PHILADELPHIA — The eyes of the world will be on Pope Francis when he makes a visit to the western hemisphere next month, stopping first in Cuba before heading north to Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. But his stop at the Ground Zero memorial in NYC amid commemoration of the deaths of thousands due to terrorism has been described by organizers as an "extremely important event for the world."
Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with survivors and family members of those killed in the World Trade Center attacks, which claimed the lives of 2,606 people. Those slain were mostly New Yorkers but among them were visitors hailing from the United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, South Korea, India, and dozens of other countries. More than 400 of those killed when the Twin Towers fell were law enforcement officials and firefighters who were among first responders when al-Qaida-linked terrorists crashed commercial airliners into each tower.
That Sept. 25 meeting with 9/11 families will be held outside by the twin reflecting pools at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in downtown Manhattan, Helen Osman, secretary of communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, explained during a briefing about the pope's U.S. visit with reporters Friday. more >>
The Rev. Franklin Graham has spoken out against Orlando International Airport's recent unveiling of plans to create a new Muslim prayer room that will cost $250,000 in taxpayer dollars, and asked how loud would objections be if the money were allocated to build a prayer room for Evangelical Christians, or other groups.
"Let's call this what it is — a mosque. The airport already had an interfaith prayer room since 1983 (with prayer rugs available in it) — but that wasn't enough. How loud do you think the objections would be today if they spent $250,000 in taxpayer money to build a new prayer room exclusively for Evangelical Christians? Or for Jews or Mormons or any other group? Why do Muslims get preference?" Graham asked in a Facebook post on Saturday.
News 13 reported earlier this month that the prayer room is set to open on Sept. 1. The decision to build a new "Reflection Room" to Terminal B at the Orlando airport was made after Emirates Airlines announced it's adding non-stop flights from Orlando to Dubai, which would mean an increase of passengers from the Middle East. more >>
Sherri Shepherd returns to TV this week, a year after leaving "The View," to premiere her very own show "Holy & Hungry," which will air on the cooking channel.
The six-episode series explores faith and food as Shepherd, a devout Christian, visits different restaurants and religious leaders who are in the food industry, including a bistro run by a pastor, a kosher deli, and a halal butcher, among others. The former ABC talk show host describes eating as "a religious experience."
"For every single restaurant or chef I visited, food is their calling and it's how they minister to people," Shepherd told The Huffington Post. "I don't care who you are or what you believe, you still gotta sit down and eat. And when you sit down and eat you feel at peace, and that's when, I believe, you can change the world." more >>
We understand that you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by recent events that threaten to marginalize you. We'd like to offer a bit of empathy, and if it is not too presumptuous, some valuable experience and tools as well. You see, we've been there before.
First came the recent Pew study entitled "America's Changing Religious Landscape." Pew demonstrates that more Christians continue to live in the US than any other country in the world. About seven out of 10 Americans call themselves Christian.
But it also found that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, while the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated — describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or "nothing in particular" — has jumped more than six points. Losses are severe among mainline Protestants and Catholics. Lots of Christians are understandably worried about this trend. more >>
Nation of Islam leader minister Louis Farrakhan told a reported crowd of 1,500 blacks gathered at a historic Baptist church in Miami that "we should kill those who kill us," after referencing what he said was a Quranic teaching on retaliation. His controversial remarks drew the crowd to its feet and elicited wild applause.
Farrakhan, whose Nation of Islam black nationalist organization is described as being "founded on the basis of peace," was cheered as he called for retaliatory attacks in cases where the federal government is unable to bring about justice in certain cases pertaining to black Americans.
"I'm looking for 10,000 in the midst of a million. I'm looking for 10,000 in the midst of the million. Ten thousand fearless men who say death is sweeter than to continue life under tyranny," Farrakhan says in a video excerpt of his speech published online this week by the Nation of Islam. more >>
A prominent mosque in Sacramento has honored an Evangelical Christian congregation for the first time with its annual award for outstanding acts of interfaith service. The accolade recognizes the church's efforts to help Middle Eastern refugees settle into their new lives in California.
During its fourth annual interfaith Iftar [an evening meal for Muslims to end their daily fast during the month of Ramadan] last Wednesday, the SALAM Islamic Center honored the First Covenant Church of Sacramento with its "Distinguished Award for Exceptional Interfaith and Community Service."
The Sacramento Bee reports that the banquet was attended by 200 community members including local, state and federal officials. SALAM Executive Director Metwalli Amer told the audience that First Covenant has taken outstanding measures to bridge the societal gap for Muslim newcomers to the community who are seeking safety from their conflict-ridden homelands in the Middle East. more >>