COVID-19 Special (4-28-2021)

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AdventHealth Virtual Event: Finding Hope Amidst a PandemicAH May 6 2
Benefit from a thoughtful discussion from diverse perspectives as AdventHealth healthcare professionals and community leaders consider how worldviews and medicine intersect as people seek hope in the midst of a pandemic. This important presentation, featuring an interfaith panel discussion, will focus on overcoming the struggles brought about by COVID-19. The event, hosted by AdventHealth in conjunction with the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, will be on Thursday, May 6, at 3:00 pm. Join by Zoom. Participants will be: Fr. Anthony Aarons, Priest, Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando; Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer, AdventHealth Altamonte Springs; Abhinav Dwivedi, Vice President Emeritus, Hindu University of America; Ramona Kyrillos, MD, Infectious Disease Consultants; Imam Tariq Rasheed, Imam and President, Islamic Center of Orlando; David Sinclair, MD, Chief Medical Officer, AdventHealth Altamonte Springs; Jocelyn Williamson, President, Florida Humanist Association; Mary Young, BSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer, AdventHealth Altamonte Springs. Feel free to share this information with others.

Research: Faith Groups Can Influence Vaccination Rate
STATS 3The Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) hosted a webinar on April 22 that addressed groundbreaking data from PRRI concerning the overlap between religious identity and COVID-19 vaccine attitudes. The data show that one of the most effective ways to increase vaccinations, beat back the virus and create herd immunity is through harnessing the potential of religious communities. Dr. Eboo Patel, Founder and CEO of IFYC, drove home this simple fact: There is no herd immunity without dealing with faith identity. Research shows that even those of no faith are more likely to be vaccinated when informed and encouraged by faith leaders and faith communities. If you were not able to attend the webinar, you can watch the video and find the full report here. If you are tempted to think that your faith community can’t make a difference when it comes to increasing the number of people vaccinated, the webinar and the executive summary of the research findings may make you rethink that assumption.

To Beat Back Vaccination Hesitancy . . . Use Churches
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, responding to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) research findings, states the following in calling for religious entities to get involved in teaching about and encouraging COVID-19 vaccination: “While not a cure-all, religious leaders may find success in encouraging their congregants to take the vaccine. They can hold information sessions, set an example by getting the vaccines themselves, allow their houses of worship to be used as vaccination centers and help their flocks make appointments. ‘Religious groups with high levels of vaccine hesitancy or refusal are among the most attracted by these faith-based approaches. Nearly four in ten white evangelical Protestants who are hesitant to get vaccinated (38%) say that one or more of these faith-based approaches would make them more likely to get a vaccine. . . . While the more secularized mainstream media is understandably focused on what politicians say and do, they overlook where real progress in breaking down vaccine aversion can be made. It’s time to take vaccines to church.’”

Survey: Faith Leaders Key to Combat Vaccine Hesitancy
In a recent article titled “Survey: Faith leaders key to combat vaccine hesitancy among religious — and QAnon believers,” writer Jack Jenkins states: “A new survey suggests faith leaders are key to combating vaccine hesitancy or outright anti-vaccine sentiment among religious Americans and QAnon believers, many of whom still voice concerns about getting inoculated against COVID-19. . . . The report from PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) and Interfaith Youth Core, released on Thursday (April 22), divides American views on COVID-19 vaccines into three groups: vaccine accepters, vaccine refusers and those who are vaccine hesitant. . . . Vaccine hesitancy is a growing concern for public health officials hoping to inoculate enough Americans to reach ‘herd immunity’ — an inflection point where the raw number of vaccinated individuals makes it difficult for the coronavirus to spread. Although the White House recently announced more than half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, estimates for what it will take to reach herd immunity are much higher, ranging from 70% to 90% of the population.”

RNS: Healthcare Finds Success with Faith-Based Allies
Dr. Khan 2Writing for Religion News ServiceAdelle M. Banks shares the following from Dr. Basim Khan, who says that one of the keys to getting people in the door to get vaccinated has been enlisting local faith leaders. Khan has reached out to clergy in Fairfax and Arlington counties (Virginia) and marveled at their response. Some religious leaders have opened their houses of worship as additional clinics for COVID-19 vaccinations or acted as go-betweens, referring people who have had limited opportunities to get COVID-19 shots in their arms. Dr. Khan (in photo, courtesy of Neighborhood Health) states: “When a lot of people who’ve gotten vaccinated received a call from someone in their church, it was a powerful endorsement of the vaccination effort.” The collaboration of religious officials with health care professionals — from both nonprofit and for-profit companies — has been a crucial driver in efforts to increase access to vaccinations among populations that have had disproportionately higher levels of sickness or death from the coronavirus.

Hindu University: A Message About India’s Coronavirus Crisis
Excerpted from a message to “Friends, Students and Wellwishers” of Hindu University of America: “India is going through a deadly time right now. . . . The new coronavirus variants seem to be seeping into communities and getting past the defenses of social distancing, masks and vaccines. . . . There is no comparable event in our lifetimes that we can look to for solutions. . . . Many of you personally may be dealing with loss or illness. . . . Or you may know people who are dealing with it. We share our heartfelt prayers and wishes to everyone fighting this virus, including our students, supporters, friends and family, and the entire medical fraternity, which is overwhelmed by this situation. . . .  I find that when we have a strong spiritual connection with the divine, that gives us mental and emotional strength as well. And we can then be more empathetic, supportive and naturally caring towards others who may be suffering. . . . I hope that you stay safe, strong and support your friends and families as best as you can. If you are able to do so, kindly make a small contribution along with your prayer. . . . Sincerely, Kalyan Viswanathan, President of HUA “ Mr. Viswanathan recommends Sewa International as an excellent recipient for donations. CNN lists a variety of ways to help mitigate India’s current crisis.


Val Demings to Host Workshop Re Faith-Based GrantsVal Demings
Has your faith-based organization been providing a community service you really want to continue but may not be able to do so because of a lack of funding? Or are there community services your faith-based entity would like to provide but simply doesn’t have the wherewithal to undertake such a venture? On Thursday, April 29, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, Congresswoman Val Demings (photo) will host a virtual Grants Workshop for Faith-Based Organizations, which will be facilitated by Public Health Analyst Rose Mangual. RSVP:

Corrected Registration Link to Mayor’s Virtual Iftar Dinner
The Islamic Center of Orlando invites the public to its 4th Annual Interfaith Iftar with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, city commissioners and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. This annual Iftar dinner is to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan and to highlight the contributions of Muslim Americans in Central Florida. Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. During this month an approximate 1.8 billion Muslims across the globe fast and abstain from earthly pleasures. It is a time for prayer and reflection so followers of Islam can become closer to God. This is also a time for families to come together and celebrate. For the past four years, the City of Orlando has honored Ramadan by hosting an Iftar dinner. This year’s event will include poems, music, prayer, storytelling and more. Although the pandemic has changed the ways the participants come together, it has not changed the City of Orlando’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. On May 3, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, you are invited to enjoy a night full of opportunities for personal growth, cultural expression and much more. Click here to register. (Link supplied in the April newsletter was incorrect.)

Eboo Patel: The Intersection of Interfaith and Racial Equality
EbooThe Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida invites the public to a live virtual event from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm on Tuesday, May 4, featuring Dr. Eboo Patel (photo), Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a non-profit organization working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm in America. Dr. Patel is a respected leader on national issues of religious diversity, civic engagement and the intersection of racial equity and interfaith cooperation. He is the author of four books and dozens of articles and is a frequent keynote speaker at colleges and universities, philanthropic convenings, and civic gatherings, both in person and virtually. He served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council. Dr. Patel writes in his book Acts of Faith: “I thought about the meaning of pluralism in a world where the forces that seek to divide us are strong. I came to one conclusion: We have to save each other. It’s the only way to save ourselves.” Advance registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Bonus! If you’ve missed previous virtual programs at the Holocaust Center, here’s good news: You can access the archive of recordings and watch them at your leisure. Simply click here.

Interfaith Discussion to Be Held via Zoom on May 12
On Wednesday, May 12, the monthly Interfaith Discussion sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida will be held on Zoom from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Topic for the evening’s exchange is: Religion and Race. In what was has your faith tradition or worldview turned a blind eye to—or exacerbated—racial inequity? In what ways has it mitigated racial inequity. Has it played a positive and a negative role at different times in its history? And what is the best way to correct wrong collective behaviors of the past? Please log in a few minutes before 7:00 just so you have time to deal with any failures to launch. Our Zoom hosts for the meeting are the Baha’is of Orange County EastClick here to join the Zoom Meeting. Meeting ID: 834 6828 6041. Password: 537979. Dial by your location: +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) or +1 929 205 6099 US (New York). The monthly discussions are respectful, open and candid, and the participants represent a variety of faith traditions as well as those who question the validity of faith altogether. For more information, phone 321-228-4599.

Conservative Writer George Will Opines about Death Penalty
In a recent column in The Washington Post, conservative writer George Will argues: “Capital punishment is ending because of a wholesome squeamishness that reflects (in Chief Justice Earl Warren’s words) society’s ‘evolving standards of decency.’ And because attempts to make it neither cruel nor unusual have made its implementation increasingly capricious, and hence morally absurd.” He notes that “53 percent of Americans live either in the 23 states that have abolished it or the three others where governors have imposed a moratorium on executions. Twelve states with death penalty laws have not executed anyone for at least a decade. And a majority of Americans oppose capital punishment for murder when prompted to consider the alternative of life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

Interfaith Council Asks for Your Help with Funding
If you appreciate what’s being achieved by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, we would welcome your support. Please send your contribution to: Interfaith Council of Central Florida, PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310. Thank you for your assistance.

Buddhist Reflection
“On life’s journey, faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day, and right mindfulness is the protection by night.”

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  James Coffin, Executive Director
PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310
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