Word&Way News: May 19
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a report on the latest iteration of the ReAwaken America Tour that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a look at a trend of politicians supporting vigilantes.
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Top 5 at wordandway.org
The Nones Need Us. Sarah Blackwell reflected on watching a generation of young people she worked with over the last two decades walk away from the church and organized religion.
Review: What Jesus Learned from Women. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed What Jesus Learned from Women by James F. McGrath.
We Must Remember the Palestinian Nakba. Wendell Griffen reflected on the 75th anniversary of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
Republicans Revel in Divine Plan to Turn Kansas into ‘Conservative Sanctuary.’ Sherman Smith reported on religious politics in the Sunflower State.
Saddleback Church Appeals Southern Baptist Convention Ouster Over Woman Pastor. Adelle M. Banks reported on three churches hoping to remain in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination amid controversy about female ministers.
This week: Amanda Tyler of Christians Against Christian Nationalism
Another noteworthy podcast this week:
On Respecting Religion, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman discussed the ReAwaken America Tour (with a shout-out to the reporting by A Public Witness).
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montana’s House of Representatives stopped inviting clergy to visit and offer a prayer at the start of a legislative session. Instead, the lawmakers themselves started giving the official prayers. Yet, one of only two ministers who serve in the House was denied an opportunity to pray this year on his scheduled day. Why? He believes it’s because he’s Jewish.
Rep. Ed Stafman, a Democrat from Bozeman who is also a rabbi, learned just before his day that he wouldn’t be praying after all. Stafman and other Jews in the state are raising complaints about such treatment, but the rabbi-lawmaker is also quick to put the focus elsewhere.
“So many Montanans suffered so many indignities this session that being barred from leading a prayer pales by comparison,” Stafman told Foward. “There was a whole bunch of legislation that had Christian Nationalist overtones.”
The move by Montana’s Speaker of the House is undemocratic and unchristian. In our pluralistic nation, every citizen deserves equal rights regardless of their religion. And the Christian faith I share with the speaker includes the teaching to treat others as you would want them to treat you.
This latest squabble over legislative prayers — along with the recent one in North Dakota as two lawmakers turned their backs during a prayer by a Presbyterian minister — is another reason to scrap such government prayers completely. But while I believe we shouldn’t include prayers as part of official legislative business, if we let some pray we must allow others. To exclude a rabbi while allowing Christians is a violation of religious liberty and an is effort to establish Christian Nationalism. To this, we must not close our eyes.
Other News of Note
Ryan Burge wrote for Politico about what changes in religious attendance could mean for the 2024 election.
Contrasting the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times wondered, “Whose version of Christian Nationalism will win in 2024?”
Tess Vrbin of the Arkansas Advocate reported on a controversy after a public school district in southwest Arkansas distributed Bibles and led students in prayer.
“People are just ready for a new type of leadership that puts our quality of life ahead of party politics.” —Colorado Springs Mayor-Elect Yemi Mobolade after his surprise victory Tuesday night. An immigrant from Nigeria who previously started a church in Colorado Springs, he is the first Black person elected mayor of the city and the first not aligned with the Republican Party.
Scott Neuman of NPR reported on what it means for individuals and communities as churches close due to dwindling attendance and giving.
Bekah McNeel wrote for Sojourners about why more churches don’t offer paid parental leave.
Ashley Fetters Maloy of the Washington Post reported on revelations in the forthcoming docuseries The Secrets of Hillsong.
Jayson Casper of Christianity Today reported on how pastors in Sudan are interpreting scriptures and applying them amid violence as the nation finds itself at the possible start of a civil war.
Daniel Cox wrote at his Substack newsletter American Storylines about how gun violence is especially destructive to public places:
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