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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Amanda Casanova

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

Republican Senator James Lankford and other members of Congress are asking President Joe Biden to withdraw the nomination for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Lankford, Sen. Tom Cotton, Rep. Dan Bishop and 73 other members of Congress signed the letter asking Biden to pull the nomination, CBN News reports.

"We write to express our grave concerns regarding the nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Mr. Becerra's lack of healthcare experience, enthusiasm for replacing private health insurance with government-run Medicare-for-all, and embrace of radical policies on immigration, abortion, and religious liberty, render him unfit for any position of public trust, and especially for HHS Secretary."

The letter said Becerra, who does not have a background in medicine, does not have enough experience to fill the role.

"Our nation cannot afford to lose valuable time in this battle by installing an HHS Secretary who is not up to the challenges we face. But that is exactly what you propose to do by nominating Mr. Becerra, a man with no meaningful experience in healthcare, public health, large-scale logistics, or any other areas critical to meeting our present challenges," the letter said.

Critics also say Becerra has a “very extreme (view) on abortion issues,” Yahoo News reports.

“He opposed the 2003 partial-birth abortion ban and cosponsored legislation that would force religious employers like Hobby Lobby to cover the morning-after pill, even in the face of sincerely held religious objections," the letter said.

However, Becerra told senators this week that he believes “we can find some common ground on these issues.”

If his nomination is confirmed, Becerra will be the first person of Latino descent to head the department.

He is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and returned to California to replace then-Attorney General Kamala Harris when she was elected to the Senate.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pool

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) — Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear called out fellow Baptists on Monday (Feb. 22) who he said were sowing dissension and lies in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Greear, who pastors The Summit Church, a North Carolina megachurch, defended his three years as the denomination’s president and the convention’s growing diversity. But he said political divides were distracting the convention from its mission work.

“We are not, at our core, a political activism group,” he said in an address to the SBC’s Executive Committee. “We love our country, but God has not called us to save America — he’s called us to build the church and spread the gospel and that is our primary mission.”

In recent months, Southern Baptist leaders have been embroiled in a debate over critical race theory, an academic framework that seeks to explain systemic racism. Leaders of the denomination’s seminaries labeled CRT as incompatible with the SBC’s statement of faith.

That led several prominent Black Southern Baptist pastors and congregations to announce they were leaving the denomination.

Greear called his fellow Baptists to focus on the gospel instead of things that divide them. And the gospel, he said, demands diversity.

“If we are going to be gospel above all people, it means that we will be a church that engages all of the peoples in America, not just one kind,” he said. “And that’s hard. Bringing together people of different backgrounds and cultures and ethnicities into the church creates challenges. Anybody that says it’s not hasn’t actually done it.”

While he said that he agreed with some of the concerns about CRT, he also lamented that criticism of it had alienated people of color and he pledged to work harder on racial reconciliation.

Some Southern Baptist leaders, including Greear and ethicist Russell Moore, have been accused of leading the denomination in a “liberal direction” because of their openness to addressing issues of race and social justice. Others were criticized for not being supportive enough of Donald Trump.

Greear said COVID-19 has revealed fault lines in the denomination.

“The last year has revealed areas of weakness in our beloved convention of churches,” he said. “Fissures and fault lines and fleshly idolatries. COVID didn’t produce these crises, it only exposed them.”

Greear said that Southern Baptists have always come together to send out missionaries and to train leaders. He said the denomination spent years fighting to get its theology right.

But its culture, he said, has failed at times to reflect that theology and was more shaped by Southern or conservative culture than the gospel. That culture has often made life difficult for people of color while allowing racists to be at home.

“We should mourn when closet racists and neo-Confederates feel more at home in our churches than do many of our people of color,” he said. “The reality is that if we in the SBC had shown as much sorrow for the painful legacy that racism and discrimination has left in our country as we have passion to decry CRT, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Greear said that he and other SBC leaders have been lied about, called liberal and accused of trying to destroy the convention.

He then outlined some of his conservative credentials — his church’s commitment to sending missionaries and baptizing new converts, his prayer at the U.S. Senate on the day that Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed and his belief that homosexuality is sinful.

Greear also joked about rumors that he had received funding from progressive philanthropist George Soros and that he flew around the country in a private plane paid for with Southern Baptist donations. The SBC president said that he had seen neither a check from Soros nor an SBC-funded plane.

He labeled lies about SBC leaders and entities as “demonic” and said that the SBC could no longer tolerate such sinful behavior from critics that he compared to the Pharisees, a religious group that opposed Jesus in the New Testament gospels.

Southern Baptists fought against liberal theology in the past, he said. They should also oppose those who try to divide Baptists with lies.

“Brothers and sisters, in the 1980s, we repudiated the leaven of the liberals, a leaven that threatened to poison the gospel,” he said. “Are we now going to repudiate the leaven of the Pharisees, which can choke out the gospel just as easily?”

Those controversies, Greear said, distract from the denomination’s largest mission.

In the end, he said, Southern Baptists have to decide what is more important to them.

“Do we want to be a gospel people, or a Southern culture people? Which is the more important part of our name — Southern or Baptist?”


Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: J.D. Greear Facebook

LOS ANGELES (RNS) — The public will have a chance to honor and bid farewell to the late Rev. Frederick K.C. “Fred” Price, a prominent Los Angeles pastor who built one of the largest church buildings in the nation, at a pair of closed-casket viewings next week.

The “lying in repose” closed-casket viewings will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST on March 4 and March 5 at the FaithDome at Crenshaw Christian Center.

“Amid COVID-19 realities, the family is acutely aware and deeply concerned for the safety of others. Strict adherence to all safety protocols is appreciated and will be enforced,” the church said in a statement.

Yumiko Whitaker, a church spokeswoman, told Religion News Service that only a certain number of people will be allowed inside at a time. She said physical distancing and other guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be strictly enforced. Everyone attending will be required to wear a mask.

A private family service before the burial on March 6 will be streamed on the church’s social media accounts.

Price died Feb. 12 after a bout with COVID-19, the church said in the statement. He was 89.

He was the longtime pastor of the Crenshaw Christian Center, which he founded in 1973 and which grew into a megachurch with a reported 28,000 members. The church is widely known for the “FaithDome,” which opened in 1989 and seats 10,145 worshippers, making it the largest house of worship in the country at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Before establishing the Crenshaw Christian Center, Price was the pastor of Washington Community Church, a small Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Los Angeles, according to the Crenshaw Christian Center website. He experienced the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” in 1970 and later began to study the teachings of televangelist and prosperity gospel preacher Kenneth Hagin.

Price eventually started a new church with no denominational ties, which grew from about 300 worshippers to a congregation of thousands.

In 2008, Price was named an “apostle,” according to the biography posted on the church’s website. After retiring as pastor of Crenshaw Christian Center, he handed the pulpit over to his son, Frederick K. Price Jr.

Price is survived by his wife of 67 years, Betty Ruth Price; his four children, Angela, Cheryl, Stephanie and Frederick; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren, the church said.

Religion News Service reporter Bob Smietana contributed to this report.


Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/MagMos