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With coronavirus, religious groups in Tampa Bay use technology to cope

By By Waveney Ann Moore, For Tampa Bay Times, On 23 March 2020, Read Original
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Unable to meet in large groups, Christians, Jews and Muslims create virtual spiritual communities.

ST. PETERSBURG — Coming weeks will bring significant religious observations. Christians will observe Holy Week and Easter, Jews will celebrate Passover, and Muslims will begin the holy month of Ramadan. The emergence of a pandemic has created unprecedented challenges and, some believe, even opportunities. With restrictions against gatherings of more than 10 persons, religious groups are devising ways to provide spiritual sustenance and fortitude in fearful times. Mandated social distancing means embracing technology to create virtual spiritual communities. ...

Most of the participation was online, he said. Those in attendance had their temperatures taken and were given masks and hand sanitizer. Rules posted beforehand required hand washing and stated that any person with flu-like symptoms would not be admitted. Shibly said the day’s message emphasized charity and thoughtfulness, especially at times like these.

“Some mosques are closed down for the prayers and people are encouraged to stay home and pray with their families,” he said. “Islam is a communal faith and it encourages finding opportunities in every challenge. One of the opportunities here is for people to do the prayers with their families at home.”

Ramadan, expected to begin on April 23, is likely to take place within the confines of coronavirus restrictions. “I think that people will be sad not to be able to break the fast as a community,” Shibly said.



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