- Was this a story? Why? Mississippi governor talks about heaven and Southern anti-vax trends
Here’s a complex question that is worthy of serious research by journalists: Are people who believe in heaven less likely to feel the need to get vaccinated against COVID-19?Now, lots of people believe in eternal life and the vast majority of them believe — no matter what their level of faith or practice — that they are headed straight to heaven when they die. Belief in hell? That’s another matter.Ah. But who, according to most media stereotypes, are the folks who REALLY believe in heaven? In particular, what kind of person would let that belief affect their actions in the real world (which means issues of political policy and public health)?Obviously, we’re talking about those dang White evangelical Protestants. Right?That brings us to a recent headline at The Daily Memphian (“the primary daily online publication for intelligent, in-depth journalism in the Memphis community”) that caught the eye of some GetReligion readers. The emails I received made it clear that some people were mad about this story for different reasons. Hold that thought.First, the headline: “Miss. Gov.: South’s response to COVID impacted by belief in ‘eternal life’.” Then, here is the overture: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves believes religion has a lot to do with the region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During a … fundraiser at the Eads home of Shelby County Election Commission Chairman Brent Taylor, Reeves spoke to several dozen Republicans. “I’m often asked by some of my friends on the other side of the aisle about COVID … and why does it seem like folks in Mississippi and maybe in the Mid-South are a little less scared, shall we say,” Reeves said. “When you believe in eternal life — when you believe that living on this earth is but a blip on the screen, then you don’t have to be so scared of things,” he said, but added: “Now, God also tells us to take necessary precautions. And we all have opportunities and abilities to do that and we should all do that.
- 15 days ago 1 Sep 21, 5:30pm -
- Everything the media will cover about Afghanistan is bound up with a rigid form of Islam
Two weeks ago, the Religion Guy looked at the future of world Islam and the media after Afghanistan's Taliban takeover. Herewith a look backward with a bit of historical and cultural perspective for writers covering this turbulent and tormented land.As University of Washington political scientist Anthony Gill commented in the Wall Street Journal, "Despite the seeming irrelevance of religion in the secular West, policy-makers and military strategists would do well to understand its power elsewhere in the world." In the case of Afghanistan, one good source for that is "Holy Wars: The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism" (Routledge, 1989, reissued 2014) by British journalist Dilip Hiro, a native of Pakistan.A big theme emerges: Anything and everything that has occurred and will occur is bound up with an especially rigid form of Islam that dominates Afghan culture. In rural villages across the countryside, where most live, mullahs with rudimentary schooling are part of the influential elite establishment.Time and again over the past century, monarchs tried to tame the clergy and impose a somewhat flexible form of Islam only to be defeated by populist rancor. Among the issues: whether to educate girls, child marriage, modern dress vs. the veil and burqa, whether women can leave their houses without male chaperones or hold down jobs, women voting, alcohol prohibition, polygamy rules and whether to permit banks when the religion bans charging of interest.Hiro writes that Afghanistan was "a landlocked society which clung to medieval Islam and tenaciously resisted modernization well into the last quarter of the 20th Century." The media have well and amply surveyed the following eruptions since a 1973 military coup abolished the monarchy.Soviet troops invaded to prop up a Marxist regime and produced the militant Muslim movement (1979). U.S.-aided Mujahideen forces won Soviet withdrawal (1989). The Taliban emerged from the resulting confusion to impose harsh theocracy (1996). Western powers and Afghan allies expelled Taliban rulers for harboring the 9/11 plotters (2001). The Taliban rapidly regain power (August, 2021).
- 15 days ago 1 Sep 21, 12:45pm -
- Reporting on faith-based investment guru Cathie Wood? Do your homework (better)
Investments aren’t my specialty at all, but I was lured to a New York Times business story recently that was headlined: “God, Money, YOLO: How Cathie Wood Found Her Flock.” (YOLO means “you only live once.”)Hmm, I thought, an article about Christian investing? After all, this woman manages some $85 billion in assets. A superstar in the world of investing, she is known for her risky moves and appeal to the Reddit/Millennial crowd.So, after 20 paragraphs describing the CEO of Ark Invest, we finally got to the God part.It happened in the 21st paragraph, just after a mention about Wood speaking to business and religious groups about her late-career decision to start her own investment shop. It began, she says, with a head-on encounter with the Holy Spirit. On a gorgeous day in August 2012, Ms. Wood — a fund manager struggling through a rough quarter at AllianceBernstein — was struck by the silence inside her stately home in Wilton, Conn. Her three children were gone, off to camp and other activities for the summer. She was facing two full weeks alone in the nearly 6,000-square-foot house she bought with her ex-husband in the 1990s. Then she felt it. “Wham,” Ms. Wood said last year on the “Jesus Calling” podcast, which is centered on the devotional writings of the best-selling Christian author Sarah Young. “I really feel like that was the Holy Spirit just saying to me, ‘OK, this is the plan.’”“Jesus Calling,” for those of you who’ve lived on Pluto for the past few decades and have never heard of it, is one of the most successful devotional aids of all time. Thirty million units of this book -– and associated products –- have sold since 2004, when the one-time reclusive missionary to Australia (now living near Nashville) first published a devotional with words allegedly from Jesus himself.Its fans claim that its words are what Jesus would sound like today if living in the 21st century. Its detractors call it theologically shallow and New Agey.
- 16 days ago 31 Aug 21, 3:59pm -
- Rabbit hole warning for journalists: When is a 'Catholic priest' not a 'Catholic priest'?
There are few religion-beat rabbit holes deeper and more twisted than the world of alternative and splinter Catholic churches and the bishops and priests who lead them.Be careful out there, folks. Long ago, I spent days chasing the “apostolic succession” claims of a U.S. Postal Service carrier in a Denver suburb who was a mail-order archbishop in one of the hundreds of “Old Catholic” flocks linked to various schisms after Vatican I or II. Some alternative Catholic of these flocks are conservative and some are liberal. Some have actual parishes. To tip your toe into these troubled waters, click here.Religion-beat professionals are aware that not all people — men and women — who say they are Catholic priests are actually Roman Catholic priests. As Mollie “GetReligionista emerita” Hemingway said more than a decade ago, just because someone says that he or she plays shortstop for the New York Yankees doesn’t mean that this claim is true. Someone in the House of Steinbrenner gets to make that call.I say this because of the small, but educational, waves of social-media chatter the other day about the testimony of Father Gabriel Lavery at an Ohio legislature hearing linked to a bill that would prohibit vaccine mandates.Eyebrows were raised when Lavery, during a discussion of the current pope’s support for COVID-19 vaccines, said that he doesn’t recognize Pope Francis as pope because “you have to be a Catholic to be the pope.”There’s a sound bite for you. As scribes at The Pillar noted: In another clip, the priest said of Francis that “there are many clergy, bishops around the world who have simply have looked at the obvious, that his teachings on many things contradict Catholic teaching, and it’s a simple basic principle of Catholic theology — you can’t be the head of the Church if you don’t profess the Catholic faith.” The priest’s remarks have attracted attention, and have been covered in some press reports with little mention of his ecclesiastical status. In some accounts, he has been identified as a parish pastor.As I noted earlier, religion-beat professionals know to ask questions about clergy folks of this kind — who play essential roles, for example, in the history of ordination claims in the the Womenpriests, WomenPriests or Women Priests movement. General-assignment reporters covering these events often quote what the activists are saying about their credentials and that is that.
- 17 days ago 30 Aug 21, 3:59pm -
- Plug-In: Is Afghanistan a religion story? If so, it may be the year's biggest religion story
A few weeks ago, realizing how quickly 2021 was racing toward 2022, I made a mental note of the year’s top religion stories so far.On my quick list: Christian nationalism at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Battles over pandemic-era worship restrictions. Faith’s role in vaccine hesitancy. The biggest Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in many years. The Communion drama between President Joe Biden and U.S. Catholic bishops. Jewish connections to the Florida condo collapse.Nowhere in my mind: Afghanistan.But now — especially after the suicide bombings in Kabul on Thursday — it’s looking as if news (much of it tied to religion) in that war-torn nation will dominate headlines for weeks and even months.As I noted last week, it’s impossible to keep up with all the rapid-fire developments, but these stories delve into compelling religion angles:• Stranded at the airport (by Mindy Belz, World)• Taliban follow strict Islamic creed that doesn’t change with the times, scholars say (by Mark A. Kellner, Washington Times)• Taliban’s religious ideology has roots in colonial India (by Sohel Rana and Sumit Ganguly, ReligionUnplugged.com)• Who is ISIS-K, the group officials blame for the Kabul airport bombings? (by Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service)• Desperate Afghan Christians turned away at airport, aid groups say (by Alejandro Bermudez, Shannon Mullen and Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency)• Kabul airport attacks strand Afghan contacts of Christian humanitarians (by Cheryl Mann Bacon, Christian Chronicle)
- 17 days ago 30 Aug 21, 1:00pm -