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The Briefing

Trump to Liberty grads: Follow Christian convictions
In front of a record-setting crowd of about 50,000 attendees, the newly minted politician winked to his support from evangelicals—repeatedly bringing up religious freedom and identifying with their position as Washington outsiders. “In America we do not worship government, we worship God. We do not need a lecture from Washington on how to lead our lives,” he said to the graduates.

La. Executive Board concludes study of ERLC
The Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Executive Board has concluded a study of “issues of concern” related to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and issued a letter commending ERLC President Russell Moore for “confessing his failings.” The letter, addressed to the ERLC president and trustees, also urged Moore “to listen carefully and respectfully to Southern Baptists even as we listen to him.”

Graham calls persecution of Christians ‘genocide’
Franklin Graham, son of the famed evangelical preacher Billy Graham, urged fellow Christians to struggle against a “Christian genocide” that he says has killed in greater numbers than most believers can fathom. Graham spoke May 10 at a conference aimed at highlighting an issue many feel is ignored by politicians and the media.

Court sides with Christian print shop
The owner of Hands on Originals, a Lexington, Ky., print shop, did not violate a local nondiscrimination ordinance when he refused to create T-shirts for an annual gay pride festival, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled. The 2-1 decision is the second to uphold Blaine Adamson’s right to engage in “viewpoint or message censorship.” A local gay and lesbian advocacy organization asked Adamson to create T-shirts promoting the organization’s 2012 Pride Festival. Adamson declined, saying he could not promote that message as a Christian.

Majority of Protestants support gay marriage
Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say same-sex marriages should be recognized by the law as valid. Although not meaningfully different from the 61% last year, this is the highest percentage to date and continues the generally steady rise since Gallup’s trend began in 1996. However, U.S. Protestants, including all non-Catholic Christians, are now about twice as likely to support gay marriage as they were in 1996 (55% vs. 27%). This year’s poll is the first-time Protestant support has reached the majority level.

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

The_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Half of all Illinois residents said they’d move out of state if they could, putting the Land of Lincoln at the top of a Gallup survey of all 50 states. But it’s a dubious honor: On average, only 33% of residents in all states would like to move, compared to 50% in Illinois.

19% of Illinois residents said they are extremely, very or somewhat likely to move in the next year, compared to about 14% across all 50 states.

Gallup linked their most recent poll to similar studies that measure how negative residents are about their state’s taxes, and how much they distrust their government. Illinois topped the latter list too – only 28% of residents said they had a great deal or fair amount of trust in their state government. As for taxes, 71% of Illinoisans said they were too high, placing the state fourth on a list topped by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

One piece of good news amid the bad: A study from the University of Colorado-Boulder named Chicago the country’s funniest city, largely because of its improv scene. Judging from the Gallup numbers, it may be a good time to learn to laugh at ourselves, too. Read more at

Supreme Court rules in favor of town meeting prayers
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that prayers before town meetings in Greece, N.Y., can continue. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City had ruled the prayers “had the effect of affiliating the town with Christianity,” but the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision overturned that ruling. “This is a victory for all of those who believe in the freedom of speech, including religious speech, as a prized part of our God-given religious liberty,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Read the full story at

Oklahoma school district bars pre-game prayers
The Freedom From Religion Foundation successfully lobbied an Oklahoma school district to stop pre-game prayers led by baseball coach Larry Turner and his staff. In a letter written by his attorney, Owasso School District Superintendent Clark Ogilvie said his district “will not allow any District employees to participate with any District students in any prayer or other religious activities in connection with any school-sponsored events.” Read more at

Page appoints SBC Mental Health Advisory Council
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, has named a 23-member advisory council to assist churches as they respond to mental health needs in their congregations. The group, chaired by Kentucky pastor Tony Rose, will address concerns brought by messengers at the 2013 SBC Annual Meeting in Houston. There, Baptists approved a motion by Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd to ask Southern Baptist entities “to assist our churches in the challenge of ministry to those suffering from mental health issues…” Messengers also approved a resolution on “Mental Health Concerns and the Heart of God.” Read more at

Disaster Relief volunteers respond to southern storms
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams moved quickly into the Southeast U.S. following a spate of tornadoes and severe storms two weeks, and are still at work in several states.

“These storms were so strong that the slabs were swept clean by the wind,” said Disaster Relief director Joe Garner in Arkansas, where teams were serving the Mayflower and Vilonia areas. “There is very little chainsaw work to do. It is mainly clearing debris.”

Since April 26, destructive storms have affected 13 states, Baptist Press reports. For more Disaster Relief updates, go to