The Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 decision to grant governor Gavin Newsom of California power to include religious services in his state wide strategies for combating a pandemic. Writing for the majority, chief justice John Roberts noted that because religion was not singled out for targeted restrictions but included with a broad range of other gatherings, it did not violate the first amendment of the constitution. The case had been brought by the South Bay Pentecostal Church near San Diego and reached the high court in expedited manner.
Episcopal bishop of Washington DC Mariann Budde rebuked President Trump for disbursing a peaceful protest to use one of her diocesan churches for a political photo op. The church in question is St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House. The President walked there about 7 pm Monday night, stood in front of the damaged church, and had his picture taken holding up a Bible. After expressing her displeasure in no uncertain terms, the bishop said, “The Presidents are welcome as citizens of this country to pray alongside fellow citizens, to kneel before God in humility and to rededicate themselves to the task to what they’ve been elected.”
Popular singer for the Canadian Christian band Hawk Nelson, Jonathan Steingard announced that he is no longer a Christian and is, in fact, an atheist. He appealed for understanding and acceptance. This illustrates what was asserted several weeks ago following analysis of data from 33,897 non-religious Americans. Being atheist in America, it seems, is very difficult and causes problems in many areas of life. Atheists are 2.5 times more likely to experience negative events in education and public service than their religious counterparts, two times more likely in private business and three times more likely in employment. Researchers called atheists “an invisible minority” of the American population. Steingard grew up in the home of a Christian minister and feared “losing everything” if he was open about his spiritual journey.
The Texas Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a break-away group of Episcopalians, granting them property worth an estimated $100 million. In 2008, a majority of the Episcopalians in the region voted to leave the Episcopal Church of America and affiliate with a new more conservative group called the Anglican Church in North America. They wanted to retain ownership of their property, but a provision of the Episcopal Church stipulates that local congregations hold their property in trust for the national organization. Most courts around the country have rule that property in such situations belongs to the parent body, the Episcopal Church of America. The case in Texas may be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court.
Christians and Jews around the country celebrated Pentecost this past week and largely in very similar ways: at home! Jews celebrate the giving of the Law, called the Torah, to Moses and engage in such things as the reading of the Torah, decorating of homes with greenery, and eating communal meals. Christians celebrate the Holy Spirit, derived by a story in The Acts of the Apostles. They dress in red and normally engage in festive public worship. The Christian story of Pentecost includes references to speaking in tongues which has given rise to the most significant Christian movement of the last century, often called the Pentecostal movement, and sometimes the Charismatic Movement.