Word&Way News: May 5
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a reflection on two years of this newsletter that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a report on Christian Nationalism and the royal coronation.
Support our journalism ministry by upgrading to a paid e-newsletter subscription today!
Top 5 at wordandway.org
Clergy Urge Oklahoma to Save Life of Man Who’s Had 3 ‘Last Meals’ on Death Row. Brian Kaylor reported on a press conference at the Oklahoma Capitol two weeks before the planned execution of a man many believe is innocent.
Ecumenical Conference Takes On Our Violent World. Jeremy Fuzy reported on the Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference that included a variety of Christian speakers.
Multiple Revenue Streams and the Future of the Church. Greg Mamula considered proactive actions in light of socio-economic realities of local churches, denominational groups, and para-church organizations.
Review: Redeeming Vision. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed Redeeming Vision: A Christian Guide to Looking at and Learning from Art by Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt.
Southern Baptist Leader Selection Process Fails Amid Dispute. Peter Smith reported on the controversy as SBC leaders overwhelmingly voted down a nominated new executive.
This week: Isaac Sharp on The Other Evangelicals
Other noteworthy podcasts this week:
A new podcast series — One Nation, All Beliefs — launched this week as a partnership between Straight White American Jesus and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The first three episodes are out, with more coming.
On Respecting Religion, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman discussed the controversy in Texas over a push to post the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms (which we reported on last week).
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
When it comes to First Amendment rights, the first type of place that comes to mind for many people would be a church or other house of worship. But apparently some lawmakers think liquor stores and riverboat gambling operations should have more rights over their facilities than congregations do.
Earlier this week, I testified in a Missouri Senate committee hearing against a bill pushing concealed firearms in houses of worship. It was my second time speaking against this legislative effort this year (and I did so in previous years as well). Right now, concealed firearms are automatically banned in churches unless the minister allows it. The bill would instead make them automatically allowed unless houses of worship post signage banning firearms at all entrances.
Some congregations have religious convictions that mean they don’t want weapons of war in their sanctuaries. They shouldn’t be forced to allow guns or post a government message on that topic. As I tried to explain, the Second Amendment shouldn’t trump the First Amendment.
But what’s worse is that this bill would mean churches would have fewer rights over their buildings than liquor stores or riverboat gambling operations — both of which are covered by the same rules that currently govern houses of worship. For some reason, lawmakers are targeting religious communities but not the other types of facilities. And lawmakers keep pushing this legislation despite the fact that Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Methodist, and other clergy keep testifying against it.
The lawmakers pushing this legislation claim they care about religious liberty. But if they pass this bill, they will prove that to be a lie.
Other News of Note
Michael Mooney wrote for Deseret News about Mike Pence’s appearances in churches as he seeks support for a presidential run.
U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten of Michigan is outspoken about her evangelical faith and is urging her fellow Democrats to reach out better to religious voters.
Robert Downen of the Texas Tribune reported on how “once-fringe theories could be codified into Texas law” as state lawmakers listen to pseudo-historian David Barton.
Baptists in Texas filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office, arguing a lottery “grocery giveaway” violated state law and exploits poor people.
“Tragically, far too many pastors have confused political power with religious authority, and have thrown their lot in with Trump, no matter the cost to their ministry. Pastors for Trump is the next step in this unholy alliance, mixing Christian Nationalism, election lies, and vitriolic language in a gross distortion of Christianity.” —Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, in a London Guardian article about a group calling itself “Pastors for Trump.”
The firebombing of a church in Ohio by an accused Neo-Nazi is raising fears of growing White Supremacist activity.
Jayson Casper reported for Christianity Today about damage to churches in Sudan as the nation experiences violence that threatens to turn into a civil war.
Teri Cadeau of the Duluth News Tribune wrote about a dwindling Presbyterian church that gave away its building to a new congregation of younger Christians.
Gary Dorrien wrote for Commonweal a profile of Rev. Traci Blackmon, a United Church of Christ leader and pastor in St. Louis, Missouri, engaged in social justice advocacy.
Jemar Tisby wrote at his Substack newsletter Footnotes about a professor fired at Taylor University in Indiana because she taught about racial justice:
Photo of the Week
Thanks for reading!
A Public Witness is a reader-supported publication of Word&Way. To receive new posts and support our journalism ministry, subscribe today.