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Religious News From Around the Web 27 April 2020

By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Virus vs Religious Liberty, Digital Church, Volunteer, Muslim Call to Prayer in Minneapolis, Quarantine Benefits, Restrictions Reduced, Ramadan

Church Restrictions Are the New Religious Liberty Issue

By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [
CC BY 3.0
], via Wikimedia Commons
As states and localities attempt to halt the spread of the Coronavirus, mandated closures, shelter in place and other regulations make for a patchwork of restrictions. Some jurisdictions label religious services “non-essential” while grocery and liquor stores remain open, and some religious leaders defy orders to close. At a time when the Supreme Court has more religious liberty cases before it than at any time in recent memory, measures to halt the spread of disease may be the next cases to hit the High Court.

Is the Digital Church here to Stay?
Religious leaders forced to conduct virtual services are adding Zoom, GoToMeeting, and other technology applications to their services. But bad lighting, poor sound, members who aren’t familiar with technology have all been part of the learning curve. Will all this technology training go away when the coast is clear, or will it become a normal part of future religious services?

Volunteer Ignores Controversy, Exemplifies Service
A man who is not religious and who hadn’t heard of Franklin Graham pitched in to volunteer at the Samaritan’s Purse Coronavirus field hospital in New York City’s Central Park. He’s donated thousands of dollars worth of food to the medical staff, helped move supplies and even got some flak from people objecting to the conservative Christian nature of the organization. But he’s continued to help as Samaritan’s Purse has treated more than 150 patients at the Central Park site.

Muslim Call to Prayer Broadcast in Minneapolis

Kevin Rutherford [CC BY-SA 4.0], from
Wikimedia Commons
Residents in a largely Muslim neighborhood of Minneapolis will hear the call to prayer over loudspeakers during the month of Ramadan. “It’s a historic moment that a metropolitan city like Minneapolis offers a permit to a mosque to broadcast the call to prayer,” said the Imam. The plan was supported by neighboring churches.

Families Benefit From Quarantine
The worldwide virus lockdown has not been universally bad, and in fact some families report benefits from staying at home. Eighty percent of British families surveyed said the lockdown has helped their families bond and more than 60 percent report more community mindedness.

NYC To Serve 500,000 Halal Meals to Muslims
New York City intends to serve a half-million halal meals during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan as part of a program that could feed as many as 2 million residents unable to pay for food. The city also provides kosher meals for Jews, and has served at least 10 million meals at 435 sites and to housebound New Yorkers.

Some States Reduce Virus Restrictions
Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska began reducing restrictions to public gatherings and allowed some businesses to reopen, as infection rates began to slow and economic pressures hammered businesses and individuals. Some restrictions remain, such as requiring social distancing and some cities have opted to maintain full restrictions. In some locations, initial bans on drive-in church services have been lifted as long as parishioners stay in their cars with windows up.

Ramadan Greetings from Many Faiths
In Malaysia, Coronavirus measures kept Hindus at home while celebrating Tamil New Year, the Sikhs celebrated Vaisakhi and Taoists observed their Qing Ming festival by paying their respects to their ancestors at home and Christians also celebrated Easter with closed churches. As Ramadan began, The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, wished all Muslims blessings, courage and strength during this fasting month of Ramadan under social distancing.

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