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Forgive me for writing about religion and the total solar eclipse two weeks in a row, but I couldn’t resist highlighting an interesting religious freedom fight centered on access to the astronomical event.

The battle started when New York’s corrections department announced that incarcerated individuals would need to stay inside during the eclipse. Six inmates at Woodbourne Correctional Facility filed a lawsuit challenging the policy, arguing that it violated their religious freedom.

They said the lockdown violated “inmates’ constitutional rights to practice their faiths by preventing them from taking part in a religiously significant event. The six men include a Baptist, a Muslim, a Seventh-Day Adventist, two practitioners of Santeria, and an atheist,” The Associated Press reported.

The men wanted to participate in a variety of religious activities, including prayer.

“In statements filed in court, the six inmates explained why the solar eclipse would be an important occasion for their respective beliefs: as a time to perform a special Muslim prayer, a spectacle evoking a scene from the New Testament, and a gathering to celebrate science and reason,” The Washington Post reported.

Rather than defend the policy in court, corrections department officials reached a settlement with the six men, agreeing to allow them to be outside during Monday’s total solar eclipse.

The “settlement with the state (allows) the men to view the solar eclipse ‘in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs,’” per The Associated Press.

An attorney for the six inmates told The Washington Post that she’s hopeful the lawsuit and settlement will help other incarcerated individuals access religious accommodations.

Fresh off the press

‘We serve an unbelievable God,’ says Dawn Staley after South Carolina claims championship

How faith shaped Caitlin Clark’s rise to fame

Why Indiana’s abortion ban (still) can’t be enforced against some people of faith

What kinds of statements about the Israel-Hamas war should be protected speech?

Florida will vote on abortion in November

Term of the week: Mission to Seafarers

Mission to Seafarers is an international organization that provides spiritual and emotional support to people who work on boats. It also addresses practical concerns by, for example, providing access to Wi-Fi and toiletries.

A group affiliated with Mission to Seafarers has been working in Baltimore with seafarers affected by the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center has helped sailors take part in Holy Week worship services and find familiar foods from their home countries, according to Religion News Service.

The crews of eight large ships, including the Dali ship that ran into the bridge, are stuck in Baltimore amid the bridge cleanup, the article said.

What I’m reading...

If you enjoy my story about Caitlin Clark’s religious background, check out my colleague Krysyan Edler’s article about UConn’s Paige Bueckers.

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson cut through the noise surrounding new research on religious disaffiliation with an essay titled “The true cost of the churchgoing bust.” His argument is that declining church attendance hurts all of us by reducing community mindedness.

Young men and women who hope to become Catholic priests or nuns can face a major financial obstacle: student loans. Religious orders often require potential members to pay off their debts before joining, but that effort would take years if the young people were left on their own. Instead, they can seek out help from some specialized nonprofits, according to The New York Times.

Muslim soccer players in France struggle to fast during Ramadan because of the French soccer federation’s controversial approach to religious expression. The Associated Press recently reported on the religious freedom dispute.

Odds and ends

I stumbled on a tricky quiz from The New York Times about literary references. I’d be embarrassed to tell my former English teachers that I only got six right out of 12.