Pope Francis denounces growing ‘demonization’ of enemies and outsiders

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The pontiff’s exhortation, at a ceremony to elevate 17 new cardinals, seemed to take aim at nationalist anger roiling countries around the world, including the U.S.

CHR Comment: The reporter interprets statements of Francis and applies them to Donald Trump and to conservative Catholics. None of the quotations mention Trump or the conservatives so the writer’s applications to them seem odd and inappropriate. The pope’s comments seem clearly international rather than directed against persons in the United States. The article feels less like reporting and more like editorializing.

Source: Pope Francis denounces growing ‘demonization’ of enemies and outsiders | Religion News Service

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Black Majority Church Burned And Vandalised With “Vote Trump”

Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville was set on fire on Tuesday evening and suffered extensive damage.

CHR Comment: Sad stupidity connected to the election. This story dates from Nov. 3. I am still in the process of updating my list of events after teaching in South Africa and accepting a call to parish ministry.

Source: Black Majority Church Burned And Vandalised With ‘Vote Trump’ | Christian News on Christian Today

Evangelicals Aren’t Who You Think

Most of us aren’t conservative white Trump supporters. We need to reclaim our stolen identity.

CHR Comment: I saved this article back in October before the election. It provides an interesting perspective on what it means to be Evangelical, a term used historically, theologically, and politically in American dialogue.

The term comes from German “evangelisch,” which Martin Luther and other reformers used to describe their churches in the sixteenth century. This was a theological use of the term, referring to the Reformation churches as churches “of the Gospel” in contrast with medieval Catholicism, which focused so much on tradition and piety.

Historically, “evangelisch” came to mean what Protestant means in American Christianity, sort of “not Roman Catholic.” The theological use that focused on the Gospel was obscured over time.

As the article points out, Evangelical in America popularly means born again Christian, although many Protestant churches continue to use it in the older theological or historical sense. Because born again Christians have become very active politically, Evangelical has also become a political term to describe conservative Christian voters and that is the use that Jim Wallis is contending against, adding concern about narrowing use of the term to describe white voters.

Source: Evangelicals aren’t who you think: Jim Wallis

Could Evangelical Christians Soon Be Running Brazil?

Evangelical Christians are expected to influence big advances in local elections in Brazil this weekend.

CHR Comment: The growth of Evangelical churches in Brazil and changes to campaign finance laws have combined to give Evangelical voters and the candidates they support increased influence. For example, a pastor is running for mayor of Rio de Janeiro. This could be interesting as Brazil struggles to deal with corruption problems in its politics.

Source: Could Evangelical Christians Soon Be Running Brazil? | Christian News on Christian Today

Catholicism’s Empty Quarter

Québec, a flourishing Catholic region for centuries, is now Catholicism’s empty quarter in the Western Hemisphere. There is no more religiously arid place between the North Pole and Tierra del Fuego; there may be no more religiously arid place on the planet. And it all happened in the blink of an eye.

CHR Comment: Weigel attributes the rapid decline of Catholicism in Quebec to a delayed interaction with modernism and churchmen’s involvement in political intrigue. When they finally lost control, they rapidly lost their congregation. This begs the questions: how should a church address the challenges raised by modernism and how may they act as citizens and as Christians in addressing the issues of governance?

Source: Catholicism’s Empty Quarter | George Weigel | First Things

Zimbabwe Pastor Evan Mawarire

Evan Mawarire has become a national hero but said he has to “rethink” his return to the country after Mugabe named him and questioned whether he is serving God.

CHR Comment: Pastor Mawarire’s social media based protest raised questions about how involved ministers and Christians should become in political protest. Mawarire defends his actions by pointing out the need to denounce injustice.

Source: #ThisFlag Pastor Evan Mawarire: ‘I am not abandoning Zimbabwe’ | Christian News on Christian Today

U.S. pastors seek political office in 2016

One Sunday two years ago, Pastor Rob McCoy, who believes in banning abortion and gay marriage and putting prayer back in schools, stood at the pulpit of his California mega church and announced he was endorsing a political candidate: himself.

CHR Comment: The American Renewal Project, organized by David Lane, seeks to have 1,000 conservative, evangelical pastors run for local political offices. The goal is to support a local, grass roots effort to change the cultural and political direction of the United States toward more conservative, traditional, and Christian values. However, the movement may face the risk of having churches lose their tax exempt status, according to reporter Michelle Conlin.

Source: For God and country: more U.S. pastors seek political office in 2016 | Reuters

Religion in the American Culture Wars

Muslims, like Catholics and Mormons, fall victim to our persistent fear of those who worship differently.

CHR Comment: Professor Stephen Prothero of Boston University gives his views on the role that religion has played in American life and politics. He mentions the suspicions Protestants had about Roman Catholics and Mormons as a lens through which to see how conservative Christians are speaking about Islam today.

Source: Trump’s religious bigotry is as American as apple pie: Column