Warren Miller

John Snyder was born in New York City to baseball-loving family, John Snyder was better at being a parish priest than he was at playing baseball.

Courtesy of Joy Batteh-Freiha

A statue that has resided in St. Augustine for more than 150 years may help shed light on the history of some of the First Coast’s earliest residents, and why some believe the area tends to stay unscathed by hurricanes.

Israel Dresner

Among the moments being celebrated during the commemoration of the civil rights movement is a little known local milestone — the largest mass arrest of rabbis in United States history.

What to Satan, a Port St. Lucie drug dealer, and Joey Fatone have in common? They all make appearances in this week's edition of ONLY IN FLORIDA.

Chaz Stevens is a South Florida activist who passionately disagrees with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. In a five-to-four split, the high court ruled that opening a town board meeting with prayer was constitutional.

So to poke fun at the decision, Stevens has asked Deerfield Beach to allow him to read a Satanic prayer to open a commission meeting.

The prayer goes like this:

Ave Santana

Hail Satan, Lord of Darkness, King of Hell, Ruler of the Earth

Wikimedia Commons

A major decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the role of religion in government could affect public meetings on the First Coast.

The same Florida resident who got a Festivus pole erected at the Florida State Capitol last year is asking officials in his hometown of Deerfield Beach to open a city meeting with a Satanic prayer.

NASA / Wikimedia Commons

When people with opposing views come to the table, it can often be a bitter battle to prove superiority instead of a respectful conversation.

Charter schools, the Jacksonville Riverwalk, and Common Core are in the headlines today.

Wayman Ministries / Facebook

A group of high-profile Jacksonville pastors is calling for a plea deal in the Marissa Alexander case.

The Mathews Bridge, food trucks, and public funding for sports stadiums are in the headlines today.

navalatanjjnn / Deviant Art

A new peer-reviewed study finds that inmates leaving prison have used the power of spirituality successfully to avoid going back to a life of crime.

Bethel Baptist Institutional Church / Facebook

For 47 years, Bishop Rudolph McKissick Sr. was at the pulpit every Sunday at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Jacksonville. This month he preached his last sermon as lead pastor.

Florida State College at Jacksonville

Jacksonville's 6th Annual Urban Education Symposium,  a major initiative to reverse the high school drop out rates for the city’s black male students, is set for this weekend.

Magic Madzik / Twitter

Saturday night, a beloved holiday tradition will take place on the First Coast.

Wikimedia Commons

Jacksonville's interfaith coalition focusing on issues of poverty, crime, social justice and more has some new leadership for 2014.


TALLAHASSEE (The News Service of Florida) — A nearly 6-foot-tall pole made from emptied beer cans, marking a parody holiday, will be put up in the Florida Capitol this week as a not-so-subtle protest to the recent placement of a Christian nativity scene.

The Forrest High, The Jasksonville Sheriff's Office, and Marissa Alexander are in the headlines today.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case questioning the use of prayer at government meetings. But first, the marshal will ask "God" to "save the United States and this honorable court."

With mainline religious congregations dwindling across America, a scattering of churches is trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of Christian community. They are gathering around craft beer.

Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others are bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom. The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it's an exploratory approach to do church differently.

Leah Stanfield stands at a microphone across the room from the beer taps and reads this evening's gospel message.

Warren Miller

Marigrace Doran contracted HIV from a rape more than 30 years ago. She's beat the odds against the disease, in part by her attitude, and now she's becoming a lay chaplain.

Wikimedia Commons

Killing in the name of God — that’s the topic of a special event tonight in Jacksonville featuring First Coast Connect's very own God Squad.

WJCT's Melissa Ross be moderating the discussion on the rise of religious fundamentalism around the world and the dangers of extremism. 

Last weekend, a quiet block on the northwest side of Chicago appeared to be taken over by villagers from the mountains of southern Poland. That's because a Polish Highlander wedding was getting underway. But even before the couple arrived, there was a lot of pomp, circumstance — and moving of cars.

Any time now the bridal party will be arriving and Andy Zieba — father of the bride — is ringing doorbells, asking neighbors if they can please move their cars.

"Excuse me, ma'am? You don't know who's the Honda belong to?" he asks.

At Georgetown University this week, an outdoor religious display looks more like a public art installation than a commandment from the Torah, Judaism's holy book.

First, the basics: It's called a sukkah, a temporary dwelling — translated from Hebrew as a "booth" — where observant Jews traditionally eat and sleep during the weeklong harvest holiday of Sukkot.

The holiday, which began the night of Sept. 18, also pays homage to the 40 years during which the Israelites wandered in the desert, living in temporary structures.

A court in Egypt has issued a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that is still protesting the military's ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. The court also ordered the group's assets to be seized.

"The court bans the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood organization and its non-governmental organization and all the activities that it participates in and any organization derived from it," presiding Judge Mohammed al-Sayed said, according to Reuters.


Esther Ohayon was killed and her daughter was injured as they crossed San Jose Boulevard last week on their way to the Etz Chaim Synagogue.

The accident isn’t the first on the busy road. In 2009 a six-year-old was struck and killed just blocks away by the same driver.

Americans who count themselves among the "nones" — as in atheists, agnostics or those of no definite religious affiliation — have launched a new political action committee.

The goal? To support the election of like-minded lawmakers or, at a minimum, candidates committed to upholding the constitutional separation between church and state.

Atheist Monument Coming To Starke Courthouse

Jun 5, 2013
Dave Muscato of American Atheists.

The organization American Atheists is constructing what they say is the first Atheist monument on public property at the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke.

Last year, a Christian group called Community Men’s Fellowship erected a five-foot tall depiction of the Ten Commandments outside the courthouse.