This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to The Associated Press, The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with the Trump administration in its effort to allow employers who cite religious or moral objections to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women as required by the Affordable Care Act. The high court on Wednesday said 7-2 the administration acted properly when it made the change, which lower courts had blocked. “We hold today that the Departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption. We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for a majority of the court.
According to Liberty Counsel, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that faith-based schools have a First Amendment Free Exercise right to make employment decisions regarding religious teachers without government interference. The principles set forth in the consolidated cases of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel apply beyond teachers at a religious school. In both cases, two teachers at Catholic schools were required by their annual agreement and faculty handbook to adhere to and teach the doctrine and sacraments of the Catholic church. In both cases, at their annual review, the teachers were not offered contract renewals. They filed discrimination claims in federal district court against their former employers. The Supreme Court ruled that both schools were protected religious organizations and that the courts could not interfere with their employment decisions under the “ministerial” exception that protects the autonomy of houses of worship and religious employers.
According to The Christian Post, As far as his family knows, Darius Settles had no health problems. But five days after he tested positive for COVID-19, the son of Pastor David Settles of The Worship Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, died at the age of 30 on July 4. “The virus is real,” Pastor Settles, who is now getting ready to bury his son on Saturday, told The Daily News Journal. “It’s not a hoax, and it’s not a joke. It’s real. Even with his age, I was convinced he’ll be fine. He’s young. He can fight it off. But that was not the case.” Darius’ sister, Deja Settles, said that when she learned her brother was diagnosed with the virus, she thought he would recover quickly too. “I wasn’t prepared for this. It wasn’t a possibility in my mind. I thought, he [was] going to be fine,” she said. Darius Settles lived in Nashville’s Antioch community, the newspaper reported. He is among the 685 people to have died in the state after contracting coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Darius Settles, who was married and the father of a young son, is the youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Nashville so far, according to News4.
According to Dnyuz, Weeks after President Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the country where services have resumed. The virus has infiltrated Sunday sermons, meetings of ministers and Christian youth camps in Colorado and Missouri. It has struck churches that reopened cautiously with face masks and social distancing in the pews, as well as some that defied lockdowns and refused to heed new limits on numbers of worshipers. Pastors and their families have tested positive, as have church ushers, front-door greeters and hundreds of churchgoers. In Texas, about 50 people contracted the virus after a pastor told congregants they could once again hug one another. In Florida, a teenage girl died last month after attending a youth party at her church. More than 650 coronavirus cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches and religious events across the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, with many of them erupting over the last month as Americans resumed their pre-pandemic activities, according to a New York Times database.
According to The Hill, A descendant of Thomas Jefferson is calling for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., to be removed. In an op-ed published by The New York Times, Lucian K. Truscott IV, a journalist and a descendant of the third U.S. president, described playing with his brother and family as a child at Monticello, Jefferson’s Virginia home. Many of his family members are buried on the grounds of Monticello. Truscott wrote that “as a memorial to Jefferson himself, [Monticello is] almost perfect. And that is why his memorial in Washington should be taken down and replaced. Described by the National Park Service as ‘a shrine to freedom,’ it is anything but. The memorial is a shrine to a man who during his lifetime owned more than 600 slaves and had at least six children with one of them, Sally Hemings. It’s a shrine to a man who famously wrote that ‘all men are created equal’ in the Declaration of Independence that founded this nation — and yet never did much to make those words come true,” he wrote. Truscott also wrote that visitors will not learn the history of Jefferson’s ownership of enslaved people at the memorial in Washington. However, he noted that Monticello features “an exhibit of Sally Hemings’s bedroom in her cavelike living quarters,” among other information about the people enslaved there.
According to The Christian Post, Search teams are looking for the body of a New Hampshire pastor’s son who’s believed to have drowned in an Oregon lake last Tuesday after his kayak capsized during a late-night ride. Bruce Boria, the senior pastor at Bethany Church in Greenland, New Hampshire, released a video message last week explaining to the church’s followers online that his family was recently informed that one of his four sons, Jared, 37, is missing after his kayak flipped over in the frigid waters of Diamond Lake. Jared Boria lives in Vancouver, Washington, and is reported to have gone out on a kayak while on a trip to the lake located a few hours’ drive from his home. According to The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, a call was received around 10:20 p.m. about a man crying for help in Diamond Lake. Although a search team was able to find the kayak, flip flops and paddle the next day, Boria’s body has not been recovered. In a video message, Bruce Boria said that his family is coming to terms with the fact that his son is likely dead.
According to NBC News, Radio host Rickey Smiley’s daughter was shot three times in Houston over the holiday weekend but is expected to recover. The comedian said during the “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” Monday that his daughter, Aaryn Smiley, was driving to Whataburger on Sunday night to get food when she was shot at a traffic light. “She’s fine. I’m just so angry right now,” he said on the show. Houston police said the shooting happened around 8:45 p.m. on South Freeway. A woman and three men were injured, the department said in a press release without identifying any of the victims. As of Tuesday morning, no arrests have been made.
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!