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FāVS Religion News Roundup: March 1


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FāVS Religion News Roundup: March 1

This week’s Roundup carries several news stories worth reading. We write a regional update on homelessness, the rising hostility on progressive churches, an upcoming event in support of Palestinians, a 65-voice choir coming to Spokane, a unique piece of history about the LDS church and more.

News Story by FāVS News Staff

Homelessness in Lewiston-Clarkston Valley

Homelessness has long been an issue in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, though it often goes unseen. Recent visibility has drawn attention to the problem.

According to an article in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, advocates point to unaffordable housing as a major cause. This impacts not just adults but children and even fully employed families. Stretched thin, local organizations provide some assistance. Shelters also have limited capacity.

Though area churches have provided some support through volunteer work and meals, few offer direct housing services. Advocates emphasize the need for a multifaceted approach, with expanded behavioral health care and affordable housing options, to ensure anyone who wants to transition out of homelessness has the support to do so.

Hostility Toward Largely Progressive Churches on the Rise, Says Report

The Family Research Council’s 2024 Report on Hostility against U.S. Churches shows a major increase in incidents against churches in 2023. The FRC has tracked 915 total acts against churches from 2018 to 2023, but nearly half (47%) occurred just in the first 11 months of 2023. This signals a dramatic spike in crimes targeting churches last year.

Several churches in Washington state were damaged in 2023, often due to the church’s pro-LGBTQ stance. Incidents included vandalism, theft, and arson against churches in Edmonds, Kirkland, Seattle, Vancouver, Fox Island, Spokane Valley, Pasco and Renton.

Churches saw hateful flyers, smashed windows, slashed furniture, stolen pride flags, hateful graffiti and intentionally damaged lawns. A man was arrested for arson at one church. The repeated crimes have made it difficult for some churches to sell their properties. The wide range of hostility shows an escalation of intolerance toward progressive and LGBTQ-affirming churches across Washington.

Mobilizing Event to Support Palestinians

The Party for Socialism and Liberation in Eastern Washington invites the community to march with them for Gaza in their “Hands off Rafah” mobilization on March 2.The event is part of a worldwide march to “demand an end to the ongoing and escalating Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people,” according to their event’s Facebook listing.

Organizers want to call attention to Israel’s planned invasion of Rafah on March 10, which “poses a severe threat to the lives of countless Palestinians. The potential consequences, including catastrophic losses and ethnic cleansing, underscore the urgency of our mobilization efforts.”

The event starts at 1 p.m. at 601 W. Riverside.

Concordia Choir Comes to St. John the Evangelist

The renowned 65-voice Concordia Choir from Minnesota will perform a wide-ranging program at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane on March 6 at 7 p.m. The concert is part of the choir’s 17-day national tour of the Northwest United States. Tickets begin at $25 and can be purchased online.

The choir, known for its diverse repertoire and impressive technique, was recently ranked among the top college choirs in the country. Michael Culloton took over leadership in 2020. The program will include works ranging from baroque to contemporary by composers like Bach, Dawson and Clausen. The tour includes over 20 performances in multiple states. This caps off a year in which the choir also toured internationally to Italy.

LDS Church Celebrated for Part in Spokane’s 1974 World’s Fair

As Spokane readies to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Expo 74, Nonstop Local reported a bit of history this week. They noted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the sole religious group with an official presence at Spokane’s 1974 World’s Fair. The church used the environmentally-themed fair to promote the moral framework of the Book of Mormon. Doing so, they urged visitors to “find shelter from the moral pollution rampant in the world today.”

In addition to a pavilion featuring a statue of the Angel Moroni and exhibits on Joseph Smith’s life, the church organized a Mormon Expo Choir and distributed brochures and other materials. The church’s prominent role at Expo ’74 represents an intriguing chapter in both the congregation’s history and one of Spokane’s most significant international events.

Child Protection v. Religious Freedom

A bill that would have made it mandatory for clergy members in Washington State to report child abuse has failed for the second consecutive year. Senate Bill 6298, which had passed the Senate, recently died in a House committee. The proposed legislation aimed to address a significant gap in the state’s laws. Washington is one of only five states where clergy members are not legally required to report child abuse.

The bill faced challenges because it would have allowed priests to maintain confidentiality if they learned of abuse during sacramental confession. This provoked debates and opposition from survivors of abuse and advocacy groups, who argued that this exception would protect abusers.

The rejection of the bill highlights the ongoing tension between the need for child protection and the preservation of religious freedoms.

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