Word&Way News: Jan. 27
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. This week at A Public Witness, we published a book review of Christianity’s American Fate, a report on the religious appeals and attacks in the race to lead the Republican National Committee, and a defense of denominational resolutions.
Support our journalism ministry by upgrading to a paid e-newsletter subscription today!
Top 5 at wordandway.org
Sometimes I Want to Be a Christian Nationalist. Angela Denker reflected on the church life her kids don’t get to live and how at times it feels like it would be easier to uncompromisingly champion a strong and central church.
Review: Decolonizing Christianity. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed Decolonizing Christianity by Miguel A. De La Torre.
Middle Collegiate Church Expects Historic Façade to Be Demolished by Spring. Adelle M. Banks reported on a decision allowing a historic New York City church to tear down a structure badly damaged by a fire (a December report at A Public Witness covered the issues involved in the dispute over the building).
‘Not a Real Schism’: Four Years Later, UMC Exodus Less a Gush, More a Trickle. Yonat Shimron and Emily McFarlan Miller reported on the state of the divide in the United Methodist Church where just 6.1% of congregations have disaffiliated so far.
National Prayer Breakfast Breaks from ‘The Family’ with New Organization. A controversial event is getting revamped, but some critics wonder if it’s just window-dressing.
This week: Sara Billups on Orphaned Believers
Other noteworthy podcasts this week:
On Respecting Religion, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman talked about the National Prayer Breakfast and religious freedom.
Sojourners launched new narrative podcast, Lead Us Not, to explore the legacy of Jean Vanier, the late founder of L’Arche (a global network of communities that brought dignity to people with disabilities) who has been accused of sexually abusing several women. Episode 1 is out.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis considers a presidential run, he’s been pushing his state farther to the right. One example was the appointment this month of conservative activists who have attacked public education to the board of a small state college. Among the new trustees at New College of Florida is Eddie Speir, who has attacked anti-racism efforts and spread COVID vaccine conspiracies.
Speir, the founder and superintendent of a Christian school for grades 6-12, immediately requested the board of trustees for New College open meetings with prayer. When this request for the board of a public college was denied, he publicly attacked school leaders who made that decision.
With that move, Speir managed to prove in his first week on the board why he’s a poor pick. But it also shows why DeSantis chose him to be a part of the crusade against public education for valuing the pluralism of our society and honestly teaching the past. Other new trustees for New College also show this goal, including Christopher Rufo, an anti-critical race theory activist who admitted the anti-CRT rhetoric is just politics; and Matthew Spalding, a professor at a Christian college in Michigan that’s been leading the fight to undermine K-12 public education.
The attacks against public education are being waged in the name of God. As a former public university professor, I believe we must not allow DeSantis, Speir, Rufo, and Spalding to define the Christian response to public education. Jesus instead said to love the Lord your God with all your mind.
Other News of Note
Evy Lewis of the Columbia Missourian reported on comments by Brian Kaylor during a Missouri House committee hearing on a bill to create religious exceptions to public health rules.
Can a Muslim inmate sue to block a Christian TV show from playing in a Virginia jail? Appellate judges said they don’t know since the U.S. Supreme Court is changing the rules about religious establishment.
Sarah Posner wrote for MSNBC about why it’s too early to think White evangelicals won’t vote again for Donald Trump.
Ian Ward of Politico spoke with Bradley Onishi about the extremism of White Christian Nationalism.
“Christian Nationalism attempts to sanctify oppression and not liberation. It attempts to sanctify lies and not truth. At best it’s a form of theological malpractice. At worst, it’s a form of heresy.” —Rev. William J. Barber II to CNN
Lori Rozsa of the Washington Post wrote about a Black professor in Florida who insists on teaching the stories of racial violence even as the state’s governor tries to limit such education.
Liam Adams of the Nashville Tennessean reported on how former Southern Baptist leader Johnny Hunt (since accused of sexual abuse) was key in helping Ravi Zacharias initially fight sexual abuse allegations.
Ryan Truscott wrote for Christianity Today about how a deadly river baptism service in South Africa shows how climate change poses new risks to religious communities.
An Italian Catholic bishop issued new rules governing the ringing of church bells to cut down on “acoustic pollution.”
Beth Allison Barr wrote on her Substack newsletter Marginalia about how she deals with the description of women in 1 Timothy 2.
Photo of the Week
Thanks for reading!
A Public Witness is a reader-supported publication of Word&Way. To receive new posts and support our journalism ministry, subscribe today.