Will Arizona veto have far-reaching religious liberty implications?

Meredith Flynn —  March 4, 2014

The_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Amid much debate, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill Feb. 28 that would have allowed business owners in Arizona to deny services to same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote over the weekend that media coverage of the bill could signal that with the marriage battle a foregone conclusion, Christians will be increasingly marginalized for their beliefs.

…”[S]uch bills have been seen, in the past, as a way for religious conservatives to negotiate surrender – to accept same-sex marriage’s inevitability while carving out protections for dissent,” wrote Douthat, a Christian. “But now, apparently, the official line is that you bigots don’t get to negotiate anymore.

“Which has a certain bracing logic. If your only goal is ensuring that support for traditional marriage diminishes as rapidly as possible, applying constant pressure to religious individuals and institutions will probably do the job. Already, my fellow Christians are divided over these issues, and we’ll be more divided the more pressure we face.”

Christian leaders debated the Arizona bill prior to Brewer’s veto, while Michigan pastor Kevin DeYoung found counsel in the Book of Revelation. Blogging at thegospelcoalition.org, he recommended Christians look at Jesus’ letters to several churches who were “too cozy with the culture.”

“Granted, the issue in Asia Minor was not baking cakes for same-sex ceremonies,” wrote DeYoung. “We shouldn’t think Revelation 2-3 was written to solve our controversies. But we shouldn’t assume they have nothing to do with our controversies either. High pressure social obligations, rationalizing participation as only an empty gesture, popular teachers urging permissiveness, the threat of social and economic ostracism – sounds familiar. Maybe our problems aren’t so new.”

Other news:

Disney and Scouts face offThe Christian Post reports Disney has told Boy Scouts of America they will withdraw funding unless the organization allows gay troop leaders. Through Disney’s VoluntEARS program, employees can earn cash donations for non-profits they choose, but Boy Scouts will no longer be eligible beginning in 2015 unless the current policy changes. Boy Scouts voted last year to allow openly gay members, but kept its ban on gay leaders. Read more at ChristianPost.com.

Elliff asks IMB Board to find successor
Tom Elliff, president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board since 2011, asked trustees meeting in February to begin looking for his successor. “[God’s] telling me that this is the time to leave and that if I will obey Him and ask the Board of Trustees to appoint a search team … that is the surest way to ensure a smooth transition.”

He added, “He didn’t say resign and I’m definitely not going to retire, but I do believe that the board needs to be looking for the successor and the minute they find that man…I need to join the ranks of all the other people who are holding up his hand and praying for him.”

Elliff, 70, was elected IMB President in 2011. He has said he will stay in the post until the next leader is named. Read more at BPNews.net.

Former Union Pres. Dockery to lead divinity school in Chicagoland
David Dockery has been unanimously elected as the new president of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill. “We are overwhelmingly grateful to God for the invitation from the Trinity Board to serve the students, staff, faculty and various institutional constituencies in the days ahead,” said Dockery, who recently transitioned out of an 18-year presidency at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Read the full story at BPNews.net.

Noah’s pros and cons
Daunted by early reviews of the upcoming “Noah” movie? Check out EdStetzer.com for Jerry Johnson’s lists of the film’s positives (follows the basic plot from the Bible) and negatives (the main character doesn’t ring true). Johnson, president and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, will also post on the movie’s applications for Christians and for Hollywood.

Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.