Word&Way News: Feb. 4
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. We published three pieces this week at A Public Witness: an essay on efforts to ban or deplatform unwanted voices, an excerpt from the new book by Lisa Sharon Harper, and an analysis of how the Lord’s Prayer is being co-opted for partisan politics.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
Dismantling Gender Barriers to Ministry. Laura Levens writes about challenges facing women called to ministry, and she offers advice on how to help dismantle the patriarchy in churches.
Francis Collins on COVID-19 Politics: ‘The Culture War is Literally Killing People.’ Adelle M. Banks reports on new comments by the now former National Institutes of Health director about how White evangelicals have been “victimized by the misinformation and lies and conspiracies that are floating around, particularly on social media and some of it in cable news.”
First African American Named to Key SBC Post — as Interim. Holly Meyer reports on Willie McLaurin becoming interim president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. This makes him the first African American to lead one of the denomination’s ministry entities in its more than 175-year history.
Faith in the Metaverse: A VR Quest for Community, Fellowship. Luis Andres Henao looks at how some pastors are ministering and preaching in virtual reality.
Streaming Online has been a Boon for Churches, a Godsend for Isolated. Bob Smietana and Elizabeth E. Evans write about how online worship has helped churches and congregants.
Other News of Note
Brian Kaylor was quoted in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article: “Only Christians Need Apply? Gov. Mike Parson’s ‘Christian Values’ Statement Prompts Legal Concerns.”
David Brooks wrote for the New York Times about “The Dissenters Trying to Save Evangelicalism from Itself.”
David Cassidy, president of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, wrote a column for Baptist News Global about bomb threats targeting Historically Black Colleges and Universities. His plea: “White churches, please choose an HBCU and support it. There is one near you — find it. Put it in your budget. Support it.”
A Florida company fired a man for refusing to work a shift on Sunday and instead attend church. So, the man filed a religious discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Now he’s won a $50,000 settlement from his former employer.
Wade Burleson, an anti-vax retired Southern Baptist pastor is running for U.S. Congress from Oklahoma.
This week: Lisa Sharon Harper on Fortune
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
BUM — BUM — ba-ba-ba-BAH-BAH…
The horns are blowing. The Olympics are here.
But like with the Summer Games last year, the cheering crowds are missing as the COVID pandemic continues. There’s another issue with these games that feels off. It’s what we won’t see behind the snow, ice, medals, and masks.
The host nation of China will put on a good show. They will dazzle us with their opening ceremony spectacle. And they will show off their skills throughout the competition. But we must not forget what lies just out of sight of the cameras. When the International Olympic Committee awarded China the 2008 Summer Games, many hoped it would improve civil liberties in the country. It didn’t. Things are worse. And the IOC didn’t pretend these games would make life better.
That’s why some have called for a boycott of the Olympics this year, including Open Doors (a group that draws attention to global Christian persecution). Others are reminding us to remain mindful of what China is doing. Like 21Wilberforce (a Christian human rights organization) that noted: “Amidst the glamour of today’s Olympic Opening Ceremony, we must not let China whitewash its campaign of genocide against the Uyghurs and its efforts to export authoritarianism around the globe.”
Whether you join me in watching the Games over the next couple weeks or not, let us prayerfully work toward greater global freedoms for those persecuted because of their faith. But as we warned last year, we should give up on the myth that the Olympics (or sports in general) will help usher in peace.
Photo of the Week
Thanks for reading!