Airbnb, Answering Jen Hatmaker, Brazil’s Evangelicals, and Remembering Peter Taylor

SIGNS AND WONDERS

rosaria_butterfield-1Airing Grievances. Starting today, if you use Airbnb—and tens of millions of us do—you must sign a new “Community Commitment” that forbids discrimination of any kind. The statement says, “You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.” This doesn’t sound so horrible until you consider that if you are a Christian trying to make a few extra bucks with your spare bedroom, you will now have to allow gay couples to rent your home. Whether you agree with the rule or not, some are objecting to the fact that Airbnb just made the decision public on Saturday, and it goes into effect today. Daniel Pipes, founder of the Middle East Forum, tweeted, “I just got nanny @Airbnb’s obnoxious ‘Community Commitment’ telling me how to think. No thanks. I will book my overnight stays elsewhere.” Pipes told WORLD, “I don’t disagree with the sentiments [of the Community Commitment], but I find it unacceptable that to use the services of this conventional company, I have to make a pledge. I have not done that for any other service in my life. Not buying a house, not going on an airplane, not getting hotel rooms, not buying food, or all the other purchases I’ve ever made, I’ve never had to sign a commitment. This is politicizing the commercial marketplace in a way that’s unacceptable.” Airbnb feels, however, that it can afford to make this demand. The room-sharing service said its number of users had grown from 47,000 in 2010 to 30 million in 2015.Queer Theories. I’ve got to admit that until 72 hours ago I had never heard of writer and HGTV star Jen Hatmaker. I guess I’m just not in her target demographic. But her comments affirming same-sex marriage have created such divisiveness that it’s been hard not to notice her in the past few days. Indeed, one wonders if that may not have been a factor in her reasoning, but that’s a topic for another day. For today, I want to direct your attention not to Hatmaker’s comments, but to the beautiful and thoughtful response by Rosaria Butterfield. Butterfield makes the point that it is not kind or compassionate to allow friends to continue on a path that leads them to destruction. The point—in the abstract—is obvious and non-controversial, but applying it to homosexual behavior has become politically incorrect in the extreme. Butterfield, however, has unique qualifications to make the point as she was herself a lesbian, a feminist, and a “queer theory” scholar at Syracuse University before she had an encounter with Christ, and I commend her article to you.

Global South. I have long been a student of Philip Jenkins, who has been telling us for years that the real growth of Christianity has been in what he calls the “Global South,” the Southern Hemisphere, especially in places like Africa and South America. That reality penetrated the political scene this week when conservative Sen. Marcelo Crivella became Rio de Janeiro’s new mayor. Crivella is an evangelical. In fact, he is a former gospel singer whose albums have sold in the millions in Brazil. Now, I must also say that Crivella is not exactly what you could call orthodox in much of his theology. He is the nephew of Edir Macedo, known in Brazil as the “billionaire bishop,” a founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which preaches a “prosperity gospel” that has allowed it to become Brazil’s largest Pentecostal denomination. The church has also faced accusations of fraud and “charlatanism.” Still, Marcelo Crivella’s election as mayor of Brazil’s second-largest city is a defining moment in the growth of the evangelical church in South America’s largest country.

Remembering Peter Taylor. I’m fondly remembering writer Peter Taylor today. He died 22 years ago tomorrow, November 2, 1994. I had the privilege of sitting under his teaching briefly. He was a visiting professor at the University of Georgia when I was there in graduate school. If you don’t know his work, start with his novel “A Summons to Memphis,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, or his short story “The Gift of the Prodigal,” from the collection “The Old Forest and Other Stories.”a visiting scholar at the University of Georgia when I was in graduate school there.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia via Creative Commons License.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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