Week Commencing 8th March 2021

Christianity Today discusses the major news story in the US of Beth Moore leaving the Southern Baptist Church. A household name for many evangelicals, Beth Moore is critical of the racist and sexist discourses that she says are prevalent in the protestant denomination. Christian nationalism has become a focal point for debate in the US. 

The BBC reports that a Baptist pastor in the US is currently on leave after a backlash following a sermon offering wives advice on how to stop husbands from being distracted by other women. The sermon included a description of Melania Trump as the ‘epic trophy wife of all time’. The pastor told viewers of his video sermon that men need to have a beautiful woman on their arm. The 55-year-old pastor’s church told KCTV, a local CBS affiliate, that he was now on leave and in professional counselling.

Also reported by the BBC is the result of a referendum in Switzerland which supports the banning of face-coverings in order to prevent extremism. Leaders of Swiss Islamic group have said it is a ‘dark day’ for Muslims in the country. Although the wording of the referendum does not specify religious clothing, it is widely referred to as the ‘burka ban’. The referendum was based on a pre-pandemic proposal and before the requirement for everyone to wear face-coverings. 

Spanish newspaper, El Pais explains how Spain’s regions are coming to an agreement about restricting travel over Easter Week, a significant period of religious celebration for Catholics in the country. In an effort to control coronavirus infections, curfews are being discussed as well as restrictions in travel. Madrid is the only area to oppose the agreement. 

Al Jazeera reports that the US are now allowing migrants to reapply for visas after the overturning of Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’. People who were denied entry to the United States because of former President Donald Trump’s travel ban on 13 mostly Muslim-majority and African countries can seek new decisions or submit new applications, the US Department of State has said.

The BBC also features the news that a Malaysian high court has ruled that Christians in the country may use the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God. The issue of Christians using the Muslim name has previous sparked controversy. In 2008, Malaysian authorities seized Malay-language compact discs from Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, a Christian, at an airport after they found the recordings used ‘Allah’ in their titles. She then launched a legal challenge against the ban on Christians using ‘Allah’. A political coalition is now seeking a review on the decision by the high court. 

El Pais runs a story about the destruction by fire of a historic church in Mexico, which has begun a debate about the heritage budgets available for such religious buildings. The Apostle Santiago Church in Nurio, Michoacán state, went up in smoke on 7th March, but commentators say this was not a surprise, given the lack of money to maintain and protect is. The place of worship was built by Spanish missionaries and named after the region’s patron saint.

News outlet religionnews.com reports on the appeal to the High Court of three British pagans who were convicted of trespassing on Stonehenge. The argument that they had reasonable grounds to access the site because of religious beliefs was rejected by the court.