The Supreme Court and Deity-Specific Prayers

Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Town of Greece v. Galloway, a case concerning the constitutionality of uttering Jesus’s name in prayers at public meetings. As I wrote in earlier coverage for WORLD Magazine, the town of Greece (N.Y.) attempted to accommodate pressure from secularists to make the town board’s prayers non-sectarian by recruiting [Read More...]

Why I Am Still a Baptist

A reader recently asked me why, given my knowledge of and interest in church history, I remain a Baptist. There are powerful arguments for apostolic succession, infant baptism, and other non-Baptist principles that other low-church evangelicals have found compelling. Why do I stick around? It may help to know that I did not grow up [Read More...]

Evangelical-Mormon “Detente”?

Adelle Banks of Religion News Service has a fascinating piece on signs of a possible new evangelical-Mormon detente, a thaw that goes even beyond the widespread evangelical support for Mitt Romney as president. She writes Last month, after being sure to get his caffeine fix at Starbucks, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land went where few [Read More...]

“Psychedelic Christians”: The Legacy of the Jesus People

I recently had the pleasure of reading Larry Eskridge’s remarkable God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America (Oxford, 2013). [Full disclosure: Larry is a good friend and fellow Carolinian - though of the North Carolina variety - who has occasionally given me barbecue advice.] This book is the epitome of definitive, with rich, entertaining [Read More...]

Interpreting Demonic Possession

My graduate course recently read Brian Levack’s The Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West (Yale, 2013). Levack, the author of a number of important books on witchcraft and possession in early modern Europe, notes from the outset that “demonic possession is a methodological landmine for historians.” That’s the truth! It is relatively easy [Read More...]

Slavery: America’s Original Sin?

[This week's post is from my archives at Patheos.] The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has a touring exhibit entitled “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.” At the front of the Smithsonian display stands a life-size statue of Jefferson, backed by a panel listing the known names of about 600 slaves who worked for Jefferson [Read More...]

The Puritans as Masters of Reform

My history graduate students and I recently read David Hall’s A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England (2011), a remarkably admiring portrait of early New England Puritans and their participatory society. While progressive critics, following Nathaniel Hawthorne, have often caricatured the theocratic rule of the Puritan fathers, Harvard’s Hall – one [Read More...]

Five Great Books on George Washington

Last week saw the opening of the long-awaited George Washington National Library at Mount Vernon. Washington himself seems to have had such a project in mind at the end of his life, when he wrote in 1797 that “I have not houses to build, except one, which I must erect for the accommodation and security [Read More...]

Paleo Evangelicals and the Plight of Prisoners

It’s tough to get people to stand up for prisoners. Disproportionately poor, black, and Hispanic, America’s prisoners typically lose whatever minimal public influence they once had when they vanish into our country’s vast detention system. What’s more, they (generally) vanish by their own fault, forfeiting whatever sympathy the public might have had for them. Republicans [Read More...]

When the United Nations Did Good: Os Guinness and Religious Liberty

Baylor recently welcomed Os Guinness, one of the seminal Christian apologists of the past half-century, for a public conversation with our president, Judge Ken Starr. Guinness spoke about his new book The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity. [Video of the event is available here.] Guinness offers a [Read More...]


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