Pope Francis officially amended Roman Catholic Church law to give formal sanction to what is currently a popular practice in the Church: namely, to allow women to assist in the leadership of the mass. This role includes reading the Scripture portions including the Gospel and serving at the altar as eucharistic ministers. He stopped short of allowing them to be deacons, which are ordained lay ministers who serve in the place of priests when needed.
The riot on Capital Hill brought attention to the newly installed chaplain of the House of Representatives. She is retired rear admiral Margaret Kibben, a Presbyterian minister who has served as chief of chaplains for the U. S. Navy. She is the first woman to serve in this role, and her prayers during the attack on Congress last week were noted by many. The Senate also has a retired Navy officer serving as their chaplain, Rev. Barry Black. Chaplains manage the schedule for public prayers and also provide extensive pastoral care to congressional employees and officials.
The editor of a state Baptist newspaper in Missouri has become the first Southern Baptist official to call for the resignation of Al Mohler, president of the denomination’s flagship seminary in Louisville. Brian Kaylor wrote, “…our nation needs Christian leaders who can bring healing, truth-telling and justice, Al Mohler … is not such a leader for this moment. He needs to step aside.” Mohler has been in the news for the last few months, first, for announcing his conversion to Trump for president, and second, for leading the six Southern Baptist seminary presidents to renounce the scholarly study of systemic racism. This latter has triggered a firestorm of controversy that threatens to jeopardize the racial priorities of the denomination.
Noted Jewish businessman and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson has died. Worth an estimated $35 billion, Adelson gave lavishly to Jewish causes including the state of Israel. He was born to impoverished parents in Boston, begin in business as a kid selling newspapers, but made his money in the casinos of Las Vegas. While he is known also as a benefactor of Republican politicians, including Donald Trump, Adelson funded the program that has sent thousands of young adult Jews on introductory excursions to Israel. Adelson died of cancer; he was 87 years old.
Religious signs and messages were central to the riot on Capital Hill last week, with the message “Jesus is my Savior, Trump is my President” prominent. The religious motivations for the event are connected to the rise of independent prophets who have prophesied or decreed that Trump will serve another term as president. Much of this rhetoric is coming from what is known as the Independent Network Christianity movement, or INC. INC is not affiliated with any denomination but has grown in numbers and influence in recent decades. This is a bigger story than most people know, and I give a shout out to reporter Julia Duin of “Get Religion” who began her article this week with these words, “Last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol has ignited a civil war among many Christians.” She is referring to the prophets whose messages over the last few months assured people Trump would be reelected. Some of these prophets have recanted and apologized and this has angered thousands of followers. I will be reporting on this in the weeks ahead.