‘You will find out on that day …’: False prophets and lost endings

The Republican National Convention opened yesterday in Cleveland with a horrifying “benediction” from prosperity-gospel huckster Mark Burns. Burns has me thinking again of Zedekiah son of Chenaanah, the ridiculous court prophet-for-hire from the Bible. But as always when dealing with this story, I wind up getting frustrated and sidetracked by it’s missing ending. [Read more…]

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Rewriting evangelicals’ past to preserve our mistakes

Christianity Today was co-founded by L. Nelson Bell — Billy Graham’s father-in-law and also the founder of The Southern Presbyterian Journal, a pro-segregationist magazine explicitly dedicated to what Bell (a Wheaton graduate) called “racial integrity.” Bell’s argument in opposition to the Civil Rights movement was irreducibly and emphatically “moral and religious.” He categorically denied that “bare-knuckled racial discrimination” or animus had anything to do with his position. It was, he insisted, a matter of faithfulness to God and of defending the authority of the Bible. [Read more…]

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‘Religious outreach’

While Donald Trump’s evangelical outreach continues to flail — “We’ve gotta spiritize this country!” — another election year brings about the quadrennial ritual of articles fretting about the need for “religious outreach” by Democrats. Remember, though, that Hillary Clinton’s long history with her United Methodist Church and her involvement with its women’s groups doesn’t count, because mainline Protestantism doesn’t count. “Religious outreach by Democrats” only counts if it involves obsequious overtures to white evangelicals. [Read more…]

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The crops are all in and the peaches are rott’ning

What if we rewrote “The Da Vinci Code” as an extended episode of “Leverage”? That’s what you’ll find in Ariel Sabar’s amazing attempt to determine the provenance of the allegedly ancient papyrus fragment known as the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Also: “Hating Hillary” ca. 1996; baby steps for the SBC and a Catholic bishop; and another reminder that Eric Metaxas is a silly, silly man. [Read more…]

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Chapter and verse

But when I read a story like this, I want to know more. When a member of Congress is leaning on “a passage from the Bible denouncing homosexuality” as the primary basis for his legislative decisions, thereby disgusting his GOP colleagues with his ignorant rejection of the First Amendment, I also want to know which passage from the Bible, specifically, this guy is quoting. [Read more…]

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Postcards from the culture wars (5.6)

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” [Read more…]

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Relitigating the Golden Rule

Protect religious groups you admire by protecting religious groups you do not admire. Otherwise you’re just trying to find a loophole in the Golden Rule — trying to compel others to do unto us as we would have them do while exempting ourselves from any obligation to do unto them as they would have us do. And that’s not good. [Read more…]

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White evangelicals and ‘the social upheaval of the ’60s’

Usually, this is stated with a polite euphemism. We don’t name all of these things specifically but, instead, we just say that white evangelicalism arose in response to “the social upheavals of the 1960s.” That allows us to pretend that this is about something else — about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, rather than about the backlash to increased legal equality for people of color and for women. [Read more…]

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