CNN: “The Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote on Friday blocked another state Covid-19 restriction on religious services, with another late-night order, over protests from California officials that the limits affecting some Bible study sessions did not impinge on religious rights and were to be lifted within days.”
New York Times: “The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary. But across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity.”
“The opposition is rooted in a mix of religious faith and a longstanding wariness of mainstream science, and it is fueled by broader cultural distrust of institutions and gravitation to online conspiracy theories. The sheer size of the community poses a major problem for the country’s ability to recover from a pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of half a million Americans. And evangelical ideas and instincts have a way of spreading, even internationally.”
“The study, to be published in The Supreme Court Review, documented a 35-percentage-point increase in the rate of rulings in favor of religion in orally argued cases, culminating in an 81 percent success rate in the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.”
“Alabama’s decades-old ban on yoga in public schools could stay in place a little longer following push-back from conservative groups,” the AP reports.
“The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday did not advance the bill after a public hearing in which representatives from two conservative groups objected, saying they were worried it could lead to the promotion of Hinduism or guided meditation practices.”
Gallup: “Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend.”
“In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.”
The Vatican decreed Monday that the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions since God “cannot bless sin,” the AP reports.
“One of the most prominent Southern Baptists in the country is leaving the denomination. Beth Moore, an author and speaker who teaches on biblical topics to arenas filled with evangelicals, cited the ‘staggering’ disorientation of seeing denominational leaders support Donald Trump, among other issues,” the New York Times reports.
Said Moore: “There comes a time when you have to say, this is not who I am. I am still a Baptist, but I can no longer identify with Southern Baptists.”
Religion News Service has the bombshell interview.
“A southeastern Missouri preacher went on leave from his church and is seeking professional counseling after giving a sermon that chastised married women who ‘let themselves go’ and held up former first lady Melania Trump as the pinnacle of feminine beauty,” the Associated Press reports.
Said Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark: “I’m not saying every woman can be the epic — the epic – trophy wife of all time like Melania Trump. Most women can’t be trophy wives, but you know… maybe you’re a participation trophy.”
Michael Gerson: “From the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries, evangelicals developed a strained relationship with modern science. Geology revealed ancient fossils and an old Earth. Biology traced the course of human evolution. Cosmology attributed the beginnings of an expanding universe to a Big Bang.”
“For many evangelical believers, the scientific description of reality did not look like the universe of their imagination. The scientific profession became an object of suspicion. And this distrust was only exacerbated by a resurgence of fundamentalism in the late 20th century.”
Washington Post: “Some churches and Christian ministries with large online followings — as well as Christian influencers on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube — are making false claims that vaccines contain fetal tissue or microchips, or are construing associations between vaccine ingredients and the devil. Others talk about how coronavirus vaccines and masks contain or herald the ‘mark of the beast.’”
“The rapid spread of this material has triggered debate and concern among U.S. Christian leaders and experts who believe the religious movement against vaccines is growing.”
“A splintered U.S. Supreme Court blocked California from enforcing coronavirus-related bans on indoor worship services, but declined to upset other state rules banning singing and chanting and limiting the number of worshipers,” Politico reports.
“The ruling issued just before 11 p.m. ET Friday produced four separate statements by the justices, as well as a convoluted description of what relief various justices would have granted to churches objecting to the limits.”
“However, a majority of the court was only willing to lift the ban California has applied on all indoor worship in Tier 1 counties — those most challenged by Covid-19. The other restrictions remain undisturbed, for now.”
“The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Kentucky can force parochial as well as public schools to close temporarily because of the coronavirus pandemic, but only because those restrictions are set to expire early next year,” USA Today reports.
Evangelist Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook that he thinks Donald Trump will go down “as one of the great presidents.”
Said Graham: “People have asked if I am disappointed about the election. When I think about my answer, I have to say honestly, that I am grateful — grateful to God that for the last four years He gave us a president who protected our religious liberties; grateful for a president who defended the lives of the unborn, standing publicly against abortion and the bloody smear it has made on our nation; grateful for a president who nominated conservative judges to the Supreme Court and to our federal court.”
Pope Francis criticized groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in a New York Times op-ed:
“It is all too easy for some to take an idea — in this case, for example, personal freedom — and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything.”
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.