Christianity

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 pastors say it’s too...

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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.

Source:...

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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.

Source:...

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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 me and continues 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 strolling crowds. One visitor to the site told a reporter a few weeks ago that it was “...

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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 discourse about social...

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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 — Americans aren’t quite...

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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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Christian conservatives rattled after Supreme Court rules against LGBT discrimination

June 16, 2020

 

In a landmark decision on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal law barring employment discrimination on the basis of sex also applies to sexuality and gender identity. The ruling was met with widespread praise among LGBT rights groups, which have long argued against such employment discrimination.

The decision was also met with alarm by several religious conservatives who fear what it could eventually mean for their religious freedom and how it could affect faith-based employers, including religious health-care providers, religious schools and...

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Milwaukee faith leaders reconsider every element of the religious experience as they make plans to reopen facilities

June 16, 2020

 

Replacing prayer rugs with disposable paper placemats. Holding Sunday services on church lawns. Buying a carriage to transport caskets in place of pallbearers.

Milwaukee’s faith leaders have had to reconsider every element of the religious experience as they make cautious plans to reopen facilities. While state and local restrictions on gatherings are easing, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means it’s not back to business-as-usual right away.

And while each religious organization needs to find creative solutions to their unique faith traditions,...

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Same-sex adoption becomes latest U.S. battleground over religious freedoms, equal rights

June 15, 2020

The battle between religious freedoms and equal rights is escalating in the United States, due to an adoption agency’s refusal to work with same-sex couples.

In 2018, the City of Philadelphia terminated a contract with a taxpayer-funded agency, Catholic Social Services, citing discriminatory practices when it would not take requests from queer couples.

“What we’ve seen in recent years is an effort to try to use the freedom of religion to push back on those anti-discrimination provisions,” says Paul Smith, a legal professor at Georgetown University, and VP for...

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