Word&Way News: Oct. 22

Here’s the top news of the week from Word&Way. In addition to an analysis of a Senate hearing about military chaplains that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received an essay on how religious leaders can help increase vaccination rates.

A Public Witness
The Power of Inoculation
“The Disease is, thro’ God’s common Blessing, happily converted into a Remedy.” Rev. William Cooper penned those words in 1728 as he urged vaccination against the deadly smallpox virus hitting colonial Boston yet again. Writing as a minister to refute objections to inoculation, he framed his argument by starting with the words of Luke 6:9 (albeit with th…
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Top 5 at wordandway.org

  1. Can Anyone Lead the Southern Baptist Convention Forward? Bob Smietana of Religion News Service wrote about the leadership crisis in the SBC. Among the experts he cited is Brian Kaylor.

  2. Behind the Pulpit: Ann Hultquist. For the latest installment of our “behind the pulpit” series, Beau Underwood interviewed the pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church in Denver, Colorado.

  3. Into the Woods: Parent Like a Cross Country Coach. Sarah Blackwell explains how cross country running provides valuable lessons in raising children.

  4. Baptist Watchdog Flunks Forever 21, Praises H&M in Annual ‘Ethical Fashion’ Report. Kathryn Post reports on Baptist World Aid Australia’s 2021 Ethical Fashion Report scorecard that rated about 100 fashion companies.

  5. North Park University Faculty Say President Created a ‘Toxic Climate’ on Race. Yonat Shimron reports on the turmoil at a Evangelical Covenant Church school north of downtown Chicago, Illinois.

Dangerous Dogma

This week: Michael Wear on Reclaiming Hope

Quick Take from Brian & Beau

Vice President Kamala Harris recorded an ad for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. That’s not surprising. Lots of national Democrats have been campaigning for him in the tight race. But Harris’s ad was designed for churches to play during Sunday worship. But in the video, Harris doesn’t just encourage voting in general; she actively pushes votes for McAuliffe.

We don’t know how many churches actually played it. We hope none. As Rachel Laser, president of Americans United, tweeted, “Churches airing the @VP video urging a vote for McAuliffe are engaging in a violation of the (too little enforced) Johnson Amendment. You can urge church folks to *vote*, but not to vote for a particular candidate.”

And even if there wasn’t a rule, we still think it’s highly inappropriate for churches to turn their sacred space and time into a partisan campaign rally. That’s why we reported last week — several days before national media started paying attention to this campaign strategy — on how both McAuliffe and his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin have been campaigning during Sunday worship services. And they were at it again Sunday. Youngkin visited two churches, McAuliffe hit eight, and some other politicians visited other churches on their behalf.

All of this worries us. The ad, the visits, the explicitly partisan messages. It seems more brazen than we usually see in campaigns. And we’re afraid this strategy of campaigning in churches will only get worse. In protecting the integrity of worship, there’s a lot more at stake here than the outcome of any single election.

Photo of the Week

Fred Martin of RAWtools uses his blacksmith tools to beat a gun into a garden tool at a Churchnet event in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on Oct. 21, 2021. RAWtools does this work as a modern version of the vision of biblical prophets that people would “beat their swords into plowshares.” (Brian Kaylor/Word&Way)

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