THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn
GuideStone Financial Resources has joined a long list of organizations suing the federal government over the abortion/contraceptive mandate within President Obama’s healthcare reform package.
GuideStone, the Southern Baptist Convention’s health and benefits entity, filed suit Oct. 11 along with two other organizations – Oklahoma-based Reaching Souls International, and Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga. Baptist Press reports:
The suit contends the religious liberty of the entities and other non-church-related organizations covered by GuideStone’s health plan, is violated by a rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the 2010 health-care law. The HHS regulation requires employers to pay for coverage of workers’ contraceptives, including drugs that can cause abortions, but does not provide an exemption for entities like those that filed suit.
“GuideStone plans do not cover drugs or devices that can or do cause abortions,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said in a written release from the entity Monday (Oct. 14).
“We reluctantly take this step because we are committed to protecting the unborn and preserving the religious freedom that is guaranteed under the laws of this nation,” he said. “This mandate runs rough-shod over these foundational principles.”
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing in GuideStone in the suit, which is the 74th such complaint filed against the mandate. Read more at BPNews.net.
Opposing voices in Illinois marriage debate head to the Capitol
People for and against same-sex marriage will rally in Springfield this week in hopes of swaying the votes of lawmakers back in town for the fall veto session. It’s not clear whether sponsors of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act have the votes needed to pass the measure (it stalled in the House last May), but same-sex marriage supporters are planning a rally and march around the Capitol today, October 22. On Wednesday the 23rd, the Illinois Family Institute will host a prayer rally and “Lobby Day” at the Capitol.
Southern Baptist task force addresses baptism decline
A group of leaders assembled by the North American Mission Board will meet over the next few months to discuss the decline in baptisms across the Southern Baptist Convention. “Our baptismal trends are all headed in the wrong direction,” NAMB’s vice president for evangelism, Al Gilbert, told Baptist Press. “With a burden to penetrate lostness in North America, we must pray and think through what we can and should do to turn around this decline.”
According to the 2012 Annual Church Profile, Southern Baptist churches baptized fewer than 315,000 people last year, the first time baptisms dropped below that number since 1948. The 2012 total was 5.5% less than the previous year.
Gilbert and Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, will facilitate meetings for the group, which consists of 15 pastors and leaders from Southern Baptist entities. Baptist Press reports the task force hopes to conclude their work in May 2014. Read more at BPNews.net.
Graham’s ‘My Hope’ event set for Nov. 7-10
Billy Graham’s next evangelistic event could be his largest crusade ever. More than 25,000 churches have signed up to take part in My Hope America, which asks Christians to invite non-believers into their homes and churches to watch Graham preach on the power of the cross. His message will be broadcast Nov. 7-10 on various outlets; go to myhopewithbillygraham.org for a full list and schedule.
Spokesperson Brent Rinehart told The Christian Post, “Woven within Graham’s message are the faith stories of two popular musicians: rapper LeCrae who overcame addiction and the pull of the gang lifestyle to see his life changed by an encounter with Jesus; and former Flyleaf lead singer Lacey Sturm who fought depression, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts only to be rescued by the love of a Heavenly Father and the hope that comes through a relationship with His Son.”
The event’s website also includes additional evangelistic videos and online training materials for those who sign up for the outreach.
From alien to understood
Brant Hansen writes about growing up in church with Apserger’s syndrome on CNN’s Belief blog. The Christian radio host’s experience is specific to his circumstances, but probably will encourage anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. Hansen writes of his earlier church experiences: “I wondered if I was so broken, such a misfit that God simply took a look at me and decided to move on.” But “…Jesus himself finally reached me.” Read more at CNN”s Belief blog.