Religion | St. Louis Public Radio


St. Louis interfaith gathering to focus on environment

Aug 26, 2012

People from a range of religious traditions and faiths will be gathering this afternoon to talk about environmental sustainability.

St. Louis EcoFaith co-organizer Steve Lawler says the goal is to build an interfaith network that can support environmental awareness and action.

Himself an Episcopal priest, Lawler says concern for the environment is integral to many different religions, from Buddhism to Islam.

SLPS releases first-day attendance numbers

Aug 13, 2012
St. Louis Public Schools

Updated 5:10 p.m. Aug. 13:

St. Louis Public Schools has released its attendance figures for the first day of school:

  • 20,283 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade attended classes today
  • According to SLPS, the number shows a 10.25 percent increase over the previous year’s first day attendance of 18,397

Three new schools opened to address the closing of six Imagine charter schools in St. Louis. The new schools had the following first-day attendance numbers:

Editor's Weekly: Week's news mixes politics and religion

Aug 10, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 10, 2012 - Dear Beaconites -- In the days following Missouri's primary, the Beacon has been filled with news of church as well as state. In part, this reflects the power of religion in Missouri politics. 

Albrecht Dürer / Wikimedia Commons

When voters go to the polls on Tuesday they’ll be asked to decide on an amendment to the state constitution. Supporters say the Missouri Right to Pray amendment will protect residents’ right to practice their religion. Those against it say it’s not only redundant, but sneaky.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie Bierach reports.

"We need to make sure that people don't have to live in fear..."

Commentary: 'God' particle leaves out the meaning of life

Jul 11, 2012

this article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 11, 2012 - Scientists last week announced they believe they have found evidence for the now famous Higgs boson. The Higgs boson is the particle that is responsible for giving matter mass; the single elusive property that allows all matter to exist as we know it. It allows for the interaction and the gravitational attraction of all physical things, hence the name "god particle."

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Among the 115 bills sent to Governor Jay Nixon (D) this year is one that would make it a crime to deliberately disturb worship services in Missouri.

The measure would make it a misdemeanor to use, “profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior,” or make loud disruptive noises within or just outside a public or private building where a worship service is being held.  It was sponsored by Senate President Pro-tem Rob Mayer (R, Dexter).

“It’s important for citizens here in Missouri to have their First Amendment rights protected," Mayer said.  "There (have) been instances across the country where there have been actual disturbances in churches and synagogues.”

Mo. lawmakers face contraception issue on last day

May 18, 2012
(via Flickr/brains the head)

Missouri senators have passed legislation specifically allowing employers to refuse, on religious ground, to provide health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization or abortion.

The Senate's 28-6 vote Friday moved the bill to the Missouri House, where it was passed during mid-afternoon.

Mo. House endorses health care legislation

May 16, 2012
(via Flickr/Jennifer_Boriss)

The Missouri House has approved legislation allowing health care providers to refuse to participate in some tasks that violate their religious or ethical beliefs.

Wednesday's 117-37 vote sends the bill back to the Senate to consider changes made by the House.

The measure prohibits punishment of doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to participate in contraception, abortions, embryonic stem cell research and certain other procedures or research.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 10, 2012 - Was President Obama’s expression of support for same-sex marriage a profile in courage on civil rights or a wrongheaded view on a highly politicized, fundamentally religious issue?

Not surprisingly, the reaction to the president’s statement Wednesday  depends largely on the prism through which people have viewed the issue since it began.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 8, 2012 - Two weeks ago I reminded my Baptist congregation why we stand against pre-marital sex. It might lead to dancing.

That is an old, but relevant, joke. We Baptists, like much of America today, have issues with sex. At a recent conference in Atlanta (held at First Baptist Church Decatur), 150 Baptist leaders from around the country discussed what is often categorized as a “don’t ask, don’t tell” issue – particularly in church.  The meeting was entitled:  “A [Baptist] Conference on Sexuality and Covenant.”

Local congregations take worship to the web

Apr 25, 2012
(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

The internet pervades almost every aspect of modern life and religion is no exception. From Facebook and Twitter, to live streaming services and online donations, churches across the country are redefining what it means to worship.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Joseph Leahy takes a look at how some local congregations are embracing the net to expand their missions online.

Including the "dot com"

During a livestreaming service on Easter Sunday, Pastor David Crank recalled the story of Jesus and the Adulteress -- adding one unusual detail:

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri House has passed legislation that would exempt doctors and other health care workers from being forced to perform medical procedures that violate their religious beliefs.

The bill re-ignited intense debate over women’s reproductive rights.  State Rep. Margo McNeil (D, Hazelwood) argued that allowing health professionals to opt out of performing certain procedures could result in a public health threat.


The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation making it a crime to disturb a religious worship service.

The bill given initial approval Wednesday would make it a misdemeanor to intentionally disturb or interrupt a "house of worship" with profane language, rude behavior or noise. The crime would be punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, with harsher punishment for repeat offenses.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 21, 2012 - In what he insists is a war on women waged by the religious right, Barry Lynn almost had a spot on the front lines.

The longtime head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State had been asked to be a witness at the congressional hearing last month on religious objections to including contraception in health insurance coverage under the new health-care law – the same issue that later featured the now-famous testimony of Sandra Fluke.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

On Sundays, rows of chairs, a city made of cardboard, and a praise band transform the auditorium of a local community center into the home of Middle Tree Church.

It's the first church associated with the Assemblies of God to open north of Delmar in almost 20 years. Its website asks, "What would communicate the love of God louder to a racially, socio-economically divided city than a church that truly unites the community that surrounds it?"

It's one man's effort to use a once racially-divided church to help heal a racially divided city.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 13, 2012 - Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints won and placed in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday. With Mormon Mitt Romney the front runner in the Republican race for party nominee and Jon Huntsman Jr. as a respectable vote-getter in the Granite State, Mormons might be optimistic about the way other Americans view them.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 11, 2011 - Joy Sunday: That's what Rev. Leslie Limbaugh of Third Baptist Church in Grand Center and many Christians call, the third Sunday of Advent, which was this week.

Catholics call it Gaudate (Latin for Joy) Sunday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 9, 2011 - The prolonged economic slump largely relegated religion and social issues to the sidelines during this year's midterm elections, but experts on the relationship between religion and politics say that won't be the case for the presidential contest of 2012.

At a discussion sponsored by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University Monday, panelists said they expect questions of faith will draw sharp discussion -- and big money -- as Republicans try to consolidate their gains and President Barack Obama tries to win a second term.

This article irst appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 3, 2011 - About midway through his lecture about religion and American life Wednesday night, Harvard's Robert Putnam proved he was a professor by giving his audience at Washington University a pop quiz:

How often do you say grace?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 21, 2011 - While the Constitution specifically prohibits government from administering religious tests as a condition for holding public office, the First Amendment guarantees our right to advocate for or against candidates on any basis we choose, including their religion. We can, if we like, support or oppose a candidate for no better reason than that he or she is, for example, a Catholic. Historically, some Americans have done just that, as was the case with the anti-Catholic Know Nothing Party of the 19th Century.

Commentary: Christian-centric thinking

Oct 10, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 10, 2011 - In light of my recent column on systems, I was struck by examples of Christian privilege that flourished this past week. To disclose, I am Christian and feel strongly that people in privileged positions should be willing to name their power.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 20, 2011 - Should the government help people in these tough financial times? A poll by the Gallup Organization released Tuesday morning shows that people who strongly believe that God has a plan for them are less willing than others to have the government send checks to able-bodied, unemployed Americans.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 15, 2011 - I am not a moron from Oxy. I am a progressive pastor.

Some say that it is impossible to be both a pastor and progressive or liberal. I have heard it said, time and again, that you can only be one or the other. Not so. I am very comfortable being both. In fact, I cannot separate the two. I am a progressive pastor.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 12, 2011 - Hooray for Reese Witherspoon!

In the midst of the Anthony Weiner scandal, she made a clear statement about right and wrong. "If you take naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, hide your face." Her forum was MTV's Movie Awards, the channel that targets an audience of 12-24 year olds with hit shows such as "16 and Pregnant" and "Jersey Shore." Witherspoon was promptly criticized on Twitter and other social media sites as being "judgmental," "a mean girl" and "hating everyone."

Mo. bill would allow vouchers for private schools

Feb 16, 2011

A state House member wants to amend the Missouri Constitution to let parents receive public funding to send children to religious schools.

The proposal by Jefferson City Republican Jay Barnes would repeal a prohibition on public money going to religious schools. If approved by the full House and Senate, it would go on a statewide ballot.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 6, 2011 - When a new Congress is sworn in, there is a flurry of interest in how representative the elected legislators are of the nation at large. Despite talk of many more evangelical Christians winning seats, there is scant change in religious affiliation of members of the new 112th Congress compared with the 111th Congress that just ended.

Commentary: Lords a-leaping or a leap of faith?

Dec 24, 2010

This article appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2010 - It's typical these days to encounter "The 12 Days of Christmas" in our culture: an uncountable number of musical variations (including the cast of "Glee" and "Winnie the Pooh," go figure), CNN challenges to video each of the 12 gifts, analyses of the cost of the gifts, and so on.

What's missing is the why: Why are these 12 days called out, and what's their significance? Why 12? When does the 12-day countdown begin? Is it just a nonsense song about trying to buy love (sorry, Beatles) with a succession of greater and greater gifts?

Or, is it something more?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 28, 2010 - Until now, no one has ever set out to examine what large numbers of American know about many faith groups. Instead, for nearly a century, Americans have been surveyed about whether they believe in God and hell, how often they attend houses of worship and what they give to charity -- if they give.

The first ever survey of what Americans know about their own and others' religions is being made public this morning. On average, those surveyed gave correct answers to half of 32 questions about religions.

Commentary: Mountain justice

Sep 6, 2010

Just this past week I finally got to Frontenac Plaza to see “Winter’s Bone.” A friend had urged it on me a month ago. I’m sorry I put it off, but relieved that Frontenac’s policy is to hold over remarkable films so long. If you’ve seen it yourself, or read Harper Barnes’ splendid June review , you know (I trust) what a fine drama it is, and what remarkable performances are in it.

Theories have limits. Some account for phenomena quite well when applied within given parameters, only to fail miserably when expanded beyond them. Ironically, it is often the more limited theory that appeals most strongly to common sense. Consider the case of Ptolemy.

Ptolemy (ta-le-mi) was a 2nd-century astronomer who, like virtually all of his contemporaries, believed that the heavens revolved around the Earth. This geocentric conception of the universe worked quite well for the ordinary living of his day. In fact, it still does.