PODCAST: Supreme Court Blocks New York’s Coronavirus Restrictions of Churches (UCNN 11.26.20)

This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to NBC News, The U.S. Supreme Court issued an injunction late Wednesday blocking New York’s governor from enforcing 10- and 25-person occupancy limits on religious institutions, granting a request from the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel. The state had told the court there was no need to act because the restrictions, which were adopted as a way to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, had recently been dialed back. The court apparently divided 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissenting. In an unsigned majority opinion, the court said the restrictions would violate religious freedom and are not neutral because they “single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment.” While religious institutions were affected, businesses categorized as essential could admit as many people as they wish, the court said, and the list of such businesses included acupuncture facilities and others the court said were not essential.

According to the Associated Press, A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Texas and Louisiana can cut off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics, reversing earlier decisions stemming from legal battles over abortion. The decision by the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans reverses an earlier ruling by a three-judge appellate panel that blocked Texas from enforcing its ban on Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood. It also expressly reversed a ruling blocking Louisiana from banning Planned Parenthood funding. A three-judge panel had ruled against the ban and that decision stood when the full court deadlocked 7-7 in 2017, when there were only 14 active judges on the court. This time, 16 judges — including five nominees of President Donald Trump — participated in the case and 11 were in the majority. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed the ruling, saying “The Fifth Circuit correctly rejected Planned Parenthood’s efforts to prevent Texas from excluding them from the state’s Medicaid program. Planned Parenthood is not a ‘qualified’ provider under the Medicaid Act, and it should not receive public funding through the Medicaid program.”

According to PEOPLE magazine, Honestie Hodges — a Michigan girl who was once handcuffed at gunpoint by police, sparking calls for reform and justice — has died from complications related to the novel coronavirus, according to her family. The 14-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 9 and was admitted to the intensive care unit at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids later that day, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up by Hodges’ grandmother, Alisa Niemeyer, in support of the family. Niemeyer said in an update on Sunday: “It is with an extremely heavy heart that I have to tell all of you that my beautiful, sassy, smart loving Granddaughter has gone home to be with Jesus.” According to the grandmother, Hodges faced a series of complications during her hospitalization, including an elevated heart rate and “issues associated with her brain.” Niemeyer also said that Hodges was on a ventilator and received a blood transfusion while at the hospital.

According to the Associated Press, The former actress Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has revealed that she had a miscarriage in July, giving a personal account of the traumatic experience in hope of helping others. Markle described the miscarriage in an opinion piece in the New York Times on Wednesday. She wrote: “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.” Markle and her husband, Britain’s Prince Harry, have an 18-month-old son, Archie. The former “Suits” star said she was sharing her story to help break the silence around an all-too-common tragedy. She wrote: “Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.” Buckingham Palace said it was “a deeply personal matter we would not comment on.” Sophie King, a midwife at U.K. child-loss charity Tommy’s, said miscarriage and stillbirth remain “a real taboo in society, so mothers like Meghan sharing their stories is a vital step in breaking down that stigma and shame.

According to New York Post, Basketball legend Michael Jordan is donating $2 million of the proceeds from ESPN’s popular docuseries “The Last Dance” to feed the hungry. The donation of the proceeds from the documentary, which focuses on his final season with the Chicago Bulls, is going to the non-profit Feeding America and its food banks. Feeding America called it “an incredible gift to be thankful for” ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday and said the cash will “help our neighbors facing hunger.” Jordan said in a statement through the organization, “In these challenging times and in a year of unimaginable difficulty due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to pause and give thanks. I am proud to be donating additional proceeds from ‘The Last Dance’ to Feeding America and its member food banks in the Carolinas and Chicago to help feed America’s hungry.”

According to ESPN, Argentine legend Diego Maradona died on Wednesday at the age of 60 at his home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires following a heart attack. Matias Morla, Maradona’s longtime agent, confirmed the news to Efe news agency. Maradona’s spokesman, Sebastian Sanchi, said he died Wednesday of the heart attack, two weeks after being released from a hospital in Buenos Aires following brain surgery. A statement from the Argentina Football Association read: “The Argentine Football Association, through its President Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest pain at the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You’ll always be in our hearts.” Argentina President Alberto Fernandez also confirmed three days of national mourning following the news. Fernandez posted a photograph of himself on Twitter hugging Maradona with the message: “You took us to the highest place in the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of all. Thanks for existing, Diego. We are going to miss you the rest of our lives.” One of the most famous moments in the history of the sport, the “Hand of God” goal, came when the diminutive Maradona punched the ball into England’s net during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals. Ahead of his 60th birthday in October, Maradona told France Football magazine that it was his dream to “score another goal against the English, this time with the right hand.”

According to ESPN, Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning coordinator Markus Paul, who was rushed to the hospital Tuesday morning after experiencing a medical emergency, has died, the team announced Wednesday. He was 54. Surrounded by family, Paul died Wednesday evening at Plano Presbyterian Hospital. The cause of death was not announced. Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement: “The loss of a family member is a tragedy, and Markus Paul was a loved and valued member of our family. He was a pleasant and calming influence in our strength room and throughout The Star. His passion for his work and his enthusiasm for life earned him great respect and admiration from all our players and the entire organization. We offer our love and support to his family in this very difficult time. Our hearts are broken for his family and all of the individuals whose lives he touched and made better.” The Cowboys will recognize and remember Paul before their Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium.

You can read these stories and more at UrbanChristianNews.com

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!

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