Word&Way News: Oct. 21
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a report on the attacks on the faith of Sen. Raphael Warnock that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a look at an effort in the midterm elections to ban slavery in state constitutions.
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In Branson, God and Country Serve As Red, White, and Blue Comfort Food. Bob Smietana reported from Branson, Missouri, on the entertaining mix of God, country, and Christian Nationalism.
Review: Strength for the Fight. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed Strength for the Fight: The Life and Faith of Jackie Robinson by Gary Scott Smith.
Scholar & Preacher Jonathan Lee Walton Named Next President of Princeton Seminary. Adelle M. Banks reported on Princeton Seminary choosing a Baptist minister as its first Black president.
Queen Lauds Minnesota Church’s Century of Norwegian Worship. Giovanna Dell’Orto reported on a royal visit to a Lutheran church in Minneapolis.
World Council of Churches Head Meets with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. Jack Jenkins reported on ongoing efforts to push back against the head of the Russian Orthodox Church for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This week: Liz Bucar on Stealing My Religion
Other noteworthy podcasts this week:
Brian Kaylor was the guest on the Future Christian podcast to talk about “impolite conversations in the church.”
On the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty’s podcast Respecting Religion, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman reflected on what they’ve learned over three years in leading the “Christians Against Christian Nationalism” campaign.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
A Russian Orthodox priest was convicted earlier this week for opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on religious grounds. Nikandr Pinchuk had written on social media to condemn the war as the work of the “horde of the Antichrist.”
For his short 134-word post, Pinchuk was charged with “discrediting” the Russian Armed Forces under a new criminal code adopted in the days after the war started to crack down on independent war reporting and anti-war protests. A court on Monday (Oct. 17) fined Pinchuk the equivalent of about half his annual salary.
“I am a priest and have the right to denounce evil, regardless of who is involved and the political situation,” he told Forum 18.
Pinchuck’s case shows a danger of Christian Nationalism. Such a system doesn’t just persecute non-Christians but even Christians who aren’t part of the dominant religious group or who challenge the policies of the state.
The alliance between Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill and Russian authoritarian leader Vladimir Putin has made it so that a protest of one is also an attack on the other. For years, Russia has been persecuting hundreds of Baptists, Pentecostals, and other Christians for simply practicing their faith outside the Orthodox Church. The conviction of a priest for writing a spiritual critique of the illegal invasion of Ukraine adds to the religious liberty violations in Russia.
Those who defend or excuse the Russian regime give support to its policies of religious persecution. And those who push for Christian Nationalism elsewhere threaten to create similarly unjust governments.
Other News of Note
Peter Wehner wrote for The Atlantic about how Herschel Walker is “the perfect candidate for a fallen party” (and Wehner cited a report by A Public Witness).
Benjamin Wallace-Wells of The New Yorker reported on “the political gospel of Raphael Warnock.”
PBS Frontline released a new documentary, Michael Flynn’s Holy War, which highlights his spiritual warfare rhetoric at events like the ReAwaken America Tour.
Jennifer Butler of Faith in Public Life wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer about how “ReAwaken America proves that Christian Nationalism isn’t Christian.” Similarly, Nathan Empsall wrote in Sojourners about the same effort as “Christian Nationalism on wheels.”
Molly Olmstead of Slate wrote about Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano and Christian Nationalism (and Olmstead cited a report by A Public Witness).
We’ve reported on the problem of various political candidates campaigning in churches in our “partisan pulpit” series this year. Here are three candidates who showed up in churches this week: Democratic U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria at First Baptist Church in South Hill, Virginia; Alexandra del Moral Mealer, Republican nominee for Harris County (Texas) judge, at Williams Temple Church of God in Christ in Houston; and District Court Judge Karen Herman, a Democrat running for the Louisiana Circuit Court of Appeals, at Fischer Community Church in New Orleans.
Bryce Covert of The Nation wrote about how efforts to expand the “ministerial exception” are creating legal disputes as religion is used to excuse workplace discrimination.
Elizabeth Bruenig of The Atlantic wrote about faith, justice, and forgiveness after talking with a Baptist pastor who recently stood in a Texas death chamber to pray during an execution.
Renée Roden of Religion News Service reported on the death of John P. Meier, a Catholic priest and scholar whose work was influential in scholarship on the historical Jesus.
Angela Denker wrote at her Substack newsletter I’m Listening about “the church life my kids don’t get to live.”
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