Word&Way News: May 12
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a reflection on “thoughts and prayers” rhetoric that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a report on religious conflicts among state lawmakers.
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Top 5 at wordandway.org
Christian Leaders Continue Opposition to ReAwaken America Tour — at Trump Resort. Jeremy Fuzy reported on national and Florida Christian leaders challenging the Christian Nationalism of the ReAwaken America Tour happening this weekend at Trump National Doral in Miami.
Review: Death, the End of History, and Beyond. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed Death, the End of History, and Beyond: Eschatology in the Bible by Greg Carey.
Southern Baptists Lost Nearly Half a Million Members in 2022. The nation’s largest Protestant denomination is shedding members at an unprecedented rate.
The IRS Just Hiked Taxes on Private Jet Flights. Pastors Are Not Excluded. Kathryn Post reported on a tax increase on employer-owned planes that does not include a religious exemption.
Why Habitat for Humanity’s Theology of the Hammer Offers Hope in Polarized Times. Bob Smietana reported on how a nonprofit built on the idea of showing God’s love through home construction is trying to heal the nation’s divisions.
This week: Nijay Gupta on Tell Her Story
Another noteworthy podcast this week:
Texas state Sen. James Talarico appeared on Respecting Religion to talk about his opposition to a bill to post the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
As Russia’s war against Ukraine continues after more than 14 months of bombings, killings, and war crimes, life remains difficult in the besieged country. While it’s often said that truth is the first causality of war, it seems religious rights are also high on the list.
In March, we reported on how both the Russian and Ukrainian governments were punishing individuals who sought conscientious objector status due to their religious beliefs. As we noted, despite the constitutional protections for conscientious objectors in Ukraine, the country had jailed a Christian who refused to fight. Now, another Christian has received the same treatment.
Forum 18 reported that Mykhailo Yavorsky, a 40-year-old Christian who insists “I can’t kill a person,” recently received a one-year prison service for refusing a mobilization order. He requested alternative service but was told it wasn’t an option during the war.
“I adhere to the New Testament,” Yavorsky explained. “Jesus said you must love God and love your neighbor — this is the most important thing.”
In addition to the two conscientious objectors sentenced to prison in Ukraine, others requesting alternative service on religious grounds are being threatened with prosecution.
Since the beginning of the war last year, we’ve been clear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is immoral and illegal. And we’ve particularly lamented how the Russian Orthodox Church has been so closely aligned with Vladimir Putin’s regime, with the Church’s head even blasphemously baptizing the war as a salvific mission. Any criticism of Ukraine today does not negate the fact that Russia is wrong.
But Ukraine must not sacrifice its core values on the battlefield. May we continue to remember Christians being persecuted for their faith.
Other News of Note
A joint report from the Texas Tribune and ProPublica found that three churches illegally contributed to a school board candidate’s campaign.
Abe Streep of The New Yorker wrote about how conservative Christian lawmakers in Montana are undermining decorum in the state’s legislature.
Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register reported on efforts by Republican presidential hopefuls to win over evangelical voters.
David French wrote for the New York Times about “Tucker Carlson’s dark and malign influence over the Christian Right.”
“In the non-Christian world, I see great separation between people. But at seminary, our borders just dissolve.” —Philip Kharchenko, a Belarusian student at Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary in Estonia that welcomes Ukrainian and Russian students, told Christianity Today about his educational experience in the shadow of war.
Christians in Oklahoma held a vigil at a Methodist church to protest capital punishment, during which they painted 24 crosses with red paint to represent the executions planned in the state for this year (and they painted one more cross green to represent Richard Glossip, whose execution has been stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court).
Mark Wingfield of Baptist News Global reported on a Baptist church in Virginia that held worship at a local park after a bomb threat.
Roger Alford of the Christian Index wrote about a historian being compared to Indiana Jones as he paddles through rivers in Georgia searching for church ruins.
Diana Butler Bass wrote at her Substack newsletter The Cottage about the problem of a Catholic College hosting Donald Trump for a townhall this week:
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