Newsstand 7 - 13 January
Presiding Bishop calls on US to face 'painful truths'; the renewed politicisation of the Christian left; report finds pandemic used as excuse to persecute Christians; Christian dating app to take the 'cringe' out of dating; chapel near site of Jesus' baptism holds first service in 50 years; and more
January 13 2021
Watch and read the Episcopal News Service's coverage of the assault on the US Capitol and its aftermath by supporters of President Donald Trump.
The Reverend Raphael Warnock's runoff senate election victory over Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler is the latest sign of the renewed politicisation of the “religious left”. Many progressive Christians, liberal Roman Catholics, Black Protestants, and left-leaning Jews have become more politically active during the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump, with places of worship offering asylum to immigrants targeted by his administration and congregants participating in health care and Black Lives Matter protests.
Persecution of Christians around the world has increased during the Covid pandemic, with followers being refused aid in many countries, authoritarian governments stepping up surveillance, and Islamic militants exploiting the crisis, a report says. More than 340 million Christians – one in eight – face high levels of persecution and discrimination because of their faith, according to the 2021 World Watch List compiled by the Christian advocacy group Open Doors.
Thousands of Australians have already registered for a new Christian dating app that has just launched Down Under. The free Christian dating app Salt first began in the UK in 2018, where it now has tens of thousands of users. According to its creators, Salt has become “the highest rated and most downloaded Christian dating app in Britain”. Their hope is it will also become Australia’s leading faith-based dating app, and change the online dating scene by becoming a “Christian alternative to Hinge and Bumble”.
A new six-part Netflix series follows the efforts of Bishop Ezekiel Williams of Faith World Ministries in the US to fulfil a long-held dream of creating “the world’s most diverse and inspirational choir”.
A shrine near the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism on the River Jordan hosted an Epiphany procession for the first time in more than 50 years on Sunday after it was declared free of landmines.
Listen to Robin Stockitt, co-author of Leaving Church: What can we learn from those who are done with church?, about some of the reasons people leave church. When churches pay more attention to what we do than who we are, when they become absorbed with function rather than learning how to belong together, then those who struggle with the church find themselves looking for the exit door.
"In recent years, Christian leaders have too often been silent, complicit or cravenly proactive, as the Bible has been deployed as a weapon in conservative culture wars," says The Guardian. "The image of Trump marching through teargassed streets to brandish a bible outside a Washington church encapsulated a kind of capitulation. But in the new year, liberal Christians have grounds for cautious optimism."
Amid the global trend toward division, the Kingdom of God is trending toward a long-awaited unity. The longest-running ecumenical dialogue in Christianity today has been a slow, steady movement laden with the lasting solutions our moment needs most.
The third cricket Test between Australia and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground exposed some moral frailties on both sides of the fence, writes leading Melbourne sportswriter Greg Baum. "The whole world is trying to imagine the new and perhaps improved normal. Taking cricket as a barometer of society, by the second week of the new year, the new normal ... was beginning to look dispiritingly like the worst of the old." But a mea culpa from one of the culprits may be a forerunner of "the new normal".