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Word&Way News: April 14
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a report on Easter sermons in an age of school shootings that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a consideration of Sabbath observance in light of an upcoming Supreme Court case on the issue.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
There’s a Reason Every Hit Worship Song Sounds the Same. Bob Smietana reported on a new study showing most hit worship songs come from just four megachurches.
Review: Elusive Grace. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed Elusive Grace: Loving Your Enemies While Striving for God’s Justice by Scott Black Johnston.
The Foundation Seeking to Spread Christian Education With State Support. Maria Benevento reported on a Missouri group courting government support for private Christian schools across the country.
Leaning on Faith, Louisville Mourns Victims of Mass Shooting. After another deadly mass shooting — this time at a bank in Kentucky — local churches helped people grieve.
Holy Land Christians Say Attacks Rising in Far-Right Israel. Isabel Debre reported on concerns about animosity toward Christians in Israel since the return of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
This week: Bradley Onishi on Preparing for War
Another podcast this week:
Jason Smith of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America appeared on our show Baptist Without An Adjective.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
As reporters covered the spectacle last week of the first former U.S. president to be indicted, one description jumped out. Melissa Gira Grant started her piece for The New Republic with the story of a woman who showed up outside the courthouse with a Christian flag she customized by adding the words “God Bless President Trump.”
The article didn’t include a photo, so I went searching and found the woman showing off her syncretism. That she literally embedded the Trump praise on the flag is a perfect symbol of how her faith and politics mix in tragic ways. Somehow, Trump as president and a righteous martyr has become as important for her to lift up as the cross of Christ.
That remixed flag sadly fits well with rhetoric that week that compared Trump’s arrest to the crucifixion of Jesus (a comparison I warned against a couple weeks earlier). And such desecration sadly adds to how the Christian flag is being lost as a meaningful symbol.
Jesus taught that we cannot serve two masters, even if we try to cram them both on the same banner. There will be times when they teach us different ways to live, and in those moments we’ll prove who we really follow. We can trust the Judge of all creation or a profane man indicted for misdeeds. But let’s not confuse the two.
Other News of Note
The NRA is holding its annual convention this weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana, and will include a “prayer breakfast” on Sunday morning. We reported on NRA “prayer breakfasts” last year at A Public Witness.
Tessa Stuart and Asawin Suebsaeng of Rolling Stone reported on Donald Trump’s secret meetings with Religious Right leaders as he tried to keep their support for this 2024 presidential bid while downplaying the issue of abortion.
The Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted unanimously against an application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City to create the first religious charter school in the country — but the proposal isn’t dead yet.
“Today, what we are doing is basically tearing down hate and building up hope.” —Morgan State University President David K. Wilson about the demolition of a wall built in 1939 by White residents to block Black students at the school in Baltimore, Maryland, from entering the neighborhood. The school, originally a Methodist Episcopal seminary, celebrated the demolition as a sign of progress.
Christianity Today reported that on Good Friday, Myanmar’s military junta sentenced a Kachin Baptist leader to six years in prison on terrorism charges his supporters say are politically motivated. An advocate for religious freedom, Hkalam Samson met with Presidents Barack Obama (in Myanmar) and Donald Trump (in the White House).
Megan Specia of the New York Times reported that 25 years after the “Good Friday Agreement” that ended sectarian fighting in Northern Ireland, the schools there are still largely segregated between Catholics and Protestants.
Substack has launched Notes, a social media alternative to Twitter. You’ll find us there if you decide to join the conversations. Learn more about the platform in an explainer from Substack.
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