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Word&Way News: Sept. 22
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a look at the ongoing problem of cluster munitions that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a report on a governor pushing pastors on what to preach.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
The Gospel According to Little Blue Truck. Sarah Blackwell wrote about how Christians shouldn’t be trying to ban books but instead encouraging children to read more stories.
Review: After Botham. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed After Botham: Healing From My Brother's Murder by a Police Office by Allisa Charles-Findley.
Is a Pastor’s Sin a Private Matter? Johnny Hunt Lawsuit Makes That Claim. Bob Smietana reported on the argument by a megachurch pastor who claims his act of sexual assault shouldn’t have been publicized.
Southern Baptists Expel Oklahoma Church After Pastor Defends His Blackface and Native Caricatures. Peter Smith reported on the nation’s largest Protestant denomination kicking out a church for unrepentant racism.
Jerry Falwell’s Legal Battle With Liberty University — and His Brother — Escalates. After his public fall amid scandals, Jerry Falwell Jr. levels charges against many others in his former orbit.
Another noteworthy podcast this week:
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
A Catholic leader in Oklahoma is looking forward to a new “land run.” Celebrating a new tax credit passed by state lawmakers that will siphon money away from public education and into private schools, Brett Farley of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma predicts they’ll be able to reopen some Catholic schools they had closed due to struggling finances.
‘What I’m telling our staff is this is potentially going to be a 21st century land run,” Farley said.
That’s quite a telling metaphor, especially for an Oklahoma faith leader to use. As Robert P. Jones wrote in his new book The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy, land runs in the Sooner State over a century ago saw Indigenous people robbed, cheated, and killed.
“Native Americans in Oklahoma were subjected to an onslaught of disingenuous overtures by White leaders, specious legal maneuvering, political power plays, and outright thievery at the hands of bankers, railway companies, land speculators, churches, and others seeking to profit from opening Native American lands,” Jones wrote. “The darkest era, which became known among the Osage as the ‘Reign of Terror,’ was a period between 1918 and 1931, when wealthy Osage were systematically targeted for marriage and murder by Whites who wanted control of their headrights.”
To borrow the “land run” metaphor in a positive way is to gloss over (or even celebrate) the injustices of the past, which as Jones noted were often done in the name of God. But it’s also perhaps an appropriate metaphor in which Farley accidentally indicts himself. Once again, we’re seeing privileged White leaders trying to game the system to enrich themselves at the expense of their neighbors.
Other News of Note
Sandi Villarreal of Texas Monthly wrote about how Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton (wife of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton) cited biblical texts and talked about faith while her husband faced an impeachment trial over his actions that included an affair.
As Donald Trump skipped the annual banquet of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, other Republican presidential candidates tried to convince evangelicals to switch their support from the former president.
GOP presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis is increasing his outreach to evangelicals with events in churches and the creation of his “Faith and Family” coalition in Iowa.
Ari Shapiro of NPR talked with a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, “pastor of the hood” who is disillusioned with both political parties.
“The church must measure these evils well and find a path that is neither naively irenic nor aggressive out of special interests, but prophetic.” —Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille, France, on the importance of church leaders being close to migrants as he criticized anti-migrant attitudes.
The head of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina stepped down immediately after an independent financial review documented he misused the organization’s funds.
Faculty at Hesston College, a Mennonite school in Kansas, overwhelmingly voted to express no confidence in the college’s president.
A former Lutheran pastor is suing a denominational body after he claims he confessed an affair to a fellow minister who then shared that information in violation of confessional confidentiality.
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