#MourningWhileBlack. “The Archdiocese of Washington has apologized for kicking a black family out of their loved one’s funeral, prompting social media to respond with the hashtag #MourningWhileBlack. . . . On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Charlotte Hall, Maryland to say goodbye to 54-year-old Agnes Hicks, who lay in an open casket. However, when someone reached for a hug and accidentally knocked over the church’s chalice (a religious wine cup), Pastor Michael Briese reportedly erupted in anger. ‘That’s when all hell broke loose,’ Agnes’ daughter Shanice Chisely, told Fox 5 DC. ‘He literally got on the mic and said, “There will be no funeral, there will be no mass… everyone get the hell out of my church.” He was disrespectful. He disrespected my family… my mother, he called my mother a “thing” — he said, “Get this thing out of my church. Everyone get the hell out of my church.” It was very sad and I have never seen anything like that before.’ Agnes’ son Davon Chisely also told the news station he was ‘traumatized’” (“‘Mourning While Black’: Family, including dead woman, kicked out of church by priest,” Yahoo Finance).
This incident is the latest showing increased public scrutiny for churches and the actions of their clergy and staff. Churches are urged to pay attention to the lessons of these incidents. For preparedness in communications, see the communication professional pack for church administrators.
Federal judge blocks restrictions imposed by city on church’s ministry. “A federal judge has blocked the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, from enforcing restrictions on a church-based homeless drop-in center that limited the number of visitors and required the posting of a No Trespassing sign. The city's conditions on First Lutheran Church and Listening House appear to violate the church's First Amendment rights, as well as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a law passed by Congress, the judge ruled. US Chief Judge John R. Tunheim on Tuesday, July 3, issued a temporary injunction, saying that First Lutheran and Listening House, which serves homeless people from the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood church's basement, was likely to prevail in its lawsuit against the city regarding conditions put in place last December and in effect since April” (“Federal judge blocks St. Paul from imposing conditions on shelter, church,” StarTribune).
New rules affecting church vehicles in California take effect. “The rules of the road changed slightly over the weekend as three new traffic laws kicked in July 1. The new laws affect rideshare drivers, bus riders and church bus and employee shuttle operators, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles [DMV]. . . . SB 19 affects private carriers, such as employee shuttles and church buses. Under this new law, not-for-hire carriers will be required to obtain their intrastate authority certificates from the DMV, rather than the California Public Utilities Commission. The DMV and the California Highway Patrol will administer the program jointly. SB 20 requires all passengers on a bus equipped with seat belts to be "properly restrained," according to the legislative information. Children between 8 to 15 years old must wear a seat belt. Violations are punishable by a fine” (“New traffic laws effective July 1 all California drivers should know,” The Press Democrat).
See Safety on the Road for a comprehensive guide for how churches can safely handle vehicles and transportation.
Samuel Ogles is associate editor for Church Law & Tax.
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