Here are some of the top stories making headlines this week in religious news:
Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos announced the company plans to change which charities it donates to after years of bad press and protests from the LGBT community over its alleged support of “anti-LGBT” causes and groups.
Beginning next year, Chick-fil-A will move away from its current philanthropic structure.
Among those organizations who will no longer be receiving charitable and philanthropic donations from Chick-fil-A include “the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.”
Instead, Chick-fil-A plans to give $9 million to a variety of organizations including Junior Achievement USA and Covenant House International.
Additionally, Chick-fil-A says it will also give $25,000 to a local food bank whenever it opens in a new location.
Tassopoulos said in an interview, “There’s no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are. There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message.”
Hip-hop superstar Kanye West, whose newest album “Jesus is King” is simultaneously topping five billboard album charts, as well as having ten of the albums tracks hold all top ten positions in both the gospel and Christian music charts, is making news yet again.
Last Sunday, Kanye West appeared at pastor Joel Osteen‘s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, where he spoke about the spiritual journey that has changed his life and music.
“I know that God’s been calling me for a long time and the devil’s been distracting me for a long time,” West said. “Because every time I stand up, I feel that I’m standing up and drawing a line in the sand and saying, ‘I’m here in service to God and no weapon formed against me shall prosper.’”
West returned later that evening for a Sunday service performance.
While in Texas last week, Kanye West also made a visit to Harris County jail, where he gave a performance, saying “this was a mission, not a show.”
Kanye’s visit echoed the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35: “I was in prison and you visited me.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott applauded Kanye’s effort, tweeting: “What @kanyewest does to inspire the incarcerated is transformative. Saving one soul at a time. Inmates who turn to God may get released earlier b/c of good behavior & may be less likely to commit future crimes. It would be great if other artists followed Kanye’s lead.”
On Monday, Kanye West posted a photo of himself in the recording studio with mega-producer Dr. Dre on Twitter with a caption that read:
“Ye and Dre Jesus is King Part II coming soon.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against Smith County schools in Tennessee on the behalf of two families who claim that the school system regularly incorporates prayer into school events and preaches to students.
The two families are atheists.
One of the family said: “It’s wrong for the public schools to make my family feel like second-class citizens because of our beliefs.”
The families complained about such practices as school-directed prayer during mandatory assemblies, the display and distribution of Bibles during classes, Bible verses posted in hallways, Bible verses endnotes given to students from school staff, as well as prayers that are broadcast through loudspeakers at sporting events, coaches leading our participating in prayer, and a large cross that is painted on the wall of a school athletic facility.
“The religious freedom of Tennessee families can only be protected if the government is not promoting or sponsoring religious activities,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of ACLU-TN. “Decisions about whether and how to practice religion are best left to families and faith communities, not public schools.”
“Public schools are supposed to be places where all students are welcomed and given access to quality education, regardless of their religious beliefs,” Weinberg added.