Archives For Catholic church

The BriefingPastors sue Illinois over gay conversion therapy ban
A group of pastors is suing Illinois over a law that bars therapists and counselors from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation, saying the prohibition violates free speech and religious rights. The federal lawsuit seeks to exclude clergy from the ban that took effect Jan. 1, arguing that homosexuality is “contrary to God’s purpose” and a disorder that “can be resisted or overcome by those who seek to be faithful to God and His Word.”

Olympics wrap-up: God praised by athletes in triumph, defeat
The images and memories of the 2016 Olympics will endure for much longer than the torch’s flame. Several athletes who are professing Christians joined in the medal haul. Helen Maroulis won the first gold medal ever for the United States in women’s wrestling, and said that throughout her competition she repeated to herself the mantra, “Christ in me, I am enough.”

Judge blocks transgender restroom order
A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s directive forcing schools to allow transgender students to use restroom and locker room facilities based on gender identity, rather than their biological sex. District Judge Reed O’Connor said the departments of Education and Justice failed to follow the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires advanced notice and a public comment period before issuing such guidelines.

Judge under fire for praying in courtroom
A Texas judge could be sued for starting every court session with a short prayer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation alleges that Judge Wayne Mack’s invocation is “unconstitutional,” and the organization is currently considering a lawsuit. Mack pointed out that both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Supreme Court start their opening sessions with an invocation, and he’s just “following in their footsteps.”

Lutherans recognize agreement with Catholic Church
Nearly 500 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Castle Church door, the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. has approved a declaration recognizing “there are no longer church-dividing issues” on many points with the Roman Catholic Church. The “Declaration on the Way” was approved 931-9 by the 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans.

Sources: Big Story AP, Baptist Press, World Magazine, Fox News, Religion News Service

The BriefingBans on travel to Miss., N.C., called ‘ridiculous’
At least nine U.S. cities and five states have banned non-essential travel by government employees to North Carolina, Mississippi or both, claiming religious liberty bills adopted there discriminate against homosexual and transgendered persons. Pastors and other Christian leaders call the bans “ridiculous.”

Women share abortion stories with the Supreme Court
Twenty-five years ago, two women found themselves in the same position: freshmen in college, pregnant and scared of derailing all they had worked toward. Both women walked into a Dallas abortion clinic. It’s what happened when they walked out, and in the weeks and decades that followed, that places them on opposite ends of the most significant abortion case to be heard by the Supreme Court in a quarter of a century. These and other women are sharing their abortion stories through friend-of-the-court briefs in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Colleges welcome diversity, except evangelical Christians
San Diego State University recently withdrew official on-campus recognition from an evangelical sorority and an evangelical fraternity, stripping them of the privileges that all other on-campus student organizations possess. The problem according to the university was that these Christian student organizations were engaging in discrimination because they restricted their members to Christians in agreement with their statements of faith.

The footnote that could split the Catholic church
Some believe a footnote in Pope Francis’ new exhortation on marriage and the family, Amoris Laetitia could cause fractures in the Catholic church. There is an ongoing debate in the church about admitting remarried couples to the Eucharist. The footnote could further inflame that debate. Francis wrote, “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, ‘I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy’.”

Bible makes list of books most challenged
On the latest list of books most objected to at public schools and libraries, one title has been targeted nationwide, at times for the sex and violence it contains, but mostly for the legal issues it raises. The Bible.

Sources: Baptist Press, Washington Post, World Magazine, Gospel Coalition, Fox News

Luter_blogTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter is in Springfield today to meet with Illinois Baptist pastors and leaders at the Illinois Baptist State Association building. Luter also is preaching a three-day “Festival of Hope” at Union Baptist Church, a congregation affiliated with National Baptists. David Howard, director of missions for the Capital City Baptist Association invited Luter to Springfield in an effort to build bridges with African American churches in the city. The SBC president will engage in a Q&A time later today, and speak in the IBSA chapel service tomorrow morning. Check back here and on for more throughout the day.

Warren shares grief, faith on Twitter
In the days following his son’s death, Rick Warren’s personal Twitter feed told at least part of the story of how he and his family dealt with their grief. “Kay and I are overwhelmed by your love, prayers, and kind words. You are all encouraging our #brokenhearts,” Warren tweeted April 7, two days after Matthew Warren, 27, committed suicide.

He also responded to comments from Christians and non-Christians alike who took to social media to criticize and speculate about the Warren family. “Grieving is hard. Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest. Your notes sustained us,” Warren wrote April 8.

He also offered forgiveness to the person who sold his son an unregistered gun, citing Matthew 6:15, and wrote about God’s faithfulness in trouble. Citing Psalm 34:1, Warren wrote, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”

Read more about Warren’s Twitter reflections on

Pro-life advocates use tweets to force media’s hand on Gosnell trial
U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and actress Patricia Heaton were among those who participated in a TweetFest last week to force the media to cover the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist charged with killing seven babies after delivery. He also is charged in the death of Karnamaya Monger, who died after she was given a Demerol overdose at Gosnell’s West Philadelphia Women’s Medical Society.

The trial has received virtually no media coverage from many major outlets, so pro-life activists Bryan Kemper and Andy Moore decided to use social media to get the word out. Read the full story at

Pope Francis speaks out against church’s hypocrisy
A month into his papacy, Pope Francis called out the Catholic Church on the inconsistencies between what is taught and what is lived. “Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the intangible witness of one’s life,” he said at a Mass at St. Paul’s Basilica in Rome on April 14. “Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they from our lips, and so give glory to God!” Read more at

‘Not Today’ movie sheds light on human trafficking
A new feature film, released Friday, April 12, tells the tragic story of human trafficking. “Not Today,” produced by Friends Church in Yorba Linda, Ca., chronicles a young man’s struggle to rescue a girl sold into slavery, and to overcome his own apathy. The movie was filmed on location in India, but producer Brent Martz told Baptist Press that human trafficking is an issue everywhere. “I wish we could say that it didn’t exist here. It is easy maybe to put our head in the sand and say, that’s a problem that is halfway around the world, but it is happening here.” Read more about the movie at, and check the film’s website to find out where it’s showing near you.

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Even if you haven’t watched an episode of History Channel’s miniseries on the Bible, chances are you’ve heard about it. More than 13 million people watched the March 3 debut of “The Bible,” making it the evening’s most-watched program (broadcast or cable), and the most successful entertainment telecast on cable so far this year.

“The best-case scenario for us is that there’s an opportunity here for people to be discussing the Bible at the water cooler the day after this has aired,” said actress Roma Downey, who produced the five-part miniseries with her husband, reality TV hitmaker Mark Burnett. The couple was interviewed on (the website of LifeWay Christian Resources) before the show’s debut.

At a time when biblical literacy is at an all-time low, Burnett told LifeWay, he and Downey felt compelled to create a series that would get people engaged with Scripture for the first time ever, or the first time in a while.

“People who really know the Bible will say, ‘Oh, I forgot about that or I don’t remember that part.’ That’s what’s so great. It will make people say, ‘I’m going to look that up.’”

It may also send viewers to their Bibles to fill in the missing pieces in an understandably abridged narrative. Ten hours is a lot, especially in broadcast time, but the Bible is far too expansive a story to include even every familiar story. For example, God’s covenant with Abraham is the focus of much of the first episode, but Jacob, Esau, Joseph and his scheming brothers only get a sentence or two before we find Moses cowering before the burning bush on Mt. Sinai.

On the other hand, “The Bible” is an opportunity to highlight stories that could be considered minor, like Samson and Delilah. The tragic tale from Judges is included in the miniseries’ second episode. Samson’s journey – from God’s promise, to tempted man, to eventual spiritual and physical blindness – has implications for today, and could very well make for great water cooler conversation.

Read’s interview with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey here.

Other news:

Dolan: Next pope will face threats to religious liberty
(From Baptist Press) Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said the next pope will have to address rising threats to religious liberty, and the Catholic church’s perceived irrelevance. “We hear that more and more people have absolutely no problem with faith, but they do with religion,” Dolan told Reuters. “… More and more people don’t see the need for the church.”

Recently, Catholic bishops proposed the creation of a Vatican office to monitor religious liberty violations. Dolan told Reuters such an office would need to monitor violations that “take place not in Third World countries but in First World countries.”

“There seems to be a pretty well-oiled choreography to reduce religion and faith to the excessively private and where religion may have absolutely no public witness and voice in the public square.” Read more at

Mississippi schools may see more religious freedom
The Mississippi State Legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Phil Bryant that would allow public school students to express their religious beliefs through assignments, in classrooms, and at school events, reports Christianity Today. Read more at

How much news do you know?
Most Americans can identify the symbols associated with Judaism and social media site Twitter, but fewer recognize U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren or know where Syria is on a map. Those results are from the Pew Forum’s latest News IQ quiz, given at least twice a year to measure Americans’ current events acumen. Read more results or take the quiz at