Word&Way News: Oct. 8

Here’s the top news of the week from Word&Way. In addition to an analysis of how White Supremacists are co-opting the Christian flag that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received an essay considering the public Christian witness of Pat Robertson and Francis Collins.

A Public Witness
Two Spirits
“I am not a role model.” That defiant declaration in 1993 by then-NBA star Charles Barkley sparked a wave of controversy. An ad designed to sell Nike sneakers broke open a cultural debate about the role of athletes and celebrities in society. Arguably, Barkley’s position was at least partially misunderstood…
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Top 5 at wordandway.org

  1. Behind the Pulpit: Emanuel Cleaver III. In the latest installment of our “behind the pulpit” series, Beau Underwood interviews the pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri.

  2. Learning from History. Laura Levens considers current debates over critical race theory. She explains that the “purpose of history is a commitment to deal with the complexities of the past, so that we might understand and address present realities with wisdom.”

  3. Anti-Vaxxers, Anti-Maskers, and Anti-Climate Changers Are Really Anti-Repenters. Rodney Kennedy argues that “the evidence of Scripture — from the Law to the Gospel, from the prophets to Paul — goes against our violent, angry, unrepentant age.”

  4. Southern Baptist Executive Committee Votes in 3rd Meeting to Waive Privilege for Abuse Probe. Peter Smith reports on the latest in efforts to investigate clergy sexual abuse in Southern Baptist life.

  5. Remnants of Black Church Uncovered in Colonial Williamsburg. Ben Finley reports on archaeological findings at a former site of Black Baptist church.

Other News of Note

This morning, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the winners of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize: journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines and journalist Dmitry Muratov of Russia. Both have continued to report the truth even as authoritarian leaders in their nations sought to silence them. As the Nobel Committee put it, “They are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions. … Free, independent, and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies, and war propaganda.”

Dangerous Dogma

This week: Angela Parker on Black Lives Matter & Biblical Authority

Quick Take from Brian & Beau

On Tuesday (Oct. 5), the state of Missouri executed Ernest Johnson for killing three people in a 1994 robbery. There’s no question about his guilt, but serious concerns arose about his mental capacity. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing people with intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional, they’ve allowed states to essentially ignore that ruling.

Many significant figures called on Gov. Mike Parson to change Johnson’s sentence to life in prison. U.S. Reps. Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver, who both previously pastored churches in Missouri, wrote a joint appeal to Parson to warn that the execution “would be a grave act of injustice.” They added, “Like slavery and lynching did before it, the death penalty perpetuates cycles of trauma, violence, and state-sanctioned murder in Black and brown communities.” Pope Francis appealed to Parson to remember “the simple fact of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sacredness of all human life.” And numerous faith leaders joined rallies opposing the execution.

In refusing to offer clemency, Parson claimed the state would “deliver justice.” We struggle to grasp how justice requires killing people, especially those with intellectual disabilities. Johnson’s death certificate lists his cause of death as “homicide.” Killing someone to prove killing is wrong defies logic. Let us not confuse justice with vengeance. Back in July, we explained our opposition to the death penalty in our essay “Vengeance is Not Ours.” Justice will not exist until the death penalty is no more.

Photo of the Week

Protesters stand outside Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s office in the state Capitol just hours before the state executed Ernest Johnson on Oct. 5, 2021. At center is Rev. John Bennett, a retired Disciples of Christ minster, who voiced a statement at the protest calling the pending execution “a morally despicable act of murder by the state which does not redeem but compounds the despicable acts of murder by Mr. Johnson.” (Brian Kaylor/Word&Way)

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