Word&Way News: June 30
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a review of a book on chaplains that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received an examination of how Southern Baptists, United Methodists, and Mennonites recently treated disaffiliated churches.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
Ministers Reflect on Praying in Death Chambers. Brian Kaylor reported on a panel conversation with four clergy members who have recently been present during state executions.
Reflecting on the American Baptist Mission Summit. Greg Mamula wrote about attending the biennial gathering of American Baptist Churches USA in Puerto Rico.
Review: Oral Roberts and the Rise of the Prosperity Gospel. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed Oral Roberts and the Rise of the Prosperity Gospel by Jonathan Root.
Josh Hawley’s Distorted History. Rodney Kennedy argued that the senior senator from Missouri is wrong about slavery, American history, and Christianity.
Supreme Court Solidifies Protections for Workers Who Ask for Religious Accommodations. Jessica Gresko reported on a new ruling in a case about Sabbath observance (this case was previously profiled at A Public Witness).
This week: Dwight McKissic on the SBC & Racism
Other noteworthy podcasts this week:
On Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell considered issues facing higher education by visiting Hope College, a Christian school in Michigan.
Journalist Jon Ward appeared on Straight White American Jesus to talk about growing up in the evangelical world and what he now sees as political and cultural problems in evangelicalism.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
A Republican presidential candidate spoke to a gathering of conservative evangelicals about why character matters. And he got booed.
Eight years ago, that plot idea would’ve been seen as silly and unrealistic in a novel. But it happened to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as he spoke on June 23 to a gathering of the Faith & Freedom Coalition founded by longtime evangelical political activist Ralph Reed.
Christie started his remarks by quoting Romans 5 and then talked about why leaders need character. It’s standard stuff I heard growing up in church in the 1990s. But when he said that’s why Donald Trump isn’t fit for office, people started booing. Some heckled him while others stood and turned their backs to him.
“You can boo all you want,” Christie, who is Catholic, responded. “But here’s the thing: Our faith teaches us that people have to take responsibility for what they do. People have to stand up and take accountability for what they do.”
Afterward, he said he expected it since the crowd was so pro-Trump. But he went, he explained, because “they need to hear the truth too that, you know, character is the single most important element of a president of the United States.” It’s hard to bridge that rhetoric with his own character issues, but Christie is right that character matters. Jan. 6, 2021, proved that. And yet, the Christians at the event cheered louder for Trump than anyone else.
Although this isn’t a new problem, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be numbed by it. We should be shocked when an event held in the name of Jesus features boos for saying character matters. With their own mouths they’ve managed to indict themselves. That’s a problem with idolatry. We take on the values of who we worship.
Other News of Note
Christian groups helped get books pulled from some Pennsylvania school libraries, while a California church is organizing opposition in a local school district to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
A Southern Baptist church staffer in Kansas City, Missouri, who took his mom to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was arrested this week for his actions during the insurrection.
“For the Son of man came to find and to restore what was lost. And that to me sounds like reparations.” —Rev. Amos C. Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, in a Washington Post article about how his church is helping push a conversation in California about reparations. (Brown has written for Word&Way and been a podcast guest).
A Black United Methodist church building in Maryland was vandalized, causing an estimated $100,000 in damages.
Actor Mark Ruffalo and other celebrities are fighting to stop a Presbyterian church in New York City from demolishing its historic building.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas has been given an official warning from its accrediting body amid governing and financial concerns.
Katelyn Beaty wrote at her Substack newsletter The Beaty Beat about why she still goes to church even as she reports on Christian leaders and organizations “behaving unchristianly”:
Photo of the Week
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