The New York Times’s Rebecca R. Ruiz and Elizabeth Dias report that presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg gave a speech at a synagogue on Sunday in Miami, where he addressed his Judaism, rising anti-Semitism, and support for Israel. Ruiz and Dias write, “The speech on Jewish identity was an unusual move for Mr. Bloomberg, a secular Jew who has not long been religiously observant.” They note that the former New York City mayor has highlighted his Judaism in the past during campaigns. They write, “While Jews make up only about 3 or 4 percent of Florida’s population, they are a critical voting group in the delegate-rich swing state.”
The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, and Michelle Boorstein report that President Trump attended the March for Life on Friday, a first for a U.S. president. Trump’s speech at the event highlighted his administration’s anti-abortion measures. He told the crowd, “All of us here today understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together we must protect, cherish and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life.” Zauzmer, Bailey, and Boorstein write, “Trump’s decision to attend the rally came as he seeks to consolidate support from evangelicals in his reelection campaign.”
The Evangelist: Can Shane Claiborne’s Progressive Version of Evangelical Christianity Catch on with a New Generation?posted on January 29, 2020
For The Washington Post Magazine, Nick Tabor profiles progressive evangelical activist Shane Claiborne. Claiborne says his mission is “getting Christians to connect their faith to issues that I think matter to God and are affecting our neighbors.” Those issues include gun violence, which has plagued his Philadelphia neighborhood. He has been on tour promoting a book about combatting gun violence. As the rare white evangelical who is not in sync with the religious right, Claiborne’s popularity has climbed after Trump’s election. Tabor writes that Claiborne has “received piles of letters from disaffected young Christians, saying he helped salvage their faith by showing them a different way of practicing it.”
The New York Times’s Michael Crowley reports that President Trump will speak at Friday’s March for Life rally in Washington. He will be the first president to do so after being the first president to give a video speech at the rally in 2018. Crowley writes that as Trump, who once identified as pro-choice, “has battled for political survival in the face of multiple investigations and a re-election campaign, he has made increasingly warm overtures to evangelicals and sought to cast himself as the most firmly anti-abortion president in at least a generation.”
Major Evangelical Nonprofits Are Trying a New Strategy with the IRS That Allows Them to Hide Their Salariesposted on January 23, 2020
The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports that several evangelical nonprofit organizations have changed their IRS status from “nonprofit” to “church.” The news was first reported by MinistryWatch, “an independent, donor-based group that monitors evangelical institutions.” The status change allows the organizations’ finances to remain private. They are not required to disclose how they spend their money and what salaries are for their top employees. “Transparency and accountability send an important message to the world, which is why this trend is so potentially destructive,” said MinistryWatch Spokesperson Warren Cole Smith.
The Associated Press’s Jeff Amy reports that celebrations in Atlanta for the recent Martin Luther King Jr. holiday seemed split by party lines, as Republican and Democratic politicians gathered at King’s former church Ebenezer Baptist. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler focused on “King’s legacy of service and political empowerment” while the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a possible opponent of Loeffler’s in the next Senate election, called on King’s memory to urge “more radical action.” Despite his low African American support, Trump put his own spin on the holiday with a celebratory tweet highlighting low rates of African American unemployment.
The New York Times’s Stephanie Saul reports from former Vice President Joe Biden’s Sunday visit to Bethlehem Baptist Church, a black congregation in South Carolina, where the presidential candidate is a favorite to win the Democratic primary. Biden invoked the KKK alongside the president and compared the current political climate to violence against black Americans in the 1960s. Saul writes, “His remarks to the 1,300-member congregation were among the strongest condemnations of the president to date in a campaign season in which a number of leading candidates have harshly criticized the president’s posture on race and immigration.”
United Methodist Church Is Expected to Split Over Gay Marriage, Fracturing the Nation’s Third-Largest Denominationposted on January 3, 2020
The Washington Post‘s Julie Zauzmer reports that leaders within the United Methodist Church have come to a tentative agreement to split the denomination over LGBT clergy and same-sex marriage. She writes, “Leaders of the church announced Friday they had agreed to spin off a ‘traditionalist Methodist’ denomination, which would continue to oppose same-sex marriage and to refuse ordination to LGBT clergy, while allowing the remaining portion of the United Methodist Church to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history.” The mediation was facilitated by a law firm in D.C. The plan will still need to be approved at the United Methodist conference in May.
The New York Times‘s Elizabeth Dias reports that evangelical magazine Christianity Today published an editorial on Thursday calling for President Trump’s removal from office. It was written by Mark Galli, the retiring editor-in-chief. Dias writes that the surprising editorial is “unlikely to signal a significant change in Mr. Trump’s core support; the magazine has long represented more centrist thought.” Frequent Trump defender Franklin Graham, who is the son of the magazine’s co-founder Billy Graham, said, “My father would be embarrassed.” Trump himself derided the magazine on Twitter on Friday as “far left.”
Buzzfeed‘s Anne Helen Petersen reports that Jubilee Baptist, a church in North Carolina, has relaunched itself as a “quasi-socialist, anti-racist, LGBTQ-affirming church.” The congregation gives out grants for debt forgiveness while criticizing capitalism and systems of injustice. Its name is taken from the biblical tradition of the Jubilee year when debts were forgiven. “What Jubilee Baptist is doing isn’t new,” Petersen writes. “It just might feel that way because so many other churches, specifically the churches that have catered to the bourgeois and the comfortably middle-class, have not prioritized that obligation for years.”