbury University. After the chapel service ended, a small number of students decided to carry on praying and worshipping, and didn’t stop all night. Gradually more and more began to join them in an endless stream of singing and praying, preaching and communing, sensing something of the Holy Spirit present in...

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Kate Forbes was a relatively little known figure outside of Scotland until last week, when she announced she would run to succeed the resigning Nicola Sturgeon as head of the Scottish National Party, and therefore also become the First Minister of Scotland. But just seven days later and she, and her strong Christian beliefs, have been splashed all over the news up and down the UK.

A member of the conservative Free Church of Scotlan...

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February 13, 2023 51 min

There’s only really one church news story to talk about today – the Church of England voting through radical new plans to offer blessings to gay couples for the first time. We dug into the history of the LGBT debate in the Church and where these proposals came from a few weeks ago on the podcast, and heard from spokespeople on each side of the, often bitter, debate. Today, we’re going to try and sketch out what happened last week, ...

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February 6, 2023 37 min

They’re known by lots of different names. A social supermarket. The community larder. Your local pantry. But the fundamental idea is the same, and it’s spreading fast. More and more churches and Christian charities are opening these projects to feed their neighbourhood, tackle poverty, reduce food waste and hopefully bring marginalised people into a Kingdom-focused community. I wanted to find out why after a decade of soaring growt...

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January 30, 2023 34 min

Starting in 2018, a number of English councils have begun using anti-social behaviour legislation to create buffer zones around abortion clinics. These zones ban anyone from protesting, singing, holding placards, expressing an opinion or even praying. Despite murmurings of protest from pro-life groups, the pro-choice movement has won backing in parliament for a nationwide buffer zone law, which also has been picked up in Northern I...

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Next month, the Church of England will finally begin to grasp the nettle of what to do about same-sex relationships. At a meeting of the church’s General Synod in London, vicars, bishops and ordinary churchgoers will debate new proposals from the church’s hierarchy which would give gay couples the chance to have their marriages blessed in church for the first time. The C of E’s most senior bishops hope this contentious compromise m...

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December 19, 2022 33 min

This week we’re looking back at the stories which have fired our imagination and caught our attention over the past 12 months. When it comes to the church world, there has been no shortage of headline-grabbing stories to keep us occupied, from pastors falling from grace to the endless rows over LGBT issues. We’ve seen iconic church leaders pass on the baton to the next generation and in some cases pass away. There have been long-aw...

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In the first weeks of September, two people died. The first was Chris Kaba, a 24-year-old unarmed black man who was shot and killed by the police in South London. Just three days later, Queen Elizabeth II also died. As a result, Kaba’s death and the anger it provoked very quickly slipped off the front pages. But the case merits more exploration, and in particular considering what role Christian leaders are or should be playing in t...

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December 5, 2022 32 min

This week we’re considering the fate of the church in a small Gulf state few had even heard of just a few years ago – Qatar. Before the tiny Arab nation controversially won the right to host the football World Cup, Qatar was fairly unheard-of in the West. And as millions of tourists and fans have descended on the country this month to take in the festival of sport, hundreds of millions more are watching intently from afar. With Qat...

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November 28, 2022 29 min

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...

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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 fa...

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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 loc...

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November 7, 2022 30 min

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? Doe...

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October 24, 2022 29 min

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 to...

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October 17, 2022 30 min

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 surve...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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September 26, 2022 32 min

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...

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