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Douglas Laycock argues that under the general law of religious liberty — including the Constitution and state and federal religious freedom laws — the government has an easy case to refuse religious exemptions from vaccines against infectious disease.

Pope Francis said Wednesday that Catholic bishops must minister to politicians who back abortion with “compassion and tenderness,” not condemnation, and warned that they shouldn’t let politics enter into questions about receiving Communion.

Columnist Bruce Frogge considers what it would be like to break ties with Christianity. Have Christian ministers making a national name for themselves by offering religious exemptions to anyone seeking to avoid vaccine directives or mask mandates stretched the Big Tent of Christianity to its limits?

In episode 14 of Dangerous Dogma, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) talks about faith and politics as a United Methodist minister and U.S. congressman. He also discusses his experience on Jan. 6, attacks on voting rights, and the importance COVID-19 vaccination.

Church

Services at an influential Nashville-area megachurch were disrupted Sunday after the wife of the church’s founding pastor stood up and accused his successor of conspiring against him.

Trustees for Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, last week dropped their proposed new governing documents amid a five-month court challenge. But before they did, SBU’s attorney filed several motions, including an attack on Word&Way.

Less than a year after approving new governing documents to give greater legal control to the Missouri Baptist Convention, the trustees at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, pulled the new articles of agreement. The move leaves the school’s older articles in place and ends a six-month legal conflict.  

Nation

Red Letter Christians, a movement of left-leaning evangelicals, will lead a diverse group of faith leaders in a two-day rally against gun violence in Houston this weekend.

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday (Aug. 30) that he stands by remarks he made at a political fundraising event last week — that he believes Christians are “a little less scared” of COVID-19 because of their belief in eternal life.

The spokesman for a major evangelical nonprofit was fired for promoting vaccines on the MSNBC “Morning Joe” cable news show. Daniel Darling, senior vice president of communications for the National Religious Broadcasters, was fired Friday after refusing to recant his pro-vaccine statements.

World

In this issue of A Public Witness, we consider the failure of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan amid the unfolding humanitarian crisis. And we offer some lessons we hope Christians will consider from this war miscast as a crusade. 

As most Americans absorbed the shock of the Taliban’s full takeover of Afghanistan over the weekend, officials at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service followed the rapidly deteriorating situation with resignation, knowing it could have gone differently.

How many children had been orphaned by causes related to COVID-19? According to a report released last week, an estimated more than 1.5 million children around the world lost a parent or grandparent who lived with and cared for them in the first 14 months of the pandemic.

Editorials

Russell Moore deserves many of the accolades he received recently, but Brian Kaylor argues the hagiographers miss the real lesson of this morality tale. As Southern Baptists gather this week for their annual meeting in Nashville, it is important to see there is more to the story.

Editor-in-Chief Brian Kaylor responds to Paige Patterson claiming during a sermon that a “lynch mob” was out to get him. Kaylor notes that not only is Patterson inaccurately using the metaphor, but Patterson’s words are an injustice to real victims.

While Rep. Matt Gaetz’s behavior may pose legal troubles for him, it proves embarrassing to a religious movement whose claims ring hollow when championed by such a messenger. Worse yet, his views are emblematic of a dangerous belief system rampaging through the country and its churches. 

Word&Way Voices

Columnist Rodney Kennedy explores the values that are necessary for us to move beyond our current political moment. He asks if we can have a patriotism that rises above petty differences, respects a diversity of opinions, and works for the common good.

Sean Taylor explains his theological support for COVID-19 vaccination and details what happened when he urged his congregation to get vaccinated from the pulpit. He believes that for the church, the issue is not ultimately about safety or government conspiracies. Instead, the question should be “where is Jesus?”

Darron Edwards explores what repentance should look like for America's sin of racism. This means acknowledging the shortcomings of the country instead of hiding behind pride in national symbols. Only then can we live up to our ideals.

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Podcasts

In episode 5 of Dangerous Dogma, Bruce Reyes-Chow talks about his book 'In Defense of Kindness: Why It Matters, How It Changes Our Lives, and How It Can Save the World.' He also discusses political and religious incivility, social justice

In episode 4 of Dangerous Dogma, Laura Levens, assistant professor of Christian mission at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, discusses women in ministry, critical race theory, and other topics sparking debate in the Southern Baptist Convention.

In episode 3 of Dangerous Dogma, Kristin Kobes Du Mez talks about her book ‘Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.’

In episode 2 of the new Word&Way podcast Dangerous Dogma, Lindsey Krinks talks about viewing communities from below, reading scriptures in public spaces, and what keeps her ministering despite disappointments with institutional Christianity.

Books

Maina Mwaura writes about interviewing pastor and theologian Timothy Keller about Keller’s new book out for Easter, ‘Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter.’

Before passing away last July, famed civil rights activist C.T. Vivian started working on his autobiography, which will be released next week. In the book, he reflected on his role in key civil rights moments. And he suggested the “origins”

The famed Bible study teacher said she no longer feels at home in the denomination that once saved her life. Moore’s criticism of the 45th president’s abusive behavior toward women and her advocacy for sexual abuse victims turned her from a

Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep is not a memoir, per se, but its deep theological insights are repeatedly grounded in Warren’s own experiences as a mother and an Anglican priest. And many of