THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn
The uproar over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act continued as lawmakers introduced changes to the bill that opponents say put business owners at risk to be forced to compromise their beliefs.
The original RFRA, signed into law March 26 by Gov. Mike Pence, came under national fire from corporations, celebrities, and others who said it would allow discrimination against gay people. Supporters of the law said it would protect the religious liberty of business owners by shielding them from government action if they refused to provide services for same-sex weddings.
The changes to the law, signed by Pence one week after he approved the original RFRA, say “no member of the public may be refused services by a private business based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Baptist Press reports.
The controversy, wrote Philip Bethancourt of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has served to make religious liberty “a new culture war wedge issue.”
“One indication of this change is the frequent use of ‘religious freedom’ in scare quotes, suggesting that it is merely a cover for something more malicious,” Bethancourt wrote on ERLC.com. “Danger arises when our first freedom becomes a second-class culture war issue.”
Christians in Kenya grieved on Easter Sunday for 148 people killed at a university last week by terror group al-Shabaab. The Associated Press reported on the Easter service at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Garissa, where Bishop Joseph Allessandro said, “We join the sufferings of the relatives and the victims with the sufferings of Jesus. The victims will rise again with Christ.”
During the April 2 terror attack at Garissa University College, the shooters separated Christian students from Muslims and killed the Christians, AP reported.
What do Americans believe about Jesus? According to new research by Barna, most say he was a real person, a little over half believe he was God, and 62% say they have made a personal commitment to him that is still important in their life today.
And what about the church? LifeWay Research found that while 55% of Americans say the church in America is declining, 65% believe attendance is admirable.
More interesting research: Pew says current trends forecast that Muslims will almost equal Christians in number by 2050, and the global percentage of “nones” who have no religious affiliation will actually decrease.
“We’ve got a long way to go” on race relations, said Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore at a March summit on racial reconciliation and the gospel. “Our sin keeps wanting us to divide up. But to the faithful, Jesus promises, ‘You will be called overcomers.’” Read the Illinois Baptist‘s coverage of the summit here at ib2news.org.
Did you catch the premiere episode of “A.D.: The Bible Continues” on Sunday? Christianity Today is recapping each installment of the new miniseries produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, which details the history of the early church following Jesus’ death and resurrection.