Every so often, a topic bubbles up in secular and religious media on faith-related matters and modern society. Topping the list this Wednesday is “Christian nationalism” with “whiteness” and “the flag” among components of an American Kingdom.
Another word that is rising is “synodality,” advanced by Pope Francis and supported by the AUSCP. Today we hear a prayer for a moment when “bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of our country can discern together how to be the people of God in our time and place.”
We have reports on action regarding indigenous people, removal of a dissident pastor, what lies ahead for the U.S. Supreme Court, and on the Colorado Catholic Conference opposing the composting of human remains.
But first, Pope Francis remains in the hospital longer than expected. America magazine reports on the effort to optimize his recovery.
The Washington Post reports that a new and rapidly growing Christian movement is openly political, wants a nation under God’s authority, and is central to Donald Trump’s GOP
A Baptist group is offering a new resource for combating Christian nationalism. A three-session curriculum offers churches a resource for sermons or discussion groups about the ideology it calls a ‘distortion of the gospel of Jesus and a threat to American democracy.’
Published by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and Vote Common Good, the curriculum defines Christian nationalism as a merging of Christianity with American identity. “It’s a poison infecting our theology and our faith itself, said Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee.
The 3-lesson curriculum corresponds with the “Democracy and Faith Under Siege: Responding to Christian Nationalism” webinar. The curriculum informs a deeper dive into the dangers of Christian nationalism and is intended for churches and other small discussion groups. There is no cost for this guide.
Writing for Religion News Service, Danté Stewart shares his opinion about whiteness and why some believers see Critical Race Theory as a threat to their faith.
At the New York Times, Michelle Goldberg concludes that “The Christian Right Is in Decline, and It’s Taking America With It.” She says the evangelicals who thought they were about to take over America were destined for disappointment. On July 8, Public Religon Research Institute released startling new polling data showing a precipitous decline in the share of the population identifying as white evangelical, from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent last year.
Religion News Service offers another look at the data. White mainline Protestants now outnumber white evangelicals; ‘nones’ shrink.
Some topics in the news just won’t go away
They include the pandemic, racism, division in country and church, and calls for unifying action.
More than half of U.S. renter households lost employment income between March 2020 and March of this year, and 1 in 5 of those households is behind on their rent, according to a recent report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Nearly 30% of Black renter households owe past-due rent, the report says.
For many of these renters, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control eviction moratorium has granted a reprieve, Quigley writes. But the moratorium is set to expire July 31, and the Biden administration has indicated it will not be extended beyond that date.
“This is a full-blown crisis, and U.S. Catholics are called to respond to it with both direct service and advocacy,” Fran Quigley says in NCR.
If you are a Catholic attending Mass, you may not have heard about the pandemic from the pulpit. A survey finds that Catholic homilies mentioned the election, the pandemic, and racism politics and racism not nearly as much as did sermons by Protestant preachers, according to a report issued July 8 by the Pew Research Center.
During the time period studied — which not only included the election but the pandemic and months of racial protests spurred by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer — Catholics came up last in those two categories as well.
Go deeper into the report from the Pew Foundation
A proposal for unity
The U.S. bishops by themselves cannot heal the Catholic church in America, says Brian P. Flanagan in America Magazine. He wants the whole church to meet in a Fourth Plenary Council. He explores the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore that concluded in December 1884 and finds that the United States was then. one of the most conciliar places in the Catholic Church.
Much like the synodality the AUSCP prays for, Flanagan wants “a moment in which the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of our country can discern together how to be the people of God in our time and place. “
Dissident pastor removed
Father James Altman, who said Democrats would burn in Hell and called Covid restrictions ‘Nazi-esque,’ has been removed by his bishop.
On abortion and Communion
John E. Thiel, in Commonweal, proposes that the Donatist controversy of the fourth and fifth centuries can shed some light on our present, troubling moment.
America Media offers diverse perspectives on contested issues. A writer recently offered support for the position that abortion is – and should be – the preeminent issue in the Catholic Church today.
Apology Catholic for oppression of indigenous
The Bishop of Syracuse supports an apology on the papal bulls that justified Indigenous oppression in America. In the last decade, numerous congregations, denominations and faith-based organizations — including several women’s religious communities — have urged the Vatican to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, which asserts European Christianity’s superiority and power over other lands.
Religion at the Supreme Court
Here’s an overview of faith-related cases that could be argued before the Supreme Court next term. On Friday [July 2], the court announced 10 new additions to its slate of cases for next term, including a battle between a religious family and the state of Maine over whether public tuition assistance funds can be used at private, “sectarian” schools.
Amid Catholic opposition, states are legalizing composting of human remains. Washington, Colorado and Oregon are now among the US states that have legalized the process of converting bodies into soil, a procedure the Catholic Church said fails to show ‘respect for the body of the deceased.’
Finally, a note from the AUSCP
Save the date: AUSCP Assembly 2022, at the Maritime Conference Center in Linthicum, Maryland (near Baltimore and Washington), June 20-23. Keynoters will be Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., of Lexington; Father Dan Horan, OFM, from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and Mary Novak, Executive Director of NETWORK. The theme is “Let us Dream: The Path to a Better Future.
We hope you have enjoyed this roundup of recent news about faith, politics, and culture. We will return next week with another edition of Wisdom Wednesday.
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