The New York Times’ Elizabeth Dias reports on Franklin Graham’s efforts to mobilize evangelical voters in California. Graham, the son of the late Billy Graham, undertook a 10-city bus tour of the state, and he gave nearly $750,000 for each rally. Dias writes, “That mission, Mr. Graham says, is about faith and Jesus, but the parallel political message is resounding: Support candidates who will advance the socially conservative causes dear to many evangelicals – especially opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage – and get to the polls and vote for them.”
NPR’s Tom Gjelten reports, “Roman Catholics and evangelicals, two Christian groups that have had overlapping political priorities in the past, find their agendas diverging in the era of President Trump and Pope Francis.” From abortion to immigration, Catholic and evangelical leaders have taken their congregations in different directions. Gjelten writes that evangelicals are taking the lead from Catholics on anti-abortion efforts while Catholics have been more critical than evangelicals of Trump’s stance on immigration.
The Royal Wedding Made Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry a Superstar. Can the Religious Left Translate that into Political Change?posted on May 31, 2018
The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein reports on the organizing of the religious left, which got an unexpected boost after the Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry’s blockbuster sermon at the royal wedding. Curry participated in “Reclaiming Jesus,” an event in D.C. for progressive Christians that drew 1,000 people for a candlelight march to the White House. Boorstein writes, “Curry is working hard in his recent public appearances to emphasize inclusion across the political and demographic spectrum and to shift attention from positions on specific policy measures to doing what is broadly seen as morally right.”
The Guardian’s Oliver Laughland reports from Hamtramck, Michigan, where the large, local Muslim community reflects on Ramadan. Laughland writes, “But at a time of deep introspection for Muslims around the world, this year’s month of fast in Hamtramck brings with it a sense of foreboding and a deeper connection to community as residents grapple with a climate of heightened Islamophobia ushered in by the presidency of Donald Trump.” A 21-year-old resident, Shahria Islam, says, “Since Trump won, yes, we’ve become more alert, but it kind of brought our community together. We look out for each other because we know we’re targets.”
Writing for The St. Louis Jewish Light, Andrew Rehfeld, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, reflects on the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel’s founding. He writes, “For the biggest threat that Israel faces from our community is not disagreement, but growing apathy and disengagement. We need to help an older generation recognize that Israel of 2018 is not Israel of 1948 (or 1967 or 1973); and to help a younger generation recognize the necessity of a Jewish State and the threats to its constituted existing that remain.”
Religion News Service’s Adelle M. Banks reports, “President Trump plans to unveil a new initiative that aims to give faith groups a stronger voice within the federal government and serve as a watchdog for government overreach on religious liberty issues.” The president planned to sign the executive order on May 3, the National Day of Prayer, in a Rose Garden ceremony surrounded by religious leaders. The Trump administration follows the Obama and Bush administrations in creating faith-based initiatives within government.
For Religion Dispatches, Frederick Clarkson reports that many religious freedom bills passed or being considered in state governments in recent years came from “Project Blitz,” an initiative that pushes for the Christian Right’s electoral agenda. Clarkson writes, “In the context of Project Blitz’s 116-page playbook, however, they also reveal a sophisticated level of coordination and strategizing that echoes the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which infamously networks probusiness state legislators, drafts sample legislation, and shares legislative ideas and strategies.” In 2018, seventy-one bills introduced in state legislatures were based on or similar in intent to the 20 model bills published in Project Blitz’s playbook.
The New York Times’s Elizabeth Dias and Sheryl Gay Stolberg report, “Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s abrupt decision to dismiss the House chaplain triggered an uproar on Friday over religion, pitting Republican against Republican and offering Democrats a political opportunity in a year already moving their way.” The Rev. Patrick J. Conroy suggested in a Thursday interview that Ryan asked him to resign because of a prayer he gave in November, where Conroy prayed for lawmakers to “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.” Dias and Stolberg write, “The controversy exposed long-simmering tensions between Roman Catholics and evangelical Christians over who should be lawmakers’ religious counselor.”
Southern Baptist Leader Pushes Back After Comments Leak Urging Abused Women to Pray and Avoid Divorceposted on May 1, 2018
The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein reports that an audiotape from 2000 has emerged where Paige Patterson, president of a major Southern Baptist seminary, is heard saying that women suffering from domestic abuse should pray, be submissive, and not seek divorce. “I have never in my ministry counseled anyone to seek a divorce and that’s always wrong counsel,” Patterson can be heard saying. Patterson has published a statement on Sunday claiming that the tape is a gross misrepresentation of his actual views, although he did not dispute the tape’s authenticity.
The New York Times‘ Jacey Fortin writes, “The Rev. Dr. James H. Cone, a central figure in the development of black liberation theology in the 1960s and ’70s who argued for racial justice and an interpretation of the Christian Gospel that elevated the voices of the oppressed, died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 79.” Cone, a professor at Union Theological Seminary, said in 2008, “Christianity was seen as the white man’s religion. I wanted to say: ‘No! The Christian Gospel is not the white man’s religion. It is a religion of liberation, a religion that says God created all people to be free.’ But I realized that for black people to be free, they must first love their blackness.”