Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 4/3/21

White evangelicals are the largest socio-religious group declining to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. A whopping forty-five percent of White evangelicals who were polled say they won’t be getting the vaccination. Why? Some of the resistance stems from a number of pastors and influencers who, over the last twelve months, labeled the pandemic a “hoax” and a “diabolical scheme” to limit religious freedom. Conspiracy theories abounded. The use of PPE and public safety protocols were denounced as slavish acquiescence to the “Satanic deception,” even though hospitals (and morgues) were overwhelmed by the number of virus cases. When vaccines were first introduced in December, many warned that they were the mark of the beast mentioned in Revelation 13. These past twelve months surely weren’t the church’s “finest hour.” Such thinking is still widespread within conservative evangelical circles as the Pew Research survey indicates. Both Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress incurred the wrath of fellow Christian nationalists recently by encouraging people to get vaccinated.

Vatican City is officially an independent “nation” within the nation of Italy. It’s easily the smallest “country” in the world, comprising only 0.2 square miles (the size of Central Park in New York City) and with only 400 official citizens (3000 people work there). The obvious reality is that the Vatican is not really a “country” in the normal sense, but rather it’s the administrative center of the Roman Catholic church with its 1.3 billion members worldwide. The Vatican’s nation status undergirds its historical claims to sovereignty in temporal, worldly matters as well as spiritual. Because of the Vatican’s purely religious nature, the United States resisted appointing an official ambassador to the “Holy See” until 1984 when Ronald Reagan appointed William A. Wilson to the post as a concession to American Catholic voters. I wrote a letter to Reagan at the time, objecting to the appointment, and received a form letter reply on White House stationary. Historical opposition by American Protestants to a United States ambassador to the “Holy See” is now viewed as a quaint and dusty anachronism.

Pope Francis has walked a tightrope ever since being elected to the papacy in 2013 by craftily introducing progressive reforms while simultaneously managing threats of schism by conservatives. The German prelates’ hasty and unyielding push to adopt progressive reforms (intercommunion, full acceptance of practicing LGBT-ers, women as deacons and eventually priests) threatens to fracture the already very uneasy status quo.

Catholic prelates, priests, and laity strongly believe that Mary shares in Jesus Christ’s redemptive work, but the RCC has resisted officially defining that belief as an unnecessary provocation in its mission to recover the Protestant “separated brethren.”

A few weeks ago, pope Francis officially designated the Marian shrine at Knock, Ireland as an “International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion.” In 1879, fifteen people claimed to have seen an apparition of Mary on a wall of the local parish church in Knock. Thousands upon thousands of Catholics around the world have claimed to have seen an apparition of Mary, but the Vatican fully sanctions only six such claims. See here. I believe most of these apparitions are due to individual or group religious hysteria, but we can’t rule out demonic activity.

For decades, news watchers have been barraged by the “cute” story of elderly Catholic nun, Sister Jean (aka Jean Schmidt), and her prayerful support of the Loyola University (Jesuit) men’s basketball team. Cuteness aside, Sister Jean propagates her church’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Sorry Sister Jean, but Loyola was eliminated from the “March Madness” NCAA Tournament by Oregon State.

Pragmatic Pope Francis understands the RCC must become less doctrinaire and more pastoral (freewheeling) in order to retain its increasingly disaffected membership. Numbers were already in sharp decline as a result of the priest sex abuse scandals and then the pandemic hit.

17 thoughts on “Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 4/3/21

  1. Thank you for this! I’ll be reading it while Landon is bowling this morning!!
    Have a blessed day, brother! 🙏🏻

    **I can’t believe that the MLB has caved to the “cancel culture” ☹️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope to see an Easter post from you this Sunday. I will helping out my church starting at 3 AM for the sunrise service. The majority of the pastoral staff at my church have taken the covid vaccine as far as I know. And the pastoral staff is generationally diverse: baby boomers, Gen X, and Millenial. But some congregants at my church are listening to the non-sense that the covid vaccine has the mark of the beast 🙄 The church in the United States needs A REFORMATION.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comments, Joseph! Have a joyous Resurrection Sunday! Yes, many Christians living in America are deeply enmeshed in politics and now conspiracy theories.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 1. We should stop having an ambassador to the Pope but that’s just my view…wow you wrote to regan about this matter!
    2. The whole “‘co-redemptrix’” of Mary is all crazy; I actually went to find out what the pope said, he said she’s not co-redeemer but she is also present with those who are sick…sigh.
    3. If only those Catholics leaving their church would come to Christ! We Protestants need to be an evangelistic light with the truth of the Gospel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the good comments!

      1. Ambassador to Vatican.
      It was wrong of Reagan to change U.S. policy on this. Yup, my one and only letter to the White House.

      2. Mary Co-Redemptrix
      Although the RCC won’t make it official for “religious correctness” purposes, all Catholics believe Mary played/plays a role in redemption. That theme is interwoven throughout Catholic Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” but most evangelical viewers didn’t pick up on it.

      3. We Protestants need to be an evangelistic light to Catholics.
      Amen! Instead many/most evangelical leaders embrace Catholicism and its false gospel as a Christian entity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The apologetics group which I’m an admin on Facebook just had a discussion on Mary; I think many Christians were repulsed by how rome sees Mary; some in the group have said other apologetics group online is awashed with pro-rome sympathies and how its refreshing our group remain biblically focused still. What times we are living in

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Tom. Great article. I will not be getting the vaccine. Not because of what pastors have said. But my decision comes from within. Not enough data, study, ingredient listings, long term effect and or side affects. I’ve known so many people whos lives were changed after the vaccines, they had health decline, neurological problems, and one of my friends cant stop shaking and falls now. Great weekend roundup, news and views. Thank you for sharing. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Paula! I appreciate the feedback. My response re: the vaccines would be…

      We know just about all medications and vaccines have some risk. My sister is on Warfarin/Coumadin which is potentially very dangerous. 107.5 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to date and adverse reactions have not been shown to be “statistically significant.” I don’t mean to dismiss those who have had a problem. However, we know 550,000 have died from C–19 in the U.S. with another 30 million sickened, some permanently. It would seem at this point that it’s MUCH MORE dangerous not to get the vaccine than to get it. Further, if the majority of people opted out of the vaccine, the pandemic would linger on indefinitely.

      That said, it’s obviously a personal choice. Maybe I would think differently if I knew many people who had adverse reactions. What I really disliked was the ridiculous conspiracy-fueled misinformation out there spread by evangelicals claiming the pandemic was a “hoax” and the vaccines were the “mark of the beast.”

      Liked by 1 person

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