The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports on President Donald Trump’s high levels of support among white evangelicals. Zauzmer interviewed 50 evangelical Christians in the battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and she writes, “In conversation, evangelical voters paint the portrait of the Trump they see: a president who acts like a bully but is fighting for them. A president who sees America like they do, a menacing place where white Christians feel mocked and threatened for their beliefs.” Many also applaud his economic policies, his treatment of immigrants at the border, and his efforts to chip away at LGBT rights.
Slate’s Ruth Graham reports on the New Independent Fundamental Baptist movement, a loose cohort of churches whose young pastors are becoming known for noxious rhetoric that’s gone viral on the internet. The movement claims 32 churches across the United States, Canada, Australia, and the Philippines. Graham writes, “Anyone can declare themselves a ‘pastor,’ no matter how small their flock. The most virulent voices are typically fringe characters who do not represent—or even appeal to—very many people.” The Southern Poverty Law Center warns the movement’s influence is growing.
The New York Times’ Rick Rojas profiles the Rev. Fabian Marquez, a Roman Catholic priest who has been supporting survivors of the Aug. 3 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The gunman killed 22 people and targeted Hispanics and immigrants, and Marquez sat with grieving families as they learned the names of the victims. Rojas writes, “He has vowed to attend the funerals held by each of the 17 families he had prayed with.”
The Believer’s Casey Jarman writes about the life and career of David Bazan, a singer and songwriter whose early work built a large following of young, questioning Christians. Jarman writes, “As his career progressed, Bazan’s focus homed in on issues of hypocrisy within Evangelical Christian culture: he’d contrast the teachings of Christ with the creeping influence of blind patriotism and nationalism; he’d call out the darkness of domestic violence in Christian households.” Bazan, the son of a music pastor, is back on the road, no longer singing of Jesus, but leading chatty, introspective concerts that touch on themes of forgiveness and vulnerability.
Religion News Service’s Emily McFarlan Miller reports that one of the nation’s largest Protestant denominations has declared itself a “sanctuary church body” in support of immigrants and refugees. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has 3.3 million baptized members, and the resolution was passed during a denominational meeting in Milwaukee this week. Members of the denomination also marched to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement building and held a prayer vigil for migrant children and their families. Miller writes, “Both came in response to President Trump’s policies at the United States border with Mexico and his pledge to deport millions.”
For NPR, Diane Cole reports on two studies that examined the religiosity of people who lived through wars and violent conflicts. The studies are featured in the journal Nature: Human Behavior, and were analyzed by a team led by Joseph Henrich, chairman of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. Cole writes, “The more profound the impact of war on an individual—such as the death, injury or abduction of a household member—the greater the likelihood grew of that person turning to religion.”
Rick Rojas of The New York Times writes about the Rev. LaKeesha Walrond, the new president of New York Theological Seminary in New York City. The former pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, which grew from 300 to 10,000 congregants during her tenure there, Walrond is the first African-American woman to lead the 119-year-old seminary. Rojas writes, “The small seminary has played an influential role in New York City’s religious community, and specializes in putting theological education to work in urban settings.” But enrollment is waning, and Walrond hopes to draw a new generation of pastors and religious scholars.
The New York Times’ Adeel Hassan reports that the nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination has ordained its first minister of gun violence protection. The Rev. Deanna Hollas is believed to be the first clergy person to hold such a national role. Hassan writes, “A Texas native who describes herself as ‘no stranger’ to gun culture, Ms. Hollas, 52, said she was committed to ensuring that Americans from all sides of the gun debate stop talking past one another.”
For The New Yorker, Eliza Griswold reports on sexual assault allegations against Pattabhi Jois, the influential founder of Ashtanga yoga, who died in 2009. More than a dozen of his former students have accused him of sexually assaulting them in yoga studios in India and the United States. Griswold writes, “This is only the latest in a string of scandals involving powerful men within the yoga community that date back decades.” The allegations put a focus on yoga culture and the authority of popular yogis, who in the Western context can be treated like rock stars.
Religion News Service’s Adelle M. Banks reports on the results of a recent Pew Research Center survey of American religious literacy. Banks writes, “Less than 1% of respondents got a perfect score on the 32 survey questions centered on the Bible; elements of Christianity, Judaism and other world religions; atheism and agnosticism; and religion and public life.” Drawing on the expertise of Boston University scholar Stephen Prothero, author of the book “Religious Literacy,” the survey found the average respondent answered 14.2 of the 32 questions correctly.