Religion Unplugged

Big week in religion news: From Loretta Lynn to Aaron Judge, 9 names to know

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

Editor’s note: Every Friday, “Weekend Plug-in” features analysis, fact checking and top headlines from the world of faith. Subscribe now to get this newsletter delivered straight to your inbox. Got feedback or ideas? Email Bobby Ross Jr. at

A country music queen. A home run king.

A former White House press secretary. A current U.S. Supreme Court plaintiff.

They are among nine key religion newsmakers who made headlines this past week (in alphabetical order):

Bart Barber: I’m showing a little bias here because I wrote this week’s Associated Press profile of Barber, a small-town Texas pastor and rancher elected to lead the 13.7 million-member Southern Baptist Convention at a time of major crisis. Barber will be featured Sunday night in a “60 Minutes” interview with Anderson Cooper.

Chris Jones and Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Jones is the Democrat and Sanders the Republican in Arkansas’ gubernatorial race. “With two preachers’ kids and a pastor in the race, Arkansans are poised to elect a governor who can sing hymns by heart and quote Scripture from memory,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Frank Lockwood writes as he delves into faith and politics. (Sanders served as former President Donald Trump’s White House press secretary from 2017 to 2019.)

Aaron Judge: The New York Yankees star made history when he hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night. Prayer and faith played a key role during Judge’s chase, reports the Deseret News’ Ryan McDonald.

Loretta Lynn: The country music superstar and Kentucky coal miner’s daughter died Tuesday at age 90. “She really was serious about her faith and a devout member of the church,” retired minister Terry Rush, who maintained a close friendship with Lynn, told me.

John Henry Ramirez: The Texas killer fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to have his pastor lay hands on him and pray during his execution. “Just know that I fought a good fight, and I am ready to go,” Ramirez said before his death by lethal injection Wednesday, as noted by The Associated Press’ Juan A. Lozano and Michael Graczyk.

Lorie Smith and Jack Phillips: The two claim in an opinion piece for USA Today that Colorado is trampling on their First Amendment rights as Christian artists, and they’re fighting back. Website designer Smith’s case is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Deseret News’ Kelsey Dallas reports. Phillips, a baker who already won a partial high court victory, is challenging a new state ruling, AP’s Colleen Slevin notes.

Herschel Walker: Despite the Georgia Republican’s denials, an allegation that the U.S. Senate candidate and former Heisman Trophy winner paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009 has engulfed his campaign. Religion News Service’s Jack Jenkins and Politico’s Natalie Allison report on religious leaders’ responses.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

Photo via Shutterstock

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