Christianity

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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As coronavirus restrictions loosen, congregations grapple with including older adults

June 12, 2020

Each Sunday, Larry Little and his wife, Mary, get ready for church. They dress casually, fill two tumblers with water, climb into their golf cart and drive two miles to The Grove, a grassy field next to their church.

There they find a parking place, turn off the engine and settle in for a live service in front of a Jumbotron and a stage.

The Littles, who live in a retirement community called The Villages, about an hour’s drive northwest of Orlando, Florida, are among the lucky few.

Since mid-March, when state shutdowns forced churches, synagogues and...

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Black and Latino Churches Offer Prayers, Hope and Coronavirus Testing

June 11, 2020

 

Ten days in May. Twenty-four churches around New York City. Nearly 20,000 coronavirus tests.

Over the past few weeks, churches serving communities of color have been transformed overnight into mini-clinics offering free coronavirus tests to all comers. The initiative, a partnership of the churches, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office and Northwell Health, is an effort to expand testing among black and Hispanic citizens, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Black and Latino New Yorkers have succumbed to Covid-19, the illness caused...

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Chicago Catholics tend parish gardens, supply pantries during pandemic

June 10, 2020

 

For years, some parishes in the Chicago Archdiocese have maintained gardens whose produce was donated to local food pantries.

With the rise in food insecurity during COVID-19 sending more people to food pantries than before, those ministries have taken on a new importance.

Volunteers at the Jubilee Garden of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lake Zurich, a Chicago suburb, debated whether they would be able to have the garden at all this year because of the pandemic. But when businesses started opening up, they made plans to start the garden with...

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When churches reopen, don’t sing or shake hands, do make sermons short, says new guide

June 9, 2020

 

An ecumenical group of clergy, scientists and other experts has released a guide to help congregations consider best practices for reopening for worship.

Among their suggestions:

Refrain from congregational singing. Clap or stomp instead.

Preachers, shorten your sermon.

Congregants, mouth your response during Communion instead of speaking.

Pass the peace to other worshippers with a gentle nod or a reverent bow, but no physical contact.

The 36-page ...

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Amid protests, US faith leaders engage racism and politics

June 4, 2020

 

As days of anti-racism protests sparked by police killings push Americans toward a national reckoning, religious leaders are stepping more directly into the politics surrounding discrimination, entering into a dialogue that cuts across lines of faith and color.

Groups from multiple denominations across Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths have publicly called for action against racism, aligning with peaceful demonstrators’ goals following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Even beyond those statements, the amount and diversity of religious involvement...

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Trump Does Not Speak for These Christians

June 3, 2020

 

President Donald Trump has spent the past 24 hours trying to send a message: He is the law-and-order president, and he has the support of American Christians. First came his waltz last night through the White House gates and across Lafayette Square, where protesters had just been dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets. Trump posed, stone-faced while clutching a Bible, in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. This morning he visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, solemnly holding hands with the...

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Religious freedom bill proposed in Pennsylvania as churches navigate reopening

June 3, 2020

 

State Rep. Eric Nelson, R-Westmoreland, said religious leaders have been confused about whether churches are affected by state-mandated coronavirus shutdowns.

“Our religious community is very confused. They don’t want to violate a law, but they’re also extremely frustrated,” he said.

Nelson and Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Tioga, introduced House...

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At protests, some clergy pray, others put their bodies and souls on the line

June 2, 2020

 

Many religious traditions call on believers to stand with the marginalized, an axiom often interpreted as a broad command to defend the rights of others.

Sometimes this means pushing for new laws or marching in streets to demand action. 

Other times it means getting pepper-sprayed in the face. 

This past weekend the Rev. Laura Young said she decided to take the edict literally, which is why she spent most of Saturday afternoon (May 30) recovering after police sprayed her in the face with noxious chemicals.

“I had it...

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Faith leaders in 50 cities observe day of 'mourning and lament' for victims of COVID-19

June 2, 2020

 

Interfaith clergy as well as civic leaders in at least 50 cities nationwide declared Monday the National Day of Mourning and Lament for the over 100,000 people who have died in the United States from coronavirus. They also took the time to grieve the deaths of the recent victims of racial injustice.

“Today, prayers of mourning and lament are taking place around the country in over 50 cities, which have organized their own events and prayer services,” said Sojourners Executive Director Adam Taylor during an hour-long ...

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Supreme Court Rejects Church's Challenge To California's Coronavirus Rules

June 1, 2020

The Supreme Court has rejected a California church's attempt to overturn the state's coronavirus restrictions on in-person religious services. 

In a 5-4 decision issued late Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's liberal bloc in upholding the state's right to impose limits on congregations in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"Although California's guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment," Roberts said, in an ...

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Amid Riots and a Pandemic, Church Attendance Resumes in ‘a Very Broken World’

June 1, 2020

With their most vulnerable members at home, their community in the streets, and their nation wracked by a pandemic, riots and political polarization, Pastor Samuel Rodriguez’s congregation went to church here on Sunday, at times violating state health rules in the interest of unity.

“Outside the confines of these walls we hear the sound of a very broken world,” preached Mr. Rodriguez, an evangelical minister. “Outside these corridors of worship we hear the sound of desperation. Throughout America today we hear the sounds of a nation torn apart by the devil of racism.”

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Amid pandemic, the Wichita Kenyan community unites virtually through food and family

May 29, 2020

 

Mirriam Oyugi planned on having her two sons at home for Easter and was eager to make all of their favorite Kenyan dishes. When their travel plans were hindered due to the pandemic, Oyugi said, her sons opted for cooking lessons instead.

“I taught my boys how to make chapatis on Easter,” Oyugi said. “We did it on video and went through the whole process together. They made theirs and I made mine. I think they had a great time!”

The Kenyan community in this Midwestern state is a close-knit group, with most of its members sharing in common their...

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