Word&Way News: Nov. 12

Here’s the top news of the week from Word&Way. In addition to an analysis of the problematic rise of religious exemption claims that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received an essay exploring governance disputes at Southwest Baptist University and other Christian schools.

A Public Witness
When Christian Colleges Fail the Test
Kyle Lee was a man on a mission. The vice chair of the board of trustees at Southwest Baptist University, he felt empowered to ensure doctrinal integrity at the school in Bolivar, Missouri. Over the past year, allegations emerged of trustees taking over search committees for religion professors and…
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Top 5 at wordandway.org

  1. SBU Placed on Probation by Accrediting Body. Brian Kaylor broke the news on the latest developments in the three-year controversy at Southwest Baptist University.

  2. The Allure of Forbidden Knowledge. Jeremy Fuzy considers the launch of the University of Austin and an odd biblical allusion in their announcement of “The Forbidden Courses.”

  3. High Court Skeptical of Texas Death Row Inmate Prayer Demand. Jessica Gresko reports on the U.S. Supreme Court arguments this week about pastoral prayer during an execution.

  4. How God’s Pronouns & the CBMW Might Save Beth Allison Barr’s Church. Bob Smietana reports on how a fundraising effort by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood actually raised a lot of money for one of the group’s targets.

  5. Matthew Dowd Stakes His Run for Texas Lieutenant Governor on Kindness & Faith. Elizabeth E. Evans reports on a former Republican aide and political pundit now trying to win as a Democrat in the Lone Star State.

Other News of Note

After Word&Way broke the news of Southwest Baptist University being put on probation by its accrediting body, KY3 interviewed Brian Kaylor. Then Inside Higher Ed ran an article that cited our reporting. And we added to that coverage in our essay on Thursday.

Dangerous Dogma

This week: Randall Balmer on Bad Faith

Quick Take

by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief

It’s not often that attorneys attack pastors as a courtroom strategy. But it happened this week in the Georgia trial of three White men who chased and fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man simply out jogging.

“Obviously there’s only so many pastors they can have,” defense attorney Kevin Gough said in court on Thursday (Nov. 11). “And if their pastor’s Al Sharpton right now that’s fine, but then that’s it. We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here.”

Gough admitted he didn’t know that a masked Sharpton had been quietly sitting in the back row the previous day until later when Sharpton held a vigil with Arbery’s family outside the courthouse. But now the White attorney wants to ban Black pastors from the courtroom (much as he also helped keep most Blacks off the jury). Gough also compared the presence of Black pastors to if “a bunch of folks came in here dressed like Colonel Sanders with white masks sitting in the back.” Fortunately, the judge rejected that half-baked idea.

We often hear White preachers and politicians tell us they believe in “religious liberty” but then attack Black Christians for showing up. Earlier this year in Georgia, Black churches were targeted in legislation to limit voting rights. As Jim Wallis said recently on Dangerous Dogma, for too many White evangelicals “the operative word in the phrase is not evangelical but White.” And that, he added, is “a false gospel.” A gospel that too many are guilty of preaching.

Photo of the Week

Reflected in a mirror, Catholic priest Jean-Nicaisse Milien prepares for a Mass in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Nov. 7, 2021. Milien was kidnapped for 20 days along with other priests, nuns, and civilians in April by the same group who have been holding 17 members of a U.S.-based missionary group, Christian Aid Ministries, for more than three weeks. (Matias Delacroix/Associated Press)

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