MH News October 29, 2020

Roman Catholic Pope Francis has appointed Washington DC archbishop Wilton Gregory to the position of cardinal. The College of Cardinals, now numbering more than the usual 120, is the group that elects a new pope any time there is a vacancy. Gregory has served as archbishop of Atlanta and as president of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is the first African American prelate to be elevated to what is considered the top post in the Roman Catholic Church. His installation is scheduled for November 28.


Noted scholar Ihsan Bagby, recently retired from the faculty of the University of Kentucky, reports that 2,769 Islamic mosques are in operation in the United States. He administers what we might call a mosque census every ten years. His numbers show an increase from the 2010 count of 2,106, which translates to a 31% increase. “I speculate that the main growth is due to immigration,” he wrote, “which leads to the establishment of new mosques by newer immigrants (like the Somalis) and the establishment of mosques in areas like suburbs or smaller towns where the Muslim population is large enough now to support a new mosque.” Dr. Bagby expects to publish the final numbers of his census by the end of the year.


The Missouri Baptist Convention and Southwest Baptist University are in a tussle over control of the school and the content of its teaching of religion. It is the kind of struggle that has occupied institutions affiliated with Southern Baptist state conventions for the last fifty years. In this case, a young professor was fired in 2018 because he failed to follow institutional protocols when raising questions about the teaching of his peers in their School of Religion. In response, the Convention deviated from norms to appoint for the school new trustees that share the concerns of the dismissed professor. The university president, in office less that two years, has resigned; and general confusion has ensued. It is a mess.


Christian musician Sean Feucht held the final rally in his “Let Us Worship” tour on the National Mall Sunday night. He has framed his rallies as a protest against restrictions on churches, but he took the occasion to go political: voicing opposition to abortion, celebrating the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and calling Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri to the stage for prayer. Attendance was hampered by bad weather and fell short of the 15,000 expected. But actual attendance still violated the city’s COVID restrictions which limit gatherings to 50 people. Few health protection protocols were followed by performers or the public attending.


The Catholic Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis issued a statement about the sexual abuse charges against popular Catholic hymnologist David Haas. As a result, dioceses across the country are suspending use of the popular hymns written and/or composed by Haas. “I belong to several organist groups,” one Catholic musician said, “and this has been a big discussion among music directors and organists.” But another said, “I feel that the art that Haas has created, once it is given to the church, should be considered separate from the man who composed it.”