MH News May 21, 2020

The Templeton Prize for achievements at the intersection of religion, science, and the human community goes to Dr. Francis Collins. Collins, a medical doctor by training, is now the director of the National Institutes of Health and heavily involved in the effort to combat COVID19. He directed more than twenty years ago the team for the National Human Genome Research project. Collins became a Christian while in medical training, gave a wildly popular series of lectures on faith and science at Harvard University in 2003, and published the best-selling book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Collins is 70 years old. The prize is worth 1.3 million dollars!


The National Catholic Education Association reports that as many as 100 schools run by Roman Catholics will close this fall. “There simply isn’t money,” reports Kathy Mears, interim president and CEO of the national group. The pandemic has pushed many parents into unemployment status; schools have not been able to hold their annual fund-raising events; contributions in the churches have fallen; and Catholic-friendly foundations have moved money to other COVID19-related needs. The closures will hit hardest those schools which serve poor, disadvantaged, often immigrant communities.


Little Richard was buried on the campus of his alma mater, Oakwood University, near Huntsville, Alabama. Indian evangelist and Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias died at the age of 74. And the COVID19 virus continues to infect and kill religious leaders who gathered for religious services, including the reverends Nathaniel Slappey Sr. and Jr in Detroit and  In Georgia, a church reconvened for worship but shut back down after several families became infected with the virus; and in California a church defied stay at home protocols and exposes 180 people to an infected person.


The Center for Public Affairs Research and the University of Chicago have released results of a poll of American people on their attitudes about the Coronavirus pandemic. 60% of American believers of all faiths think the virus is a sign from God telling humanity to change. It also reveals that a majority of Americans support restrictions on worship and do not think such restrictions violate religious freedoms. The Meetinghouse is today, launching its own survey on the spiritual impact of the pandemic. You can participate and give your own judgment about these matters—how has the pandemic and shutdown influenced your own religious experience, your own practices and perceptions?


A cohort of religious leaders in Brunswick, Georgia, have called upon the governor and other elected officials to enact a state hate-crime law. This comes in response to the murder of a young black man on February 23. Two white men who tracked him down in a truck and shot him are in jail and charged with murder. The case has drawn extensive national attention and is frequently referred to as a lynching. The religious leaders, including my pastor Tony Lankford,  have been meeting regularly for weeks and represent a wide spectrum of religious traditions. They held a press conference this week to protest the murder, call for justice and peace, and demand the state-wide action. I will have my own commentary on the whole mess at the end of this radio show.