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Word&Way News: March 4
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to an analysis of calls for prayer in Ukraine that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received an essay on the importance of civility even as our politics grows increasingly uncivil.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
ICU: A Community Lament. Sarah Blackwell offers a poem as a tribute to those who have had their lives changed by the pandemic.
American Hypocrisy about Premeditated War. Wendell Griffen reflects on the hypocrisy of President Joe Biden condemning Russia for a “premeditated war” against Ukraine when the U.S. is engaged in “premeditated” acts of violence on a regular basis.
Kyiv Shrines, Memorials with Powerful Symbolic Value at Risk. As Russia bombs Ukraine, fears grow that the fighting could damage Orthodox Christian sites that are nearly 1,000 years old.
United Methodist Church Delays General Conference, Prompting Some Conservatives to Leave. The 2020 meeting that was supposed to formalize a split in the denomination has been delayed for the third time — now pushed back to 2024.
Southern Baptist Convention President Won’t Seek 2nd Term. For the first time in four decades, an SBC president won’t seek a second term. Ed Litton’s surprise announcement will likely spark another hotly-contested election in June.
Other News of Note
Emily Belz reported for Christianity Today on the move by Lincoln Christian University in Illinois to revert to being a Bible college as it cuts most undergraduate majors, residential life, and athletics
Kathryn Joyce reported on how far-right activists like Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos are trying to push the Catholic Church further to the right.
Crux noted that ahead of a new election later this year, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is seeing his support among evangelicals dropping — and that could cost him reelection.
In an unusual move of dissent, more than 150 Russian Orthodox clerics signed an open letter calling for an end to the Russian war in Ukraine even though the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church supports Russian President Vladimir Putin.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
This coming week, pastors in Arkansas can attend a four-day “epic conference” designed to help them “engage on cultural issues of the day aimed at destroying the Church and the family!” And what are these critical issues? Supposed “election fraud” in the last presidential race. “Rioting in the streets with ANTIFA thugs.” And, of course, Critical Race Theory, “COVID lockdown/hysteria,” and efforts to reduce climate change.
“Did you ever wonder what it would be like in the terminal generation of the Church that would be alive when the Lord Jesus returns for his own? We may be that generation!” the promo for the pastors’ conference breathlessly offers.
Headlining the event will be Baptist pastor turned Arkansas governor turned TV pundit Mike Huckabee and his daughter, the former Trump White House press secretary now running for governor. And this event will likely promote her candidacy. After all, multiple sessions will deal with “the myth of ‘separation of church and state’ in my pulpit” and why churches shouldn’t follow the IRS rules that prevent nonprofits from endorsing candidates. That’s why other speakers like Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, a writer for the fake news site “The Epoch Times,” and other Religious Right leaders will also speak.
To put it simply, this isn’t a pastors’ conference in the traditional sense. This is a political organizing conference seeking to convert pastors as partisan field agents. As Wendell Griffen, a Baptist pastor in Little Rock, told me this week, this conference is an example of people who “either don’t know the gospel or, worse, are deliberately deceiving people.” But these conferences occur across the country, infecting our pulpits with something other than the Good News.
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