Religion Unplugged

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

By Bobby Ross Jr. | GetReligion

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:

Read the full column.

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All of my GetReligion columns (October 2018):

• Monday Mix: McCarrick deep dive, Willow Creek future, Catholic losses, religious freedom worry. Published Oct. 1.

• Ghosts of Elizabeth Warren: Potential White House contender seeks to ‘reclaim’ Oklahoma past. Published Oct. 2.

• When a sermon goes viral: Pastor finds himself in middle of social media storm over Kavanaugh. Published Oct. 4.

• Friday Five: Kavanaugh and more Kavanaugh, historic church closing, Indonesia quake, baseball. Published Oct. 5.

• Monday Mix: Get out the (faith) vote, clergy sex ramifications, Booker preaches, Catholic SCOTUS. Published Oct. 8.

• From award-winning religion writer, a primer on how to tell a difficult story about a pedophile. Published Oct. 9.

• Will white evangelical women push Ted Cruz challenger Beto O’Rourke over the top? Not so fast. Published Oct. 11.

• Friday Five: Wuerl resignation, freed American pastor, Tebow’s J-word, Texas accused, Mormon identity. Published Oct. 12.

• Monday Mix: Andrew Brunson, Texas clergy abuse, child porn preachers, death penalty, Christian Post. Published Oct. 15.

• Neutral or slanted coverage: Texas newspaper reports on pastors group’s lawsuit over LGBT hiring. Published Oct. 16.

• NPR sort of dives into a case involving immigration, religious freedom and a vague faith. Published Oct. 18.

• Friday Five: Hurricane Michael, ‘Uncle Ted’ McCarrick, Ed Stetzer, Trump evangelicals, WWJF. Published Oct. 19.

• Monday Mix: Church vs. football, religion in schools, scandalized bishops, His (Islamic) Holiness. Published Oct. 22.

• Pro-life Democratic cowboy wants to be governor of South Dakota: What’s faith got to do with it? Published Oct. 23.

• Post-Trump rise of religious left: Real trend or wishful thinking? We’ll find out soon. Published Oct. 25.

Friday Five: Rachel Zoll, Heidi Cruz, ‘The Exorcist,’ Tennessee politicos, Christ at the Checkpoint. Published Oct. 26.

• Monday Mix: Pittsburgh shooting, hate that kills, Sutherland Springs, white nationalism, ‘double lives.’ Published Oct. 29.

• Charleston. Sutherland Springs. Pittsburgh. Why local reporters are crucial in a ‘national’ tragedy. Published Oct. 30.

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