Democrats, trying to match Republicans in their attention to religion, have peppered their national convention with faith leaders. Chief among them is Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde of Washington DC who deliverd the benediction on the second night of the convention, Other faith leaders on the program were Rev. Gabriel Salguero, the Florida-based pastor who founded the National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Jerry Young of the Mississippi-based New Hope Baptist Church; Archbishop Elpidophoros, leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; and Rabbi Lauren Berkun, vice president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. The event also included a pre-convention worship service led by representatives of ten very diverse religious networks.
Long-time publisher and editor of the magazine Sojourners Jim Wallis has been replaced as editor in chief by the organizations board of directors. The decision followed weeks of turmoil after Wallis removed from their web site an essay by California scholar Eric Martin that criticized white supremacists in the Roman Catholic church. Two employees of color at the magazine resigned. The new editor is Sandi Villarreal, who had been serving as the executive editor. Wallis will continue as president of the Sojourners organization which he founded in 1971.
Mega-church pastor John MacArthur stays in the news with his refusal to abide by a public health order that prohibits gatherings of large crowds. The California governor issued the order covering crowds of all kinds. MacArthur took the governor to court and lost in a late Saturday night decision by the state Court of Appeals. Nevertheless, the church—convinced it is being persecuted for its faith and determined to resist the order to cease and desist—held public worship services on Sunday. “We’re having church,” the pastor announced to thousands of cheering parishioners. We shall see what happens next! He probably will be on the program for the Republican National Convention!
Catholic Charities reports that donations to their network of social services has topped $400 million. Sister Donna Markham, a Dominican Sister and CEO of the national organization, said that among the 50% to 70% increase in the number of clients are people from middle-class families who lost their jobs as the pandemic surged during the spring. “They are trying to figure out how they are going to eat and pay their rent or mortgage,” she said. Founded in 1910, Catholic Charities has a mission to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same.
Who is Amanda Freitas, and does it matter? There are at least 65 people in the United States that have this name (including a well-known chef in New York City), but one of them is host of a YouTube channel with 31,000+ subscribers. Her recent video recounting a “prophetic revelation” about Donald Trump has garnered 865,000+ views. She claims no admiration of the President but reports a discernment received while in prayer that Trump is “a man God picked for such a time as this”. On the other hand, she saw a vision of Biden speaking with the tongue of a serpent. Freitas and her “revelations” illustrate the role that Pentecostal spirituality and end-of-the-age speculation play in the widely reported Evangelical support of Donald Trump. More coming!