Public Religion News Digest, October 25, 2019

Dallas Officer Convicted of Murder, Victim’s Brother Offers Forgiveness, Judge Gives a Hug

Who can offer forgiveness? Does forgiveness require that the offender ask for it? These and other questions are raised, once again, in the extraordinary scenes in the courtroom of a Dallas police officer convicted of murder and the actions of the victim’s family and of the judge.

Did you know that some Christians called for a day of prayer and support for the impeachment inquiry?

Red Letter Christians sponsored a call for a day of prayer on October 13 and for Christians to support the impeachment inquiry. Both socially progressive and conservative Christians have recently called for a day of prayer, for different reasons. Seems it is time to keep A. Lincoln’s words from his Second Inaugural in mind: “The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.”

Ilhan Omar’s Deeply American Message

This article interprets Rep. Ilhan Omar’s speech to the Council on American Islamic Relations and brings a really important, religious minority perspective to what it means to “belong” in the U.S.

“Omar’s core argument was simple: We Muslims are not guests here. We are as American as everyone else and, thus, we should bring our full selves into the public square. ‘For a really long time in this country,’ she said, ‘we have been told that there is a privilege that we are given and it might be taken away. We are told that we should be appropriate. We should go to school, get an education, raise our children and not bother anyone, not make any kind of noise, don’t make anyone uncomfortable.’

“Many Jews who have lived outside the United States will instinctively understand what she meant.”

Seven years after losing it fight with the Episcopal denomination, the Falls Church Anglican opens its new home

An update on what happened to a church that split over biblical orthodoxy/acceptance of LGBTQ persons in Falls Church, VA. This was a prominent property case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Shades of things to come for large, white urban/suburban United Methodist congregations?

Beto O’Rourke’s church taxation proposal would hand Trump reelection

The Twitter post is from CNN when Mr. O’Rourke was asked on the presidential debate state if churches that oppose same-sex marriage should lose their tax exempt status. The article is by Michael Gerson on this post. Note: the IRS revoked the non-profit status of Bob Jones University in 1976 (a decision upheld by the Supreme Court for universities in 1983, but a narrow ruling that applied to universities but not churches) because of the university’s racist admissions policies. While the university is not a church, the courts determined that a religious objection to the government’s non-discrimination laws was illegal.

Latest research from the Public Religion Research Institute

As one might have predicted, there is little about the nation’s partisan divide that has changed, except to grow worse. Other than health care, there is no agreement on the America’s most important issues. And, even if you look only at the charts/graphs (all of which tell a story), you’ll see how America’s racial/ethnic and religious identities are absorbed into partisan political perspectives in everything from climate change to racism to support for President Trump.

Latest research from Pew regarding the decline of Christian adherence in the U.S.

There are many informative charts within this article. But trends continue: a less institutionally religious nation; a less religious Democratic party, especially among its white members. I’ve wondered how immigration of Christians (which predominate in legal immigration) would affect, and maybe slow, the pattern of de-congregating. Maybe it is slowing that phenomenon, but it is not reversing it.

You may have heard about AG William Barr’s speech at Notre Dame. Here is the full text.

This is the text of the speech that Attorney General William Barr gave recently to the law school at the University of Notre Dame. If you have the time and inclination, it is a worthy read; I say this because it is often better to form one’s own opinion about a matter rather than relying on what a reporter concluded by reading or listening. In this case, the alliance between natural law, conservative/traditional moral order, and the ranking of religious liberty (with “religious” meaning “conservative Christian”) as a trump card over any other human right, is worth noting.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s theological anthropology on display.

This is an older article (March 2019) but, taken together with AG Barr’s recent speech at the Notre Dame law school, one sees powerful examples of how a public official’s faith can and does inform their political positions. And you’ll also see the intersection between a kind of Catholicism and a kind of Protestant dominionism that fuels the Christian Right.


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