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Religion

JONATHAN AQUINO / Flickr via Creative Commons

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria on Friday hailed a New York court ruling that may finally clear the way for Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s remains to be brought to central Illinois.

Courtesty of Valarie Kaur

Activist Valarie Kaur acknowledges that many people "want to gag" when she starts talking about love as the spark for social change. She tries to convince them she is advocating for a "revolutionary love" that is the best answer to solving many of society's problems.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

It’s a Sunday morning service at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. About 200 people gather before a simple, unadorned altar to sing hymns, pray, listen to a sermon and share communion in a long tradition of Lutheran worship.

Courtesy of St. John's University

The St. John's Bible is the first hand-painted, hand-written Bible created since the invention of the printing press more than 500 years ago.

Associated Press

A majority of evangelical Christians threw their support to President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, as did a large number of conservative Catholics and mainline Protestants who agreed with candidate Trump's positions on abortion and the economy.

Cindy Le/GLT News

The Catholic Church in Illinois played a large role in defeating passage of an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution in the 1980s. However, the church's lobbying group in the state doesn't plan to take a stand this time around.

Eastview Christian Church

Pastor Mike Baker stands on a large stage at Eastview Christian Church that serves as a pulpit. He is dressed casually in a summer suit, open collar shirt, and loafers with no socks. Behind him, lit up in stage lights, are the letters: S E X.

Elyse Shoenig

It’s the 5:30 p.m. Sunday Mass at Epiphany Catholic Church in Normal. This used to be the parish’s “Life Teen Mass,” but it isn’t any longer. White-haired and middle-aged people fill the pews—even some couples with children. But there are few teens or young adults. That concerns Father Eric Powell, Epiphany’s pastor.

Guy with camera and people sitting on bar stools at Six Strings local nightclub.
Jennifer Feaman

A one-time pastor from a church in Towanda felt called to a new mission a decade ago. Kevin Mounce left the flickering lights of liturgical candles for the bright lights of Hollywood to pursue his dream of making movies.

Steve Rainwater / Flickr

John Freml grew up in a Catholic family and attended parochial schools. He is an active member at his parish in Springfield and says he loves the Catholic Mass.

Seth Perlman / Associated Press

A new set of guidelines issued by Springfield's bishop, aimed at denying a role in the church for  married gay Catholics, has prompted an immediate backlash.

Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

The Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest denominations in the country, voted recently to denounce white supremacy and the alt-right movement, but not without controversy.

Scott Vogel / Bloomington Central Catholic High School

The last eight years have been difficult for people who oppose abortion. The Obama administration was not receptive to that message.

But, Bloomington Central Catholic High School students headed to Washington for the annual national March For Life feel excited this year because of the change in administration.

Mindfulness, meditation, non-violence, non-attachment. These are all key practices of Buddhism.

In fact, Buddhism has been described as a practice rather than a religion.

In Bloomington- Normal, there are are not Buddhist temples where people can go to practice their faith in community. But individuals manage to practice the principles of the faith on their own, said Illinois State University Professor Pruthikrai Mahatanankoon.

Eric Avarado

It’s a colonial-style brick church with tall pillars and Georgian windows in downtown Leroy.

Seated on a stool in the church basement, Pastor Emeritus Sharon Bianchi answers questions about the spirit world from visitors and congregation members. Are there guardian angels? Is there such a thing as a bad spirit? And this one, about why a heated room might suddenly feel cold.

Vivien Evans, Flickr

The circular design known as the mandala is an ancient symbol that represents wholeness. Mandalas usually have a focal point in the center that can represent the divine presence within.

Paraclete Press

Adult coloring books have grown into a significant segment within the publishing market, and spirituality book publishers are picking up on the trend.

 Laura McKendree, national marketing representative of Paraclete Press, a spirituality book publisher in Orleans, MA, says doodling with crayons can be a pathway to prayer.

Willamor, Flickr

Is Christianity a fading religion? Can the faith be born anew?

These are some of the questions that will be explored this weekend at the annual Jim and Gwen Pruyne Lectureship in Progressive Christianity, sponsored by New Covenant Community Church in Normal.

This year’s speaker is theologian and author Brian McLaren, known primarily for his writings on what’s called the “emergent church.” McLaren comes from an evangelical tradition, but often takes issue with traditional teachings and practices.

Judith Valente

Welcome to the Nuns on the Bus tour, 2016.

The socially-conscious nuns who gained national attention during the last presidential election, rolled through Bloomington-Normal this week as part of a 13 state tour that will include stops at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

Michael Hill / WGLT

People from different parts of Illinois are agreeing to "mend the gaps" when it comes to issues such as healthcare, taxes, education and pay inequality. Residents from Bloomington, Normal, the Chicago area and other Illinois communities attended a discussion called the "Caucus to Mend the Gaps." The event is part of the "Nuns on the Bus" tour.

Two religious leaders hold hands on sanctuary
Colleen Reynolds / WGLT

Leaders from five area religious denominations came together last night for what is becoming a hallmark of Bloomington-Normal’s Not In Our Town efforts -- a bringing together of all faiths and even those questioning their faith. This time it was for prayer service, including a reading of names and moment of silence for victims and the families of shooting victims in Dallas, Minnesota and Louisiana.

The Reverend Frank McSwain from Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Bloomington delivered a fiery message in which he called racism a moral issue.

LGBT Community Welcome In Twin Cities Churches

Jun 27, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Religious leaders in the Twin Cities are reaching out to LGBT individuals to let them know that Bloomington and Normal offer open places for spiritual growth. Representatives from Christian, Unitarian Universalist and Jewish faiths gathered at a panel discussion to give their perspectives on the importance of welcoming all people into their faiths.

A prominent Illinois imam said young American Muslims who are attracted to radical groups might be motivated by a mentality of "two-fold inferiority."

Imam Rizwan Ali of the Islamic Center of Naperville said it is a mentality found in a variety of immigrant families.

"Immigrants from different backgrounds have a concept of something called two-fold inferiority. They are not assimilated with their current host country and their (former) country," the imam said.

Judith Valente

At 8:30 last Saturday evening, Zahra Abdulrehman and her sister Hibah were about to break the Ramadan fast. They hadn't taken any food during this holy season of fasting for Muslims since 3:30 that morning. Before them were plates of spicy chicken, rice, yogurt, mango, watermelon and dates.

Judith Valente / WGLT

An unprecedented encounter took place in Bloomington last week in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando at a gay nightclub.

When St. John's Lutheran Church held a prayer vigil for those killed and wounded at the Pulse nightclub, about a dozen members of the local Islamic community came to pay their respects. For many of the Muslims, it was their first time in a Christian Church.

There to greet them was Dave Bentlin of the Prairie Pride Coalition, an LGBTQ advocacy group. Among the Muslim visitors was Sheheryar Muftee of the Islamic Center of Bloomington-Normal. 

Jonathan Aquino / Flickr

There's a new salvo in the battle between the Peoria Diocese and the Archdiocese of New York over who gets the remains of the famous Catholic TV evangelist, Bishop Fulton Sheen.

The Peoria Diocese has been pushing for the canonization of Sheen, who was born in El Paso, Illinois and raised in Peoria. In 2014, the diocese announced that the sainthood effort could not move forward because the Archdiocese of New York refused to release Sheen's remains to be examined.

Springfield Dominican Sisters

The number of Iraqi Christians has declined from about 2.5 million in the 1990s to less than 200,000 today. Secretary of State John Kerry recently referred to the Islamic State's persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq as "genocide."  Here in Illinois, Catholic Dominican sisters from Springfield are among the most active groups trying to draw attention to the plight of these Iraqi citizens.

Marko Vombergar/Aleteia / Creative Commons

Pope Francis is in the midst of his second trip to the Americas in less than a year. After touching down Friday in Havana, he has spent the past four days in Mexico. For many, the high point of his trip will be an outdoor Mass Wednesday near the U.S.-Mexico border. In a gesture expected to have widespread implications, the Pope will greet immigrants on the fence between El Paso, Texas and Cuidad Juarez in Mexico.

Majeed Sayed

Earlier this week, President Obama visited a Baltimore mosque to signal he wants Americans to increase their understanding of Muslims living in the U.S. On Saturday, one of the three Twin Cities mosques will hold an open house where non-Muslims can join in prayer and ask questions about Islam.

Illinois Wesleyan University

It's not a public policy issue like immigration, trade or national defense, but religion is playing a prominent role in the presidential race. It's likely to become even more of an issue now that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas won the Iowa caucuses largely through support from fellow evangelical Christians and is seeking their support in upcoming primary contests. Illinois Wesleyan University chaplain Elyse Nelson Winger says the religion factor in presidential politics is probably here to stay.

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