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In the presidential race against Joe Biden, Catholics have emerged as a swing vote.

While white evangelicals remain a core voting bloc for President Donald Trump, in the 2020 race against Joe Biden white Catholics are expected to be a crucial demographic.

Data indicates that Biden—a lifelong member of the Catholic church—may shift the white Catholic vote away from the Republican leanings it held for the past four presidential elections and make it a true swing vote going forward.

Even small changes among Catholics could affect the electoral outcome, particularly in swing states. In 2016, Donald Trump won Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida by narrow margins of 1 percent to 1.2 percent of the votes cast.

Despite all the chatter around the strong support that Trump received from white Christians and white evangelicals last election, their voting patterns in 2016 were relatively consistent with elections going back to 2008.

Across Christian traditions, white voters have been relatively stable but have slowly drifted toward the Republican Party by 3–4 percentage points in eight years. (Nonwhite Christians, particularly black Protestants, have historically favored the Democratic Party by strong margins and are expected to continue to do so this year.)

For instance, in the 2008 presidential matchup, 78 percent of white evangelicals cast their ballots for Barack Obama’s Republican challenger, John McCain. Trump did just a few points better in 2016, with 81 percent.

The partisan split among white Catholics and white mainline Protestants mostly held steady as well. In both 2008 and 2012, 56 percent of white Catholics voted for the GOP, and that nudged up just slightly to 59 percent in 2016.

For mainline Protestants, the vote in 2008 was nearly evenly split, with John McCain receiving a slim majority ...

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The campaign emphasizes another side of the president at “prayer, praise, and patriotism” rallies.

Joann Roberts had never been to a political rally before.

She prays for President Donald Trump every day and watches messages from his faith advisers online, including televangelists Paula White-Cain and Jentezen Franklin. When Roberts heard they would be speaking at a campaign event in Georgia, the Southern Baptist mom of three took off from her job as a hospital administrator and made the hour-long drive to a field in the far-flung Atlanta suburbs.

Wearing a neon pink shirt printed with the slogan “God, Family, Guns, and Trump,” she fit right in.

The 500-plus crowd at this week’s Evangelicals for Trump rally included local politicians, GOP organizers, and even an unannounced visit by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, but most were people like Roberts. They were veterans, retired couples, bikers, college students, and homeschool moms, all Christians who felt like this year they needed to do something more to show their support.

Several volunteers distributing hand sanitizer and masks (not required, but around a quarter wore them) said this was their first time working with a political campaign. They traded stories about going door to door for Trump and turning their guest rooms into makeshift call centers. They compared churches and voting districts. They offered compliments over their MAGA gear. “I got it at Ace Hardware,” one woman beamed when asked about her Trump 2020 mask. “They can’t keep them in stock!”

More than anything, these Georgia Christians gushed over what they had seen during Trump’s presidency: a leader who came through on his pledge to appoint conservative justices, defend religious freedom, and oppose abortion. “He really just kept his promises,” said ...

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Leading into holistic discipleship for the local church

Ed: Why did you write this book? What inspired you to write it?

J. T.: For too long, the local church has played a secondary role in the formation of God’s people. During the past few decades, seminaries, Bible colleges, non-profit organizations, and other ministries have become where God’s people have to go in order to grow in the understanding of the Word and what it means to follow Christ.

I believe with all of my heart that the primary context for Christian discipleship is the local church. God has commissioned and ordained his church to be the place where, by the power of the Spirit, he forms his people into the image of the Son. It is time for local churches to remember their calling as the primary place God forms deep disciples.

Ed: For whom did you write this book?

J. T.: I wrote this book for anyone who is passionate about discipleship. I hope pastors, ministry leaders, and serious Christians will pick up this book and implement deep discipleship in their local contexts.

Ed: What do you mean by a “holistic” approach to discipleship? How is that different than what most people consider when they think of “discipleship”?

J. T.: Deep discipleship is holistic discipleship. God cares about the whole person, not just our head or our heart or our soul or our strength, but God cares equally and wants to form our head, heart, soul, and strength. If we are whole people, we need discipleship models that form the whole person and that best happens in the local church.

Ed: How is this book different from other discipleship resources and books?

J. T.: I think Deep Discipleship is different because it does not just say deep discipleship matters, but it provides a way forward for every church. It does ...

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How the stresses and strains of aging can strengthen the bonds of love.

During the coronavirus pandemic, my husband and I celebrated the 23rd anniversary of our first date, our 18th wedding anniversary, and our 40th birthdays. We’re plenty familiar to one another, not to mention the disruptions wrought by moves, career changes, and children.

But as we begin midlife and navigate marriage in this moment of time, we realize it’s easy to simply survive instead of thrive. Marriage in the middle of a pandemic feels a bit like steering around shipwrecks. Recently, we heard that another couple we knew was filing for divorce. While we’ve all seen high-profile couples announce their split on social media, it’s the marriages closer to home that remind us we’re not immune to the pressures that force their way between two people.

Amid months of unprecedented circumstances, as husbands and wives negotiate working from home and schooling their children, marriages are withstanding even greater pressures than before. When there is too much pressure on something delicate—like a wine glass—it shatters. Yet with harder, denser objects—think of exercises that break down muscles to help them grow back stronger—added pressure can have the opposite effect.

In a pandemic—and in midlife generally—marriages seem to go one of two ways: The added pressures cause the marriage to crack, or they can make it stronger. When I asked my friends on social media to describe the state of their marriages in one word, the most common responses were “improved,” “refined,” “closer,” and “tested.” Just about everyone I polled sensed an urgent need to band together, lest the stresses and uncertainties of 2020 overwhelm them.

How ...

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How did a forgotten colonial text become a national origin story?

What is America? Is it a land mass, a nation, or a set of ideals established in founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? The way we answer this question is closely tied to our origin stories, which often begin with the Pilgrims and Puritans.

Many have looked to one Puritan sermon in particular to identify the source of Americas identity and mission: John Winthrops “A Model of Christian Charity.” Winthrop’s famous phrase,we shall be set as a city upon a hill,” has seemed to many to perfectly capture Americas exceptional destiny as a model and light to the world.

Abram C. Van Engen, an English professor at Washington University in St. Louis, thinks the sermon has been misused and misunderstood. His new book, City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism, tells the story of how the sermon became a founding” national text and continues to shape America today

Why is John Winthrop’s sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” important in United States history and to Americans today?

The extraordinary story of Winthrop’s “city on a hill” sermon cannot be understood without telling a second, equally fascinating tale about the shifting roles Pilgrims and Puritans have played in American culture.

In 1630, John Winthrop, the first Puritan governor of Massachusetts Bay, declared that “we shall be as a city upon a hill.” When President Ronald Reagan used Winthrop’s words to describe America, he helped transform “A Model of Christian Charity” into a foundational text of American culture. In its own day, Winthrop’s sermon went unrecorded, unpublished, and almost entirely ...

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The sexual exploitation of children is a symptom of a larger disease—one that we’re complicit in.

On September 9, independent French film Les Mignonnes made its American debut on Netflix under the title Cuties. While director Maïmouna Doucouré intends the film as a critique of the sexual exploitation of children, she quickly found her work facing condemnation for participating in that very thing. Within days, #CancelNetflix was trending and the film had received an astounding 1.06/10 audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes (as of publishing date).

Part of the public outcry targeted Netflix’s problematic marketing of Cuties earlier in August. If design is communication, the chosen images, description, and subtext did not critique a culture that sexually exploits young girls. It actively played into it, issuing an invitation to come gaze on the actors as they engage in “free-spirited” dance.

The film itself also faces difficult questions about the ethics of using child actors to portray the process of sexualization. Abuse survivor and advocate Rachael Denhollander tweeted: “One can’t protest sexualizing children by … sexualizing them.” And Vox movie critic and former Christianity Today columnist Alissa Wilkinson pointed out that “trying to depict something in the context of critiquing it isn’t always successful.”

The ambiguous nature of sexual exploitation within Western culture explains both the controversy surrounding Cuties and the thesis of the film itself. While public condemnation has been sure and swift, it sometimes misses the pressing questions about whether our society is safe for children: What if the sexualization of young girls is not a bug but a feature? What if Netflix knows something about us that we don’t about ourselves?

The central ...

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Study leaders, authors, and scholars share how Scripture has sustained them during difficult times.

When life feels dark or the way ahead is unclear, God’s Word remains a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Here, ten women reflect on Scripture passages that have strengthened and encouraged them during difficult times.

Jo Saxton on Matthew 14:22-36

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus” (Matt. 14:29).

As a child, I loved this passage. It resonated strongly with me when I realized COVID-19 would change our lives. The rise of the pandemic was like watching a storm brewing: Relatives around the world shared their stories, school was canceled, and my work was canceled or postponed. I read this passage multiple times a day for over a week.

When Peter stepped out of the boat before the storm was still, he walked on the words Jesus said to him. I am challenged to walk on Jesus’ words to me amid life’s storms, even if they don’t make sense. God not only speaks to us through the storms of life, but he also meets with us and speaks to us in the heart of the storm, when we’re at the end of ourselves and all hope is gone.

As a child, I was stunned by the power of God. Now, this passage reminds me of God’s tender kindness, the extraordinary lengths he went to for his friends in need, and how he transformed their lives. Jesus takes time to heal the crowd (vv. 35–36) even though initially he’d avoided the crowd to get some rest. Would I go to extraordinary lengths so my friends could encounter peace, hope, and love?

Jen Wilkin on Psalm 139

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Ps. 139:23).

As a young, overwhelmed mom, growing in my awareness of my own limits, I needed a vision of a transcendent ...

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Pride, envy, greed, and the rest all rear their heads for 2020.

Sin always seeks an opportunity to push into our lives. Don’t “make room for the devil,” the apostle Paul warns (Eph. 4:27, NRSV throughout). But election season offers Satan sprawling acreage on which to trap and tempt.

One tool Paul and other biblical writers employed to help Christians fend off temptation was the simple act of listing sins we might commit. There are more than a dozen “vice lists” in the New Testament, modeled on the ancient Greco-Roman “ethical catalogue” and covering everything from murder in 1 Timothy 1:9 to Ephesians 5:4’s “obscene, silly, and vulgar talk.”

The best-known vice list arrived later in the Christian tradition. The seven deadly sins—wrath, sloth, pride, envy, greed, gluttony, and lust—as we now list them came to us in the Western church through Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, Pope Gregory the Great seven centuries prior, and a mystic named Evagrius two centuries before that. These aren’t the “‘deadliest’ sins or the worst crimes against humanity,” explained Calvin College philosophy professor Rebecca DeYoung, who researches virtues and vices, in a brief history of the list. They’re rather “the most familiar, recurring pitfalls everybody deals with sooner or later.” The 2020 election gives occasion to deal with them all.

Wrath is the most obvious, perhaps. Anger itself isn’t a sin, but this wrath is not plain anger. It’s bitterness indulged and accommodated (Eph. 4:26), made into a habit of mind that colors our encounters with those frustrating people on the other side who can’t or won’t see what seems to us the clear ...

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The 47-year-old organization sticks with the broader movement’s mission but not its name.

Evangelicals for Social Action, the justice-focused group founded by Ron Sider, has called itself “a different kind of evangelical.” As of today, it’s the kind that doesn’t call itself evangelical.

After nearly 50 years, the organization has changed its name to Christians for Social Action, becoming the latest and most prominent example of a move away from the “evangelical” label in the US.

Executive director Nikki Toyama-Szeto cited the shift in identity among the younger, more racially diverse generation of leaders as well as examples of how the historic name had begun to distract from its work.

“Honestly, the name change is an act in hospitality. In some ways, it reflects a change in our audience of what they’re calling themselves. Our audience is still evangelical, it’s post-evangelical, and it’s evangelical-adjacent,” said Toyama-Szeto, who has led the ministry since 2017. “When you have a name like ‘Evangelicals for Social Action,’ you’re limiting yourself to those who self-describe.”

Because of growing political baggage around the name, that pool has become narrower. Plenty of people believe in the core convictions of the faith—and are motivated by them to pursue justice—without calling themselves evangelical anymore.

The election of President Donald Trump, who embraced his white evangelical backing, represents an inflection point for evangelical identity in the US. Fifteen percent of those who considered themselves “evangelical” or “born again” in 2016 had stopped using either label by the following year, according to one voter survey, even though the overall number of evangelicals had held ...

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I couldn’t read Scripture anymore, yet God’s Word still nourished me.

I woke up one morning, like normal, to prepare breakfast for our familia. After breakfast, my copastor and husband, Rudy, offered to take our girls to school. I hugged and kissed them goodbye, then headed to the bathroom to finish applying my makeup. But as I put on my mascara, a sudden tidal wave of feelings flooded my body—a cross between dread and nausea—and almost knocked me off my feet.

I called our church secretary to tell her that I wasn’t feeling well and would come in around noon. But then, as though I was having an out-of-body experience, I saw myself hit redial. I mumbled, “I’m not coming in. I’m not coming back. I’m going to take a sabbatical or something, maybe a medical leave.” Then I hung up the phone, crawled into bed, and proceeded to have what my grandmother surely would have called a nervous breakdown.

I slept 18 to 20 hours a day for weeks and only awoke out of necessity; even with all that sleep, I still felt exhausted. After a week or so, my husband said, “Baby, I think you need to see a doctor.” So I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist. At the end of our first visit, she gave me a prescription and a diagnosis: “major depressive episode.” Then she said the dreaded words: “In six weeks, you should begin to notice changes for the better.” Six weeks? Oh God, can I live like this for another six weeks?

When everything fell apart in my life, I had to learn for the first time how to be—with myself and with God. The tools and spiritual practices that I’d always leaned on, like corporate worship, fasting, and prayer, were, in that state of mind, totally inaccessible to me. I’d always enjoyed studying the ...

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