Christianity

Religions find Facebook an important tool

September 11, 2021

There are 2.4 billion Christians in the world today, according to most estimates.

Then again, nearly 3 billion people have Facebook accounts. Nearly 70% of U.S. adults use this social media platform, which recently passed $1 trillion in market capitalization.

“I will use Facebook to reach people, because you almost have to do that,” said Father A. Stephen Damick, chief content officer for Ancient Faith Ministries, a 24-hour source for online radio channels, podcasts, blogs, forums and more. The ministry was born in 2004 and is now part of the North American...

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Asian American Christians grapple with bias in their own churches

September 8, 2021

Last month, the Presbyterian Church in America convened its annual general assembly with more than 1,200 male elders — only men can hold the office — in St. Louis.

Asian American clergy had proposed a number of overtures, or official requests for the denomination to take action, including one that referenced March’s Atlanta-area spa shootings and called on the PCA to “strongly repudiate the sin of anti-Asian racism” and “actively denounce anti-Asian rhetoric.”

But these multipage proposals were...

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Crusaders No More: What Arab Christians and Muslims Think of Mascot Changes

September 9, 2021

Nestled in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Evangel University will no longer evoke the Middle East—or the Middle Ages.

Since 1955, the flagship Assemblies of God institution has cheered on its Crusaders, replete with helmeted knight and steed.

This semester, the university will soon announce its new mascot after considering almost 300 submitted suggestions—including 77 animal names, 69 military names, and 38 biblical names. The change was made in light of the school’s 55,000 alumni...

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Religious organizations prepare for 'potential onslaught' of evictions

September 9, 2021

The Supreme Court’s Aug. 26 decision to end the federal eviction moratorium brings new challenges for religious leaders and organizations working to aid those at risk for homelessness. More than 3.6 million Americans say they could face eviction in the next two months, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We’re very, very nervous,” said Sarah Abramson, vice president of strategy and impact at Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston. “There is already a tremendous housing shortage in Boston. And we know from our data, and from the experience of our partners...

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This rabbinical school is moving into a Catholic university

September 2, 2021

The Academy for Jewish Religion California has rented space in several locations during its 21-year existence as a transdenominational seminary that trains rabbis and cantors.

For a while it was housed in an office building in downtown Los Angeles, then at Hillel, the Jewish campus organization at the University of California Los Angeles.

But beginning Oct. 1, in an arrangement both novel and pathbreaking, the academy will move to Loyola Marymount...

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Before Balls and Strikes, Umpires Make a Call to Pray

September 2, 2021

The umpires dialed in at about 3 p.m. on a Friday, calling from places like St. Louis and Oakland, Seattle and Cleveland.

It was time to pray.

“God is our father,” Ted Barrett, a major league umpire for over two decades and an ordained Southern Baptist minister, told the men. “He loves to hear from us, and so don’t ever feel like he’s too big or too busy to bring your little problem to him.”

Source:...

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First Nations Version translates the New Testament for Native American readers

August 31, 2021

It’s a Bible verse familiar to many Christians — and even to many non-Christians who have seen John 3:16 on billboards and T-shirts or scrawled across eye black under football players’ helmets.

But Terry Wildman hopes the new translation published Tuesday (Aug. 31) by InterVarsity Press, “First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament,” will help Christians and Indigenous peoples read it again in a...

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Parishes host prayer vigils to support citizenship for immigrants

August 26, 2021

Several archdiocesan parishes recently partnered with an interfaith effort to secure legal protections for millions of immigrants fleeing poverty and violence.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Holy Innocents, Visitation B.V.M. and St. Vincent de Paul parishes in Philadelphia each hosted evening prayer vigils earlier this month as part of a campaign organized by the nonprofit New Sanctuary Movement (NSM). Founded some two decades ago, NSM works to end injustice against immigrants regardless of status.

The prayer vigil series, which spanned the week of Aug. 9-13, featured a basket...

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Houses of Worship Struggle Back, and Tread Lightly on Vaccines

August 25, 2021

The weekly rhythms of Catholic life have started to return at Our Lady of Lourdes in Harlem. The pews are packed on Sunday mornings, prayer groups meet after work and the collection plate is almost as full as it was before the coronavirus pandemic began.

But parishioners are starting to worry about the virus again.

“For a little while everyone felt more free, not using masks and things like that,” said the Rev. Gilberto Ángel-Neri, the pastor. “But now that we hear all the news about the Delta variant, everyone is using masks again.”

Source:...

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Gina Stewart becomes first woman elected to lead US Black Baptist organization

August 17, 2021

In a pathbreaking decision, the Rev. Gina Stewart has been elected as the first woman president of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society, marking the first time a female has been chosen for the highest post of a Black Baptist organization.

Stewart, the senior pastor of Christ Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, has previously served in vice presidential roles of the missions organization for six years, three as second vice president and three as first vice president.

She was elected Aug. 12 to a three-year term as president, succeeding the Rev...

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Utah man says he was fired for converting to Islam, lawsuit alleges

August 4, 2021

A mechanic in southern Utah alleges he was harassed and later fired from his job at a car dealership because he converted to Islam.

Allan Goodson is suing Bradshaw Chevrolet in Cedar City for religious discrimination after he says his supervisor mocked him, calling him a “terrorist” and saying he betrayed other white people by becoming a Muslim.

He’s seeking a judge’s order barring the business from discriminating based on religion, requiring the dealership to create a policy allowing prayer breaks and mandating yearly trainings on religion for managers. Goodson is...

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Boston College stands 'resolute' amid controversy over vaccine requirement

July 26, 2021

A handful of parents and students at Boston College in recent weeks have pushed back against the Jesuit institution's requirement that all students and faculty members be vaccinated for COVID-19 before the fall semester begins.

They have not only taken their complaints to school officials, but also to Catholic health care ethicists and conservative activists in Massachusetts, as well as to media outlets like The Boston Herald, which reported on July 12 that the college was facing "a wave" of parents and students "disgusted" with claims of denied religious exemptions for the...

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Facebook’s Next Target: The Religious Experience

July 25, 2021

Months before the megachurch Hillsong opened its new outpost in Atlanta, its pastor sought advice on how to build a church in a pandemic.

From Facebook.

The social media giant had a proposition, Sam Collier, the pastor, recalled in an interview: to use the church as a case study to explore how churches can “go further farther on Facebook.”

Source: Facebook’s Next Target: The Religious...

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New Lady of La Vang statue expected to attract faithful from around the Vietnamese diaspora

July 15, 2021

A canvas drape covered the statue, but that did not stop tourists from filming themselves in front of it.

With a selfie stick decked in images of the old South Vietnamese flag, Vinh Hoang of Houston narrated for a Facebook post.

After it is unveiled this weekend, the 12-foot-tall Virgin Mary, as she is believed to have looked to persecuted Catholics in Vietnam’s La Vang forest in 1798, is likely to draw many faithful like Hoang from all over the Vietnamese diaspora to Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove.

Source: ...

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