Religion | WGLT

Religion

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.

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.

Officials of a suburban Chicago Christian college has begun efforts to fire a political science professor who was placed on leave after saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  Telephone calls to Wheaton College for comment on the decision weren't immediately returned Tuesday. However, a statement on the school's website says Provost Stanton Jones has initiated a termination-for-cause proceeding regarding Larycia Hawkins.  

Pam Binder / Creative Commons

December twenty-first marks the Winter Solstice. It is the shortest day of the year, after which the daylight gradually begins to increase. Bloomington's Unitarian Universalist Church will be marking the event tomorrow evening(Friday December 18) with music and dance. Tonya Keach, one of the event organizers, says Winter Solstice has long been associated with spiritual introspection.

The Unitarian Universalist program begins at 6 p.m. and will include peace dances from various cultures, as well as a performance of ritual gong music based on an ancient healing service.

A suburban Chicago teenager accused of beating a Sikh man has pleaded guilty to a hate crime. The 17-year-old from the village of Willowbrook pleaded guilty Dec. 7. The confrontation occurred in September along a road in Darien. Fifty-three-year-old Inderjit Mukker of Darien says the teen was cutting him off and calling him a ``terrorist'' and ``Bin Laden.'' Prosecutors say when they both pulled over the teen punched Mukker in the face. The Sikh Coalition rights group says Mukker suffered a broken cheekbone and cuts requiring stiches. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 8 in juvenile court.

Catholic Church Annulments Changing

Dec 8, 2015
The Catholic Post / Peoria, IL

Catholics will find it easier to seek a marriage annulment, as changes to the process announced by Pope Francis in September go into effect this week. The additional process will make it easier for practicing Catholics who divorce their first spouses to remarry in the church. 

Vandalized Menorah Replaced

Dec 8, 2015

A large menorah knocked over earlier this year outside a University of Illinois Jewish center has been repaired and rededicated. The center candle of the menorah at the university's Chabad Center was lit Monday by center director Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel and interim university Chancellor Barbara Wilson. A group of students lit two other candles, and many in the crowd of 150 people sang songs as they marked the second night of Hanukkah. Tiechtel says his community's faith has grown stronger following the Aug. 19 vandalism.

Matt Hickman

The phrase "prayer shaming" entered the lexicon of many last week as the New York Daily News called out politicians in a position to do something about gun violence once again offering their "thoughts and prayers." WGLT's Mike McCurdy talks with Mennonite Church of Normal pastor Matt Hickman about the intersection of prayer and action.

Flickr user tvnewsbadge

Attorney, author and justice advocate Sister Simone Campbell is best know for leading Nuns on the Bus tours across America to draw attention to the concerns of low income workers, immigrants and people with disabilities. She's known to many in McLean County too, having given the 2013 Jim and Gwen Pruyne Lecture at New Covenant Community Church in Normal.

Durbin Likes Pope's Message

Sep 24, 2015
(flicker)

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is impressed by Pope Francis' joint address to congress. Durbin calls the pope an inspiration not just through his words, but his actions.