Here’s the top news of the week from Word&Way. In addition to an analysis of the religious devotion in the recently-ended Arizona election audit that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received an excerpt from the new Adam Taylor book A More Perfect Union from Broadleaf Books.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
ERLC Trustee Complains About Leaked Letter — In Leaked Letter. Brian Kaylor reports on claims by attorney Jonathan Whitehead as Southern Baptists debate how to investigate claims of clergy sexual abuse.
Know Your Place. Recalling a misadventure with GPS, Sarah Blackwell writes about the importance of paying attention to the subtle signs and places around us.
The Prophetic Spirit & Responsible Entrepreneurialism. Chris Dorsey considers how many Christians remain staunchly committed to, or at least tacitly accepting of, the unbridled pursuit of wealth.
National Baptist Convention USA President Questions ‘Hypocritical’ Mandate Views. Adelle M. Banks reports on comments by Jerry Young, who criticized anti-vax Christians because “you simply cannot be right with God if you do not also love your neighbor.”
Other News of Note
Writing about a new book by Stephanie Grisham, a former Trump White House press secretary, the New York Times reported, “At one point, she writes, Mr. Trump’s handlers designated an unnamed White House official known as the ‘Music Man’ to play him his favorite show tunes, including ‘Memory’ from Cats, to pull him from the brink of rage.” Playing music to calm down an angry ruler? That reminds us of another report in 1 Samuel 16. The old biblical stories still speak to our times!
This week: Adam Taylor on A More Perfect Union
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
Last month, we warned that “Facebook is not your church’s friend” as the social media giant worked to gain greater influence over virtual church worship, online giving, and remote prayers. New revelations about the company should cause us all to keep clicking that head-shaking angry face emoji.
Leaked documents show that Facebook’s own research found its Instagram app is toxic for teen girls. Yet, the company continued pushing the platform as a space for kids. The documents also reveal that algorithm changes made in 2018 made people angrier, and that the company is slow to address accounts linked to human traffickers and drug cartels.
And newly-leaked documents show that 19 of the top 20 Facebook pages in 2019 aimed at American Christians were actually run by “troll farms” in Eastern Europe. As MIT Technology Review explained, these “trolls” post provocative and even inaccurate content to exploit Facebook’s algorithm to make money. They reach millions of Americans, most of whom don’t even follow the fake pages but still get shown the content.
“Our platform has given the largest voice in the Christian American community to a handful of bad actors, who, based on their media production practices, have never been to church,” Jeff Allen, a former senior-level data scientist at Facebook, wrote about the findings. “This is not normal. This is not healthy.”
I agree. This deserves more attention and discussion. As Christian author Brian McLaren offered in response to this news, “Christians on Facebook, do you care about being manipulated like this?”
Photo of the Week
Thanks for reading!