Watch Focal Point: Penalties that could come with tailgating, new Spartan innovations and more

On this week’s episode of Focal Point News, some things you may do while tailgating that could get you in trouble with the law. Also, a new church opened, but in an unusual location. Plus, an over 40-year-old service offered on campus is stopping for good. Homecoming is this week, we’ll take a look at some events that happened on campus and speak with the grand marshal of the parade. In sports, we recap the game against CMU and what to expect against Northwestern.

Cynthia’s near-death experience: Q&A

Cynthia Lawson clinically died of a heart attack – vitals stopped, and doctors thought she was a gonner – until she came back to life, with a story to tell. In the cold moments when she flat-lined, Cynthia says she left her body and entered a dark tunnel, where she met angels, who shared a message with her. She also encountered an all-consuming bright light while she was dying. Near-death experience commonalities: 

Did this really Did this really happen? Her story is known as a near-death experience and has been widely reported throughout the country regardless of religious background, ethnicity, age or gender.

Opinion: The immorality of politicians politicizing religion

Last week, President Donald Trump came through on one of his campaign promises, to end the great, great “War on Christmas,” which is the latest example of fusing Church and State, which I believe is morally unacceptable. Since my first name is Christian, MSU’s School of Journalism gave me the forum to speak on the intersection of Christianity and politics. Not really, but I wanted to point that out. To be serious, a person’s religious and political identities, does not change the way I perceive them. You could hail Satan while marrying Hillary Clinton’s photo — but as long as you are a good and accepting person who does not hurt anyone and has an expansive, open mind — I could care less about your beliefs.

Amid racial tensions, black students find refuge in religious groups

Q&A: Student organization doubles as a safe haven for minority students at MSU

The Black Lives Matter movement was born out of the outpouring of grief and frustration following the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 – a young, unarmed black man who was shot while walking in a gated neighborhood – and the subsequent acquittal of the man who killed him. In the five years since Martin’s death, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum, driven by the killings of Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and other black people at the hands of the police. The movement has grown into an international network of more than 30 chapters. College campuses across the country have used various platforms to respond to and/or participate in efforts led by Black Lives Matter. At Michigan State University, a student-run Christian organization encourages students to use religious faith as a tool to combat racial tension.

A portrait of a First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason card next to a cup of coffee, part of the church’s pay-it-forward campaign to fight stigma against marijuana users.

Fight for Cannabis Church “almost like a battlefield”

Listen to this story as an audio feature. Rev. Jeremy Hall led services every month until things went up in smoke in September. New legislation brought confusion and concern to his parishioners, and continuing services could put everyone in legal trouble. Hall is the leader of the First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason in Lansing, Mich. The church that views the drug spiritually but is viewed with uncertainty by city officials — that’s where Hall’s worries began.

Muslim Student Association hosts Islam Awareness Week

In the wake of escalating tension and prejudice throughout the country, MSU’s Muslim Student Association hosted an Islam Awareness Week to promote understanding of the religion to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Anti-Muslim assaults and hate crimes have reached peak levels, exceeding 2001’s rate, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. The FBI reported 127 assaults in 2016 as compared to 93 during the year of 9/11. Across the board, vandalism and intimidation against Muslims is also increasing. Islam Awareness Week spanned six days in early October and featured presentations from an imam, seminars about different branches of Muslims worldwide, and a talk on ISIS and how it perverts the Quran.

Mindfulness – “Mind the Hype”

Mindfulness: A cure-all

If you Google “mindfulness” you’ll find the ancient Buddhist practice has been prescribed for stress,  concentration, introverts who want to be more social and academic performance, among other things. Barnes and Noble has an inventory of over 2,000 mindfulness books while the Apple app store carries a myriad of mindfulness options for meditation on-the-go. Devotees swear by its life-changing potential, and its even being employed in schools and work places. The principle has become increasingly trendy in recent years, as shown by an increasing interest in mindfulness products, yoga and Google searches. Mind the Hype

A new study appropriately titled “Mind the Hype” argues it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Religion in America: Chinese students’ perspectives and experiences

A missing religious identity

For the first 16 years of Jiahe Hui’s life growing up in Beijing, religion never crossed his path until he began his studies in America. Hui is one of over 300,000 Chinese students studying in the U.S., and first felt pressure to put a label on his beliefs after beginning his schooling at a Catholic High School in Philadelphia. “I read the Bible from the first page to the last, and it didn’t make any sense to me,” Hui said. I then went on to read the Quran and I got the same feeling. After that, I just kind of started to become atheist.”

Douglas Sjoquist, a visiting professor in MSU’s Department of Religious Studies, said atheism is the norm in China.