Religion

San José Catholic Church in Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

For many people of faith in Austin, not being able to come together to celebrate religious holidays is one of the most painful concessions of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in a time filled with so much fear and uncertainty.

A sign outside a Quaker meeting house in Austin encourages people to worship at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Julia Reihs / KUT

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Cuando el Gobernador Greg Abbott emitió el martes su orden ejecutiva restringiendo las actividades no esenciales, se aseguró de señalar que los servicios religiosos se considerasen esenciales.

A sign outside a Quaker meeting house in Austin encourages people to worship at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Julia Reihs / KUT

When Gov. Greg Abbott issued his executive order Tuesday restricting nonessential activities, he made sure to note religious services are considered essential.

But in a time when people aren’t supposed to gather, what can and can’t houses of worship do? The governor’s office and the Office of the Attorney General released some guidance Wednesday.

Courtesy of Kevin Dougherty, Baylor University

From Texas Standard:

Americans are inked these days. The stigma associated with tattoos is long gone, as is the idea that they fly in the face of polite Western society. More than a quarter of American adults have at least one tattoo, and they’re especially popular among those born during the 1970s and later. Tattoos communicate identity and belonging, and for some, faith.

An examining room at The Source clinic in Austin
Julia Reihs / KUT

A chain of crisis pregnancy centers is shifting its strategy to focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place by offering contraception services in cities across Texas.

Fellowship Baptist/YouTube

Retired Pastor Al Meredith has become a specialist of sorts on the impacts of mass shootings and the long road ahead for victims' families and survivors.

Twenty years ago in September, a gunman walked into Meredith's Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth. He targeted attendees of a youth rally – killing seven and injuring seven more.

In the decades since, Meredith has received calls for advice after many mass shootings.

Photo Courtesy "J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius" film.

From Texas Standard:

It started as a joke. But when a couple of guys from Fort Worth started distributing literature for their new, fake religious group in the late 1970s, they were surprised when it caught on. Before long, there were factions of the group in New York, San Francisco, Arkansas and many other places.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

RICHLAND HILLS – Shahid Shafi will retain his role as vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party despite a push from a small faction of precinct chairs to remove him from his post because he's Muslim.

LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto

From Texas Standard.

In September of 1971, hundreds of thousands of people packed Texas Stadium in Irving over 10 days. It wasn’t for a Dallas Cowboys game. They were there to see Christian evangelist Billy Graham.

F. Carter Smith

From Texas Standard.

Candidates all over the Lone Star State are pouring their hearts, souls and resources into their campaigns. The primaries in Texas are only three weeks away.

While resources are a major challenge for every candidate, that’s particularly true for those with little name recognition. Some organizations like Emily’s List and Annie’s List are making money available to the record number of female candidates running this year. but the money is not available to everyone.

John Morgan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Reform of the Texas foster care system has been an elusive goal for state lawmakers. A federal judge ruled the system unconstitutional and "broken" two years ago. One proposal that has received support in the current legislative session would have the state contract with religious organizations and other non-profits to provide care for foster children. But the idea has received pushback from some of the religious groups themselves.

 

Stephanie Tacy for KUT

Demonstrators linked arms to form a human wall around Muslims and protect them from potential protesters at the state Capitol on Tuesday for Muslim Capitol Day.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

After receiving a letter from Republican state Rep. Kyle Biedermann surveying their beliefs, mosque leaders and representatives of the Texas Muslim community made one request: Get to know us.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera

Ahead of Texas Muslim Capitol Day scheduled for later this month, freshman state Rep. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, sent a letter to mosque leaders and Muslim student associations across the state, asking them to fill out a poll about their beliefs.

Scurzuzu/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas leads the nation in payday lending and car title loan businesses with more than 3,000 storefronts across the state. Payday lenders are both a blessing and a curse: on one hand, they meet a need; on the other, they do so through sky-high interest rates.

That's why communities of faith are getting involved in the effort to better regulate them. But should faith leaders get involved in money matters?

 


YouTube/Prophet Manasseh

From Texas Standard:

A couple weeks ago, I got this call from a number with a Dallas area code:

Hello. This is St. Mary’s Prayer Center Ministry calling today to see if you need urgent prayer. If you would like to have someone from our center pray for you, please press 1. If you would no longer like to hear from us, please press 3.

 


Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez / KUT

It's no secret that the African American population of East Austin has been dwindling as the white population has increased for the past couple of decades. But some see a bright spot in that transformation, and it's apparent on Sunday mornings at the Holy Cross Catholic Church.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

State lawmakers will revisit the debate over whether federal actions protecting gay rights are infringing on religious liberties this week, with a Texas Senate panel taking up the issue tomorrow.

Following last year’s Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide, there’s been a debate about whether that landmark civil rights ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, would hinder religious freedoms. Republican state leaders say that’s why they want the legislature to consider laws that they say would protect those freedoms in Texas.

Photo via Flickr/ydhsu (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

If you want to hold public office in Texas, you have to believe in God. You cannot serve even as dog catcher – if it’s an elected office, you must believe in God.

Given the long history we have had of con artists, and scofflaws, carpetbaggers, and white-collar criminals holding public office around the state, this may seem hard to believe.

But it is right there in the Texas constitution. Plain as day.

 


Image via Twitter/Padgett4Texas

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Constitution says there's no religious test for office holders – provided that "he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme being."

So much for prohibitions on religious tests – not to mention female candidates.

The "supreme being" clause went unchallenged for years, until three decades ago. It was then Texas' Attorney General agreed there's no way to enforce any real or imagined constitutional ban on atheist office-holders.

 


Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Jews celebrate Simchat Torah today. This festive holiday marks the end of the annual cycle of Torah readings and starts off the new cycle.

Jews in Austin just recently got two historic Torah scrolls to read from. The scrolls, along with a 19th century synagogue, came from a disappearing Jewish community in Brenham.

Catholic Church of England and Wales/flickr

From Texas Standard:

One of the first things we do each morning – in the wee small hours – is check in on the top stories our colleagues are talking about here in Texas, across the country, and around the world. 


From Texas Standard:

Picture this: A prominent Republican speaks at one of the country's most liberal enclaves, The University of California at Berkeley. Not only is it a full house, he gets a standing ovation.


The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., whose tiny Westboro Baptist Church has protested outside the funerals of fallen soldiers and celebrities to spread its views about homosexuality and abortion, has died, according to news reports. He was 84.

Seton Healthcare Family Archives Division

The Daughters of Charity came to Austin in 1902, in response to a letter writing campaign by a group of local women. Their mission: to build and operate a first-class medical facility.

At the time, Austin’s existing hospital was decidedly less than first-class.

Code Switch has been writing about some overlooked cultural interactions that have helped shape what Jewish identity is today, and we continue the series with this post about the murky and fascinating history of crypto-Jews in the Southwest.

flickr.com/glenscott

Wednesday marked 12 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks. The attacks thrust radical Islam into the spotlight and arguably ushered in an era of Islamophobia. But do stereotypes about Muslims actually go back much further?

Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. more than a decade ago. But in recent years, the highly infectious disease has cropped up in communities with low vaccination rates, most recently in North Texas.

There, 21 people — the majority of whom have not been immunized — have gotten the disease, which began at a vaccine-skeptical megachurch.

The outbreak began when a man who contracted the virus on a recent trip to Indonesia visited the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, about an hour and a half northwest of Dallas.

Minza Khan for KUT News

During the Islamic month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world fast from dawn to dusk. Austin's Nueces Mosque in West Campus hosts free iftar dinners, a communal feast where Muslims break their day’s fast after sunset. The iftars are open to all members of the community, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Sabrina Khwaja, a University of Texas senior, said she frequents Nueces Mosque during Ramadan to engage with the local Muslim community. The location makes it easy for her to stop by. When she first heard about Nueces, Khwaja was relieved to find out she no longer had to break her fast alone.

flickr.com/thed34n

The Southern Baptist Convention has approved a resolution opposing a new Boy Scouts of America policy that lifts a ban on gay membership.

The decision was made earlier today, at the group’s annual convention in Houston.

The resolution itself does not demand that affiliated churches discontinue their sponsorship of troops. But the resolution voices its support for churches that choose to do so, while reiterating earlier declarations calling for the removal of the various leaders that instituted the new Boy Scouts policy this past May.

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