Christianity

Jehovah’s Witnesses cancel in-person conventions globally, first time in religion’s history

July 10, 2020

 

For the first time in the history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization, they will be holding their worldwide annual conventions virtually.

Last year, more than 14 million people attended these conventions. In the US alone, Jehovah’s Witnesses typically hold 800 conventions with an attendance of nearly 2 million.

Global attendance spans 240 lands, making it the largest convention organization in...

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Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They Are a Major Source of Coronavirus Cases.

July 9, 2020

 

Weeks after President Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the country where services have resumed.

The virus has infiltrated Sunday sermons, meetings of ministers and Christian youth camps in Colorado and Missouri. It has struck churches that reopened cautiously with face masks and social distancing in the pews, as well as some that defied lockdowns and refused to heed new limits on numbers of worshipers.

Pastors and their families have...

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Supreme Court broadens scope of ministerial exception

July 9, 2020

 

The Supreme Court has ruled that religious school teachers who perform a religious role, even if they are not ordained, and even if religious instruction makes up a small part of their overall responsibilities, are subject to a ministerial exception from civil rights protections afforded to other employees.

The 7-2 ruling on Wednesday (July 8) hands religious institutions a big win after a momentous defeat last  month when the high court ruled that gay and transgender people are protected from workplace discrimination. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and...

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Two COVID-19-ravaged churches take different recovery paths

July 8, 2020

 

The paths of two New York City churches diverged this week — one reopened and one stayed closed. But they have shared a tragic fate, together losing at least 134 members of their mostly Hispanic congregations to the coronavirus.

Saint Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Queens, where at least 74 parishioners have died from COVID-19, on Monday hosted its first large-scale in-person services since mid-March: an English-language midday Mass and a Spanish one in the evening. At Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan, with a death toll nearly as high, the...

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We have a story to tell: Indigenous scholars, activists speak up amid toppling of Serra statues

July 8, 2020

 

Jessa Calderon initially felt numb watching the Junipero Serra statue topple to the ground as it was yanked from its platform with yellow rope tied around its neck.

Within minutes, she was in tears.

“I began to cry hysterically. It was like a sense of relief,” said Calderon, a descendant of Gabrielino-Tongva and Ventureño Chumash, who witnessed the toppling on June 20 in downtown Los Angeles.

Calderon and other California Native people prayed and left offerings, including medicinal herbs, at a makeshift altar before activists took down...

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Maine, Vermont next in fight over aid to religious schools

July 2, 2020

 

A U.S. Supreme Court decision that says states can’t cut religious schools out of programs that send public money to private education could breathe new life into efforts to force Maine and Vermont to help fund religious educations.

A lawsuit by three families in Maine who want the state to pay for for religious school tuition is already pending in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

A separate case in Vermont that would allow students from religious schools to participate in a program where high school students could take college courses...

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Filipino American who had strict religious upbringing launches Queer Youth of Faith Day

July 1, 2020

 

When Jun Young came out at the age of 45, he thought back to his childhood.

He was raised in a Catholic household in the Philippines, where he was taught early on that being gay was against God's will. So when he realized around the age of 12 that he was attracted to other boys, he kept it locked away for more than three decades.

"I felt like I didn't really have a choice," Young told NBC Asian America. "I couldn't really come out or accept that I was gay or even explore what that meant without giving up my faith. And my faith was so important to...

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The Street Corner Where George Floyd Was Killed Has Become a Christian Revivalist Site

June 30, 2020

 

In the month since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, the scene of his death has become a sprawling unofficial gathering place and mourning site. The city has blocked off the intersection to traffic, and visitors flock to 38th Street and Chicago Avenue to pay their respects with flowers, signs, and murals. Volunteers hand out food and water, and musicians and speakers provide a raucous soundtrack for the...

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Asian American churches hold march through Chinatown, calling for unity with Black communities

June 29, 2020

 

Chinatown’s Chinese Christian Union Church and Bronzeville’s Progressive Baptist Church have existed for more than a century just 1.5 miles apart on Wentworth Avenue.

But the two churches have rarely interacted or helped each other — until Sunday.

With coordination from the Asian American Christian Collaborative, leaders and members of the two churches — as well as many other Asian religious organizations in the area — marched through Chinatown to call for increased unity between the Asian and Black communities...

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‘Your fight is my fight’: Latino clergy and faith leaders rally behind Black Lives Matter

June 26, 2020

To pastor Rosa Cándida Ramírez, it’s evident the same institutional systems that dehumanize immigrants perpetuate the mistreatment of Black Americans.

“We cannot say that immigrant lives matter, if we can’t say that Black Lives Matter,” said Ramírez, 31, who helps lead the largely Latina and immigrant La Fuente Ministries in Pasadena, California.

At La Fuente Ministries, it’s not uncommon for church members to speak about their plight and rights as immigrants. Now, Ramírez said, they’re exploring what it means to be a congregation that also talks about...

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The N-word of God: Envisioning the image of Christ

June 25, 2020

 

In the New Testament’s Letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood” — or race? — “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Could these things that Paul opposes be ideas and systems of human oppression that deny the knowledge of a God of justice and love?

In this time of mass protest and reexamining of America’s racial past and present, I’ve been thinking about art and especially how Christian images can contribute to, or hinder us from, processing our national...

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Survey: Most Americans aren’t comfortable going back to religious services

June 24, 2020

 

A new study examining Americans’ response to COVID-19 shows that with the exception of white evangelicals, a majority of Americans are not comfortable returning to in-person religious services.

The results of the survey suggest that despite political pressure to reopen houses of worship — from President Donald Trump as well as leading conservative Christians and religious liberty advocates —...

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Faith leaders around the country prepare for historic Juneteenth celebrations

June 19, 2020

 

This Juneteenth, Pastor Eddie Anderson will be among many social justice activists, educators and faith leaders around the country reflecting on the role of the black church in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Anderson will participate in a breakout discussion that is part of “JusticeCon: A Path Towards Freedom,” a virtual conference hosted by The Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York. The Rev. Al Sharpton, Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer are among those...

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Five years after shooting, Mother Emanuel uneasily adapts as pilgrimage site

June 17, 2020

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church to livestream its services, visitors to “the Holy City,” as Charleston is sometimes called, could often be spotted wandering outside, taking photos of the façade. Worship on a given Sunday might include people from across the U.S. and some foreign countries, come to pray at what they take to be a sacred site.

Such was the curiosity and reverence for the social hall on the ground floor, where nine members of the church were killed by a white supremacist in 2015, that a sign eventually went up...

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US Supreme Court halts Texas execution over clergy question

June 17, 2020

 

 

The U.S. Supreme Court granted a reprieve Tuesday to a Texas inmate scheduled to die for fatally stabbing an 85-year-old woman more than two decades ago, continuing a more than four-month delay of executions in the nation’s busiest death penalty state during the coronavirus pandemic.

The justices blocked Ruben Gutierrez’s execution about an hour before he could have been executed. Gutierrez’s attorneys had argued his religious rights are being violated because the prison system won’t allow a chaplain to accompany him in the death chamber....

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