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Though many congregations in the U.S. are relatively homogeneous, others are sharply divided. In some cases, divisions are becoming more pronounced as midterm election season heats up, leaving clergy to keep the peace while still meeting the spiritual needs of all of their members.

When it comes to memorializing the nation’s Civil War legacy, Americans are nearly evenly divided over whether to preserve Confederate symbols, memorials, and statues, according to a new Public Religion Research Institute survey. The country’s divisions over the legacy of the Confederacy are bigger than geography – they exist in all parts of the country and can best be predicted by party affiliation, race, and religion.

In this edition of A Public Witness, we take a look at Samford University’s past and find that its current justifications for excluding other Christians from campus rest on a revisionist whitewashing of its own history. After naming Samford’s struggle to face the ghosts in its proverbial closet, we look at attempts by other Christian institutions of higher education to exorcize similar demons.

An interfaith group of activists and religious advocates voiced concerns about the rise of Christian nationalism on Wednesday, arguing the ideology is a threat to democracy during a briefing on Capitol Hill. Speakers at the hourlong briefing outlined what they said were specific threats posed by Christian nationalism, a fusion of faith and national identity that swelled during the tenure of former President Donald Trump.

Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer offers his thoughts on how American followers of Jesus should come to grips with the reality and implications of our country’s historical record of racist actions and structures. He determines that although offering reparations is certainly a societal collective responsibility that must be addressed, we should also embrace the more personal spiritual discipline of reparations.

Clergy from across the country have joined the leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign in calling on Congress to vote on issues related to fair wages, voting rights, and poverty reduction ahead of the midterm elections. The letters were the latest plea by the movement that has since 2018 modeled itself on the campaign started by Martin Luther King Jr. that focused on what King called the “three evils” of racism, poverty, and militarism.

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has co-opted the vision of the sacrifice of Jesus to bless a false rite of military sacrifice. In this bloody vision of Christian Nationalism, we find many warnings. So, in this issue of A Public Witness, we look at religious support and criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And we hold up a candle to expose sacrilegious efforts to conflate church and state.

College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C., found itself in the news last week when the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee voted to remove it from its rolls because of its “open affirmation, approval and endorsement of homosexual behavior.” That action came 23 years after the congregation itself voted to leave the SBC shortly after the convention’s annual meeting approved a doctrinal statement that a wife should “submit herself graciously” to her husband’s authority.

Darron LaMonte Edwards writes that while there are many pathways to success through education, most of those pathways for Black and Brown students still have roadblocks and only a select few can tread that path. We are almost in 2023 and it still feels like we are enduring the struggle W.E.B. Du Bois was addressing in 1903. And this is why every school district should have an equity plan.

To the world, Harper Lee was aloof to the point of being unknowable, an obsessively private person who spent most of her life avoiding the public gaze despite writing one of the best-selling books ever, To Kill a Mockingbird. To Wayne Flynt, the Alabama-born author was his friend, Nelle.