WBEZ | religion http://www.wbez.org/tags/religion Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Bear ye one another’s burdens: Chicago Christians share health care costs http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bear-ye-one-another%E2%80%99s-burdens-chicago-christians-share-health-care-costs-110745 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/healthcare ministry pic.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Sherri Myers was at a dance class in 2009 when she felt something tear in her leg.</p><p dir="ltr">The Bolingbrook woman went to the hospital, and soon learned her leg was bleeding internally, and she needed surgery. Her bills started mounting. Myers was worried &mdash; &nbsp;her family had switched from traditional insurance to a new way to pay health care costs just months before.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was cheaper, truthfully,&rdquo; Myers said. &ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t need a lot of the bells and whistles of insurance, and with our insurance it didn&rsquo;t take care of that anyway, and it felt like instead of just sending for your insurance, it seemed like such a way to minister to other people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Myers had signed up for a cost-sharing ministry, and this was the first big test.</p><p dir="ltr">People from all over the country sent her checks to cover her medical bills, and cards to encourage her.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a gift in a way,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re praying for them, they&rsquo;re praying for you, at different times. And that God in all of it gets glorified.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Myers is a customer of <a href="http://samaritanministries.org/">Samaritan Ministries</a>, based in Peoria. As is her pastor, the Rev. Timothy Greene, at Living Word Bible Church in Morris. He said Samaritan&rsquo;s health care plan is based on the Biblical principle of carrying your own load, and helping others bear their burdens too.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our bodies are created by God, we need to take care of them,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;There is a real sense of responsibility that we feel. We don&rsquo;t just want to rush off to the doctor for everything.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The pastor estimates nearly 20 percent of his 150-member congregation is part of Samaritan.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, thousands of people joined them during the rush to sign up for traditional health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. While millions bought private plans on the new health exchanges, others opted to join a Christian health-care sharing ministry.</p><p dir="ltr">With about 37,000 families enrolled, Samaritan is one of the three largest cost-sharing programs in the U.S.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Health care sharing ministries are a mechanism for people of faith to band together to share medical bills without using insurance,&rdquo; said Executive Vice President James Lansberry.</p><p dir="ltr">Many didn&rsquo;t want to buy insurance that covered abortion or some types of contraception.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t say people were attracted to us because they wanted a way (out) from the Affordable Care Act,&rdquo; Lansberry said. &ldquo;I think there were particular facets in plans in the Affordable Care Act that caused them to have some moral concerns that drove them toward health care sharing.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, members are required to lead an evangelical Christian lifestyle and share certain religious beliefs.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The members all agree to attend church, they agree to abstain from illegal drugs, they agree not to abuse tobacco or alcohol,&rdquo; Lansberry said, adding they also agree to abstain from sex outside of &ldquo;traditional marriage.&rdquo; (The plan won&rsquo;t cover pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases if they happen outside of marriage.)</p><p dir="ltr">Members sign a pledge each year, and their pastors sign off that they&rsquo;re following the tenets of the plan.</p><p dir="ltr">At Samaritan, the monthly cost ranges from $180 for a single person to $405 for a family. Members pay for routine care like doctor&rsquo;s visits out of pocket.</p><p dir="ltr">When big things happen, like baby deliveries or broken legs, customers help repay each other&rsquo;s bills. Samaritan coordinates who pays whom.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Every month we send our check in, but we&rsquo;re not just sending it to a big company somewhere in Omaha or Providence, we&rsquo;re sending it to an actual person,&rdquo; Lansberry said. Once a year, members send their checks directly to the company to help with administrative costs.</p><p dir="ltr">But not everyone thinks this system works. Some consumer advocates like Kevin Lucia &nbsp;have misgivings.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I have concerns in part because some of the important consumer protections that apply to the individual market do not apply to health care sharing ministries,&rdquo; said Lucia, a senior research fellow at <a href="http://chir.georgetown.edu/">Georgetown University&rsquo;s Center on Health Insurance Reforms</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">These companies don&rsquo;t have to meet protections provided by the Affordable Care Act because they&rsquo;re exempted as religious ministries. That&rsquo;s why people who sign up for them <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions/">don&rsquo;t pay a penalty</a> for not having traditional insurance. The ministries are also exempt from many state and federal laws, Lucia said.</p><p dir="ltr">For instance, the ministries can cap reimbursements; and they don&rsquo;t have to cover pre-existing conditions.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://samaritanministries.org/how-it-works/faq/">Both of these things are true of Samaritan</a>, which caps reimbursements for a single need at $250,000, and qualifies how it covers pre-existing conditions. Some members are in an additional program to save up money and share higher costs for expensive things like cancer treatment that can easily top $250,000.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In most states, there are reserve requirements because if a plan takes on too much risk and they can&rsquo;t pay out the claims for their members, there is this possibility the insurance company will go under,&rdquo; Lucia said. Ministries don&rsquo;t have to hold such reserves in case health needs outpace contributions.</p><p dir="ltr">When that happens at Samaritan, <a href="http://samaritanministries.org/how-it-works/faq/">the company prorates </a>how much people get paid back for their bills. After three months of this, it asks members to vote on increasing their monthly contributions.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Because they&rsquo;re not covered in many states under insurance law, (members) don&rsquo;t have this kind of army of consumer regulators that are available to protect them in case something goes wrong,&rdquo; Lucia said.</p><p dir="ltr">If there&rsquo;s a problem, Lucia said, the only remedy is the Attorney General&rsquo;s Office or the courts. The Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s Office reports one complaint back in 2000, and no lawsuits show up in federal or Cook County court records.</p><p dir="ltr">Samaritan&rsquo;s James Lansberry said members regulate themselves: &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no direct regulation from any state or federal agency because there&rsquo;s no need for it. If we make our members upset, we won&rsquo;t have an organization.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">20 years after it started, Lansberry&rsquo;s organization is still here and growing stronger because of people like John Appleton. The West Chicago man&rsquo;s been a member of Samaritan Ministries for 15 years. He likens it to an Amish barn raising, where everyone voluntarily helps each other.</p><p dir="ltr">But he acknowledges not everyone will be comfortable with health care sharing ministries.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s all about where you put your faith,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If some people would rather put their faith in the government or an insurance company, for us, we put our faith in Christ and his people.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ reporter/producer covering culture and religion. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 17:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bear-ye-one-another%E2%80%99s-burdens-chicago-christians-share-health-care-costs-110745 Tiny religious sect thrives in Chicagoland despite cultural clash http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/tiny-religious-sect-thrives-chicagoland-despite-cultural-clash-110712 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/jain%202.JPG" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Members of the Jain community in greater Chicago take part in a sacred pageant to celebrate the birth of a great teacher, Lord Mahavir, 2,600 years ago. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" /></div><p>When Hemali Shah was a girl, sometimes it was hard to be a Jain. She wanted to run in the grass with other kids, but had to worry about accidentally stepping on an insect, and killing it.</p><p><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/">Jainism</a> is a tiny Indian religious sect in Chicago. Jains believe in nonviolence, to the point of not harming any sentient being, through action or even thought.</p><p>&ldquo;I was an athlete, so I played softball a lot, and obviously if you&#39;re playing in the grass, there&rsquo;s lot of bugs, so I ended up playing in the infield,&rdquo; Shah said.</p><p>Shah is 24 now, and said she&rsquo;s happy to avoid the grass. But she still struggles with Jain teachings about not being possessive and accumulating stuff.</p><p>&ldquo;Everywhere they&rsquo;re showing mega scenes of the newest and best thing that everyone wants and I guess that&rsquo;s how it works in like, Hollywood. That&rsquo;s one of my impulses, getting something just because somebody else has it, which is I guess not good at all.&rdquo;</p><p>Shah said she filters these desires through Jainism: &ldquo;I end up not buying it because my Dad tells me not to, because my Dad is completely non possessive, he doesn&rsquo;t like things. And I feel like I&rsquo;m just going to be on (the TV show) &lsquo;Hoarders&rsquo;,&rdquo; she said with a laugh.</p><p>These Jain beliefs seemingly clash with some of the most powerful forces in American culture. Yet Jains are finding ways to adapt and even thrive here in the U.S. They&rsquo;re passing these beliefs on to the next generation during their holiest holiday this week, called <a href="http://www.jainworld.com/jainbooks/images/31/PARYUSHAN_PARVA.htm">Paryushan</a>, at their temple in Bartlett.</p><p>To celebrate Paryushan, Hemali Shah&rsquo;s been fasting for almost a month. She hasn&rsquo;t consumed anything but boiled water since July. The time she used to spend preparing food and eating, is now spent reading religious materials.</p><p>&ldquo;It does get me closer to my soul, &lsquo;cuz I know that&rsquo;s what the whole process is for. It just takes away all the other distractions like television, or music, or food,&rdquo; Shah said.</p><p>Unlike previous generations, Shah grew up surrounded by Jains. She has Jain friends, and even Jain bosses. That&rsquo;s because she lives in the northwest suburbs, which you could almost call Jain central. That&rsquo;s where many families settled, near the temple in Bartlett.</p><p>A bell rings out at the temple. A dozen men and women in colorful Indian robes and dresses sit on the gleaming white marble floor of the Jain temple. They&rsquo;re praying and reading scripture.<br /><br />Several wear cloths covering their mouths to prevent insects or other organisms from getting swallowed and dying.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/jain-temple.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Members of the Jain community pray and read scripture in their Bartlett Temple. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" /><div class="inserted-credit">&nbsp;</div><div class="inserted-credit">&ldquo;What we are celebrating is known as Paryushan, and what that really means is staying close to your own soul,&rdquo; said Dr. Mukesh Doshi, a trustee of the <a href="http://www.jsmconline.org/">Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago</a>. &ldquo;It is a time of reflection, it is a time of observing austerities, it is a time to get engaged in religious activities and to get our soul as close to its own original-in-heaven pureness as possible.&rdquo;</div></div></div><p>Along with embracing nonviolence and non-possession, Jainism also tries to respect multiple viewpoints. But the religion wasn&rsquo;t necessarily an easy sell to Jain children back in the &lsquo;60s.</p><p>There were only about 20 families here then. Dr. Doshi said they didn&rsquo;t have a temple, a guru, even a place of worship. They met in a doctor&rsquo;s home.</p><p>&ldquo;At that time it was a challenge even to find a vegetarian food when you are going out. And many of us have spent time eating nothing but the corn chips during the day because here is no other vegetarian food&hellip;only corn chips,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Times are different. The Jain Society in Bartlett now numbers 1,700 families, and has the largest Jain temple in the U.S.</p><p>Vegetarian food is easy to come by.</p><p>Still, Dr. Doshi said, &ldquo;We have to make some changes which are appropriate for the Western world. Like for example, devout Jains should not be eating anything, consuming either food or water after sunset, and it is very difficult to observe.&rdquo;</p><p>Jains aren&rsquo;t supposed to eat at night, because they believe preparing food can inadvertently kill insects or organisms.</p><p>Dr. Doshi said Jains aren&rsquo;t supposed to eat garlic, onions and root vegetables, either. Onions and garlics are believed to increase desire, while harvesting a root vegetable kills bugs and uproots the entire plant.</p><p>But avoiding these foods has been nearly impossible in the U.S., so many don&rsquo;t follow that requirement.</p><p>Paryushan is based on the lunar calendar, but so many people work Monday to Friday, Jain officials here had to shift the dates so people could come.</p><p>Dr. Doshi said the Jain Society also translates texts and prayers into English so youth can understand what they&rsquo;re saying.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our main goal at this time is since our kids are exposed to the Western culture, where a meat-eating population is the norm, to keep them vegetarian. Another biggest challenge is to keep them free of drugs, free of liquor, no smoking and we try to insist on no premarital sex,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The Jain Society teaches these traditions with religious education at its temple and community center, and through giant gatherings like the Paryushan observance.</p><p>Nearly 3,000 people sat in the audience at the Jain community center in Bartlett Saturday, watching raptly as a man dressed in gold robes led them in religious songs.</p><p>Several Jain families paraded around the stage and the auditorium, each led by a young woman carrying a gold object on her head. They were part of a sacred pageant celebrating the birthday 2,600 years ago of a great Jain teacher called Lord Mahavir. Many modern Jain teachings flow from him.</p><p>But some young Jains like Hemang Srikishan didn&rsquo;t come for the pageant. Instead of performing rituals like worshipping idols, they were downstairs at a seminar on how to apply ancient Jain teachings to the modern world.</p><p>&ldquo;Rituals and practices that were very common amongst my parents&rsquo; generation and much more so among previous generations are simply not enough, I think, for people in my generation to connect to,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Instead, Srikishan said some young Jains are pushing the principles behind the religion even further. Many are concerned about the living conditions of dairy cows and becoming became vegan. Others are careful about avoiding toiletries made with animal products or testing.</p><p>Srikishan -- who&rsquo;s Jain and Hindu -- practices the tenets of Jainism at work. He&rsquo;s a middle school math teacher, and students are good at pushing their teachers&rsquo; buttons.</p><p>&ldquo;I see it as not just as a process of failure, but a process of building up the kind of person you want to be and getting to continuously self improve,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That&rsquo;s the essence of the teachings of Jainism.</p><p>Rather than succumbing to anger, Srikishan said, he tries to reflect, and to change his actions and his reactions to help his students.</p></p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/tiny-religious-sect-thrives-chicagoland-despite-cultural-clash-110712 Mormon feminists find grounds for hope, fear in changing church http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/mormon-feminists-find-grounds-hope-fear-changing-church-110646 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mormon feminists 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Jillian Paul sits at the kitchen table, putting together a Thomas the Tank Engine puzzle and pouring Cheerios for her two sons. Before they start to eat, she and her boys bow their heads for a moment in prayer.</p><p>As a woman, Paul is living the Mormon ideal: She&rsquo;s staying at home in Plainfield, raising her kids. But about a year ago, she began questioning her role in the church.</p><p>&ldquo;I wish we could hear less about how your most important job is a mother. I already know that,&rdquo; Paul said. &nbsp;&ldquo;I do wish there would just be more of a focus on developing your own relationship with God, and finding the path you&rsquo;re supposed to be on. Just worrying less about checking all the boxes: getting married in temple, having children. Those things will come when someone feels like God is telling them to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Paul is part of a small but vocal group of Mormon women who say they feel equal at work and in school, but not in the place that matters most to them &mdash; their church.</p><p>&ldquo;When I open our church magazine and see kind of a centerfold of all the leadership of the church and it is two pages of men, men, men, men, men. I think how am I supposed to feel equal? How am I supposed to feel like women have an equal voice?&rdquo; Paul asked. If you look at a<a href="https://www.lds.org/church/leaders?lang=eng"> general leadership chart</a>, it&rsquo;s not until you get down to the women&rsquo;s auxiliary and children&rsquo;s groups that you find women.</p><p>Paul and other Mormon feminists in the Chicago area say they are so small in number, there may be only one or two women who share their views in their congregations, known as wards.</p><p>But online their movement is gaining momentum. They&rsquo;re finding each other through websites like <a href="http://youngmormonfeminists.org/">YoungMormonFeminists.org</a> and <a href="http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/">FeministMormonHousewives.org</a>.</p><p>They say they had been encouraged by signs of change in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But now they&rsquo;re treading lightly following the recent excommunication of prominent feminist <a href="http://ordainwomen.org/">Kate Kelly</a>, who forcefully advocated for women to gain the priesthood.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.lds.org/?lang=eng">Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints</a> teaches that men and women have equal dignity, and are equally valued by God and the church. <a href="https://www.lds.org/manual/family-guidebook/organization-and-purpose-of-the-family?lang=eng">That equality comes through different roles</a>. Men preside over their families, and only men hold the priesthood, the authority to act in God&rsquo;s name so they can lead congregations, perform baptisms and bless the sick. Parts of that authority comes as early as age 12 for boys.</p><p>Kate Kelly&rsquo;s excommunication was &ldquo;really, really disappointing, just disheartening,&rdquo; said local Mormon Stefanie Franc. &ldquo;I really felt up until that moment actually that things were really changing in the church, and for the better.&rdquo;</p><p>Franc, who&rsquo;s an attorney at the Cook County Public Guardian&rsquo;s Juvenile Division, was initially encouraged by some nuanced changes. The Church allowed women to lead opening and closing prayers at the big general conferences. It changed the leadership structure locally so a few women could hold seats on each Ward Council. It allowed women to take on weighty doctrinal issues in speeches.</p><p>But after hearing about Kelly&rsquo;s excommunication, Franc said, &ldquo;It just kind of made that whole idea just come crashing down around me.&rdquo;</p><p>Now Franc wonders where the Latter-day Saints will draw the line on her own feminist activism. For instance, she joined in the annual <a href="https://www.facebook.com/WearPantsToChurchDay">Wear Pants to Church Day</a> protest, and now wears pants there regularly. (Mormon women typically wear dresses or skirts to church.)</p><p>Franc, who teaches Sunday School, pointed to a Bible lesson that she found problematic. It was about Deborah, a famous judge from Israel who also led men into battle.</p><p>&ldquo;The lesson manual wanted me to ask the question, &lsquo;How was Deborah a good friend?&rsquo; It made me so mad,&rdquo; Franc said. &ldquo;How was Deborah a good friend? I&rsquo;m sure she was a good friend, but she was also a good judge. She was also a good Army leader.&rdquo;</p><p>Instead, Franc asked the class about what leadership qualities Deborah had.</p><p>Franc said she appreciates the way the church cherishes women, but she can find it limiting.</p><p>&ldquo;The LDS church kind of puts women on this pedestal where we are gentle and kind and sweet,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I think it gets in the way of seeing women as legitimate forces for change and power.&rdquo;</p><p>But another local Mormon woman finds a different, more traditional power within the church.</p><p>Before she got married, Jesika Harmon traveled the world on mission trips, and co-hosted a teen TV competition on ABC Family. But when she had children, she opted to stay at home with them in their Buffalo Grove house.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t even tell you how I have seen with my husband having the priesthood, how that has empowered me in our family,&rdquo; Harmon said. &ldquo;Just because I can&rsquo;t baptize my child when they&rsquo;re 8 or just because I can&rsquo;t give my child a blessing when they&rsquo;re sick, I feel like just as equal in power and in authority by my husband&#39;s side, praying with him and adding my faith.&rdquo;</p><p>Most Mormon women share Harmon&rsquo;s views. A landmark 2012 <a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2012/01/12/mormons-in-america-executive-summary/">Pew survey</a> found that 90 percent of women do not &nbsp;think females should hold the priesthood &mdash; compared to 84 percent of Mormon men.</p><p>More than half the women, 56 percent, said the best marriages were ones in which the husband worked, and the wife stayed home with the kids. Just 38 percent preferred marriages in which both spouses worked and jointly cared for kids and the home. You&rsquo;d have to invert those percentages to reflect the U.S. general public&rsquo;s view.</p><p>Harmon said she felt societal pressure to keep working outside the home, and appreciates the church&rsquo;s backing.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re given so many opportunities to teach and to serve and to stretch yourself that I feel like it has given me more and more confidence to say &lsquo;I am enough, just like this.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not enough for Chicago Mormon Nikki Ricks. She&rsquo;s a freelance urban planner who works from home. She favors putting women at the highest levels of the church and giving them the priesthood.</p><p>Holding these views can be so isolating, Ricks said, she started a group for Mormon feminists here in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard, emotionally and spiritually and intellectually. It&rsquo;s been like hell,&rdquo; she said with a laugh. &ldquo;Just because you feel like you&rsquo;re going back on everything you&rsquo;ve ever known.&rdquo;</p><p>Winnetka psychotherapist Jennifer Finlayson-Fife calls these tensions &ldquo;the crucible of pressure.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Finlayson-Fife works with Mormon couples, and is Mormon herself. She said the church was more patriarchal when she was growing up in the 1970s, and in recent years, it has emphasized a more egalitarian view of marriage. But she&rsquo;s struck by how many Mormon clients still struggle with that issue compared to other clients.</p><p>Finlayson-Fife says many women find a strong sense of purpose and place in the church. But she says there are other women active in the faith who feel like the church is putting them in the back seat. They have a growing sense that women&rsquo;s roles in society are outpacing their religious experiences.</p><p>&ldquo;I see a lot of women who feel they have more credibility, that they&rsquo;re taken more seriously in their work than they are taken in the church, and so the incongruity is difficult,&rdquo; Finlayson-Fife said.</p><p>For Nikki Ricks, one of the most challenging moments in the faith was the blessing of her daughter, which is traditionally done by the husband and other men in the church.</p><p>&ldquo;I really wanted to be part of it,&rdquo; Ricks said. &ldquo;This is my baby girl, I&rsquo;ve nursed her every two hours and have gone through this pain and labor, and I wouldn&rsquo;t be part of this really beautiful part in her life.&rdquo;</p><p>After months of discussion, Ricks and her husband ended up doing it at home by themselves.</p><p>&ldquo;It just kind of felt nonsensical that anatomy is what differentiates one person from another,&rdquo; Ricks said. &ldquo;If we, all men and women, can become like God, why wouldn&rsquo;t we all be able to hold the power of God of Earth?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Most Mormon feminists are what I would call moderates in that they are not actively militating for ordination or for other major structural changes,&rdquo; said Professor Patrick Mason, who chairs Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re just saying, &lsquo;We want more of a voice&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p><p>Mason said he thinks the Latter-day Saints is starting to hear them. He said changing economic conditions mean more women are becoming primary breadwinners and more men stay-at-home dads. There are more dual-income families. He said the church isn&rsquo;t sealed off from larger society, and in response, it&rsquo;s becoming less dogmatic about traditional gender roles.</p><p>But Mason thinks the most significant change is the way the church recently lowered the age for young women to become missionaries from 21 to 19. (Young men moved from 19 to 18.)</p><p>Lowering the age makes it easier for young women to go now because they won&rsquo;t be in their final year of college, and are less likely to be in a committed relationship. Mason said, as a result, they&rsquo;re signing up in droves.</p><p>&ldquo;And they&rsquo;re going to have a lot more leadership opportunities. Those women are going to come home, and I think that&rsquo;s going to be the really interesting dynamic moving forward. What are those women going to expect in terms of participation in their local congregations?&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.neylanmcbaine.com/">Neylan McBaine</a>, a blogger and the founder <a href="http://www.mormonwomen.com/">The Mormon Women Project</a>, a library of interviews with LDS women, thinks the cultural importance of this change can&rsquo;t be overstated.</p><p>&ldquo;These girls who have led other missionaries, both male and female missionaries, in the mission field, are going to come home and they&rsquo;re going to have to assimilate back into their local practices,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And they&rsquo;re going to bring with them a lot of best practices from their missions, and they&#39;re not going to put up with a lot of our current local practices.&rdquo;</p><p>McBaine, who&rsquo;s considered a moderate on LDS women&rsquo;s issues, called the LDS doctrinal position on women &ldquo;glorious,&rdquo; pointing out Mormons believe in a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. She said the church gives her a place to fully explore what it means to be a woman.</p><p>But McBaine thinks there are many things the LDS church can do locally to give women a stronger voice, without making major structural or doctrinal changes. She wrote a book highlighting these ideas called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Women-Church-Magnifying-Womens-Impact/dp/1589586883">Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women&rsquo;s Local Impact</a>, which is due out later this month.</p><p>For example, McBaine recommends making sure the budgets for young men and young women&rsquo;s programs are equitable. She&rsquo;d like to see girls get to go on home teaching visits with their mothers, the way boys 12 and up get to do with older men now.</p><p>Neither McBaine nor the Chicago feminists expect a change in the male priesthood anytime soon. But they do think going to church could look a little different for the next generation of Mormon women.</p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/mormon-feminists-find-grounds-hope-fear-changing-church-110646 Passing through: Chicago's Union Station as Amish transit hub http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/passing-through-chicagos-union-station-amish-transit-hub-110453 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157991456&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: In producing this story, producer Katie Klocksin quotes several people of Amish background. In a deviation from most journalistic practice, Klocksin and editor Shawn Allee chose not to publish the sources&rsquo; names out of respect for the Amish culture&#39;s longstanding premium on humility, as well as possible social consequences for participants. The decision was made in consideration of comments on the issue made by Dr. Steven Nolt, Professor of History at Goshen College and author of numerous books on the Amish.</em></p><p>Paul Vaccarello of LaGrange, Illinois, sees Amish people when he passes through downtown Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station &mdash; the nexus of several Amtrak and Metra commuter rail lines.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve just always been curious about where they&rsquo;re going, why they&rsquo;re here, if they&rsquo;re actually coming to Chicago or if this is a stop on their way to somewhere else,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>This led him to ask Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Is Chicago a large transportation hub for Amish travelers?</em></p><p>Reporting an answer provided Paul an opportunity to hear from people that Chicagoans and suburbanites don&rsquo;t ordinarily cross paths with. Members of the religious group seek to maintain a close-knit rural lifestyle and, though there are Amish settlements sprinkled throughout the Midwest, the nearest one lies 90 miles from downtown Chicago. As we approached an answer &mdash; by checking in with experts and Amish travelers themselves &mdash; we couldn&rsquo;t help but feel we were meeting our regional neighbors for the first time.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">A separate pattern of life</span></p><p>Dr. Steven Nolt, Professor of History at Goshen College and author of numerous books on the Amish, reminded us that adherents belong to a Protestant religious community that is &ldquo;sometimes referred to as &lsquo;the old order Amish,&rsquo; which means they have tried to maintain what they consider the old patterns of life.&rdquo; Typically, they limit their use of modern technology and their communities tend to be in rural areas. These &ldquo;old patterns of life,&rdquo; Nolt said, &ldquo;would be things that encourage community and cooperation and collaboration.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt noted, though, that there are few technologies that the Amish consider wholly bad. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s their attempt to try to control technology or engage technology on their own terms,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;</p><p>Relevant to Paul&rsquo;s question, Amish people generally don&rsquo;t own or drive cars, although some will hire a vehicle and driver for transportation. It&rsquo;s common for the Amish to travel on trains or buses. &ldquo;The problem isn&rsquo;t the <em>thing</em>,&rdquo; Nolt said. &ldquo;The problem is when we own and control something, then, that heightens our sense of individual autonomy.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt described an aspect of Amish life that posed a problem for reporting this story: &ldquo;Amish people, when speaking to members of the media, almost always decline to be identified by name or photographed in ways that would highlight them as an individual. Their concern there is one of humility, of not appearing to present oneself as a spokesperson for the whole group, not wanting to call attention to themselves.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traveling by train<a name="map"></a></span></p><p>Paul and I made several trips to Union Station and found Amish people each time. Most were happy to talk with us, provided my large microphone was turned off. Most people, as predicted, declined to give their names. Everyone we talked to confirmed our theory: Chicago <em>is</em> a hub for transportation among the Amish. The people we interviewed at Union Station were all waiting to switch trains. One woman put it succinctly: &ldquo;A lot of Amish travel from one state to the other on Amtrak. &hellip;Every train comes into Chicago and leaves Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Our map can clarify this: There, you can see how Amtrak lines cross near or through midwestern Amish communities. Nolt added, too, that more than 60 percent of the Amish live in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania: states with Amtrak lines. So Paul was onto something: Amish people, by avoiding cars, travel by train throughout the Midwest and the country. Many Amtrak trains converge in Chicago, thus Amish regularly wait for trains and transfers at Union Station.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/amish/index.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><em><strong>Map: U.S. counties with extant Amish settlements as of 2010, overlaid with unofficial map of Amtrak rail system lines.</strong> Amish population data: <a href="http://www.rcms2010.org/index.php" target="_blank">Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies</a>.&nbsp;Rough Amtrak line map: <a href="https://www.blogger.com/profile/17241478144408980328" target="_blank">Rakshith Krishnappa</a>.</em></span></p><p>Nolt points out that Amish people aren&rsquo;t likely to use the word &ldquo;vacation.&rdquo; Instead, he says, they talk about trips. &ldquo;I think on one level it&rsquo;s because &lsquo;vacation&rsquo; suggests leisure type activity that doesn&rsquo;t fit with their rural way of life,&rdquo; he said, adding, &ldquo;Their worlds are not as neatly divided as many of the rest of ours are between work and leisure, home and work. There&rsquo;s much more fluidity and overlap between the domains of their life.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt says it is common for a long-distance trip to be centered around business travel. There are all-Amish trade shows, for example, which are similar to standard trade shows except they are hosted by a local community and attendees stay with local families. &quot;Most people bring their whole family and it kind of turns into a reunion of visiting,&quot; he said.</p><p>For the most part, though, Paul and I met people traveling to visit family members in other states. We met a large family returning home to Kansas from a wedding in Indiana. An Amish woman from Ohio was traveling with several of her grandchildren to visit her cousin and see the Grand Canyon.</p><p>A few Amish people we met were seeking medical care, including a man from Kentucky. &ldquo;We were in Mexico for medical purposes,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like to see it, but medical expenses in the States anymore are so phenomenal that an ordinary person cannot afford it.&rdquo; He was returning from Tijuana after a successful operation.</p><p>Another medical traveler, an Amish man with a salt-and-pepper beard and a constant grin, cracked jokes with us for a while. After we parted ways with him, though, we ran into him throughout our stay at Union Station. It&rsquo;s not an exaggeration to say he seemed to know every Amish person there that day, which perhaps reveals a benefit of Union Station&rsquo;s being a hub: For the Amish, it provides a space to serendipitously meet far-flung neighbors.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Paul%20Vaccarello%20-%20courtesy%20of%20Paul%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 254px; width: 190px;" title="Paul Vaccarello asked Curious City about the Amish at Union Station. (Photo courtesy Paul Vaccarello)" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Our question comes from: Paul Vaccarello</span></p><p>Paul Vaccarello told Curious City he visits Union Station about twice a month, adding that &ldquo;pretty much every time, I see groups of Amish people.&rdquo; While he was curious about whether the Amish travel by train, he also wondered if Chicago was ever the destination for Amish people on the road. &ldquo;It was interesting to hear they sometimes stop in Chicago to sightsee, go to the Sears Tower and John Hancock building,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Paul said he&rsquo;s not someone who would normally talk to strangers in the train station, and striking up a conversation with someone from a clearly different background can feel like crossing a barrier.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s cool to see they&rsquo;re so willing to talk, and that they don&rsquo;t even really see the barrier,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/passing-through-chicagos-union-station-amish-transit-hub-110453 Morning Shift: Evangelicals and immigration http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-06-04/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration-110275 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Church Flickr wallyg.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We talk about the potential impact of new oversight rules for Illinois&#39; charter schools. Also we discuss evangelicals and the push for immigration reform. And, we listen to more reclaimed soul.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Evangelicals and immigration " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 07:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-06-04/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration-110275 Morning Shift: The cloistered life http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-05/morning-shift-cloistered-life-109812 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr S John Davey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get a preview of a Chicago City Council vote on the oil refining byproduct known as petcoke. Also, the life of a cloistered nun. Plus, the Americana sounds of Chicago&#39;s Will Phalen.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cloistered-life/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cloistered-life.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cloistered-life" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The cloistered life" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 08:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-05/morning-shift-cloistered-life-109812 Muslims and Jews sing, talk and protest their way to interfaith cooperation http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/muslims-and-jews-sing-talk-and-protest-their-way-interfaith-cooperation-109452 <p><p>A program inside a theater on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side feels a little like a talent show, or maybe a family reunion. Performers step up from the audience to recite original poetry, do interpretative dance or sing.</p><p>The sound quality&rsquo;s spotty. The pacing&rsquo;s a little off. But this isn&rsquo;t about slick production values or seamless performances. The goal here is far more ambitious: to bridge the divide between Jews and Muslims in Chicago.</p><p>The show is called &ldquo;Café Finjan,&rdquo; after the Hebrew and Arabic words for a metal coffee pot. It showcases Muslim and Jewish poets, musicians, painters and more. It&rsquo;s one of several interfaith events that share the goal of getting Jews and Muslims to move past historical tensions and distrust so they can work together and help solve some of the city&rsquo;s urban problems.</p><p>But they&rsquo;re finding it&rsquo;s not always easy.</p><p>&ldquo;The paradigm that we&rsquo;re trying to create is that we have an interest in what kind of society we have here, even though we also have strong concerns and interests about what happens to our brothers and sisters, to our cousins and to our friends in other places in the world,&rdquo; said Asaf Bar-Tura, formerly of the <a href="http://www.jcua.org/">Jewish Council of Urban Affairs</a>. He spent five months with an interfaith team planning the café.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/iftar%202.jpg" style="float: right; height: 233px; width: 350px;" title="Gerald Hankerson, the outreach coordinator for CAIR-Chicago [left], chats with JCUA board member Kalman Resnick [right], and several others." />He acknowledged those political differences over Palestine and Israel remain painful and deep.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a tension there,&rdquo; Bar-Tura said. &ldquo;But we can&rsquo;t overcome these tensions, we can&rsquo;t discuss the issues, without getting to know each other first. You don&rsquo;t dive into &lsquo;Oh, tell me what your ideology is.&rsquo; You first (say), &lsquo;Tell me about your family, tell me about what you do, what does your day look like, what do you want for your kids?&rsquo; And then we can get into these deeper discussions.&rdquo;</p><p>The <a href="http://jmcbi.org">JCUA started working closely with Muslim groups</a> more than a decade ago, after noticing rising Islamophobia following the Sept. 11 attacks. Their most popular event is &ldquo;Iftar in the Synagogue,&rdquo; where Jews and Muslims share a meal to break the fast during Ramadan. In just four years, attendance jumped from 90 people to more than 500.</p><p>&ldquo;We started this program to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters to say, &lsquo;We feel your pain, and we are going to help you fight against discrimination,&rsquo;&rdquo; said Judy Levey, JCUA&rsquo;s executive director. &ldquo;Because that&rsquo;s what we do. That&rsquo;s who we are.&rdquo;</p><p>The events are about more than poetry and hummus. The JCUA, the <a href="http://www.juf.org/cbr/">Chicago Board of Rabbis</a> and the <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/">Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago</a> sponsor periodic rabbi-imam dialogues. They&rsquo;ve discussed things like the role of Shariah law in a democracy and their shared dietary traditions.</p><p>Jewish and Muslim activists have lobbied to demand immigration reform, to stop foreclosures and to protest anti-Muslim bus ads. After a baby was fatally shot in Chicago last spring, they went together to her funeral. There&rsquo;s even been &nbsp;<a href="http://jcuanews.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/jewish-and-muslim-cyclists-will-ride-together-narrowing-the-distance-between-faiths/">Jewish-Muslim bike rides</a>.</p><p>Activists on both sides hope these events will lessen suspicion and lead to partnerships in the city they share and call home.</p><p>But some say the results are mixed.</p><p>&ldquo;Qualitatively, in some ways, I would say maybe they are better,&rdquo; said Aaron Cohen, the spokesman for the <a href="http://www.juf.org/">Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicag</a>o. &ldquo;Quantitatively, in terms of seeing vast numbers of people engaging, I wouldn&rsquo;t say that needle has moved much either way.&rdquo;</p><p>Cohen&rsquo;s a hopeful guy, and well-liked by Jewish and Muslim activists. He&rsquo;s been part of Jewish/Muslim dialogues, and he took an interfaith trip to Turkey.</p><p>But he says there are stumbling blocks to interfaith cooperation. Unlike the JCUA, the Federation won&rsquo;t formally work with the <a href="http://www.cairchicago.org/">Chicago office of the Council of American Islamic Relations</a>, a civil rights agency well regarded by the Muslim community. Cohen said that&rsquo;s because many were offended by anti-Semitic signs spotted at a CAIR rally a few years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s crossing a very big red line,&rdquo; Cohen said, adding that statements demonizing Jews or Israel can&rsquo;t be tolerated. &ldquo;History delivers on our doors an awful lot of baggage, and we really need to make conscious choices about how much of that baggage we&rsquo;re going to schlep with us into the future.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/iftar%203.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="The annual Iftar in the Synagogue event drew more than 500 people this year." />&ldquo;Obviously, we can&rsquo;t control every single individual in a massive rally,&rdquo; said Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of Chicago&rsquo;s CAIR chapter. &ldquo;However, the facts are that when we saw the sign, we removed it as organizers, because it does not mesh with our values.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We stand against anti-Semitism,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Rehab said he believes his strong critique of Israeli policy, not the signs, is the real issue &ndash; which federation leaders deny.</p><p>Rehab said he thinks some federation leaders are out of touch with younger Jews:</p><p>&ldquo;Especially the new generation, it&rsquo;s not intuitive for these young men and women to look at each other through a fence, or see each other as enemies or rivals,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Because they do have a shared common culture; they share the same appreciation for music, for movies. They were born and brought up here.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the challenges, Rehab is hopeful. He believes more Jewish and Muslim youth want to work together, and that cooperation is the wave of the future.</p><p>That seemed to be the case back at Café Finjan. Muslim girls wearing headscarves nodded along with a klezmer band. Gray-haired Jewish activists applauded warmly for a student who recited a poem about being a Pokemon master and a Muslim</p><p>One of the attendees, software developer Najim Yaqubie, is Muslim. He said he and his best friend &ndash; who&rsquo;s Jewish -- care more about their friendship than politics.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re both human, we&rsquo;re both American, we&rsquo;re both young and we&rsquo;re just trying to have some fun,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t matter who or where you&rsquo;re from.&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 17:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/muslims-and-jews-sing-talk-and-protest-their-way-interfaith-cooperation-109452 Morning Shift: Does interfaith dialogue do more than preach to the choir? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-30/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-preach <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr 1yen.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Religious leaders from around the city join us to discuss the state of interfaith relations in Chicago. We take a look at tech trends past and present. And, Chicago Mag&#39;s Dennis Rodkin checks in with the latest in housing issues.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-tha/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-tha.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-tha" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Does interfaith dialogue do more than preach to the choir?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 08:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-30/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-preach Sisters struggle to reconcile feminist beliefs with Mormon faith http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/sisters-struggle-reconcile-feminist-beliefs-mormon-faith-109355 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7417_chi000411_g1-scr_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago sisters Shannon and Didi Mehner describe themselves as Mormon feminists.</p><p>In Mormonism, women cannot hold the priesthood or assume certain leadership roles in the church. The Chicago sisters are troubled by this, and say they&rsquo;re fighting to change it ... within their church.</p><p>They visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth to talk about the challenges of reconciling feminism and faith.</p><p><strong>Shannon</strong>: I think I always knew I was feminist. I always kept my feminism kind of separate from my identity as a member of the Mormon church. And so I think when I got married is when it all came crashing together. I obviously love Nick, and I&rsquo;m really glad I got married, but a lot of your identity starts to feel like it sinks into your husband&rsquo;s identity.</p><p>Shannon decided to keep her maiden name, rather than to take her husband&#39;s.</p><p><strong>Didi</strong>: Shannon and I grew up with a dad who kind of always told us we could do whatever we wanted.</p><p><strong>Shannon</strong>: He is also extremely conservative, so when he gets mad about us being feminists, I always tell him that he created us, and made us this way.</p><p><em>To hear how Shannon plans to raise a &ldquo;raging feminist boy,&rdquo; and how she won a victory that both sisters say is a big deal in the Mormon church, click on the audio above.</em></p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/sisters-struggle-reconcile-feminist-beliefs-mormon-faith-109355 Cardinal George speaks in support of coalition for free water for nonprofits http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/cardinal-george-speaks-support-coalition-free-water-nonprofits-106913 <p><p>Cardinal Francis George has joined a large interfaith coalition pushing for free or discounted water for religious institutions.</p><p>The coalition, working together since Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut the exemption that gave churches free water in December 2011, is now responding to the mayor&rsquo;s proposal that would charge nonprofits for water based on their assets. Nonprofits with net assets under $1 million would be exempt from paying for water, while those with more than $250 million in assets would pay the full charge. Those in between would pay a discounted rate.</p><p>Cardinal Francis George voiced opposition to the plan, though he was careful in how he addressed his challenge to the mayor:</p><p>&ldquo;As we go forward and people are saying that there has to be some kind of mutual accommodation, I would just like to say that they should look at the budgets and the operating deficits and the savings, much more so than assets,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp; &ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t want a city that only has government institutions, then you have to see to the solvency of religious institutions and other non-profits.&rdquo;</p><p>The Cardinal said he and other religious leaders want to find a middle ground with city officials.</p><p>Aldermen that support the coalition proposed a change to restore the water exemption last December, but that&rsquo;s been stuck in committee.</p><p>In a statement, Tom Alexander, the mayor&rsquo;s deputy communications director, called the asset-based compromise &ldquo;a fair, reasonable proposal that will allow all non-profit institutions the chance to continue providing their vital community services, while paying their fair share, just as residents do.&rdquo;</p><p>Alexander said the measure is the mayor&rsquo;s &ldquo;final proposal&rdquo; after holding meetings with faith leaders, aldermen and community groups. He said they hope to bring the proposal up at the next City Council meeting.</p></p> Tue, 30 Apr 2013 18:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/cardinal-george-speaks-support-coalition-free-water-nonprofits-106913