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As significant numbers of Americans seek religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, many faith leaders are saying: Not with our endorsement. Various denominations are speaking out against such exemptions.

Appeals to Christian identity were common during the Trump administration, but with Trump out of office and hundreds of Jan. 6 insurrectionists now facing federal charges, hard-line Christian Nationalists are increasingly fueling their movement with opposition to COVID-19 vaccines and mask mandates.

In this issue of A Public Witness, we take a shot at exploring Biden’s new vaccine rules not as partisans, or even as citizens, but as followers of Jesus. Although we’ve advocated for Christians to voluntarily get vaccinated, government mandates raise additional moral issues warranting our consideration.

In episode 15 of Dangerous Dogma, Jessica Johnson, a visiting scholar in religious studies at the College of William & Mary, talks about her book 'Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll's Evangelical Empire.'

Church

St. Nicholas Church was the only house of worship destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Twenty years later, a shrine replacing it is nearing completion for this Eastern Orthodox congregation,

Senior Editor Beau Underwood interviews Joy Martinez-Marshall, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, for the latest installment of our “Behind the Pulpit” series intended to pull back the curtain on the minister’s life.

Facebook is seeking increased engagement with American religious communities. In this edition of A Public Witness we detail some major concerns of congregations uncritically accepting this friend invitation.

Nation

We look back at Sept. 11 in horror at what occurred and at the resultant damage done to the principle of religious liberty. Giving into fear caused us to compromise one of our foundational convictions.

A Texas death row inmate won a reprieve Wednesday (Sept. 8) evening from execution for killing a convenience store worker during a 2004 robbery that garnered $1.25 after claiming the state was violating his religious freedom by not letting his pastor lay hands on him at the time of his lethal injection.

The name Substack may be unfamiliar to you at the moment, but it holds the potential to be the next Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube: a once strange, slightly confusing platform that is now part of our daily routines and cultural lexicon.

World

As the U.S. continues its evacuations of American citizens and Afghans who have worked for the U.S. over the past 20 years, faith-based refugee resettlement organizations are leading efforts to help Afghans settle into the country.

Sri Lanka’s Christian community hoisted black flags at churches and homes on Saturday to express anger over the government’s investigation into the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks, which killed 269 people.

Pope Francis issued a message on Wednesday encouraging Catholics to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, calling it “an act of love,” as part of a global effort to reduce the onslaught of the pandemic and convince vaccine skeptics.

Editorials

Editor-in-Chief Brian Kaylor argues that as the delta variant of COVID-19 fuels a new spike in cases in some parts of the U.S., conservative Christians who refuse vaccination are putting people at risk and undermining the teachings of Jesus.

In a guest piece for Americans United, Editor-in-Chief Brian Kaylor writes why on the Fourth of July, which falls on a Sunday this year, he won’t be attending church.

We explore the culture war around Critical Race Theory. We question the motives of those who started the fight, the degree that those who picked up arms actually understand what CRT is all about, and a key Christian doctrine we risk abandoning by joining the new culture war of “us”

Word&Way Voices

Columnist Sarah Blackwell discusses how can we better discern when to open our mouths or when to keep them shut — particularly on social media. This means exploring the question: when is saying nothing the path to winning? 

Columnist Rodney Kennedy weaves together a discussion of 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul’s subject is whether Christians should eat meat offered to idols, with the philosophy of Alasdair MacIntyre to help us better understand the current ideological debate surrounding public health measures.

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games the world witnessed Simone Biles, one of the greatest athletes of all time, defend not the gold medal but her own mental health. She is breaking the silence about mental illness while in the global spotlight. This deserves a gold medal in columnist Sarah

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Podcasts

In episode 9 of Dangerous Dogma, author and activist Lisa Sharon Harper, president of FreedomRoad.us, talks about racism, U.S. history, critical race theory, and the '1619 Project.'

In episode 8 of Dangerous Dogma, Todd Billings talks about his book 'The End of the Christian Life: How Embracing Our Mortality Frees Us to Truly Live.' He also discusses faith during the coronavirus pandemic.

In episode 7 of Dangerous Dogma, Amanda Tyler, executive director of BJC, talks about Christian Nationalism and the Jan. 6 insurrection. She also discusses what it means to advocate for religious liberty for all.

In episode 6 of Dangerous Dogma, Mark Charles talks about the racism embedded in the U.S.'s founding documents, and how churches are adding to the nation's racism. He also discusses his 2020 campaign as an independent presidential candidate.

Books

Women’s History Month may have ended weeks ago, but women’s impact on religion and spirituality goes on year-round. Here are 10 new nonfiction books, both forthcoming and released in the last year, that explore women's roles and influence in Christian

So-called “premium” Bibles aren’t new. And while they may not carry a steep price tag, a number of new and traditional Bible publishers are stressing the beauty of an old-fashioned book and the experience of slowing down to read at a

Sarah Bessey and other contributors to A Rhythm of Prayer responded to the backlash with a statement Thursday evening, saying critics are missing the point of a controversial prayer by Chanequa Walker-Barnes.

Evangelicals who are questioning often do so in isolation — but some are now looking for community. And they’re finding it in book clubs, reading the growing market of deconstructionist and justice-oriented literature.