Here’s the top news of the week from Word&Way. Paid subscribers to A Public Witness received an essay considering the nature of football in light of historic Christian theology.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
Behind the Pulpit: Lindsey Braun. Beau Underwood interviews the pastor of education and faith formation at Plymouth Church in Des Moines, Iowa.
Will Baptists Have a Permanent Foothold on the Jordan River? Daoud Kuttab writes about the neglect of the site of Jesus’s baptism in Jordan.
Princeton Theological Seminary Removes Name of Enslaver from Chapel. Kathryn Post reports on a name change after controversy about the chapel’s honor to an enslaver and anti-abolitionist.
S.D. School ‘Prayer’ Bill Rejected by House Republicans. An effort by the state’s Republican governor toward “putting prayer back in schools” was shot down by her own party.
Pope Denounces Fake News about COVID & Vaccines. Pope Francis warned that “in addition to the pandemic, an ‘infodemic’ is spreading.”
Other News of Note
Brian Kaylor wrote an op-ed for the Missouri Independent after Missouri’s attorney general sued public schools for requiring masks: “Eric Schmitt fails a moral test on school masks.”
Liam Adams of the Tennessean reported on an ongoing debate among Southern Baptists about Jan. 6 and Christian Nationalism (and his piece include comments from Brian Kaylor).
Don Byrd’s summary for the Baptist Joint Committee of last week’s Supreme Court arguments in the Christian flag case included a shout-out to the “eye-opening background” from A Public Witness.
Writing for the Washington Post, Chris Moody offered a unique COVID story: “Monks in New Mexico Desert Dedicated to Hospitality Reflect on Two Years Without Guests.”
Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote for the Washington Post about “why our brain craves pattern-seeking rituals like Wordle.” And while we’re on the subject, here’s Brian Kaylor’s result today :)
The New York Times published a harrowing story about the last Christians in the Syrian city of Idlib that’s under the rule of the Islamic militants.
This week: Rob W. Lee on Robert E. Lee
Another good podcast this week:
On the CBF Podcast, Andy Hale talked with Beth Allison Barr and Meredith Stone about gender roles, inerrancy, and the Bible.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
This week, Vanity Fair published a large profile on Jerry Falwell Jr., who resigned amid scandals from Liberty University in 2020. And while the piece focuses on the story of his wife’s affair and his downfall, there are some statements from Falwell that deserve greater attention when we think about faith and politics today.
Like when he declared, “Because of my last name, people think I’m a religious person. But I’m not. My goal was to make them realize I was not my dad.” Falwell also took shots at Franklin Graham and the “religious elite” (which Falwell used to be part of), arguing that “nothing in history has done more to turn people away from Christianity than organized religion.”
All of this matters because Falwell was among the most significant early Christian supporters (along with Robert Jeffress) of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. While 81% of White evangelicals eventually backed Trump in 2016, the thrice-married profane businessman who appeared on the cover of Playboy wasn’t initially favored. Falwell’s over-the-top praise of Trump — like claiming “Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught” — helped Trump find political salvation in the ballot box.
At the time, many criticized Falwell for hypocrisy. After all, the Falwells and other conservative Christian leaders used to preach that character matters. But as the Vanity Fair profile documents, Falwell didn’t actually live by those rules. The anomaly wasn’t his support for Trump but his position as a “Christian” leader. When someone tells you who they are — like Falwell did in his adoration for Trump — we should listen.
Photo of the Week
Thanks for reading!