Religion & Faith | KERA News

Religion & Faith

Minster Sammy Berry stands at the podium in Dallas West Church of Christ.
Alejandra Martinez / KERA News

The recent Black Lives Matter protests across the world have sparked conversations about racism and police brutality at a historic West Dallas church.

"What George Floyd did was remind me that we still have a problem in this country that has not been addressed," said Sammie Berry, a minister at Dallas West Church of Christ.

Passover, one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar, it begins Wednesday night. This year, though, things are different, because of COVID-19.

Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington is getting used to meeting up online during the pandemic. Senior pastor Dwight McKissic photographed on a laptop.
Hady Mawajdeh / KERA News

Gov. Greg Abbott made news last week when he issued an executive order that restricted nonessential activities. The order requires Texans to limit personal interactions, but grants permission to go outside of your home if you’re buying groceries, picking up prescriptions or attending a religious service.

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.

North Texas Faith Communities Take Precautions Amid Coronavirus

Mar 15, 2020
Philip Lange / Shutterstock

As Dallas and other cities are banning large gatherings, faith groups across North Texas are making preparations for how to hold services while also keeping congregations safe.

GainPeace billboard
Courtesy of GainPeace

A billboard up this month in Dallas is designed to encourage dialogue on the fundamental teachings of Islam.

In this Aug. 28, 2013 file photo, Rev. Shanan Jones delivers a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. According a study released on Dec. 16, 2019, by the Pew Research Center, the median length of U.S. sermons in April and May was 37 minutes.
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via / Associated Press

How long should a sermon be?

The major branches of Christianity in the U.S. have sharply different traditions, with sermons at historically black Protestant churches lasting — on average — nearly four times as long as Roman Catholic sermons.

Jessica Diaz-Hurtado / KERA News

Faith leaders from across North Texas are getting together to explore how religious communities can open the door to conversations about mental health.

Metroplex Atheists / Facebook

A local atheist group garnered attention recently from all over North Texas thanks to some bright yellow banners hanging in downtown Fort Worth that read “In NO God We Trust.”

For some, though, the banners have sparked a conversation that goes beyond the national motto, “In God We Trust.”  As it turns out, the country has been debating those words for hundreds of years.

As Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was wrapping up her remarks to the crowd at a Ramadan gathering on Capitol Hill late Monday, she spotted a familiar face in the front row.

It was Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who was famously mocked by then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 race. Omar told the audience she remembered how Trump had belittled Khan's wife by saying he wasn't sure if Muslim women were allowed to speak.

The Texas Senate bill bans any governmental entity from punishing a private business for its past donations to religious organizations. Critics condemned it as a new version of the 2017 bathroom bill or as a reaffirmation that the state is hostile to LGBTQ people.

Members of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs dedicated their new home and formally opened its doors on Sunday.

This Dec. 12, 2013, photo shows a composite of three different windows designed for the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary MacGorman Chapel in Fort Worth. Former Texas judge Paul Pressler is second from right.
Paul Moseley / Courtesy Fort Worth Star-Telegram via AP

Stained-glass windows honoring some religious leaders who helped shift the Southern Baptist Convention to a more conservative stance have been removed from the MacGorman Chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

Taylor Moran

Strong tornadoes and major floods often produce nonstop news coverage and an outpouring of charitable giving. It's the small storms, though, that tend to come and go without much notice.

That's when Denton Bible Church steps in.

Pope Francis has issued new rules obligating priests and nuns to report incidents of abuse or cover-ups to church authorities, saying, "The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful."

The sweeping new regulations are Francis' latest effort to combat sexual abuse involving the church, a long-running and painful issue that has cast a shadow on his papacy.

When health care workers feel they have been forced to do something they disagree with on moral or religious grounds, they can file complaints with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights. Some high-profile cases have involved nurses who objected to providing abortion services.

Halima Aden, a Somali American and Muslim model, is the first woman to pose in a burkini for Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, which hits newsstands Wednesday.

"Growing up in the States, I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab," Aden says in a video for Sports Illustrated, as she models several colorful head-to-toe swimwear designs. "Don't be afraid to be the first."

In Austin, Texas, a new raft of anti-LGBT legislation is working its way through the state legislature. One of the bills would allow state licensed professionals of all stripes — from doctors and pharmacists to plumbers and electricians — to deny services on religious grounds. Supporters say the legislation is needed to protect religious freedoms. But opponents call them "religious refusal bills" or "bigot bills."

Oscar Stewart was following his Saturday routine. He observed the Sabbath at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, where the sound of Torah reading usually gives him solitude and peace.

“And I hear gunshots,” Stewart said. “And having been in Iraq, I know what shots sound like.”

Stewart said his first instinct was to run for safety. He got to the exit door but then something happened.

Patrick Murphy was ready to die on March 28, and the State of Texas was ready to kill him. It was the U.S. Supreme Court that stepped in and granted the surprise execution stay. That’s why Murphy is alive today.

When the state of Texas tried to execute Patrick Murphy on March 28, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in. The high court ruled that the execution was unconstitutional. But it wasn't because of any concerns about due process or the morality of the state taking a life. The issue was religious freedom.

Christians around the world gathered on Sunday to mark the end of Holy Week and celebrate Easter.

Festivities took on many forms. While some worshippers reenacted the Passion of the Christ, others gathered for candlelit services or colorful processions.

From Texas Standard:

On Tuesday, a new Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy went into effect, banning any religious adviser from being in the execution chamber with an inmate. The decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court, last week, postponed the execution of Patrick Murphy, a member of the Texas Seven group.

The court said his execution had to wait until Texas decided on its policy about the presence of spiritual advisers during executions. The state had originally denied Murphy’s request to have a Buddhist priest, which Murphy appealed because Texas had allowed advisers from other faiths to be in the execution chamber. In his opinion, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that Texas needed to find a way to accommodate all faiths so as not to discriminate, or allow no advisers at all. TDCJ decided on the latter.

The number of asylum-seeking migrants released by Customs and Border Protection grew over the weekend. Hundreds of families arrived at San Antonio’s bus station, and area charities and the City of San Antonio scrambled to provide emergency services. It was an unprecedented humanitarian response.


Two Supreme Court decisions just hours before a scheduled execution. Two decisions just seven weeks apart. Two decisions on the same issue. Except that in one, a Muslim was put to death without his imam allowed with him in the execution chamber, and in the other, a Buddhist's execution was temporarily halted because his Buddhist minister was denied the same right.

The two apparently conflicting decisions are so puzzling that even the lawyers are scratching their heads and offering explanations that they candidly admit are only speculative.

The Texas attorney general informed San Antonio's mayor and city council on Thursday that his office will investigate the city's decision to ban Chick-fil-A from a concession deal at San Antonio International Airport.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the execution of a Buddhist inmate on death row because prison officials wouldn't let his spiritual adviser be present in the execution chamber, even though they provide chaplains for inmates of some other faiths.

Illustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Hours after his execution was originally scheduled to begin, the U.S Supreme Court stopped the death of one of the infamous "Texas Seven."

The view of the new Holocaust and Human Rights Museum of from Houston Street in downtown Dallas.
Bill Zeeble / KERA News

When the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum makes its debut in September, it'll feature some powerful and emotional displays.

A group of civil rights and faith leaders are demanding a meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray in the wake of the New Zealand terror attacks that killed at least 50 people as they prayed in mosques. The killer was a white nationalist who named President Trump as an inspiration in his online racist screed.

The groups want the FBI to address "the threat to public safety" and to their communities "by white nationalist violence."

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