Archives For Boy Scouts

No help for florist, baker, photo-maker
Reports are circulating about a leaked draft of an executive order designed to expand protections for individuals, organizations, and corporations’ religious convictions—including traditional beliefs on gender, sexuality, and marriage. According to experts, the four-page draft, titled “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” would strengthen religious exemptions under federal laws and programs, but it wouldn’t have the reach to quell debates over Christian-owned businesses refusing to serve same-sex weddings.

Congress proposes Johnson Amendment overhaul
Members of Congress have introduced legislation to enable churches and other non-profit organizations to endorse candidates or otherwise participate in political campaigns without fear of penalties from the Internal Revenue Service. The Free Speech Fairness Act would free pastors, churches and other tax-exempt entities to intervene on behalf of or against candidates in an election campaign. The measure would still prohibit financial donations from such organizations to candidates or campaigns, a bill sponsor said.

Falwell to head Trump ed task force
Evangelical Christian leader Jerry Falwell Jr. will head an education reform task force under President Donald Trump and is keen to cut university regulations, including rules on dealing with campus sexual assault, the school he heads said. The Liberty University president believes on-campus sexual assault investigations are best left to police and prosecutors.

Scouting and gender politics
The Boy Scouts of America announced it would allow girls who identify as boys to participate in its boys-only programs. In the past three years, the group has allowed both homosexual adults and young men to join as Scouts and leaders. The Scouts required parents to show birth certificates to verify their child’s gender. Now, the Scouts will accept whatever gender parents list on the application forms.

Pig embryos with human cells ‘problematic’
Biologists at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., announced they generated stem cells from human skin, then injected them into a pig embryo and allowed the embryo to grow four weeks in a sow’s uterus. After four weeks, human cells “were distributed randomly across the chimera,” The Washington Post reported. Joy Riley, a physician and executive director of the Tennessee Center for Bioethics and Culture, told Baptist Press the pig embryos with human calls are “morally problematic.”

 Sources: Christianity Today, Baptist Press, Religion News, World Magazine, Baptist Press

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates said last week that the organization should end its ban on gay leaders, a move that some Baptist leaders said was inevitable following the Scouts’ decision two years ago to allow gay-identifying youth to join.

The_Briefing“Back when they changed their thinking regarding the boys themselves, I knew that within a year or so they would reverse their stand with the leadership,” Georgia pastor Ernest Easley, chairman of the SBC Executive Committee in 2013, told Baptist Press. That year, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution affirming “the right of all families and churches prayerfully to assess their continued relationship with the BSA,” and urging the removal of leadership who sought the policy change “without seeking input from the full range of the Scouting family.”

Gates said May 21 that “Between internal challenges and potential legal conflicts, the BSA finds itself in an unsustainable position, a position that makes us vulnerable to the possibility the courts simply will order us at some point to change our membership policy. We must all understand that this probably will happen sooner rather than later.”

Mentioning councils already operating in defiance of the policy on gay leaders and the Supreme Court’s expected decision on same-sex marriage this year, Gates said, “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it would be.” The councils’ charters could be revoked, he said, but “such an action would deny the lifelong benefits of scouting to hundreds of thousands of boys and young men today and vastly more in the future. I will not take that path.”

Gates’ remarks reflect “an attitude that has infected many faith-based and religious organizations—and even entire Christian denominations,” blogged Joe Carter of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “Like Gates, many religious leaders simply lack the courage to stand up to internally destructive dissidents for fear of losing the broader organization.”


LA Governor signs executive order for religious liberty
After legislators in his state struck down a religious freedom bill May 21, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order designed to protect “people, charities and family-owned businesses with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

“We don’t support discrimination in Louisiana and we do support religious liberty,” Jindal said in the order. “These two values can be upheld at the same time.”


Gallup: Support for same-sex marriage at all-time high
60% of Americans support same-sex marriage, Gallup reported last week, up from 55% in 2014. The pollster also found Americans continue to overestimate the number of people who are gay or lesbian.


Theology debate among Arizona churches goes public
A group of churches in Arizona are working across denominational lines against the “progressive Christianity” they see evidenced at a sister church, Bob Smietana reports at ChristianityToday.com. The campaign, which includes a sermon series delivered at eight churches and advertised in the local paper, opposes the theology of The Fountains, a United Methodist church in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Pastor David Felten’s views include support for LBGT rights and rejection of the Virgin Birth, according to CT.


IMB missionary remembered in Malawi
An International Mission Board missionary who died of malaria last week is being remembered as “a mother to all.” Susan Sanson, 67, had been serving in Malawi with her husband, Billy, since 2000. The couple had no children, “but she didn’t feel the gap because we were all [her] children,” posted one student who knew her from her ministry at Chancellor College in Zomba, Malawi.


Illinois pastor details journey through anxiety
In an interview on Crossway.org, Joe Thorn, pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, shares about what he calls “the most difficult season in my personal life,” when anxiety got so bad he considered leaving ministry.


Millennials slightly less tuned in to TV
Barna’s report on what we watch on TV is fun and full of interesting facts, like the number of hours of television Millennials watch compared to older adults. (It’s two hours a day versus five for people 69 and over.) Other findings: Procedural shows scored big among Boomers and Elders, and almost everyone likes “The Big Bang Theory.”

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Oregon and Pennsylvania became the 18th and 19th states to approve same-sex marriage after judges struck down their states’ same-sex marriage bans May 19 and 20.

An Oregon appeals court denied a request to stay the ruling, and no appeal has been filed in Pennsylvania. In both states, the attorney general has said she would not defend the ban.

Layout 1Earlier in May, Arkansas became the first southern state to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Arkansas joined the list of states in limbo between a judge’s decision and current law. In Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, the debate is over whether to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Only one same-sex marriage bans remain unchallenged – North Dakota – after lawsuits were filed late last week in Montana and South Dakota. The Minneapolis attorney who filed suit in South Dakota told the Post he will do the same in North Dakota within six to eight weeks.

Same-sex marriages were scheduled to begin June 1 in Illinois after the passage of SB10, the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.” But many counties began issuing licenses after Attorney General Lisa Madigan gave clerks the go-ahead in March.

According to a Gallup poll released May 21, 55% of Americans approve making same-sex marriage legal, including 78% of those in the 18-29 age bracket.

More news:

Baptist seminary criticized over admission of Muslim student
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson faced criticism this month when a blogger reported the school had admitted a Muslim student to its Ph.D in archaeology program. Patterson told the Southern Baptist Texan that the student “had had no other options for Ph.D. work in his field,” and that he hoped to win him to faith in Christ. Patterson also said, “We required that the student would agree with our moral standards while a student at Southwestern. It was no problem for him.”

The decision, which Patterson said he is responsible for, was debated online after Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson published the report on his blog. Trustee chairman Steven James said the board will discuss the issue at its scheduled meeting in September. According to the Texan, Southwestern’s website includes requirements for graduate-level courses including “a mature Christian character” and “desire for Christian ministry.”

Boy Scouts president stands by decisions made last year
Robert Gates, president of the Boy Scouts of America, said he supports the organization’s decision last summer to include openly gay participants, and would have extended the policy change to include adults too. But Gates, a former U.S. Defense Secretary, also said it’s time to let the issue rest, according to a report on ChristianPost.com.

“Given the strong feelings – the passion – involved among our volunteers on both sides of this matter,” Gates said at the organization’s annual meeting May 23, “I believe strongly that to reopen the membership issue or try to take last year’s decision to the next step would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement with the high likelihood that neither side would survive on its own.”

Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting to focus on prayer, revival
Restoration, revival and prayer are the themes of this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, scheduled for June 10-11 in a city known for its place in American and Baptist history. And baseball and crab cakes.

SBC President Fred Luter will preside over his final annual meeting as his second one-year term draws to a close. He told Baptist Press this year’s meeting theme is similar to last year’s – revival – with added importance given to prayer. The meeting also will include a Tuesday night revival service. “…We just come for worship and the word,” Luter said. “That’s it. No business will be conducted.”

Three candidates will reportedly be nominated to succeed Luter: Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas; Dennis Manpoong Kim, pastor of Global Mission Church of Greater Washington, and Jared Moore, pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, Ky. Read more about the SBC Annual Meeting at BPNews.net.

 

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.

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Military members ranked the highest in Pew Research’s study of how much various professions contribute to society. Pew found 78% of Americans believe military personnel contribute “a lot,” followed by teachers (72%) and doctors (66%). Clergy members didn’t fare quite as well, with 37% of respondents saying they contribute a lot to society, and 36% that they contribute some. Read more at PewForum.org.

Other news:

‘We all lost’ in George Zimmerman verdict, pastor says
In a Christianity Today essay about Saturday’s verdict, Pastor Victor Montalvo shares his perspective as the leader of a church in Sanford, Fla., the eye of the storm since teenager Trayvon Martin was killed in February 2012. Montalvo writes, “A young man is dead. Another man’s life is ruined. A city struggling with an undercurrent of racial tension for decades has another gaping wound.” Read Montalvo’s essay, including his charge for the Church, at ChristianityToday.com.

Baptist named new president of The King’s College
Greg Thornbury, a vice president and dean at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., has been named the new president of The King’s College in New York City. Located just around the corner from the New York Stock Exchange in Lower Manhattan, the Christian college is in an extremely strategic place, Thornbury said. “There is one freestanding Christian college in that city, and it must succeed… We need an institution of higher education that is articulating the cause of God and truth in the greatest city in the world.” Read the full story at Baptist Press.

Illinois Supreme Court clears way for parental notice law
The Illinois Supreme Court acted on the Parental Notice of Abortion Act last week, breathing new life into a law that is nearly 20 years old, but has never taken effect in the state. The Associated Press reports the court upheld the dismissal of a suit against the law, ending years of legal challenges and requiring doctors to notify the parents of any girl 17 or under 48 hours before she undergoes an abortion. The law is scheduled to go into effect in mid-August. Read the full AP story at sj-r.com.

Churches investigate Boy Scouts alternatives
More churches are investigating Royal Ambassadors, a Southern Baptist missions education program for boys, in the wake of Boy Scouts decision to allow self-identifying gay members. Julie Walters leads corporate communications for Woman’s Missionary Union, the organization that directs RA’s.

“The first week following the [Boy Scout] vote we received more than 25 requests via Facebook and email from churches and individuals interested in beginning an RA program,” Walters told Baptist Press. “This is an increase from the typical number we receive on a weekly basis.” Read more at BPNews.net.

 

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

At the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston earlier this month, messengers responded to policy changes made by Boy Scouts of America this spring. (The Scouts voted to allow gay-identifying youth as members, but stopped short of lifting a ban on gay troop leaders.)

Baptists meeting in Houston approved a resolution urging the removal of those who “sought to change both the membership and the leadership policy of the Scouts without seeking input from the full range of the Scouting family.” But the resolution stopped short of prescribing specific action by SBC churches. Rather, it affirmed “the right of all families and churches prayerfully to assess their continued relationship with the BSA,” and encouraged churches who choose to sever ties with Boy Scouts to consider Royal Ambassadors (RA’s), a Southern Baptist missions education program for boys, as a ministry alternative.

SBC President Fred Luter recently announced his church will cut ties with Boy Scouts because of the organization’s policy change. Luter told Alabama news site AL.com, “We’ll be pulling out of Boy Scouts,” at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, which has hosted a troop. Luter, once a Scout himself, also said the Scouts were trying to be “politically correct” by making the policy change, but, “There’s nothing that can be politically right if it’s biblically wrong.”

Read more at AL.com, or more about the resolution at BPNews.net.

What could a Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage mean?
The Illinois General Assembly didn’t take up the same-sex marriage issue during a recently called summer session, but the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on two pieces of legislation – the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 – this week. The Washington Post has an interactive graphic that details what could happen depending on the Court’s decision.

Frank Page on finding comfort in the wake of a loved one’s suicide
Southern Baptist Executive Committee President Frank Page spoke to the Christian Post during the convention’s annual meeting in Houston about some things that have given him comfort after his daughter’s suicide. Page’s new book, “Melissa: how parents struggling with a child’s suicide can find comfort. “Melissa: A Father’s Lessons from a Daughter’s Suicide,” was released in June. Watch the video at ChristianPost.com.

GuideStone announces support for Church Health Plan Act
Baptist Press reports GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention is encouraging pastors to contact their senators and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors of the Church Health Plan Act. The legislation, S.B. 1164, is in response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will allow premium tax credits beginning in 2014 for people who purchase coverage from commercial health care exchanges, but not pastors and others who get their health care coverage from church health plans. “If Congress fails to act, they will be disadvantaging church plans as compared to commercial, secular plans,” said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins. Read GuideStone’s statement on BPNews.net.

Prodigal son gets modern-day movie treatment
The American Bible Society (ABS) is working on a series of films that update familiar parables from the Bible. The first, based on the story of the prodigal son, isn’t fully funded yet, but already has a trailer viewable here. ABS is utilizing Kickstarter, a website that allows people to help fund creative projects they believe in, to produce the films.

BREAKING_NEWSHOUSTON | Messengers to the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution this morning calling for Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to “remove from executive and board leadership those individuals who, earlier this year, sought to change both the membership and leadership policy of Scouts.”

The resolution doesn’t prescribe any specific action as related to continuing or discontinuing fellowship with Boy Scouts, but does “affirm the right of all families and churches prayerfully to assess their continued relationship with the BSA.”

A messenger from Florida moved that the Resolutions Committee strike a reference to churches who choose to remain in fellowship with Boy Scouts. The amendment was defeated. Debate on the issue last around a half hour, requiring the committee to move the second half of their report to the afternoon session. On the docket: resolutions on the Cooperative Program, WMU, prayer for the President, religious freedom, age discrimination in healthcare rationing, and America’s growing prison population.

This morning, messengers also approved resolutions for:

-Appreciation for the 2013 annual meeting

-Recognition of the Bill Graham Evangelistic Team

-Support for safe and healthy children’s ministries, and to protect children against sexual abuse, and

-Commitment to minister to people who struggle with mental health concerns