Controversies involving sexuality, gender, religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccines, and Critical Race Theory made for the most-read Baptist News Global opinion columns in 2021.
Highly read pieces also included deep dives into the contradictions of the Reformed theology, race-based fissures within the Southern Baptist Convention and the evangelical assault on truth.
Notably, seven of these 15 pieces were published prior to 2021 but accumulated so many new pageviews that they still rose to the top one to five years later not based on previous readership but based solely on this year’s readership. These were columns about the Bible and sexuality, systemic racism, the future of the megachurch movement and modern challenges facing youth ministry.
Here is BNG’s Top 15 list of most-read opinion pieces in 2021:
- “My quest to find the word ‘homosexual’ in the Bible,” by Ed Oxford, Aug. 10, 2020 — The word “homosexual” appeared in no Bible translations until the RSV in 1946, leading the author to a personal quest to find out why.
- “I knew the truth about women in the Bible, and I stayed silent,” by Beth Allison Barr, April 7, 2021 — Fear of endangering her husband’s job, of losing friends and ministry initially kept a Baylor University historian from pushing back against complementarian teachings.
- “How John MacArthur loves the Bible but not his neighbor,” by Rick Pidcock, July 28, 2020 — MacArthur’s church used Scripture and popular conspiracy theories to disobey mask mandates, social distancing directives and the government’s temporary ban on large indoor gatherings.
- “It’s time to pay the Piper,” by David Bumgardner, Aug. 16, 2021 — A critique of Calvinist pastor John Piper’s outsized influence on American evangelicalism.
- “White hysteria, Critical Race Theory, and eyes that dare not see,” by David Gushee, June 25, 2021 — White anger about Critical Race Theory uncovers a Pavlovian relationship between right-wing demagogues and their American audiences.
- “What I learned from spending three days with the ‘Duck Dynasty’ family,” by Maina Mwaura, June 9, 2021 — The Robertsons are able to reach men who refuse to attend church.
- “Juneteenth should remind us of all the things we don’t know,” by Mark Wingfield, June 19, 2020 — Recognizing the emancipation of slaves should not be reduced to a “Black holiday” but should be a motivation to learn more about slavery and systemic racism.
- “If you’re not concerned about the Southern Baptists, you ought to be!” by Alan Bean, April 19, 2021 — Black SBC members were horrified as their white counterparts went all in on Donald Trump’s MAGA movement.
- “The blasphemy of Franklin Graham,” by Robert P. Sellers, Jan. 8, 2021 — The evangelist is counted among Donald Trump’s greatest supporters and even likened the former president to Jesus Christ.
- “The megachurch bubble is about to burst: What will that mean for American culture?” by Alan Bean, Sept. 11, 2017 —Megachurches could have a positive impact in society by adjusting their focus to include compassionate immigration reform, helping foster children and feeding the hungry.
- “Franklin Graham: the apple that fell far from the tree,” by Robert P. Sellers, Sept. 30, 2019 — Those who claim to be children of God ought to carefully consider the trajectory of their own lives and ask how far they have wandered from Jesus’ example.
- “I survived the Christian fundamentalist world that created Josh Duggar,” by Lydia Joy Launderville Dec. 13, 2021 — Fundamentalist environments create safe places for sexual abusers to thrive and, when caught, to place the blame on victims.
- “Why being transgender is not a sin,” by Mark Wingfield, Nov. 9, 2018 — Transgender identity is often considered “sin” even by progressive Christians but there’s no biblical evidence to make this claim.
- “The white evangelical war on truth,” by Joel Bowman Sr., Nov. 16, 2021 — Woe to the hypocrites who preach one thing and practice another and overlook justice, mercy and faithfulness.
- “8 topics that ought to be on every youth minister’s agenda,” by Mark Wingfield, June 5, 2015 — The one-size-fits-all days of youth ministry are long gone as families and youth have more choices in churches and outside activities to choose from.