Word&Way News: Oct. 28
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. This week at A Public Witness, we published three pieces: a report on former U.S. Sen. John Danforth’s sermon decrying “holy war” politics, a critique of the latest ReAwaken America Tour event, and a look at the conspiratorial sermons at a prominent church.
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A Response to the Faith & Freedom Coalition. Rev. Erin Dickey penned an open letter to Ralph Reed after his group sent out “non-partisan” voter guides to congregations.
Herschel Walker and Davidic Kingship. Historian Thomas Lecaque argued that how the various scandals surrounding U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker are understood by many evangelicals is based on a bad reading of a biblical narrative.
In Pa. Governor’s Race, Faith Surfaces in Contrasting Ways. Peter Smith reported on the differing faith appeals in the race between Doug Mastriano and Josh Shapiro.
Deconstruction or Reconstruction? Pastors Discuss a Reboot of Evangelicalism. Bob Smietana reported on conversations about the future of evangelicalism at a conference in Illinois.
New Saddleback Pastor Sees Women clergy in Church’s Future. As Andy Wood follows Rick Warren to lead Saddleback, the Southern Baptist megachurch could find itself even more at odds with its denomination.
This week: Paul Raushenbush of the Interfaith Alliance
Other noteworthy podcasts this week:
Reporter Sam Kestenbuam appeared on the Saved by the City podcast to talk about cults, the ReAwaken America Tour, and other “spooky” religious issues.
Holly Hollman of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty was the guest on the Because It Is podcast to talk about what churches can and cannot do during political elections.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
Earlier this month, a group of more than 70 clergy members in Pennsylvania released a statement about how “Christian Nationalism isn’t Christian.” This diverse group came from across the state and many different denominations, including AME, Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ.
“We reject Christian Nationalism as harmful to both our faith and our democracy, and name it for what it is: idolatry,” they wrote. “To conflate God and country is against biblical teaching. As Christians, we must choose who we will serve: the God of freedom we know in Christ Jesus, or the false God of Christian Nationalism.”
“Many who propagate Christian Nationalism seek to dismantle the voting rights of Pennsylvanians, disenfranchise poor people, the elderly, people of color, women, and LGBTQ people in order to further their political agenda. This is not the way of Christ,” they added. “We commit to pray, take public action, and work across religious and political divides to create faithful alternatives to Christian Nationalism for our state’s future.”
It is inspiring to see clergy speaking out against this threat to democracy and our faith. Some are even preaching against this idolatry from the pulpit. Others are holding small group studies to consider the issue, like a Baptist church in Pennsylvania where Beau Underwood and I recently led a three-week virtual study on Christian Nationalism.
This is what it means to be the people of God speaking into our moment. May we be found faithful in our time.
Other News of Note
Peter Wehner of The Atlantic critiqued Michael Flynn and the ReAwaken America Tour for offering “a mangled version of the Christian faith.”
Brian Fraga of the National Catholic Reporter reported on the U.S. Senate race in Ohio that pits “two very different Catholics” against each other.
Emily Hofstaedter reported for Mother Jones about the influence of Christian Nationalism after attending a local organizing conference in Pennsylvania.
Sociologists Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry wrote for the Washington Post about ways in which Christian Nationalism is both growing and declining.
Katherine Stewart wrote at The New Republic about politicians who espouse Christian Nationalistic ideas but reject the label.
Diana Butler Bass wrote at her Substack newsletter The Cottage about the difference between a MAGA prophet and a biblical prophet:
Christianity Today reported on efforts by Black churches in Houston, Texas, to fight pollutants in their communities.
In a New York Times video report, a Black pastor in St. Louis, Missouri, explained why he opposes abortion on moral grounds but supports pro-choice policies.
Mark Wingfield of Baptist News Global reported on the death of Ralph Elliott, a former seminary professor whose book on Genesis sparked a major theological controversy.
The Partisan Pulpit
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 Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is Jewish, spoke at LeClaire Missionary Baptist Church (pictured) and Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Chicago; Darren Bailey, the Republican nominee running against Pritzker for Illinois governor, spoke at Calvary Chapel in Rockford; and Cheri Beasley, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, spoke at St. Joseph AME Church in Durham.
Photo of the Week
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