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On the Fourth of July we celebrate the United States as an exceptional country — at least, we used to. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest, suggests how America can become a more exceptional country.

A new documentary, which is to be released on demand and in select theaters on Friday (July 3), traces the journey of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Baptist, from the fields of Alabama to the halls of Congress. The film portrays how Lewis was shaped by his faith and guided by religious leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and James Lawson, two advocates for nonviolent civil rights action.

The next state flag of Mississippi will not include the Confederate battle emblem. But the suggestion that the new flag say “In God We Trust” worries some advocates and watchdog groups who see the phrase often invoked by conservative activists and lawmakers aligned with Christian nationalism. 

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Baptist

In a letter to Southern Baptist Convention leaders, an African American pastor from Texas urged the denomination to meaningfully increase the number of Black people in positions of leadership across its various institutions and to “understand that racism is much more than an individual sin.”

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, says the school should stop using the name of a racist financial supporter, but added he will not remove the names of the slaveholding founders from campus buildings.

Following a 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday (June 30) in a case involving state funding of religious schools, Baptists focused on religious liberty issues offered divergent assessments. The case is Espinoza v. Montana Department Revenue.

Nation

The next state flag of Mississippi will not include the Confederate battle emblem. But the suggestion that the new flag say “In God We Trust” worries some advocates and watchdog groups who see the phrase often invoked by conservative activists and lawmakers aligned with Christian nationalism. 

A U.S. Supreme Court decision that says states can’t cut religious schools out of programs that send public money to private education could breathe new life into efforts to force Maine and Vermont to help fund religious educations.

Charles L. Burton Jr. doesn’t want to be alone when he dies. He filed suit last year after the state of Alabama denied a Muslim inmate from having an imam serve as a spiritual adviser at his execution, citing state policy that only allowed Christian clergy to serve as chaplains in the death chamber.

World

Five mixed-race women born in Congo when the country was under Belgian rule who were taken away from their Black mothers have filed a lawsuit for crimes against humanity targeting the Belgian state. 

Like many restaurants around the world, Nikos Katsouris has seen his eatery in Lesbos, Greece, close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, he and his partner, Katerina Koveou, have been providing their former customers who are refugees items like toothpaste, diapers, and imperishable groceries. 

Baptists in the Central Asia nation of Kazakhstan have long faced persecution from their government. Now, Kazak officials are using coronavirus restrictions to again target a Baptist church.

Faith & Culture

Many prominent white evangelicals have made statements about Black lives in the weeks since the death of George Floyd, but is this new focus among white conservatives — and white Christians in general — momentary or lasting? Highlights of a forthcoming study, which looks at racism, biblical interpretation, and church cultures,

Acts of kindness may not be that random after all. Science says being kind pays off. Research shows that acts of kindness make us feel better and healthier. We are hard-wired to be kind.

Rev. Traci Blackmon was at home outside of St. Louis when a local hospital called with a question: Could Blackmon’s church help sew some masks?

Media & Entertainment

A new documentary, which is to be released on demand and in select theaters on Friday (July 3), traces the journey of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Baptist, from the fields of Alabama to the halls of Congress. The film portrays how Lewis was shaped by his faith and guided

On April 1, following a wave of lawsuits over privacy breaches, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan ordered a halt to work on new features and vowed to fix the service's weaknesses in 90 days. That time is up, and Zoom is ready to take a bow.

The first time the Rev. Lettie Moses Carr saw Jesus depicted as Black, she was in her 20s. It felt “weird,” Carr said; until that moment, she’d always thought Jesus was white.

Editorials

It’s not just that we place a national symbol in our sanctuaries while preaching and singing about how God loves the whole world. It’s that with our symbols we’ve proclaimed we’re Americans first and Christians second.

Our nation finds itself at a critical moment of wrestling. And it might just lead to a biblical moment. But will Christians lead the way? Will we chart a new course with new names?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to infect millions around the world and kill hundreds of thousands, we shouldn’t make the mistake of only considering the dangers of the microbiological world. This time is also revealing the plague within us with

W&W Voices

Dwight McKissic responds to Al Mohler’s refusal to remove the names of enslavers from buildings on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. McKissic argues this isn’t just a cultural war but also spiritual warfare.

It goes without saying that we are experiencing very stress-filled and difficult-to-navigate circumstances. But before Christians today focus on answering practical ministry questions, perhaps we should clarify our identity as Christ followers by understanding how the first Christians viewed themselves.

As church goers, faith leaders, and Jesus-followers, we have had to navigate uncharted territory these last few months. The church questions for the second half of the year remain front and center as we seek to worship and serve together.

Other Opinions

On the Fourth of July we celebrate the United States as an exceptional country — at least, we used to. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest, suggests how America can become a more exceptional country.

Pastor Derek Allen, whose church has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases among its staff and volunteers, shares 5 lessons he’s learned in the past couple weeks so others won’t make the same mistakes.

In ancient Greek mythology, Scylla and Charybdis were the names of two sea monsters situated on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Italy. Today those monsters represent COVID-19 and poverty.

EDITOR’S PICKS