On Theology and Wild Boar

This post will not be about Easter bunnies, but it will be about animals. In the Christian tradition, animals possess a rich symbolic significance. Ask most Christians whether they would prefer being a goat or sheep in the eyes of the Lord and you will quickly baa-baa. From Genesis through Revelation, animals are regularly invoked [Read More…]

Scalia’s Worst Decision?

Today’s guest post is by Dr. Barry Hankins, professor of history at Baylor University, and author of books including Baptists in America: A History (with Thomas Kidd).   This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. The Sisters, joined by many Protestant groups, have challenged the Affordable Care [Read More…]

Muslims, the New Mormons

In 1890, the U.S. Supreme Court — in upheld laws intended to disenfranchise Mormon polygamists. The 1882 Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act required voters to swear that they were not polygamists, and the Idaho Territory had passed a statute requiring voters to attest that they were not Mormons. In Idaho, church member Samuel Davis was convicted of [Read More…]

Should We Elect a Muslim President?

Ben Carson stirred up the latest Republican primary tempest this weekend when he volunteered the opinion that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” What should we make of this statement? First, it speaks to a pervasive religious ignorance in our political culture, of which Carson is hardly the [Read More…]

The Popes and America

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Pope in America: Implications, Collaborations, Challenges. Read other perspectives here. In September 22-27, Pope Francis will visit the United States, making stops in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. Most discussion in anticipation has focused on the Pope’s attendance at the World Meeting [Read More…]

A Time of Commencement: Religious Liberty

As the end of May approaches, most colleges and universities in the United States have already conferred degrees upon their graduates.  A long and arduous day punctuates the final exercises, which display the accomplishments of the graduates to their friends and families.  Part and parcel of that process is the commencement address, which few in [Read More…]

Why Weren’t Baptists More Enthusiastic Patriots?

Today’s post comes from chapter 3 of my new book Baptists in America: A History (Oxford University Press), co-authored with my friend and Baylor colleague Barry Hankins. Baptist pastor James Manning of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote to English Baptist leader John Ryland in November 1776, apprising him of trouble in the American colonies. Two winters before, Providence’s [Read More…]

The Limits of Free Speech?

The moment you limit free speech it’s not free speech. ~Salman Rushdie In the wake of the recent near attacks on the satirical cartoon contest sponsored by the American Defense Freedom Initiative self-appointed pundits have begun to talk about the “limits of free speech,” asking questions such as: is some speech so provocative that it should [Read More…]

Show a Bishop some Hospitality

On Monday, April 20, Boston’s Archbishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, visited Gordon College, where I teach. It was an instructive time for the entire college community. His talk was entitled “Our Common Concern for the Least among Us.” Recognizing abiding differences between Catholics and Protestants, he nonetheless enjoined all Christians to pursue what we might call [Read More…]

What’s at Stake in Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law?

Dr. Barry Hankins is professor of history at Baylor University, and the co-author, with Thomas Kidd, of the new book Baptists in America: A History. He recently wrote about the controversy over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, at the Waco Tribune-Herald. What’s really at stake with the Indiana religious freedom law? Before forming conclusions, a little history [Read More…]


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