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Word&Way News: Oct. 13
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. At A Public Witness, we published a report from Lebanon on the ministry of Christians there.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
‘People Living in Fear,’ Says Baptist Minister from Gaza. Brian Kaylor reported on the small Christian community in the Gaza Strip as war broke out.
Religious Leaders Gather in Louisiana for World Day Against the Death Penalty. Jeremy Fuzy reported on faith advocacy this week against capital punishment.
Chicago Community and Evanston Church Step Up to Assist Resettled Venezuelan Families. Anna Piela wrote about the ministry of a local church in the Chicago area after Texas sent buses of migrants to the city.
Review: My Body, Their Baby. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed My Body, Their Baby: A Progressive Christian Vision for Surrogacy by Grace Kao.
Clergy Burnout Is a Growing Concern in Polarized Churches. A Summit Offers Coping Strategies. Giovanna Dell’Orto reported on efforts to help pastors with their mental and spiritual health.
This week: Terence Lester on All God’s Children
Another noteworthy podcast this week:
At our podcast Baptist Without An Adjective, we ran an interview conducted in Beirut, Lebanon, with Asatur Nahapetyanm (general secretary of the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptist Churches of Armenia) about the refugee crisis after the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
It’s long been said that “truth is the first casualty of war.” People made that claim even before the rise of social media, but the war in Israel and Gaza over the past week exposed the problem of online misinformation. It should serve as a warning for us all to be careful with where we get information.
For instance, a viral post claiming to show Hamas shooting down a helicopter was actually from a video game. Another said Israel had ordered a nuclear strike on Gaza and included an image that was instead from a U.S. nuclear test. Another claimed Israel had destroyed the oldest of the three Christian churches in Gaza — a false assertion that continues to bounce around social media days after the church posted on Facebook that it wasn’t true.
Some of the claims are posted by political activists deliberately trying to stir up passions against one side as they add to the fog of war. They don’t care about the truth or even about the people caught in the conflict; they just want to score political points and build their own following.
As people who follow the Truth, Christians must do better. Not only should we not deliberately create disinformation, we must also be careful not to accidentally help spread misinformation. That means we have to be discerning as we see information, especially during a situation like a war where things are changing quickly and reporters don’t always have access. But let’s commit to only follow reputable sources, double-check things before sharing them, and work to counter false claims.
The war in Israel and Gaza is bad enough without fake news.
Other News of Note
William Speer is the first incarcerated person to serve as a coordinator for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Faith-Based Program. Texas is planning to execute him later this month.
Christianity Today reported on two studies looking back at the COVID-19 pandemic: one showed that about one-third of U.S. churches received a PPP loan, and the other found that government restrictions on churches had no lasting impact.
Lincoln Christian University in Illinois announced it is shutting down after 80 years and will hand its seminary off to Ozark Christian College in Missouri.
Forum 18 reported that two more Russian Christians have been sent to prison for refusing to fight in Ukraine on religious grounds. (As we previously reported at A Public Witness, both Russia and Ukraine have infringed on the rights of conscientious objectors.)
“After the outcome of this rigged election, I can’t look at my pastor and return to his church. … A man of God can’t support a corrupt military government.” —a Christian in Zimbabwe in the aftermath of an unfair election that the ruling party “won.” During the campaign, many pastors endorsed the government after allegedly receiving financial backing from the state.
Jim Wallis wrote at his Substack newsletter God’s Politics about the outbreak of war in Israel and Gaza:
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