Christine Blasey Ford

Friday Five: Kavanaugh and more Kavanaugh, historic church closing, Indonesia quake, baseball

Friday Five: Kavanaugh and more Kavanaugh, historic church closing, Indonesia quake, baseball

As The Associated Press reports, the U.S. Senate voted 51-49 today to move forward with consideration of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

That means a final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation could occur over the weekend, the AP notes.

Once again this week, the battle over the court’s future — riveted by Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against the judge — had plenty of religion angles.

Look for much more on that as we dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Speaking of Kavanaugh, Washington Post religion writer Michelle Boorstein has an interesting piece out today on how the fight over the judge is dividing his Catholic Church in D.C.

Another compelling angle from a Godbeat pro: The Atlantic’s Emma Green explores why some conservative women are angry about the treatment of Kavanaugh.

Other coverage that we’ve mentioned at GetReligion include Religion News Service’s focus on the Religious Left response to Kavanaugh and how an Oklahoma pastor’s sermon of Kavanaugh gained him not-so-positive notoriety.

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When a sermon goes viral: Pastor finds himself in middle of social media storm over Kavanaugh

When a sermon goes viral: Pastor finds himself in middle of social media storm over Kavanaugh

I don’t believe I’ve ever met the Rev. Bob Long, even though my time as religion editor for The Oklahoman overlapped with his tenure as pastor of a large United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City.

But I know his voice.

For years, I’ve heard Long on the radio, often while driving to work. Long is a mini-celebrity here in Oklahoma, known for inspirational radio messages that include cheerful music and a quick life lesson from the pastor.

“That’s something to think about,” he concludes each 60-second segment. “I’m Bob Long with St. Luke’s Methodist Church.”

This week, Long has gained notoriety for a different reason — for a sermon in which he put the face of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on his church’s big screens.

As The Oklahoman’s Carla Hinton (who succeeded me as religion editor in 2002) reported on Wednesday’s front page, a social media storm erupted with a tweet from a churchgoer who was not pleased with Long’s choice of optics.

The church posted both written and video messages from Long apologizing for the hurt feelings his sermon caused.

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New podcast: What if President Jeb Bush, not Donald Trump, had picked Brett Kavanaugh?

New podcast: What if President Jeb Bush, not Donald Trump, had picked Brett Kavanaugh?

Halfway into the radio segment that turned into this week’s “Crossroads” podcast (click here to tune that in), host Todd Wilken asked a totally logical question.

Oh, by the way, this was recorded while Brett Kavanaugh was still offering testimony. I was following the story online, while avoiding the emotion-drenched reality show airing on cable-TV news.

Backing away from the current headlines, Wilken noted that, these days, it seems like EVERYTHING in American politics — good or bad, sane or insane — is linked to Donald Trump. Is it possible that the take-no-prisoners war over the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh is just another one of those stories?

My answer was linked to piece of aggregated news that just ran at The Week: “George W. Bush is reportedly working the phones for Kavanaugh.” Here’s the overture:

President Trump isn't the only one standing by his man.

With Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination coming down to the wire, The Washington Post reports former President George W. Bush in recent days has been calling key senators to whip up support. …

Although The Washington Post's report doesn't clarify whether Bush made any calls after Thursday's hearing, the former president's chief of staff confirmed to Politico after the testimony that he still supports Kavanaugh, who worked in the Bush White House as staff secretary and assisted in the 2000 Florida recount.

In the Senate, Kavanaugh needs 50 votes to be confirmed, and with 51 Republican lawmakers, only two would need to break from the ranks for the nomination to go up in flames. Some of the key votes include Republican senators who aren't necessarily the biggest Trump fans, which is where the 43rd president comes in. And Bush isn't the only one working the phones, as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that she has received calls from both the former president and the former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.

What does this have to do with a discussion of media coverage of religion angles in this agonizing story (click here for my first post on this topic)?

Well, note this throwaway line in the block of material: “Some of the key votes include Republican senators who aren't necessarily the biggest Trump fans, which is where the 43rd president comes in.”

That’s stating it mildly.

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Friday Five: End of the World, Kavanaugh-Ford, virgins, young evangelicals, Hispanic Catholics, Jesus Lyft

Friday Five: End of the World, Kavanaugh-Ford, virgins, young evangelicals, Hispanic Catholics, Jesus Lyft

I don’t know. That music video just seemed appropriate this week.

Really, I try not to let headlines dictate my mood. I’m a Christian, and I truly believe that my hope is built on Jesus and his righteousness. But Thursday was tough.

Not only was there the all-day Kavanaugh-Ford hearing that epitomized just how divided our nation has become, but in my home state of Oklahoma, a hedge fund bought The Oklahoman, our state’s largest newspaper and my former employer.

Poynter.org described this depressing, cold-hearted scene:

Employees reported being alerted via email yesterday to a mandatory meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday. They sat through a 35-minute presentation about the sale and upcoming changes before being informed of the layoffs.

Publisher Chris Reen addressed the staffers and said those who'd been laid off had just been notified via email, and their firings were effective immediately.

The entire room then checked their phones, as the meeting disintegrated.

My first inclination was to cancel my subscription in protest. However, that would hurt the remaining journalists, so I won’t.

So with all of that in the background, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

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Kavanaugh agonistes: Only Fox News covered faith factor in this high-stakes drama

Kavanaugh agonistes: Only Fox News covered faith factor in this high-stakes drama

If you had any free time yesterday, I hope you were watching the political theater of the year with the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of Brett Kavanaugh v. Christine Blasey Ford.

In the midst of all the riveting moments — and there were a bunch — in the back-to-back hearings, religion played a small role. Near the very end, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy posed the penultimate question:

“Do you believe in God?” Kennedy asked the nominee.

“I do.”

“I’m going to give you a last opportunity right here in front of God and country,” said Kennedy, who then asked if three allegations were true. Kavanaugh answered no to each one.

“Do you swear to God?” Kennedy asked.

“I swear to God.” This was a Methodist from the South quizzing a conservative Ivy League Catholic. Those are very different backgrounds for two men who understand that Kavanaugh wasn’t simply on trial before a human court (even though folks at the hearing kept on saying it was not an actual trial).

But it was. And what Kennedy was doing during this exchange was saying that Kavanaugh was also standing before a much higher court than the U.S. Senate. And it was to that heavenly court he would ultimately answer were he lying about his past.

Yet, as I scanned innumerable comments on Facebook Thursday evening, I saw some folks who were triggered by Kavanaugh invoking his faith as part of his defense. There were several references if you knew where to look, starting with at the beginning of his opening statement (from a New York Times transcript), he referred to “sowing the wind” and how the country will “reap the whirlwinds.” That’s taken from a verse in Hosea 8:7: "They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind."

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Kavanaugh-Ford: Trump's Supreme Court nominee references Catholic faith in dramatic hearing

Kavanaugh-Ford: Trump's Supreme Court nominee references Catholic faith in dramatic hearing

It’s a big, big news day.

But sorry, Associated Press: As dramatic as it is, today’s Kavanaugh-Ford testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee does not rise to the level of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion or 9/11. Not even close.

As my friend John Dobbs put it on Twitter, “Are you insane?”"

Seriously, whoever is tweeting to AP’s 12.9 million followers might want to tone down the historical comparisons. Today’s hearing, it seems to me, is more comparable to past live TV news dramas, such as the Thomas-Hill experience of 1991 — only on steroids in the social media era.

That said, I’ll confess that I’ve been glued to the live feed on my computer all day, so much so that I’m rushing to type this post during a 15-minute break this afternoon.

Since this is GetReligion, we need a religion angle: Enter the uber-talented Emma Green of The Atlantic with a nuanced piece published Wednesday on why Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, “is a test for the conservative legal movement.”

Green’s lede:

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