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Seeking Power in Jesus’ Name: Trump Sparks a Rise of Patriot Churches

posted on October 30, 2020

The Washington Post‘s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports that the rise of Christian nationalism under Trump has led to the creation of Patriot Churches, “part of an evolving network of nondenominational start-up congregations that say they want to take the country back for God.” Three Patriot Churches formed in September in Virginia, Washington state, and Tennessee. A Sunday attendee in Tennessee told Pulliam Bailey, “When I hear patriot, it’s probably someone who is pro-gun, against mandated vaccinations, probably a Republican and opposes abortion. I fit those.”

Read at The Washington Post

Fraught Election Puts Faith Leaders Through a Political Test

posted on October 30, 2020

The Associated Press’ Elana Schor writes, “Both President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden count endorsements from well-known faith leaders. But for clergy members who try to tackle thorny moral matters without overtly backing a candidate, the campaign has tested their ability to reconcile religious values and politics.” A white evangelical pastor in Nashville tells her that “’it drives some people crazy’ when he refuses to tip his hand politically.” For others, the choice is clearer. A Black Baptist pastor in Pennsylvania who endorsed Biden in his personal capacity told Schor that some “white churches ‘have the luxury to say, ‘Let’s just spiritualize everything and not get involved in politics.'”


Read at The Associated Press

Pope Francis Calls for Civil Union Laws for Same-Sex Couples

posted on October 21, 2020

The Washington Post‘s Chico Harlan and Michelle Boorstein report, “Pope Francis, in a new documentary, has called for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples, in what amounts to his clearest support to date for the issue.” In the documentary “Francesco” from Catholic News Agency, the pope said, “They’re children of God and have a right to a family.” Harlan and Boorstein write, “Priests in some parts of the world bless same-sex marriage, but that stance — and Francis’s new remarks — are a departure from official church teaching.”

Read at The Washington Post

For Conservative Christian Women, Amy Coney Barrett’s Success Is Personal

posted on September 28, 2020

The New York Times‘ Ruth Graham talks to conservative Christian women who see Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett as a role model. “Judge Barrett, for them, is a new kind of icon — one they have not seen before in American cultural and political life: a woman who is both unabashedly ambitious and deeply religious, who has excelled at the heights of a demanding profession even as she speaks openly about prioritizing her conservative Catholic faith and family,” Graham writes. “Judge Barrett has seven children, including two children adopted from Haiti and a young son with Down syndrome.” She adds, “To Judge Barrett’s fans, she is proof that women can be as ambitious maternally as they are professionally.”

Read at The New York Times

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87

posted on September 20, 2020

NPR’s Nina Totenberg reports that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday at the age of 87 from cancer. Totenberg writes, “Architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Ginsburg subsequently served 27 years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member. Her death will inevitably set in motion what promises to be a nasty and tumultuous political battle over who will succeed her, and it thrusts the Supreme Court vacancy into the spotlight of the presidential campaign.”

Read at NPR

More And More Americans Aren’t Religious. Why Are Democrats Ignoring These Voters?

posted on September 17, 2020

For FiveThirtyEight, Daniel Cox and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux write, “Right now, voters with no religious affiliation look like they might back Biden in record numbers.” Even so, Joe Biden and his campaign often highlight the candidate’s Catholic faith and are making a big play for religious voters. “Often lost in this, though, is the fact that Democrats are mostly ignoring a massive group of voters who are becoming an increasingly crucial part of their base: people who don’t have any religion at all,” Cox and Thomson-DeVeaux write. Notre Dame’s David Campbell says, “I think in future elections we’re going to see more of an effort to reach a secular voting bloc and the reason is simply that they’re continuing to grow.”

Read at FiveThirtyEight

Prominent Southern Baptists Are Dropping “Southern” Name Amid Racial Unrest

posted on September 15, 2020

The Washington Post‘s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports, “Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention are increasingly dropping the ‘Southern’ part of their Baptist name, calling it a potentially painful reminder of the convention’s historic role in support of slavery.” There is a push to adopt the name “Great Commission Baptists,” and SBC President J.D. Greear “says hundreds of church leaders in several Southern states have committed to using the alternate name.” Some critics are concerned that the name change could paper over the convention’s history on race without truly dealing with it. Author Jemar Tisby said, “I don’t know the denomination as a whole has done a good job of teaching its sordid history. Changing the name now might make that even harder.”

Read at The Washington Post

Liberty Announces Investigation into Falwell’s Tenure

posted on September 2, 2020

The Associated Press’s Sarah Rankin and Elana Schor report, “Liberty University is opening an independent investigation into Jerry Falwell Jr.’s tenure as president, a wide-ranging inquiry that will include financial, real estate and legal matters, the evangelical school’s board announced Monday.” They write, “He officially resigned on Tuesday, after a confusing day of back-and-forths about whether he would be leaving.” Falwell was already on leave, but his resignation came after a Reuters report in which a young man alleged he had an affair with Becki Falwell, and that “Jerry Falwell participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur.”

Read at The Associated Press

Business Partner of Falwells Says Affair with Evangelical Power Couple Spanned Seven Years

posted on August 24, 2020

Reuters’ Aram Roston reports, “Giancarlo Granda says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.” The article builds on previous reporting that noted Granda and the Falwells had a business relationship after opening a hostel in Miami. Falwell, who is on leave from Liberty University, issued a statement to the Washington Examiner on Sunday night, “in which he said that his wife had had an affair with Granda and that Granda had been trying to extort money from the couple over the matter. Granda denies any such intent, saying he was seeking to negotiate a buyout from a business arrangement he says he had with the couple.”


Read at Reuters

QAnon: The Alternative Religion That’s Coming to Your Church

posted on August 24, 2020

For Religion News Service, Katelyn Beaty examines how QAnon conspiracy theories are now infiltrating churches. She writes, “Named after ‘Q,’ who posts anonymously on the online bulletin board 4chan, QAnon alleges that President Donald Trump and military officials are working to expose a ‘deep state’ pedophile ring with links to Hollywood, the media and the Democratic Party.” Beaty speaks to pastors who have noticed an uptick in the number of their members posting about QAnon on social media. One nondenominational pastor conveyed that “in conversations with other members, he’s realized many more are open to conspiracy theories than those who post.”

Read at Religion News Service