Duke University has abandoned its plan to transform the bell tower on the Methodist school's neo-gothic cathedral into a minaret where the Muslim call to prayer was to be publicly broadcast.
"Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students," university spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said in a statement. "However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect."
The first adhan, or call to prayer, had been scheduled to be broadcast on Jan. 16. University officials said, the Islamic chant, which includes the words "Allahu Akbar" would have been "moderately amplified" -- in both English and Arabic. more >>
For many of us, going to church is a part of the Sunday routine. We hear a sermon, sing a few hymns, pray, and worship. We may reflect on a challenging message from the Gospels. Perhaps we satiate our longing for spirituality or just maybe we are wondering when the sermon will be over so we can catch the end of the football game. For some of us it is essential to who we are. For others, we go because our loved ones or friends go. Still others don't really even know why we go—it's just part of what we do.
Keeping a Sunday routine can be especially challenging during life's transitions: starting a new job, moving to a new community, getting married. Perhaps no transition is more challenging for religious practice than adjusting to university life or living on your own. According to a study by Jennifer Keup and Ellen Bara Stolzenberg, 83 percent of college freshman report attending church frequently at the beginning of the year but only 57 percent continued to do so by the end of their freshman year. Responsibilities and demands become much greater as time goes on, and finding the time to get everything done, while balancing other priorities, becomes a challenge. We often find ourselves choosing between homework and friends, extracurricular activities and family, church and work. Many times we give church the short end of the stick as other pressing needs demand our attention. There are many reasons, however, why this may not be in our best interest.
From a faith perspective, God holds the place of primacy in our lives. We should not place other gods before Him—not money or grades, friends or prestige. But faith aside, weekly church attendance has many practical benefits. Just take educational attainment as an example. more >>
A minister in Detroit filed a lawsuit against the governor and attorney general of Michigan stating that the state's law, which punishes clergymen for conducting wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples and polygamous marriages, is a violation of his religious freedom.
Rev. Neil Patrick Carrick, a former pastor at United Church of Christ, filed the lawsuit on Monday, seeking to terminate a Michigan law that fines certain clergyman found guilty of conducting an "invalid" wedding ceremony in his or her own place of worship.
The state explicitly defines same-sex marriages as "invalid" and also defines those who enter into polygamous marriages as felons. Under Michigan law: "If a person authorized to solemnize marriages knowingly joins any persons in the marriage contrary to the provisions of this chapter, he or she shall forfeit for each offense a sum not exceeding $500.00." more >>
Yesterday morning, I awoke to discover you spoke to me directly on your nationally syndicated, award-winning talk show. I was stunned and humbled because I believe you are such an incredibly gifted comedian with a God-given gift to entertain and make people feel genuinely valued. You also have a megawatt smile that simply makes people feel happy.
You concluded your remarks to me and the audience by saying, "The only way I'm trying to influence people is to be more kind and compassionate with one another." That's one of my goals as well, and in that same spirit, can I appeal to you to consider some thoughts although we share different worldviews? more >>
On January 12th, I attended Supreme Court oral arguments in a case—Reed v. Town of Gilbert—which will determine how easily the government can restrict signs giving directions to church services. Specifically, the Court is set to decide whether, under free speech protections of the First Amendment, a local government's mere assertion that its sign code (despite on its face discriminating based on content) lacks a discriminatory motive renders the sign code content-neutral and justifies the code's differential treatment of signs pointing the way to a church's meeting location.
In this case, the Town of Gilbert had divided signs up based on whether they were ideological, political, or directional—and imposed different restrictions on each category of sign. Good News Community Church in Gilbert, Arizona, and its pastor, Clyde Reed, sued, claiming that signs pointing the way to their Sunday morning service (which contained religious speech and directions, and thus resulted in them being placed in the directional sign category) were treated less fairly and that this unfair treatment violated the First Amendment.
At oral arguments, both sides received their fair share of questions, but the justices were noticeably more skeptical of the town's argument—especially its claim that it could severely restrict a sign containing ideological content announcing an event if the sign also included directions to that event, while at the same time easing restrictions on a sign containing the same exact ideological content and yet lacking directions. more >>
In one of its final acts of 2014, the small town of Winfield, Alabama, unanimously passed a resolution declaring the municipality of about 4,700 residents as a "city under God."
In an age where many institutions and humanist groups are working to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, the resolution was passed after Mayor Randy Price called on city council members to stand up for Jesus Christ.
"I feel like we need to take a stand for what is right," Price told AL.com. "Our forefathers said 'One nation under God' and we went so far away from that. There are not enough godly people involved in day-to-day decisions." more >>