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Biden to Meet with Pope, Push for Global Minimum Tax at G20 in Rome

posted on October 20, 2021

Jeff Mason of Reuters reports that President Joe Biden will meet with Pope Francis in Rome on October 29. The president’s visit with the pope will occur even as prominent American Catholic bishops criticize Biden’s support for abortion rights. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “They will discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor.”

Read at Reuters

Top Democrats Woo Black Voters in Virginia Governor’s Race

posted on October 20, 2021

Will Weissert of the Associated Press reports, “Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams on Sunday urged Black churchgoers to turn out for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in next month’s Virginia governor’s election.” The daughter of pastors, Abrams attended services at multiple churches throughout the state, at one point emphasizing the sacred duty of voting. Weissert writes, “Abrams said when she first began running for office, she felt mixing politics and church was bad. But, she said, her mother eventually reminded her that ‘politics is always in the church’ and her father said that the Bible ‘is one of the most intense political tests ever written.’”

Read at The Associated Press

The Shadow Penal System for Struggling Kids

posted on October 18, 2021

Rachel Aviv of The New Yorker reports on Teen Challenge, a network of nonprofits associated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God denomination that provides treatment centers for teens. The centers are often used as an alternative to juvenile detention, and they teach a conservative Christian curriculum that encourages sexual purity and prevents members from obtaining abortions. Several families whose children lived at the facilities—including some who died while in their care—have recently filed lawsuits alleging abuse and negligence.

Read at The New Yorker

Kentucky’s Backroad Churches May Be Key to Saving Hospitals Overwhelmed by COVID

posted on October 18, 2021

For NPR, Sarah Varney reports that some pastors in rural Kentucky are urging their congregants to get the Covid-19 vaccine as cases rise in the state. Pastor Billy Joe Lewis of the Full Gospel Church of Jesus Christ in Smilax, Kentucky, said, “We’ve still got to use common sense. Anything that can ward off suffering and death, I think, is a wonderful thing.” Rose Mitchell, one of Lewis’s congregants, agreed to get the vaccine after the pastor’s assurances that the inoculation was not the mark of the beast.

Read at National Public Radio

Jill Biden Surprises Her South Carolina “Prayer Partner”

posted on October 18, 2021

Darlene Superville of the Associated Press reports, “Jill Biden on Sunday returned to the South Carolina Baptist church where she says she began to repair her relationship with God following her son’s death from brain cancer six years ago.” The first lady was in attendance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pastor Charles B. Jackson Sr. of Brookland Baptist Church. His wife, Robin Jackson, served as Jill Biden’s prayer partner in the wake of her son’s death. Jackson prays for Biden regularly and informs her via text message each week that her name has been called in prayer.

Read at The Associated Press

Ronnie Floyd, SBC Executive Committee Chief, Resigns, Citing Damage to His Reputation

posted on October 18, 2021

Bob Smietana of Religion News Service reports, “Ronnie Floyd, the embattled president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, has resigned, effective at the end of October.” His resignation comes in the wake of the committee’s choice to waive attorney-client privilege in the investigation about their handling of sexual abuse claims. Floyd opposed that decision, and in his letter of resignation, wrote, “One of the most grievous things for me personally has been the attacks on myself and the trustees as if we are people who only care about ‘the system.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Read at Religion News Service

SBC Committee Waives Privilege After Bitter Debate, Moving Abuse Investigation Forward

posted on October 7, 2021

Bob Smietana of Religion News Service reports, “Ending weeks of debate, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee voted Tuesday (Oct. 5) to waive attorney-client privilege as part of an investigation of how Southern Baptist leaders have handled issues of sexual abuse in recent decades.” The vote came after four lengthy and heated sessions of debate within the executive committee. Smietana writes, “Baptist pastors and other leaders have warned that refusing to follow the messengers’ will expressed at the annual meeting risked upending the trust that keeps the nation’s largest denomination together. For many, Tuesday’s decision restored that trust.”

Read at Religion News Service

Francis Collins, Who Guided N.I.H. Through Covid-19 Crisis, Is Exiting

posted on October 6, 2021

Noah Weiland and Gina Kolata of The New York Times report that Dr. Francis Collins is stepping down as the director of the National Institute of Health. Collins is a nondenominational evangelical Christian and has relied on his faith throughout his tenure. Of his faith, he said, “It does guide me a bit in terms of how I approach a challenge in bioethics. But I find I usually come down in the same place on an ethical dilemma as people who are agnostics or even atheists.” He has also used his Christian faith as an outreach tool to conservative Christian communities who have been hesitant about receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Read at The New York Times

They Went to Bible College to Deepen Their Faith. Then They Were Assaulted—and Blamed for It.

posted on October 5, 2021

Becca Andrews of Mother Jones reports on allegations that Moody Bible Institute mishandled cases of sexual assault and Title IX claims. Eleven alumni came forward in an October 2020 petition with their stories. Many of the victims view the purity culture that pervades the religious university as the basis for the administration’s inaction. Andrews writes, “In mid-April, Moody announced that the investigation had been completed and issued an apology ‘to those members of our Moody community who experienced a lack of empathy and follow-through’ regarding their Title IX reports and ‘those whose reports were not processed as rapidly and efficiently as they could have been.’” The college has released a list of eleven commitments for reform, but some victims remain skeptical, arguing that the reforms do not address the underlying culture of shaming and blaming women for their experiences.

Read at Mother Jones

Pat Robertson Retires from the 700 Club at 91

posted on October 5, 2021

Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today reports, “After decades of offering Christian viewers his commentary on natural disasters, 9/11, AIDS, pot, divorce, diplomacy, plastic surgery, homosexuality, Islam, secular colleges, the end of the world, critical race theory, and a range of other moral issues, Pat Robertson has signed off as host of The 700 Club.” Robertson has garnered controversy over the years for his prophecies and policy views that, at times, have drawn criticism from fellow Christian leaders. His son, Gordon Robertson, will take over as the host of The 700 Club. Pat Robertson will continue to teach at Regent University and occasionally appear on the Christian Broadcasting Network, both of which he founded.

Read at Christianity Today