In his recent biography of Billy Graham, Grant Wacker nicknamed the Baptist preacher “America’s pastor.” Owing to a prolific career that began in 1949 and has now spanned nearly 70 years, which saw him as the spiritual advisor to multiple U.S. presidents, the moniker is arguably fitting.
Graham began his career at a pivotal time in American history, as Cold War anxieties pitted American piety against “godless communists.”
It starts off as a standard writeup of a protest and counter-protest of a mosque’s Friday prayers. An accompanying video portrays the two sides as polarized not just in rhetoric but in various cultural markers, starting with the fact that one side is packing the kind of firepower that would have shocked people not so long ago (and would still if the heat-packers weren’t so white).
You know, just a slice of 21st-century American life.
Tim Bascom’s family, from small-town Kansas, returned to Ethiopia as missionaries when he was 15. “Building Christ’s Kingdom—as my parents were trying to do under the violent regime in Ethiopia—required an extreme form of pick-up-your-cross-and-follow-me self-denial,” Bascom says.
Last week the Nebraska legislature abolished the state’s death penalty, overcoming the governor’s veto to do it. First Things editor Matthew Schmitz, writing in National Review, adds a salutary note of caution to the celebration that followed: viewing abolition as moral progress allows us to “overlook the countless cruelties of our criminal-justice system as we congratulate ourselves on the elimination of a relatively rare punishment.”
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, is aiming to win the evangelical vote in his bid to become the Republican presidential candidate. But Heath W. Carter, who teaches history at Valparaiso University, says that if they support Walker, who is known for his union-busting efforts, evangelicals will be ignoring some of their own history. Evangelicals have played a key role in union history, says Carter. In the 19th century, Scottish immigrant Andrew Cameron, a devout believer, campaigned for an eight-hour work day, believing that workers didn’t receive a fair wage for their labor. Evangelical figures were also involved in labor efforts in the early part of the 20th century and during the Depression. Walker’s own congregation was deeply divided over his attack on public unions (New Republic, July 12).