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Jonathan Merritt
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Entries by Jonathan Merritt

Younger Christians Less Supportive Of Death Penalty, Poll

(179) Comments | Posted January 18, 2014 | 8:28 AM

(RNS) One day after the state of Ohio executed a man for murder (Jan. 16), a new poll shows younger Christians are not as supportive of the death penalty as older members of their faith.

When asked if they agreed that “the government should have the option to execute the...

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Is Gratitude Good for Body and Soul?

(4) Comments | Posted January 14, 2013 | 11:20 AM

As recent events prove yet again, the modern world is chaotic and harsh. It's a place where depressed young adults live-tweet their own suicides, and gainful employment seems even harder to come by than civil public discourse. Though we may attempt to escape -- perhaps into the arms of Honey...

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Lessons (Not) Learned from the Most Negative Election in U.S. History

(0) Comments | Posted November 12, 2012 | 1:27 PM

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, we learned that President Barack Obama would remain the leader of the free world. But his victory came at a price. He and Governor Mitt Romney now have the honor of participating in the most negative election in United States history.

"The campaign...

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Dear Angry Evangelical, Have You Prayed for Your President Today?

(28) Comments | Posted November 7, 2012 | 9:37 AM

The polls have closed and the results are in. Barack Obama will remain the President of the United States for four more years. Many conservative Christians must now decide how to respond. Some will undoubtedly vent their disappointment and frustration, as Twitter feeds aplenty already show. But I wonder if...

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Religious Right Turns 33: What Have We Learned?

(29) Comments | Posted June 15, 2012 | 9:53 AM

Many historians say the modern religious right was birthed in June of 1979. That was the month when the Rev. Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, an organization tasked with saving the American public from the threat of moral decline. Not coincidentally, Concerned Women for America was formed the same...

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Evangelical Silence On Mitt Romney's Mormonism Is Unexpected (Analysis)

(727) Comments | Posted June 12, 2012 | 7:30 AM

(RNS) Now that Mitt Romney has sewn up the Republican nomination, the GOP can move beyond a tumultuous primary season. But for some of Romney's fellow Mormons, there's still some anxiety in the air.

"For Mormons, this is a potentially volatile moment. They are deeply proud that their faith's most...

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7 Reasons Christians Should Change Their Political Tune

(62) Comments | Posted June 8, 2012 | 10:08 AM

Aristotle is credited with saying, "Change in all things is sweet." And perhaps no change of late is as sweet as that among young Christians in the public square. While the last several decades of Christian engagement have often been marked by partisan tactics and a polemical tone, a new...

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Richard Land and Southern Baptists' Race Problem

(11) Comments | Posted April 18, 2012 | 4:32 PM

The Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) political spokesperson Richard Land recently incited controversy with comments regarding the Trayvon Martin case. On his March 31 radio show, he called African-American leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton "race mongers" and "racial ambulance chasers" who are politicizing Trayvon's...

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Family Research Council and a Denial of Partisan Christianity

(4) Comments | Posted April 5, 2012 | 10:32 AM

Mark Twain once said, "It ain't what you know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." The great American novelist would have gotten a kick out of a recent blog post by Family Research Council's (FRC) Chris Marlink. 


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Why I Am a Christian Independent

(21) Comments | Posted March 12, 2012 | 1:08 PM

In 2005, I was elected precinct chairman for the 1st district of Georgia's GOP. I resigned two months later. In less than 60 days, I rushed deep into the bowels of partisan politics where I faced divisiveness, incivility and territorialism. Deciding I could not in good conscience fight for a...

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What's In A Name? A Lot If You're The Southern Baptist Convention

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2011 | 12:11 PM

What's in a name? As Shakespeare has it, a rose by any other name smells the same. But in the case of America's largest Protestant denomination, changing the name could change everything.

A week ago, Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright told his organization's executive committee in Nashville that he...

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Redefining Hate: Pro-Gay Activists Should Reconsider Rhetoric

(571) Comments | Posted August 22, 2011 | 11:34 AM

The wordsmithing Brits behind the Oxford Dictionary define "hate" as "hostile actions motivated by intense dislike or prejudice." But words take on new meanings as people speak them, often deriving more from the context of their usage than from their actual definitions.

The word "hate" has become one of...

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Evangelicals and the New Wave of Gay Acceptance

(141) Comments | Posted June 25, 2011 | 4:27 PM

In 1987, Jim Bakker's sex scandal shocked the evangelical world. The husband of mascara-laden Tammy Faye was a super-televangelist with an average viewership numbering over 12 million and ministry contributions estimated at $1 million per week. Then came a litany of accusations, including the rape of 26-year-old Jessica Hahn and...

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Restoration in the Land of Make-Believe: The Legacy of Fred Rogers

(8) Comments | Posted May 26, 2011 | 7:34 PM

In 1965, a thin, soft-spoken man sauntered into Pittsburgh's WQED, the nation's first public television station, to pitch a show targeting young children. The concept was simple enough: convey life lessons to young children with the help of puppets, songs and frank conversations. It doesn't sound like much. That is,...

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What Skyscrapers Tell Us ... About Us

(8) Comments | Posted March 22, 2011 | 1:08 PM

"Architecture is the alphabet of giants; it is the largest set of symbols ever made to meet the eyes of men. A tower stands up like a sort of simplified statue, of much more than heroic size." --G.K. Chesterton

I've always been fascinated with the gleaming sentinels that comprise America's...

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Christians Lament "Debt Crisis," Call for "Intergenerational Justice"

(4) Comments | Posted March 6, 2011 | 8:00 PM

For the most part, I've stopped signing public statements. Perhaps one day I will write about the various reasons I've decided to do this. Occassionally, however, someone drafts a statement that is both timely and reasonable. In these cases, I might make an exception. Today, Evangelicals for Social...

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Arizona Tragedy Breathes Life into Discourse Debate

(9) Comments | Posted January 14, 2011 | 9:41 AM

When Sarah Palin's team of marketers ill-advisedly placed a few crosshairs on a map of Democratic districts that included U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Gifford's, they probably hoped to invigorate their base and rally some support. They couldn't have known that within a few months a crazed Jared Loughner would...

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How to Win the War on Christmas: Stop Fighting It

(17) Comments | Posted December 14, 2010 | 11:43 AM

Retailers in Texas who celebrate Christmas better shout it from their garland-wrapped rooftops lest they incite the anger of local Christians. Conservative mega-church First Baptist Church in Dallas (FBCD) has just launched a web site with the expressed purpose of keeping Christmas "everywhere." By logging onto, shoppers...

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Interview with Bush Speechwriter Gerson on Tea Party, Religious Right, Bush Legacy

(2) Comments | Posted November 24, 2010 | 11:52 AM

Michael Gerson is something of a political anomaly. On the one hand, Gerson is a conservative Christian who served as George W. Bush's chief speechwriter and senior aide from 2001 to 2006. On the other hand, he is now an op-ed columnist for The Washington Post and has been critical...

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Searching for Life Amid the Death of "Christian America"

(89) Comments | Posted October 4, 2010 | 8:31 AM

One of the foundational questions asked by Christians throughout history has been, "Can people experience life after death?" But with the faith's declining numbers, waning political influence, and marred image among the general public, the question has now been turned back on believers themselves: "Can Christians experience life after the...

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