Nation - Word&Way



As Missouri plans another execution next week in a case with an innocence claim, Rev. Lauren Bennett’s story offers a look inside the execution chamber. Last month as she ministered deep in the valley of prison until the shadow of death passed over, she found herself wrestling with the nature of God and humanity.

Jewish and Christian clergy have taken an active role in protesting what one advocacy group has called the “most dangerous” session of the Missouri Legislature for the LGBTQ community it has seen in years. All told, Missouri lawmakers have introduced 27 anti-LGBTQ bills — more than any other state.

Given the questions about the event throughout its seven-decade history, the National Prayer Breakfast deserves greater attention. So in this issue of A Public Witness, Brian Kaylor recalls its history and recent controversies before considering what this year's new changes could mean.

White conservative evangelicals, who make up most of the religious right movement, largely oppose government regulation to protect the environment, including efforts to curb human-caused climate change. Contrary to popular perception, however, this hasn’t always been the case.

Religious leaders reacted swiftly — with legislative appeals and collective grief — to the release of video footage of police officers beating Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died days after a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee. Some questioned whether the video of the police beating of Nichols should be watched.

This year’s Super Bowl will feature a $20 million pair of pro-Jesus ads promoting the idea that Jesus "gets us," part of the larger He Gets Us campaign. Organizers hope to spend a billion dollars in the next three years to redeem Jesus’s brand.

Fuentes’ reinstatement Tuesday morning came amid Twitter’s attempts to bring back users who had been banned before billionaire Musk’s Oct. 27 takeover, in an effort to reform what the new CEO and owner has described as inconsistent policies on hate speech.

The National Prayer Breakfast is under new management, distancing the decades-old event from the secretive organization that founded it after years of controversy and a scandal that showed the yearly gathering in the nation’s capital is vulnerable to espionage.

The faculty of Hamline University have called on President Fayneese Miller to resign, saying they no longer have faith in her ability to lead the St. Paul, Minnesota, school after what they see as the mishandling of a Muslim student’s complaint about an instructor showing a painting of the Prophet Muhammad.

Religion has been injected into the RNC chair race through whisper campaigns pushing religious bigotry. So this issue of A Public Witness looks at what’s happening in the divisive quest to lead the Republican Party as it preps for the 2024 elections and offers a warning about the danger of weaponizing religion in politics.