Evangelicals

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Ask Wah Nay Htoo how an evangelical church helped her refugee family after they arrived in Colorado and her list is long.

“Oh my goodness, Cornerstone helped our family a lot — everything,” said Htoo, 38, a Burmese woman who lived most of her life in a refugee camp in Thailand before moving to the Denver suburb of Lafayette in 2008.

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Heading into Donald Trump’s meeting with hundreds of conservative Christian leaders, mostly evangelicals, in New York on June 21, it was clear not all Christians have lined up behind him.

Not even all traditionally conservative evangelicals.

Ryan Hammill 06-21-2016
Donald Trump salutes supporters at the Peabody Opera House in Downtown St. Louis in March.

Donald Trump salutes supporters at the Peabody Opera House in Downtown St. Louis in March.Gino Santa Maria Shutterstock.com

While evangelicals have traditionally been an important part of the Republican base, Trump’s candidacy has exposed some fissures. The combination of questionable investments, vulgar and hateful rhetoric, widely-publicized affairs, and Biblical illiteracy has caused some evangelical leaders to denounce Trump, even as others have voiced their support.

Image via Matt Miller / Baptist Press / RNS

In recent years, Southern Baptists have made racial reconciliation a top priority.

This week, delegates (called “messengers”) to the SBC’s annual meeting in St. Louis overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging Christians to “discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag.”

Image via Adam Covington / Baptist Press / RNS

Southern Baptists are usually the first to defend religious freedom. But when it comes to Muslims, some want to draw a line.

At their annual meeting in St. Louis, an Arkansas pastor said Baptists shouldn’t support the right of Muslims to build mosques, especially “when these people threaten our very way of existence as Christians and Americans.”

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White evangelical Christians, a crucial bloc of Republican voters, are backing likely GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump by a wide margin over Hillary Clinton but their support is significantly lower than for previous Republican candidates.

That relatively tepid faith-based endorsement could wind up undermining Trump’s chances for victory in November.

Image via REUTERS/Jonathan Drake/RNS

When presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump meets behind closed doors next week with conservative Christians from across the country, no one expects a coronation.

But neither will there be an inquisition, according to organizers.

Ronnie Floyd (left) with Jerry Young (right). Image via Cross Church / Baptist Press / RNS

Southern Baptists turned a sharp focus on racism during their annual meeting, welcoming the president of a historically black denomination in a rare address to their national gathering.

“Those who would like to suggest that racism is not indeed a problem for the church but rather it is a sociological problem, I would argue it is without question a sin problem,” the Rev. Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, told the predominantly white Southern Baptist Convention on June 14.

Joel Hunter at an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House. Image via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/RNS

In the aftermath of the shooting at an Orlando, Fla., gay club, diverse leaders in the city have reached out to the LGBT community. One surprising photo emerged: evangelical megachurch pastor Joel Hunter shaking hands with Equality Florida’s Carlos Smith. It was a simple gesture, captured by a local newspaper reporter, but one with deep symbolic meaning.

Karen Swallow Prior 06-06-2016

IN MANY WAYS, the modern animal-welfare movement was birthed by evangelicalism.

Given current-day categories and political alignments, this history is surprising. But evangelicalism’s concern for animal welfare began with John Wesley, who many consider the father of evangelicalism. Wesley offered weighty words about animals and their treatment by humans. In his sermon “The General Deliverance,” for example, Wesley laments the plight of animals subjected to human cruelty:

And what a dreadful difference is there, between what they suffer from their fellow-brutes, and what they suffer from the tyrant man! The lion, the tiger, or the shark, gives them pain from mere necessity, in order to prolong their own life; and puts them out of their pain at once: But the human shark, without any such necessity, torments them of his free choice; and perhaps continues their lingering pain till, after months or years, death signs their release.

In Wesley’s lifetime, which spanned most of the 18th century, animals played a central and visible role in most people’s lives. Animals were sources of food and clothing and means of transportation. Sadly, animals were also a common source of entertainment in various forms of brutal blood sports—including bull and bear baiting, dog fighting, and cock throwing. As plentiful paintings, literature, sermons, and tracts from the age show, cruelty to animals was as pervasive as the animals themselves.

The general understanding of animals at the time was gravely influenced by a Cartesian, mechanistic view of the world. The same disciples of the Enlightenment who envisioned God as a distant watchmaker also viewed the “lower creatures” as mere machines. Well into the 19th century, animals were viewed under the law, according to the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University, “as items of personal property not much different than a shovel or plow.”

Russell Moore. Image via Theology147 / Wikimedia Commons

Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore has not been shy about mixing it up with Donald Trump, and now Moore is at it again, telling an interviewer that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is a “lost person” who needs to find Jesus.

“My primary prayer for Donald Trump is that he would first of all repent of sin and come to faith in Jesus Christ,” Moore told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network in a video posted June 3.

Tom Lin. Image via InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / RNS

Tom Lin, 43, a Chicago native, Harvard grad, one-time missionary to Mongolia, was recently named the first nonwhite president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the national ministry to 40,200 university students, based in Madison, Wis.

Most recently, he served as head of Urbana 15, the missions conference that occurs once every three years.

Image via REUTERS / Mike Segar / RNS

Donald Trump is moving quickly to rally the evangelical base of the Republican Party as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee pivots toward a general election contest where the conservative Christian vote will be crucial to his chances for winning the White House.

The brash New York real estate developer has been reviled by many evangelical Christian leaders but he retains a significant appeal with grass-roots evangelicals and is increasingly winning over some leading conservative Christian activists.

the Web Editors 05-06-2016

A new study from Barna paints a bleak picture of racial tension in the United States.

 

An Indiana evangelical leader says he and other Christians are in an “untenable situation” after Senator Ted Cruz’s withdrawal from the 2016 presidential race.

Speaking on NPR’s Morning Edition program, Ron Johnson Jr., head of the Indiana Pastors Alliance, could not explain why 50 percent of Indiana’s evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, according to exit polls.

Catherine Woodiwiss 04-26-2016

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“One of the things I really see happening is as Christians in America, evangelicals are losing their cultural dominance, and I see a lot of fear associated with that. I see a lot of anger. I guess that’s almost like a god of dominance,” Midgett said. “And that’s in contrast to the god of suffering, the god who comes as a servant to die for us. Those two things are really two completely different paradigms.”

Derek Flood 04-11-2016

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It is not a particular religious or political set of values or ideology that is the heart of the problem here. Authoritarianism goes beyond political or religious affiliation.

Given authoritarianism's penchant for enforcing its will through the means of coercion and force, at the expense of religious and civil liberties, it is vital for those who identify with these groups to recognize this, and the very real danger that this poses.

It is not enough for progressive evangelicals and political liberals or even moderates to speak out. Conservative politicians and religious leaders alike need to recognize the very real danger of authoritarianism, and find the moral courage to speak out against it.

Mark Driscoll. Image via Mars Hill Church / RNS

Controversial former Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll plans to launch his new church on Easter Sunday (March 27). The Trinity Church will host its first gathering that evening at the Glass and Garden Drive-In Church in Scottsdale, Ariz., it announced on its website.

Caroline Barnett 03-15-2016

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Among the people who Lee studies in Rescuing Jesus is Sojourners’ own Chief Church Engagement Officer Lisa Sharon Harper, who confronted the overwhelming whiteness of her evangelical campus ministry. Despite hearing otherwise from her religious leaders, she knew her whole identity as an African-American woman with a commitment to racial justice was an essential part of her faith.

And many other leaders are featured: Jennifer Crumpton, who grew up hearing conservative gender complementarian teachings, now challenges the patriarchal structures of evangelicalism through her ministry and call to lead. And there’s Will Haggerty and Tasha Magness and other LGBTQ students at Biola University, a private Christian college with explicitly anti-queer policies. Despite the threat of expulsion, these students founded an underground network of support and solidarity for LGBTQ Biolans.

03-09-2016

On Super Tuesday, Donald Trump easily swept the four states with the heaviest majorities of Protestants who consider themselves “evangelicals” – Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia.

So the campaign’s major religious puzzle – likely to be pondered come 2020 and 2024 – continues to be how to explain Trump’s appeal to Bible Belters.

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