Pentecostalism

Vice Sports lets Bishop Cecil Newton, Sr., preach about Cam, sports and maybe even God

Vice Sports lets Bishop Cecil Newton, Sr., preach about Cam, sports and maybe even God

Unless you have been on another planet, you are aware that the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl L.

You also probably know that National Football League MVP Cam Newton was sacked six times, knocked down a dozen-plus times and ended the game in a state of frustration and even rage. This followed, of course, weeks of public discussion of whether many fans don't approve of his joyful, edgy, hip-hop approach to celebrating life, football, his team and his own talents.

This led to the press conference from hell, when Newton -- forced by the NFL to take questions in the same space, within earshot, of the Broncos' victory pressers -- had little to say, while his eyes said everything. A sample:

What's your message to Panthers fans?
"We'll be back."
Ron [Rivera] said Denver two years ago had a tough time and they bounced back. Do you take that to heart?
"No."
Can you put a finger on why Carolina didn't play the way it normally plays?
"Got outplayed."
Is there a reason why?
"Got outplayed, bro."

You get the idea. With that as a backdrop, let's move into GetReligion territory -- in the form of a long, long Vice Sports piece by Eric Nusbaum about the Newton family and, especially, a Sunday morning spent listening to the superstar's Pentecostal preacher dad, Bishop Cecil Newton, Sr., of the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance. The headline: "The House that Built Cam."

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Spiritual leaders we lost in 2015: Comparing the coverage at RNS and NPR

Spiritual leaders we lost in 2015: Comparing the coverage at RNS and NPR

Want a sense of time passing?

Read some of the many lists of "famous dead" cranked out this week. The Religion News Service does its part with a brisk list of 23 spiritual leaders who departed in 2015. Let's see how well they did.

RNS opens with a nice, measured lede:

They preached and inspired. They wrote and taught. Some lobbied in the halls of government. Others toiled to protect the environment and educate the young. Several died at the hands of persecutors.
Here is a list of notable faith leaders — and a champion of secularism — who left us in 2015.

From there, the list goes by date of death, rather than alphabetical order. First is Andrae Crouch, who merged several musical genres -- gospel, rock, country, even Hawaiian -- to electrify crowds and get even secular people to listen. As RNS reports, Crouch's songs not only found a home in hymnals, but won Grammys.

RNS seems to have taken care for broad religious representation. I count four Catholics, two Muslims and two United Methodists. I also see one each of several others -- Jewish, Baptist, Buddhist, Hindu, Episcopalian, Church of Christ, African Methodist Episcopal.

The list includes a brief rundown on each person, which is a service even for readers like myself, who are more than casually interested in religion. Some of the names make you go "Oh, yeah, I remember him!" People like:

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Hey New York Times editors: Why ignore hellish details in story of Ugandan marytrs?

Hey New York Times editors: Why ignore hellish details in story of Ugandan marytrs?

The questions for this morning are rather simple: (a) Who were the Ugandan martyrs, (b) why were they killed and (c) why are they so symbolic for millions of Christians in the growing churches of Africa?

These questions are especially important, since Pope Francis has just visited Uganda to mark the 50th anniversary of the canonization of the Catholics among the 45 believers who -- with Anglican martyrs, as well -- were tortured, beheaded, hacked to death and burned on the orders of King Mwanga II in the late 1800s.

Why did this happen? What does it have to do with the rapid growth, and the beliefs, of the church in modern Africa?

Quite a few mainstream news organizations -- The New York Times in particular -- were vague, silent or inaccurate when dealing with the answers to some of these questions. But let's start with a report from CBS and the Associated Press that included the essential details.

NAMUGONGO, Uganda -- Pope Francis on Saturday honored the Ugandan Christians who were burned alive rather than renounce their faith a century ago, urging today's Catholics to follow in their missionary zeal and spread the faith at home and abroad.
A somber Francis prayed at shrines dedicated to the 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic martyrs who were killed between 1885 and 1887 on the orders of a local king trying to thwart the influence of Christianity in his central Ugandan kingdom. According to historians, the Christians were also killed because they refused the king's sexual advances, citing the church's opposition to homosexuality.

This report also touched on the fact that the sexual politics of Africa remain strikingly complex and even tragic, as believers here wrestle with a web of colonial-era and tribal beliefs and customs, with the constant pressure of Islam on many borders.

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CNN on 'fundies,' ordinary believers, evangelicals or, heck, somebody out there in voting booths

CNN on 'fundies,' ordinary believers, evangelicals or, heck, somebody out there in voting booths

The politics team at CNN recently produced a major story about religion and politics, one so long and so serious in intent that a loyal GetReligion reader wrote me a note saying that he was confused and thought this had been produced by Al-Jazeera English.

The story is about the Religious Right, which means that by unwritten journalistic law it should have fit into one of two pre-White House race templates. If you have followed coverage of religion and politics at all, you have seen these two templates many times.

No. 1 argues that the power of the Religious Right is fading (because America is growing more diverse and tolerant), which will create major problems for the Republican Party.

Template No. 2 argues that the power of the Religious Right is as strong as ever (the dangerous quest for theocracy lives on), which will create major problems for the Republican Party.

You can see the basic approach in this long, long report by scanning the epic double-decker headline:

Fear and voting on the Christian right
A wedding chapel went out of business because its evangelical owners refused to host a same-sex wedding celebration. Conservative Christians are on edge -- and they could sway the presidential election.

Clearly the goal in this story was to tell the story of some soldiers on the front lines in the First Amendment wars, offering the wedding-chapel owners tons of space in which to offer their views. Some GetReligion readers were impressed with that. Others, however, were troubled for reasons that we'll get to in a moment. Pay attention for the fine details here in the overture:

They called her a bigot, a homophobe, even a racist, which was strange, because the two gay men were white and so was Betty Odgaard. The angry people on the Internet told Betty she would die soon, that her death would be good for America, and then she would probably go to hell.
Betty had other ideas about her final destination, but she agreed it was time to go. "Take me home," she prayed, without effect. Revenue kept declining. Two years passed. One night this summer, just after the Görtz Haus wedding chapel closed forever, she and her husband sat in the basement and thought about the choices they'd made in the name of God.

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A cult? A sect? What do you call a church that murders its own?

A cult? A sect? What do you call a church that murders its own?

Their faces look like something out of some grade B film: the wife looking like some hick gun moll and the white-bearded husband appearing like a cross between an Old Testament patriarch and Idaho survivalist.

The locale, it turns out, was upstate New York; New Hartford, to be exact, where several people have been arrested for the beating death of a 19-year-old and the near beating death of his younger brother.

Media have descended upon the town in the past week, talking with neighbors, attending the arraignment, polling the local Catholic priest and even wandering about the building itself. Was this group a church? A Christian sect? A doctrinal cult? A sociological cult? A compound? A commune? The phrases “reclusive church,” “ultra-secretive,” “shadowy,” “sect” and “cult” sprinkle multiple reports of a congregation gone off the rails.

Memories of other congregations run amok (Waco, anyone?)  mark yet a notch in the popular imagination of religion as inherently dangerous. We’ll start first with the Daily Beast's take:

On Sunday night, an ultra-secretive New York church turned into a living hell. Two teenage brothers were brutally beaten -- one of them to death -- by their own family members and fellow churchgoers who wanted them to “confess” to their sins, authorities say.
Police charged the boys’ parents with manslaughter and four other participants with assault in the chilling incident that killed Lucas Leonard, 19, and left his 17-year-old brother, Christopher Leonard, in serious condition.
To neighbors, New Hartford’s Word of Life church is a “cult.” Those who live nearby point to the fence separating the red brick building -- a sprawling former high school -- from the community. Some say they’ve heard chants late at night and glimpsed men wearing long black trench coats. Others claim the gated church was breeding dogs, which were constantly barking.

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Guns, the f-word (the other one), Disney, evangelicals and Denzel Washington, oh my

Guns, the f-word (the other one), Disney, evangelicals and Denzel Washington, oh my

What we got here is FAILURE to communicate.

That's a movie reference, you see, to one of the great religion-haunted films in the history of Hollywood. But never mind, I thought that might be a good place to start in a short post about some bizarre mangling of religious language in a piece by The Hollywood Reporter. I've been wanting to get to this one for some time now.

So there is this new documentary film called "The Armor of Light" and the key player behind it is one Abigail Disney. The trouble starts right in the epic double decker headline. See if you can follow this one:

Walt Disney Heiress Courts Evangelicals With Anti-Gun Movie
Well versed in her family's conservative politics, Abigail Disney discusses her new film 'The Armor of Light' (out Oct. 30), which tackles the gun controversy while also reaching out to fundamentalist Christians in a new way: "This film goes to them on their own terms, and they appreciate that."

OK, GetReligion readers already know that use of the term "fundamentalist" is very tricky, for journalists who have any intent of using religious language accurately or, well, paying any attention to the Associated Press Stylebook. As the bible of daily journalism notes:

"fundamentalist: The word gained usage in an early 20th century fundamentalist-modernist controversy within Protestantism. ... However, fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians.
"In general, do not use fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself."

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Papal visit takeaway: Why did Pope Francis need to hug hicks and old-school nuns?

Papal visit takeaway: Why did Pope Francis need to hug hicks and old-school nuns?

So what do you think we talked about during this week's extra-long "Crossroads" podcast? 

Might it have had something to do with the thousands and thousands of words that your GetReligionistas contributed to the tsunami of cyber-ink about the Pope Francis media festival in the Acela zone between Washington, D.C., and New York City? #Duh

That was going to be the case no matter what happened in the days after his departure. But then the pope talked with reporters on the flight back to Rome and said all kinds of interesting and even controversial things. Click here for my Universal syndicate column on that. Click here for the transcript of that presser.

And then the mainstream media's all-time favorite pope met, to one degree or another, with you know who. How is that sitting with the chattering classes? This Slate piece by Vanessa Vitiello Urquhart -- creator of the "Tiny Butch Adventures" series -- was not typical. But it collected and openly stated so many themes found elsewhere. These chunks contain the key thoughts:

I woke up this morning to reports that during his recent U.S. visit, Pope Francis met with Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk best known for refusing to issue lawful marriage licenses, interfering with the ability of her deputies to issue lawful marriage licenses, and making unauthorized changes to the lawful marriage license formsfor her county. When I saw this news, my heart sank. In one 15-minute meeting, the pope undermined the unifying, healing message that many queer people and our supporters were so eager to have him bring.

This blow hit me particularly hard because I had written so hopefully about the pope’s address to Congress. 

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Media Kryptonite incarnate: Why such secrecy for pope's chat with Kim Davis? #DUH

Media Kryptonite incarnate: Why such secrecy for pope's chat with Kim Davis? #DUH

How many of you in GetReligion reader-land were, by the time Pope Francis departed our shores, totally fed up with the number of adults -- priests even, in church sanctuaries --  shooting photos and even selfies during the events?

I mean, was there ANYONE who came within a mile of this pope who didn't whip out a smartphone and raise it on high to record the moment?

Well, it appears that at least one person did not do the selfie thing. That would be Rowan County clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky. 

Of all the questions being asked about the secret Washington, D.C., meeting between Davis and the pope, the one that I find the most interesting is this one: OK, where are the photos? Who would pass up a selfie with Pope Francis? The photo issue has been, on so many levels, a fine symbol for how strange this story has been from the get-go, when the Inside the Vatican report started circulating last night.

Maybe Davis took a selfie. Maybe not. But if so, it certainly appears that someone -- either Davis or a Liberty Counsel pro -- was told to keep it under wraps.

Perhaps this cyber-silence was a condition of the meeting being held? Reports indicate that Vatican photographers did record the meeting, as they do almost anything that involves the pope. Is it safe to assume that Davis was told that official photos would be forthcoming? That would certainly be another nice gift (along with rosaries pictured here) for a Pentecostal convert like Davis to offer to her Catholic parents.

One thing is certain: The Jesuit pope and his handlers knew this meeting, this symbolic gesture linking religious liberty and same-sex marriage, was the ultimate Kryptonite for the vast majority of elite journalists camped in the Acela corridor between Washington, D.C., and New York City.

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'Whoa, that's a scoop': About that surprising news that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis

'Whoa, that's a scoop': About that surprising news that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis

No way.

That was my first thought — and I wasn't alone — when news broke late Tuesday, via Inside the Vatican magazine, that Pope Francis met privately with Kim Davis during his U.S. trip.

Back up just a couple of days: Aboard the papal plane on his return to Rome, Francis said it is the “human right” of government officials to say they cannot discharge duties that they believe go against their conscience.

When Francis said that, major news organizations reported it was unclear whether Francis was familiar with Davis' case.

From the Washington Post's Monday report:

The pontiff made his remarks on his return flight from the United States, in response to a question from ABC’s Terry Moran, who mentioned issuing marriage licenses to gay couples as an example.
It was unclear if the pope knew of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who earlier this year refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis, an Apostolic Christian, argued that granting a license to a gay couple would violate her religious beliefs. Davis was held in contempt and jailed for five days.
“Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right,” the pope said. “Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’ It is a human right.”

Now, we suddenly go from "Has he heard of her?" to "He (reportedly) met with her!":

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