The New York Times’s Campbell Robertson reports on black worshipers who have left majority-white evangelical churches in the aftermath of Trump’s election. The absence of a conversation on racial injustice combined with the support of evangelical pastors for Trump have split multiracial congregations. Robertson writes, “As the headlines of the outside world turned to police shootings and protest, little changed inside majority-white churches. Black congregants said that beyond the occasional vague prayer for healing a divided country, or a donation drive for law enforcement, they heard nothing.”
For The Atlantic, Michael Gerson writes on the relationship between white evangelicals and the irreligious Trump. Evangelicalism has built its political activism on antagonistic reactions to progressive movements and social trends, he argues, and it has increasingly relied on apocalyptic rhetoric about the decline of America. Gerson writes, “Trump consistently depicts evangelicals as they depict themselves: a mistreated minority, in need of a defender who plays by worldly rules.” Gerson is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, which publishes this journal.
POLITICO Magazine’s Tim Alberta profiles Dave Ramsey, radio host of the popular “The Dave Ramsey Show.” He has amassed a following of 13 million weekly listeners with his straightforward financial advice. Ramsey, who advocates for fiscal conservatism and self-reliance, originally started a financial advice seminar at his church based on what he learned from his own bankruptcy in the 1980s. Ramsey says, “I find the regular guy can make it just fine if government will leave him alone, let him keep more of his money—and not take away his belief that it is up to him.”
The New York Times’s John Eligon reports that a Kansas man pleaded guilty Tuesday to murdering an Indian-born engineer last year in a shooting that federal investigators say was a hate crime. Last February, Adam Purinton confronted Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, who were both from India, and yelled, “Get out of my country,” before opening fire, killing Kuchibhotla and wounding two others. Eligon writes, “The shooting came at a time of rising angst across the country over anti-immigrant sentiment and its potential ramifications.”
Religion News Service’s Heather Adams profiles Karen Gaffney, a prominent anti-abortion activist with Down syndrome. Anti-abortion groups have increasingly used the rhetoric of the disability rights movement amid reports that a high proportion of women decide to terminate fetuses with Down syndrome after prenatal testing. Gaffney said, “I want to inspire so many people with Down syndrome and really tell them that people like me can live.” In response, abortion rights advocates have charged that featuring individuals with Down syndrome in anti-abortion campaigns unfairly frames disability and abortion rights as mutually exclusive.
Vox’s Tara Isabella Burton reports that evangelical leaders have increasingly used the biblical narrative of the Persian king Cyrus to legitimize President Trump’s moral ambiguity. In the Bible, Cyrus, a non-worshipper, is an important figure who unwittingly carries out God’s will. Burton writes, “For these leaders, the biblical account of Cyrus allows them to develop a ‘vessel theology’ around Donald Trump, one that allows them to reconcile his personal history of womanizing and alleged sexual assault with what they see as his divinely ordained purpose to restore a Christian America.”
Mormon Church Has Taken “Baby Steps” Toward Greater Gender Equity, But LDS Feminists Say It’s Time to Lengthen That Strideposted on March 6, 2018
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack reports on the feminist movement within the LDS church. Organizations like Ordain Women, which sought the ordination of women to the LDS priesthood, have brought previously taboo topics of gender equity into the center of public debate. “Not every woman can be a mother and not every mother defines herself solely as a mother,” University of Georgia law professor Mehrsa Baradan said. “We are thinkers and readers and speakers and leaders, and we want to see ourselves reflected back in the text and images and in the leadership.” Thus far, however, progress on the part of the all-male church leadership has been slow.
The New York Times’s Miriam Jordan reports that around 100 Iranian Christians are stranded in Vienna after the U.S. denied their refugee applications. “The Iranians applied to resettle in the United States under guidelines set by a 1989 law known as the Lautenberg Amendment, which offers safe haven to persecuted religious minorities,” Jordan writes. The Trump administration had condemned Iran’s treatment of its Christian minority, but drastically cut the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States.
The Washington Post’s Ariana Eunjung Cha reports that U.S. state legislatures have introduced and passed bills restricting women from terminating fetuses with chromosomal defects that indicate Down syndrome. Critics have attacked the bills for disingenuously claiming to support disability rights when they are actually intended to restrict abortion access. Karrie Galloway, president of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said, “Many parents find that having a child with Down syndrome is the right decision for them, but this does not mean that their experience should lead to a law that forces other families into the same situation.”
TIME’s Elizabeth Dias writes that the differences between Billy Graham’s children, Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz, represent wider divisions among American evangelicals. Franklin Graham has been a vocal supporter of President Trump, while Lotz has avoided partisan messaging. Dias writes, “Nothing has revealed evangelicalism’s divisions more than Trump’s rise. If the white evangelical base that for decades looked to Billy for inspiration began to fracture as he aged, it flat out splintered in the 2016 presidential primaries.”