religion

The drive to reopen churches around the country appears to be losing momentum as a result of the surge of COVID-19 cases.

Pastor surveys by the Barna Group have found that the share of churches reporting a return to in-person worship fell from 56% in June to 49% in the most recent survey. The Barna surveys, reported by Christianity Today, also showed that 5% of pastors now say their churches will not resume in-person worship until 2021.

Lizzy Celine
Courtesy Celine Peccatte and Lizzy Hoke / WLRN

Drive-by birthday parties. Passover Seder on Zoom. Even weddings livestreamed on YouTube.

 

It’s been a little more than three months now, since we really could be together with friends and family the way we are used to. These are just some of the ways people are coming together in a socially-distant way to mark some of life’s major moments. 

Carl Juste / MIAMI HERALD

On this Wednesday, June 10, episode of Sundial:

Fort Lauderdale Mayor On Defunding Police

For the second time in as many weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court is tackling a major religion case. This time the question is whether lay teachers at parochial schools are exempt from the nation's fair employment laws.

But the court's eventual decision could reach beyond teachers, affecting the lives of millions of other employees who work for religiously affiliated institutions.

In their tiny apartment just outside Minneapolis, Sarah Alfaham directs her husband Mohamed Ahmed to hold up the gold curtains she picked up at Walmart.

She takes a look.

"I like it," she says.

With thumbtacks, string and dowels, Alfaham fashions a canopy in the corner of their living room with a homemade navy blue and gold "Ramadan Mubarak" sign underneath. On the floor is a prayer rug.

"It's just really creating a mosque feel inside your house in a sense. I don't know how else to do it," she says with a laugh.

Monica Muñoz / Courtesy

When the novel coronavirus started making headlines, Monica Muñoz-Estrada remembers thinking about how she felt Christians were well-prepared. 

Gina Trotz

On this Wednesday, April 8, episode of Sundial:

Disability rights during coronavirus

Hospitals and healthcare workers are doing their best to prepare for Florida’s peak of COVID-19 cases, which is predicted to happen in the next two weeks. The Miami Herald has reported Disability Rights Florida, a statewide advocacy nonprofit for individuals with disabilities, are worried that if Florida runs out of beds and ventilators, medical professionals will be forced to ration care, like we’ve seen in Italy.

Virus During Holy Week: How The Faithful Are Managing

Apr 7, 2020
Cheyce Batchelor / Fresh Take Florida

GAINESVILLE — Christian and Jewish leaders commemorating some of the holiest days in their faiths in coming days — Easter and Passover — are wrestling with decisions of death and life, whether to host in-person religious services during the pandemic. Most are doing so online instead.

Passover isn't just a holiday with a meal. The meal is the holiday. It's a ritual people make around the table. They gather to eat the same foods, tell the same stories, generation after generation.

"It's a moment of transmitting history, but also transmitting identity. Which is why it's so important to be with family," explains Rabbi Marisa James, director of social justice programming at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

At the Roman Catholic basilica in Key West there's a grotto, where the faithful pray when hurricanes are approaching the island. And islanders are turning to it now, as they face a different threat.

As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies across the country, many churches, synagogues, temples and mosques are temporarily shutting their doors to all public services.

Although there are exemptions for some religious services, congregations are still expected to follow state stay-at-home orders and limitations on gatherings.

The nationwide move to close churches, synagogues and mosques as part of the broader effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus is meeting some new resistance.

In a new "safer-at-home" order banning many activities, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Wednesday said "attending religious services" is among the "essential" activities that would be permitted. The order came two days after the arrest of a Tampa pastor, Rodney Howard-Browne, who held worship services in defiance of a local ban on large gatherings. That ban is now effectively overruled.

Churches around the country are weighing whether to suspend worship services in response to the coronavirus, with their decisions dependent on their size, their proximity to an outbreak, and perhaps even their political leanings.

Via South Florida Sun Sentinel

With supporters pointing to attacks on churches and synagogues, a House panel Tuesday approved a measure that would allow people to carry concealed weapons at religious institutions that share properties with schools.

The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee also approved a separate bill that would allow county commissioners, school board members and elected city officials to be armed at their public meetings.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Thursday defended students who feel they can't pray in their schools — and warned school administrators they risk losing federal funds if they violate their students' rights to religious expression.

Trump held an event in the Oval Office with a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim students and teachers to commemorate National Religious Freedom Day. The students and teachers said they have been discriminated against for practicing their religion at school.

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