MH News January 23, 2020

Jack Van Impe, the long-running television evangelist who focused on Christian eschatology, has died at age 88. Born, raised, and situated in the greater Detroit, Impe sought to correlate current events with end time prophesies; in this way, he helped shape the religious and political environment for the white Evangelical network that is so influential with the Trump administration. No further details of the cause of death or the funeral have been released at this time.


Washington DC
President Trump and his administration have rolled out new guidelines for how federal tax dollars are distributed through religious organizations. No longer will religious organizations be required to refer non-religious people to non-religious, government-funded services; no longer will religious organizations be subject to more strenuous guidelines for receiving and distributing federal tax dollars. Earlier guidelines, designed to maintain the separation of church and state, are considered unconstitutionally discriminatory by the Trump justice department. Also, new guidelines clarifying how and when students, faculty, and staff may pray in public schools were released, although they offered little in the way of new directives.


Along with millions of others around the world, citizens of Brunswick, Georgia, celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a holiday, a parade, a luncheon, and a day of service activities. Throughout America, public services were held throughout the weekend; many included the recitation of King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech, first delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Worship services, parades, and community service projects have become the norm throughout the country. In Brunswick, the bands of the two high schools (Glynn Academy and Brunswick High) merged into one unit, one dressed in red, the other in blue, and provided music for the mile-long march. Churches, organizations, and individuals walked and rode in the parade, through a route largely limited to the black communities of Brunswick.


Washington DC
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case with far reaching implications for church-state relations. The question is how far can a state go to prevent tax money from being spent on religious schools. Many states have written into their constitutions provisions that prevent state governments from allocating money for religious schools, in keeping with our long history of separating state support of religious operations, like churches and schools. The case before the court is from Wyoming and involves a state program that allows tax credits for financial support of schools; it prevents religious schools from being included. People sued; the state supreme court ruled the entire program unconstitutional. But plaintiffs appealed to the U S Supreme Court. A decision is expected in late spring.


Women have become prominent in religious leadership in Alabama, believe it or not! The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama will consecrate Glenda Curry, led by presiding elder Michael Curry, as the bishop of the church in Alabama. She will join two others who also broke ground for female leadership in the state. In 2010, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church installed Teresa E. Jefferson-Snorton as the first female bishop in their denomination and assigned her to the Fifth Episcopal District, centered in Birmingham. Then in 2012, the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church installed Debra Wallace-Padget as their bishop, and she has served two full terms, ending this year.