Religion

Kyle Vass/ WVPB

COVID-19 has changed many aspects of worship for people of different faiths, including religious holidays. During Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, fasting and communal meals in the evenings normally mark many of the tradition. 

This year, things were different, as Muslims across the globe were unable to meet in person with their friends and family.

Screenshot from Facebook

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s statewide stay-at-home order contains several exceptions, including going to the grocery store, receiving medical attention, and going to and from a place of worship.

Even though residents are allowed to attend religious services in the state, most churches have suspended services for the safety of their congregants. These churches are now turning to alternative forms of sermon delivery.

 

In times of turmoil, people often seek comfort in places of worship, but those places are inaccessible now because of social distancing requirements. 

Our folkways corps reporter Zack Harold guest hosts Inside Appalachia this week.  He spoke with faith leaders Rabbi Victor Urecki, of the B’nai Jacob synagogue in Charleston, W.Va. and Pastor David Johnston, of Concord United Methodist Church in Athens, W.Va., to see how things had changed and how they were adapting. Both congregations recently began offering their services online. 


Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia public high schools could soon offer their students elective courses on the Bible. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Following an incident in Mineral County last year, a bill to create a Religious Liberties in Schools Act has passed the West Virginia House of Delegates in a 76 to 22 vote and will move on to the state Senate for consideration.  

The Rev. Michael J. Bransfield addresses the media during a news conference announcing his appointment as bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2004.
Dale Sparks / AP Photo

Officials say $1.2 million from the sale of the diocesan home of former West Virginia Catholic Bishop Michael J. Bransfield will go to assist victims of sexual abuse in West Virginia.

The Intelligencer reports Bishop Mark E. Brennan released the information in a letter Friday to Catholics in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, more than 200 coal mines sit idle across central Appalachia. They have not produced coal for years. Those idled mines occupy a gray area in the regulations on mine cleanup and reclamation.

The Ohio Valley ReSource partnered with the Center for Public Integrity to learn more about how mine operators use a regulatory loophole. In the first of two reports, Brittany Patterson visited one such mine to see the effects on the neighboring community.

VIDEO: A W.Va. Community Responds to Religious Violence of Past and Present

May 7, 2019
Bobby Lee Messer

One Appalachian community is responding to violence of the past and present targeted at religious groups.

At their annual reading of the names ceremony, the B’Nai Shalom Synagogue in Huntington, West Virginia, brought together community members in a ceremony to remember victims of the Holocaust.

Just a few blocks away, community activists gathered to also honor the victims of the Easter suicide bombings in Sri Lanka.

The remembrances came the same day as the latest attack on the Jewish community in America– a shooting at a California synagogue.

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

About 300 people gathered inside the Islamic Association of West Virginia last night to hold a vigil in memory of the 50 people who were killed in New Zealand last Friday. Religious leaders from several faiths were among those who spoke inside the South Charleston Mosque. 


Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston
Creative Commons

Updated on Mar. 19, 2019 at 3:12 p.m.

A Catholic diocese and its former bishop in West Virginia knowingly employed pedophiles and failed to conduct adequate background checks on camp and school workers, a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the state attorney general charges.

StoryCorps

To wrap up 2018, we're re-airing stories about faith and religion and their influence in Appalachia. We’ve teamed up with StoryCorps and Georgetown University’s American Pilgrimage Project for this episode. Each segment includes a StoryCorps-style interview where the participants are talking about life, faith and what it all means to them. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the shooting at a Pittsburgh Synagogue last weekend sent shockwaves across the country, and in West Virginia. Roxy Todd sat down with Victor Urecki, the rabbi at B’Nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston, for his thoughts on moving ahead in the wake of the tragedy.

Victor Urecki

The shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last weekend sent shockwaves across the country and in West Virginia. Victor Urecki, the rabbi at B’Nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston, shared his thoughts on moving ahead in the wake of the tragedy.


Catholic News Agency

The head of the Catholic Church in West Virginia resigned this week. The pope announced the acceptance of his resignation Thursday while also announcing an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.

Carrie Neumayer/ KyCIR

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll learn about the life of  Kentucky politician and pastor Danny Johnson, and the investigation that exposed a long line of questionable actions that preceded his rise to power. 


Adobe Stock

A pastor in Fairmont has publicly supported a local human rights ordinance that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. But the endorsement could cost her church its spot in a local Baptist association and from the West Virginia Baptist Convention.


West Virginia Legislative Services

West Virginia's House has passed a bill that says clergy in the state don't have to perform marriages that don't conform to their "sincerely held religious beliefs" and cannot be sued for refusing.

Just a few weeks ago, a listener wrote in to tell us that she “love, love, loved” our Amazing Grace episode. I actually know this listener; she grew up Jewish. I was kind of surprised that she was so moved by this episode. I assumed that Amazing Grace resonated with Christians, mainly. But, as a choreographer and teacher, she’s used many different arrangements of Amazing Grace in her work over the years. And she loved hearing the richer background of the hymn.

Catholic News Agency

A Roman Catholic diocese has closed two Catholic schools in a West Virginia county this year, citing low enrollment.

Local news outlets report the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston announced Thursday that All Saints Catholic School in Moundsville will not reopen for the 2017-2018 school year. The announcement follows the closure of Bishop Donahue High School.

Roger May/ Looking at Appalachia

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we talk about faith and music. We learn about Sister Rosetta Tharpe,  one of the first great recording stars of gospel music, find our the story behind a song that became an American icon, and we’ll learn more about a project Glory that depicts images of Pentecostal style tent revival in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Lawyers for a West Virginia public school system are asking a judge to maintain a 75-year practice of putting children in Bible classes.

WVVA-TV reports attorneys for the Mercer County Board of Education and Mercer County Schools filed a motion with the judge this week to dismiss a mother's lawsuit over the board's "Bible in the Schools" program.

StoryCorps/ Georgetown University

Nicholas Cochran, 27, and Uneeke Ferguson, 21, are students at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia, where they volunteer at a catholic worker home.

They discussed their childhood experiences with homelessness growing up in inner city Baltimore and Marietta, Ohio, and how volunteering has changed their views on the homeless population.

StoryCorps

We’ve teamed up with StoryCorps and Georgetown University’s American Pilgrimage Project for this episode about faith in Appalachia.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week's Inside Appalachia is a special holiday edition.  We hear stories of Christmas past, present and hope for the future. We’ll check in with West Virginians still recovering from historic flooding that hit about 6 months ago, find out how to avoid gaining weight, hear a story about a welcomed Star of David on a Christmas tree, and more.

StoryCorps/ Georgetown University

West Virginia Public Broadcasting and StoryCorps have teamed up for a series of conversations about religious faith told by West Virginians. We'll be bringing you these conversations over the next few weeks.

In this interview, we hear from a woman who describes her relationship with God as "complicated". Patience Deweese was interviewed by her 18-year-old daughter Keturah, who was interested in finding out about her mother's time as a Jehovah's witness and how her faith has evolved over time.

StoryCorps

West Virginia Public Broadcasting and StoryCorps have teamed up for a series of conversations about religious faith told by West Virginians. We'll be bringing you these conversations over the next few weeks. We begin the series with Ronald English and James Patterson. Both men are ministers in Charleston. They also share the experience of challenging racism during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s.

CAIR/ Ikram Benaicha

How do Muslims living in Appalachia feel about increasing Islamaphobia in America? What role does the media play in creating such fear?

CAIR/ Ikram Benaicha

How do Muslims living in Appalachia feel about increasing Islamaphobia in America? What role does the media play in creating such fear?

This issue has been heating up in the last year. As refugees from Syria have been arriving in Europe, some Americans, like Donald Trump,  have called for barring them from entering the United States.

courtesy Fairness West Virginia

This story was updated March 2, 7:40 pm: House Bill 4012 died on a 7 to 27 vote by the West Virginia Senate. The bill, known as the Religious Freedom Protection Act, would have established a process for courts to follow when people or businesses claimed that government action was infringing upon their religious beliefs.

17-year old Davis Kimble, a young activist who had spoken out against the bill earlier this week, had this response to the Senate's decision:"I think this serves as a victory for not only minorities across the state, but also for passionate community leaders who stood up and made their voices heard. It's a shame we had to fight this fight, but it shows a willingness on the part of our state legislatures to hear the people's voices and do what's best for the state and its wonderful people."

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Four amendments for House Bill 4012, the West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act, were debated on the House floor Wednesday morning. The bill creates a judicial test for lawsuits against the state or government entities to ensure the protections of an individual’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

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