religion roundup

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

religion roundup

today there seemed to be several interesting religious stories that caught my attention, so i thought i would do a bit of a roundup here.

1. obama’s interview on muslim tv: i’m sure you’ve probably seen this in the news by now, but if not, obama’s first formal tv interview as president wasn’t with katie couric or brian williams or one of the usual suspects. instead, it was with al-arabiya, a dubai-based arabic language channel that primarily serves the muslim world in the middle east, asia and beyond.

the emails were right all along! he IS a muslim!

ok, not really, sorry to get you all excited like that, but the story is, unfortunately for you all, a good one about obama. in the interview, obama was very clear and straight forward when he made statements such as, “the americans are not your enemy” and, in regards to his presidency, “you’ll see…somebody who is listening, who is respectful, and who is trying to promote the interests not just of the united states, but also ordinary people who right now are suffering from poverty and a lack of opportunity.” we’re talking diplomacy here, people. weird thing for our government, huh?

that’s a great message of reconciliation and redemption that we need to be hearing not only from our president, but from christian people within the church. we’ve really screwed it up in our relations to our muslim friends and we need to ask for repentance and seek understanding. it’s ok to have major theological differences, but jesus disagreed with a lot of people who he hung out with and broke bread with regularly. we need to do the same.

2. first baptist church of smith & wesson: ok, i can’t make this stuff up. this is at the same time hilarious and sad and bizarre. today, representative beverly pyle of cedarville filed a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons to church.

you can go to church all strapped up! (well, at least, that’s what she’s trying to make possible.)

i’m not even going to get into my feelings about gun control issues, but you may not be surprised to know that i’m a big proponent of increased (to say the least) gun control. thanks to representative pyle, though, we might have yet another place that you can shoot it out at the drop of a hat without anyone seeing it coming.

don’t like the sermon? wax him. music sucks? spray ’em all down. ticked they aren’t reading out of the king james and king james only? rat-a-tat-tat.

3. name that legislator’s church!: on a related note to the above, as i was seeking more information about rep. pyle, i came across something that was so telling about the way our state government (and government, in general) works. if you go to the arkansas state legislature website and go to the list of legislators (which you can do here), you’ll notice that listed in their bio is their contact info, committees and a couple other bits of information.

what caught my attention is that on each legislators’ page, listed alongside their basic contact information, you will find his or her “church affiliation.” not the names of their spouse and children. not their interests. not their favorite quote or life mantra. but their church affiliation.

so, you can find out that gilbert baker is affiliated with a “bible church” or that steve faris is “baptist” or that dan greenberg is (gasp!) “jewish.”

am i the only one that thinks making a special point to state church affiliation is a strange thing? i mean, obviously, i’m a christian and a pastor and a person who loves the church and thinks faith is a huge factor in one’s political viewpoints, but to list that as a part of their profile without the context of other pertinent biographical information?

seems like the good ol’ baptist boy network is in full swing…but you can draw your own conclusions.

4. tony campolo billy graham tribute: there’s not a lot that hasn’t already been said about billy graham, but in tony campolo’s latest podcast from his british radio show, across the pond, he shares some really great and insightful stories about billy graham’s life and ministry. as i’ve talked about on the blog before, i’m a huge fan of campolo and the way he tells stories is so interesting and engaging.

i know sitting down and listening to a entire radio program is a lot to ask, but i think it’s such an interesting viewpoint into the life of one of the greatest followers of christ that we’ve ever known. so, you can either download the podcast on itunes by clicking here of you can listen to it right here on my blog.

tony campolo: billy graham tribute


  1. j wright says:

    “good ol’ baptist boy network” sounds derogatory of baptists. Coming from a pastor who started his article by writing about how it’s ok to have “major theological differences”, this is disingenuous at the very least.
    maybe sometime we can “break bread” at EJs and discuss our “major theological differences”.

  2. ryanByrd says:

    hey j wright, thanks for commenting! it’s always a struggle to get people to engage, so i really appreciate it.

    let me address your concerns:

    1. you know the old, “i can talk about my momma, but if you do, i’m gonna beat you up’? well, me using a phrase like “good ol’ baptist boy network” is basically just that (to an extent).

    for almost 30 years, i have attended baptist churches. in fact, i’m the son of a baptist preacher and currently serve on committees for my baptist denomination (general baptist, to be specific…akin to wesleyan theology, but “typical” baptist praxis…). so, when i pick on baptists, it’s because if i’m going to pick on somebody, i ought to start with myself.

    it’s not derogatory, any more than it might ought to be, from a critical and personal evaluation standpoint.

    2. i could have said “methodist boy network” (because i attended asbury seminary and know that a similar network exists with them) or “jewish boy network,” but those things don’t really apply that much here in arkansas. the southern baptist convention, especially here in arkansas, is the prevailing dominant religious/political force.

    whether you call it the religious right or the moral majority or whatever, i think the umbrella term of “baptist” (a.k.a. conservatism, fundamentalism, etc.) has fostered a network that pressures people within that category to make very specific political decisions. by all means, i’m no conspiracy theorist, but i think i could make a substantial argument that this system exists in both explicit and implicit ways.

    3. i would love to hook up for lunch/dinner/coffee/whatever! i always look forward to meeting new people here in little rock. let me know if you want want to hook up sometime. you can email me at ryan at beingryanbyrd dot com. hope to hear from you!

  3. RAAB says:

    cuz i neva hesitate to put a deacon on his baaaaaack…

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