Who will pray at Trump’s inauguration

Defense.gov_photo_essay_090111-F-3961R-041The six religious leaders  who will offer prayers at Donald Trump’s inauguration have been announced.

They include three Pentecostals:  Paula White, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, and Samuel Rodriguez.  White and Jackson, a black megachurch pastor, are prominent preachers of the “prosperity Gospel.’  (See our earlier post on White.)  Rodriguez is a Hispanic Assemblies of God minister also preaches a perhaps less extreme version of  the prosperity gospel.

The others are Franklin Graham, whose father Billy now in frail health has been a fixture at presidential inaugurations of all parties; New York catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan; and Marvin Hier, a prominent Jewish rabbi.

There are no mainline Protestants.  Graham is the only classical evangelical.  No Lutherans, of course.

In the story excerpted after the jump, I was struck by the writer’s point about why prosperity gospelers are so attracted to Trump, and vice-versa.  Bishop White says flatly that Trump’s wealth is a sign that he is “blessed by God.”  “Not surprisingly,” says the writer, “Donald Trump is drawn to those preachers who say that one’s wealth is a sign of God’s approval.” [Read more…]

90,000 Christians died for their faith last year

nazarene-889300_640Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world, according to a European study.  In 2016, 90,000 Christians were killed because of their faith.

This, however, was an improvement over 2015, when 105,000 Christians were martyred.


Illustration:  The Arabic equivalent of “N” for “Nazarene,” the symbol used by Islamists to mark Christians and their property for destruction.  By Phillip Barrington, CC0, Public Domain. [Read more…]

The Democrats’ religion problem

12522034864_d0253b3da9_zMichael Wear is a pro-life evangelical Christian who was a staffer for Barack Obama, helping him reach faith groups in 2012.  He is now criticizing his fellow Democrats for writing off Christians.

Emma Green, writing in the Atlantic, interviews him about his new book on the subject  and about why the Democratic party as a whole has become so antagonistic to religious people, something that did not used to be the case and something that will continue to limit the party’s prospects in this still very religious nation. [Read more…]

Top religion stories of 2016

Wikipedia_Wordle_-_ReligionThe Religion News Association announced its top 10 religion stories of 2016.  Number one:  Donald Trump’s election.

Why was that a religion story?  An important factor in Trump’s win was his support from evangelical voters, even though his lifestyle, moral history, and religious beliefs would not seem to be in accord with those of most Christian conservatives.

What this means, though, is less clear.  Does this mean Christian voters have sold out, or have they become pragmatic in choosing a candidate whom they expect to advance their pro-life and religious liberty agenda instead of insisting on total agreement?  Have evangelicals regained their political clout, or have they lost it, since candidates know they will vote for the Republican no matter what?

After the jump, a list of the top 10 stories, plus links to two other religion top 10 lists.  (They all agree on #1.)

What do you think should be on the list?

Ceremonial Deism

5770-a-house-with-christmas-lights-at-night-pvThe Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that Nativity scenes in publicly-owned spaces are legal.  As long as they don’t mean anything.  Hillsdale Sophomore Nic Rowan writing in the Federalist sees this as an example of “ceremonial deism.”

After the jump, read his argument and my thoughts on the matter.
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Hotels without Gideon Bibles

Bible_bom_hotel_rmThe Gideons do great work in distributing Bibles.  For many decades, virtually every hotel room had a Gideon Bible on the nightstand or in a drawer.  But today, less than half do.

A survey has found that only 46% of American hotel rooms include religious material.  Ten years ago, nearly three-quarters did.

Of course, what the Christian Gideons did, representatives of other religions did.  Hotels that have Bibles in the rooms often also have Books of Mormon.  I suspect that the decline of hotel Bibles has less to do with irreligion than with the abundance of religions and with hotel managers’ fear of offending against the canons of religious diversity.

Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington does have Bibles. But they come with a printed note saying that “if you want to continue your spiritual journey,” the hotel staff will give you a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, Talmud, or Quran.

[Read more…]