Religious News From Around the Web March 16, 2020

Covid-19 Coronavirus, Faith Goes Virtual, Celebrated Religious Gatherings, Health-Care Sharing Ministries, China Tightens Control of Religion

California Says Health Care Sharing Ministries “Misleading”
The California Department of Insurance issued a cease and desist order against Aliera Healthcare, Inc., and Trinity Healthshares, Inc., for “violating California law by misleading California consumers regarding their products and transacting insurance business without a certificate of authority from the Insurance Commissioner.” Trinity Healthcare, on its website says what it provides is not insurance, but a continuation of a centuries-old Christian tradition of sharing and bearing one another’s health care needs.

Chinese Tightened Control of Religion in 2019
ChinaAid released its 2019 report on religious suppression in China. The Chinese government has intensified its attempts to make religions and Christianity “more Chinese” and have labeled non-compliant groups — including Christian, Falun Gong and Jehovah’s Witnesses — as “cults.” The government has imposed a “point system” under which points are deducted for such things as displaying a cross or not displaying the national flag. A church which loses enough points is decertified and is not allowed to conduct services. Some unapproved Christian churches have been destroyed, and the pressure is increasing. In the meantime, the Chinese government’s occupation of Tibet and its attempt to subvert Tibetan Buddhism is being opposed by the United States.

The Ungathering: Religious Activities in a Time of Coronavirus
Amid Coronavirus Covid-19 concerns, people of faith are dealing with the virus by closing houses of worship and schools, recommending extensive cleaning and personal hygiene, providing religious services online, canceling events and pilgrimages, holding services outdoors, and other measures. Latter-day Saints have cancelled gatherings worldwide, Italy has imposed a virtual curfew, Saudi Arabia has banned pilgrimages to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, and Joel Osteen’s Lakewood megachurch is broadcasting on Facebook Live, YouTube, Roku, AppleTV, Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church’s websites and SiriusXM channel 128. So what happens when faith goes virtual? We’re about to find out.

California Bill Would Enable Low-Income Housing on Church Property
California Bill SB-899, introduced by Sen. Wiener early this year, would enable construction of affordable housing on properties owned by churches, hospitals, and other nonprofit organizations if all units go to lower income families and meet other requirements.

Biden and Religious Liberty Protections
A new plan unveiled by Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden appears to couch religious liberty as a “safe harbor for hate” and promises to make the Equality Act first priority if he is elected. According to Christian Headlines, the Biden plan “pledges to overturn a 2019 Trump religious liberty proposal that would allow faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to receive federal grants if they don’t place children in same-sex homes.”

Most Celebrated Religious Gatherings

Holi Festival Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork Utah Photo By Steven Gerner - Wikimedia Commons
Holi Festival Sri Radha
Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork Utah
Photo By Steven Gerner – Wikimedia Commons
With the Coronavirus hindering large assemblies, here is a celebration in photos of some of the world’s largest religious gatherings.
Makha Bucha in Thailand; Voodoo Festival in Benin; Holi in India; Makarajyothi Festival in India; Bishwa Ijtema in Bangladesh; Attukal Temple “Pongala” in India; Hajj in Saudia Arabia; Black Nazarine in the Philippines; Arba’een Pilgrimage in Iraq; Kumbh Mela in India.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are not necessarily those of World Religion News.