The Vatican launched an investigation after Pope Francis’ official Instagram account liked a picture of a Brazilian bikini model in a scantily-clad schoolgirl outfit, according to Catholic News Agency.
President Trump keeps falsely declaring that various states run by Democratic governors are “closed” or “shut down,” CNN reports.
Said Trump: “The only thing you can do in Pennsylvania is a protest. You can’t go to church. You can’t pray to your God. You can’t be with your pastors, your priests, your rabbis. You can’t be — none of that. You can’t do anything.”
Washington Post: “While most White conservative Christian churches might only touch on politics around election time and otherwise choose to keep the focus during worship on God, politics and religion are inseparable here. The Tennessee congregation is one of three Patriot Churches that formed in September. The other two are near Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and in Spokane, Wash.”
“The Patriot Churches belong to what religion experts describe as a loosely organized Christian nationalist movement that has flourished under President Trump. … For many churchgoers in suburban Knoxville, the political boldness in worship is a breath of fresh air. They complain that social media restricts their free speech, and they fear government-mandated vaccines. And whether Trump wins or loses, religion experts believe these Americans are building powerful networks that are expected to endure long after Trump has left the White House.”
President Trump told Religion News Service that he no longer identifies as a Presbyterian and now sees himself as a non-denominational Christian.
“Pope Francis, in a new documentary, has called for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples, in what amounts to his clearest support to date for the issue,” the Washington Post reports.
“Priests in some parts of the world bless same-sex marriage, but that stance — and Francis’s new remarks — are a departure from official church teaching.”
“In the final stretch of a campaign in which Catholic voters are seen by both parties as a decisive bloc in several battleground states, Biden’s campaign has increasingly highlighted his direct connection to the faith — and his potential to make history as the country’s second Catholic president,” the Washington Post reports.
“The strategy comes as President Trump and his allies have sought to portray Democrats as anti-Catholic, seizing on past criticism from some Democratic senators of the conservative Catholic teachings embraced by Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. But the focus on Biden’s Catholicism represents a renewed emphasis in identity politics for Democrats, who have directed much of their attention to the role of Black voters but have not always given prominence to the cultural roots of the White former vice president.”
Eric Trump told a North Dakota radio station that his father has “literally saved Christianity” from Democrats trying to “close churches all over the country.”
McKay Coppins: “The president’s alliance with religious conservatives has long been premised on the contention that he takes them seriously, while Democrats hold them in disdain. In speeches and interviews, Trump routinely lavishes praise on conservative Christians, casting himself as their champion. ‘My administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith,’ he declared at a rally for evangelicals earlier this year. It’s a message his campaign will seek to amplify in the coming weeks as Republicans work to confirm Amy Coney Barrett—a devout, conservative Catholic—to the Supreme Court.”
“But in private, many of Trump’s comments about religion are marked by cynicism and contempt, according to people who have worked for him. Former aides told me they’ve heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base.”
“Roman Catholics account for a bit more than 20% of the U.S. population, yet they are on track to hold six of the Supreme Court’s nine seats now that President Donald Trump is expected to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to fill its vacancy,” the AP reports.
“It’s a striking development given that the high court, for most of its history, was almost entirely populated by white male Protestants. Catholic academics and political analysts offer several explanations for the turnaround – related to Catholics’ educational traditions, their interest in the law, and – in the case of Catholic conservatives – an outlook that has appealed to recent Republican presidents filling judicial vacancies.”
“Others call it an ultraconservative group with an unusual mix of Roman Catholic and Pentecostal traditions.”
“In any case there has been renewed interest in the group since President Trump put one of its purported members, Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh District Court of Appeals, on his short list of candidates for elevation to the Supreme Court.”
“One week after Reuters published an explosive report on an alleged sexual and financial relationship between Jerry Falwell Jr., his wife and a Miami man named Giancarlo Granda, responders were called to the Falwells’ house in Bedford County, Virginia,” the HuffPost reports.
“According to records and 911 audio… on the night of Aug. 30, Jerry Falwell Jr. was intoxicated and apparently injured; his wife, Becki Falwell, described ‘a lot of blood right now.'”
Politico: “In 2016, Mormons rejected Donald Trump in numbers unheard of for a Republican nominee — viewing the thrice-married, immigrant-bashing Republican as an affront to their values.”
“In 2020, the president is going all-out to change Mormons minds — a little-noticed effort that could make or break him in Arizona and Nevada, home to more than a half-million Latter-day Saints combined. Joe Biden’s campaign, sensing an unlikely opening for a Democrat, is also targeting Mormons in the pair of Western swing states.”
Politico: “He’s waved a Bible in front of a shuttered church. He’s pushed to reopen worship houses despite evidence of being coronavirus super spreaders. He’s shouted, tweeted and whispered at every level that he’d support the aims of religious conservatives. And now President Donald Trump is using the 2020 Republican convention stage to make one last pitch: Please don’t defect to Joe Biden.”
“Facing signs of slippage in his appeal among religious voters who helped seal his victory in 2016, Trump is carving out a deliberate and vocal message this week to evangelicals and Catholics who may be tempted to stay home on Election Day due to frustrations over the faltering U.S. economy, ongoing coronavirus pandemic or recent Supreme Court losses.”
“It’s a relief. The quote that keeps going through my mind this morning is Martin Luther Ling Jr: ‘free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last’… I see a role in other areas, I don’t know what it is yet but I’m not done. This happened for a reason.”
Embattled evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. agreed to resign as Liberty University’s president but withdrew his resignation when media reports about the decision emerged, CNN reports.
Miami Herald: How sex in Jerry Falwell’s ‘pool boy’ saga finally went public, and what’s left unsaid.
For members: The real backstory of Jerry Falwell’s Trump endorsement.
Jerry Falwell Jr. the embattled president of Liberty University and one of the biggest champions of President Trump, has resigned, Religion News Service reports.
Washington Post: “Opposition to his presidency had been growing, but came to a dramatic head after two new reports about a young man Falwell and his wife befriended at a Florida pool, went into business with and who allegedly was sexually connected to the couple.”
“A business partner of Jerry Falwell Jr has come forward to say he had a years-long sexual relationship involving Falwell’s wife and the evangelical leader,” Reuters reports.
“Giancarlo Granda says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.”
Said Granda: “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room.”
Washington Examiner: “Jerry Falwell Jr., suspended as president of Virginia’s Christian-focused Liberty University after a string of embarrassing acts, today said that he has suffered depression caused by a former family friend who had an affair with his wife and has been threatening to expose it.”
“Falwell revealed his wife Becki’s affair for the first time, said it was short lived and that the two reconciled quickly. But, they claimed, her former lover has threatened them over the past several years and they are done with it hanging over their heads.”
Yes, it was the “pool boy.”