Evangelical leaders for Barrett and for Biden, both in the same week. Prominent Evangelical leaders Franklin Graham and Ralph Reed led a group of their religious kindred gathering in the Rose Garden to celebrate President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Elsewhere in the nation’s capital, other prominent Evangelical leaders, led by pastor John Huffman and activist Jim Wallis launched a network of Evangelicals for Biden. Perhaps the white Evangelical community is not as monolithic as some assume.
In a follow-up to the news last week, Lifeway Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, came to terms with its recently retired executive Thom Rainer. He agreed to abide by a retirement contract that prevents him from publishing anything with a competitor. Rainer had signed an agreement with Tyndall House Publishers for a book in 2021. He agreed to delay that release until November of that year. As an aside, but an important one, this past week was the anniversary of the death of William Tyndall. He was burned at the stake in 1536, in England for translating the Bible from Latin into English. He was 42.
United Methodists in north Texas have taken up the call to change the well-known symbol of their denomination: two flames wrapped around a cross. It is intended to signify the Holy Spirit as well as the death of Jesus; but many black Methodists connect it with that front yard symbol of terror: the burning cross. The North Texas Conference voted 558 to 176 to initiate the process in the global Methodist church to change that logo. It might be coming at a good time as these United Methodists are on a verge of a massive split with some group—either the progressives or the traditionalists—poised to depart the denomination in the very near future.
Well-known San Antonio pastor and television evangelist John Hagee has tested positive for the COVID virus. Hagee is the pastor of Cornerstone Church and has been a strong supporter of President Trump and his initiatives that support Israel. Likewise, the president of Notre Dame University, John Jenkins, has tested positive (after attending the Supreme Court event in the Rose Garden) and is in self-quarantine. Others in that same situation are Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside California. Other faith leaders who attended the event have announced they are COVID negative.
The news of President Trump’s COVID diagnosis generated widespread dialogue on this question: how should Christians pray for Trump? The internet has been running over with suggestions. Some state plainly: “I’m not praying for him. Period”. Esau McCaulley of the Wheaton College faculty wrote in Christianity Today, “While Christians should be united in praying for our leaders, our Christian responsibility to the state extends further. The same Bible that calls upon us to pray for our leaders also calls upon them to rule justly.” My friend Rev. Marshall Davis of New Hampshire penned this prayer: “God of Healing, we pray for complete healing for our president. Not only physical healing from COVID but also inner spiritual healing….. Heal him of the fear, anger and hate that fill his heart, and bring him inner peace. Bring him forth from the hospital a reborn man who will be an ambassador of love and peace…. We ask for this miracle for our president and our land. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”