Archives For homosexuality

Trump wins evangelicals in S.C.
Billionaire Donald Trump easily won the Republican presidential primary Feb. 20 in the evangelical Christian stronghold of South Carolina. The success among self-identified evangelicals in South Carolina of Trump nearly mirrored his total among all Republican voters in the state.

Planned Parenthood videos mostly ignored
Over the past six months, a series of undercover videos focused on Planned Parenthood made national headlines, provoked outrage in Congress, and prompted investigations in about a dozen states. However, LifeWay Research found 7 out of 10 people are either not aware of the videos (43%) or have not spoken out after seeing them (27%).

More sue home-school guru for sexual harassment
The sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Gothard, whose ministry preached the subordination of women to men, has grown again. Now 18 people — 16 women and two men — are suing the 81-year-old founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, and the Oak Brook, Ill.-based institute. Thousands of conservative Christian families have relied on the IBLP’s home schooling curriculum.

‘Risen’ takes first in new releases
“Risen,” a film that tells of Jesus’ resurrection from the eyes of an unsaved soldier who participated in His crucifixion, opened in first place at the box office among new wide releases the weekend of Feb. 19–21.

Nike drops boxer over anti-gay comments
World champion boxer-turned-politician Manny Pacquiao apologized on social media for saying that people who engage in homosexual acts are “worse than animals,” but not before the remark cost him Nike’s sponsorship.

Sources: Baptist Press, Facts & Trends, RNS, World Magazine

The BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Pope Francis’ historic address to Congress proved troubling in both its lack of clarity on moral issues and in its church-state impropriety, Southern Baptist leaders and pastors said.

Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the invitation by congressional leaders to the head of a religious body to speak to legislators was problematic. Baptists “historically have been very opposed to the United States government recognizing any religion or religious leader in such a way,” Mohler had told BP before the pope’s visit to Washington.

Bart Barber, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, told Baptist Press, “For Congress to treat a church as though it were a state and the head of a church as though he were the head of a state runs contrary to basic First Amendment principles of disestablishment.” Read more from Baptist Press.


Southern Baptist rep. announces bid for House Speaker

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has announced he is running for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. McCarthy and his family are members of Valley Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Bakersfield.  The House Majority Leader announced his bid Monday (Sept. 28) to replace John Boehner (R-OH) who resigned from the position last week.


Sandi Patty announces retirement

Five-time Grammy and 40-time Dove Award winner Sandi Patty announced her retirement Monday (Sept. 28) in New York City. “No matter what you do, there comes a time when you should step away. And mine has finally come,” shared the 59-year-old Patty.

Patty will embark on a yearlong farewell tour in Feb. 2016.


Rainbow Doritos introduced to support LBGT charity

Frito-Lay, the parent company of Doritos, has introduced rainbow-colored chips in support of the LBGT non-profit the It Gets Better Project. But, you won’t be seeing the Cool Ranch flavor chips on store shelves. They are only available through a $10 donation to the charity project.


CCCU accepts resignations of Goshen, EMU

The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Board of Directors announced the resignations of Goshen College in Goshen, Ind., and Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va. The two schools sparked dissension — and prompted other schools to withdraw from the council — after expanding their hiring and benefits policies to embrace same-sex marriage.

The board also appointed a task force to review CCCU categories of association to accommodate the changing face of religious liberty.

Sources: Baptist Press, CNN, KevinMcCarthy.House.gov, RNS. U.S. News

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

In the wake of Saturday’s massive earthquake near Kathmandu, Nepal, Christian workers asked for prayer for the devastated country:

• Pray for basic shelter, water and food. These necessities are a high priority right now since no one is allowed back in their homes.

• Pray for God’s people to deeply know His comfort and peace during this time. Pray they will share Him with people around them.

• Pray for people in Nepal and surrounding areas during the continuing aftershocks and aftermath of this disaster. Southern Baptist assessment teams will began the damage Monday to find the best ways to respond.


Potential presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson will not address the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference this summer as scheduled, Baptist Press reports. Several Baptists, including the Baptist 21 group of younger SBC leaders and pastors, had expressed concern about Carson’s membership in a Seventh-day Adventist Church, and that his appearance at the conference could look like a political endorsement.


Three years after the death of Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, Russell Moore reflects on media coverage surrounding the Watergate conspirator’s life and eventual conversion to Christianity. For those who were cynical about Colson’s transformation, writes the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, “…we shouldn’t be angered by those who don’t get the full measure of the man. We should instead hear in some of this cynicism the cry of every human heart, a disbelief that there can be any such thing as final and total forgiveness of sin.”


Zondervan announced last week Charles Colson’s last book, “My Final Word: Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter Most,” will be released Aug. 4. Topics in the collection of writings will include “the rise of Islam, same-sex marriage, the persecution of Christians, crime and punishment, and natural law,” The Christian Post reports.


Atlanta-area pastor Andy Stanley says local churches should be the “safest place on the planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.”

“We just need to decide, regardless of what you think about this topic–no more students are going to feel like they have to leave the local church because they’re same-sex attracted or because they’re gay,” said Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church, at the Catalyst West conference April 17. Read the full story at ChristianPost.com.

A controversial Houston ordinance is now in effect, following a judge’s ruling on a petition drive led in part by some pastors in the city. HERO, or Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, made headlines last year when the city subpoenaed the sermons and other communications of five pastors who were against the ordinance. (The subpoenas were later withdrawn.)


Religious leaders are encouraging President Barack Obama to appoint a special envoy to monitor religious freedom in the Middle East and parts of Asia. The special envoy position has been vacant since it was created last year in the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act, Baptist Press reports.


Are you one of the many football fans bent out of shape since Tim Tebow’s exit from the NFL? Good news: A Philadelphia pretzel company has created a way to celebrate his return. The “Tebowing” pretzel, shaped like the quarterback kneeling in his famous praying pose, started as a publicity stunt but soon went viral. The New York Daily News reports the Philly Pretzel Factory plans to donate proceeds from the pretzels to a charity involving Tebow, who has signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

BREAKING_NEWSNEWS | Two Southern Baptist leaders have submitted a resolution on transgender identity that could be considered June 10-11 by messengers at the SBC’s annual meeting in Baltimore.

“You know you’re a cultural tipping-point when both Newsweek and Time magazine run cover stories on your cause within the span of a single year,” wrote Denny Burk, who co-authored the resolution. “Such is the case with transgender, which both Newsweek and Time have declared to be the next phase of the gay rights revolution.”

Burk, a professor at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., co-wrote the resolution with Andrew Walker, director of policy studies at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The SBC Resolutions Committee will consider the measure prior to the annual meeting and decide whether to bring it (or an amended version) to the Convention for a vote.

On his blog, Burk outlined several reasons for the resolution: The American Psychiatric Association removed transgender from its list of disorders last year. Some school systems now allow students to use opposite-gender restrooms and locker rooms. And, Burk wrote, parents, medical professionals, and counselors are increasingly open to treatment – including sex reassignment surgery – that helps children and others identify with the gender they feel, rather than the one with which they were born.

“…Christians are going to have to have to meet the transgender challenge as a matter of great pastoral and missional urgency,” Burk wrote. “We must be clear about what the Bible teaches and be faithful to live that message out in a culture that is increasingly out of step with biblical norms.”

The full text of the proposed resolution is available at DennyBurk.com (scroll to the bottom of the post). It asks SBC voters to affirm several statements, including:

  • That “perceived conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity” is one way some people experience the brokenness sin brought into the world.
  • God’s design is that “gender identity should be determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception.”
  • Transgender persons should be invited to “trust in Christ and to experience renewal in the gospel.”
  • “That we regard our transgender neighbors as image-bearers of almighty God and therefore that we condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against them.”
  • Opposition to efforts to bring biological sex in line with a different gender identity.
  • “Our love for the gospel and urgency for the Great Commission must include declaring the whole counsel of God, including what God’s word teaches about God’s design for us as male and female persons created in His image and for His glory.”

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.

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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.

 

Where_Was_God_posterTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Film documents storm recovery
One year after a tornado killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma, survivors are sharing their stories in a new documentary film. “Where was God? Stories of Hope After the Storm” was produced and promoted in partnership with several churches and faith-based groups, including the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

“We want to remind people that God is always near, no matter what,” said pastor and executive producer Steven Earp. “There is not a single thing that we could ever go through that our heavenly Father does not understand, and there is not a single dark place that He has not already walked.” Read more at BPNews.net.

Sudanese woman won’t recant, faces death sentence
A Sudanese doctor was sentenced to death after she refused to reject her Christian faith. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, 27, was convicted of apostasy April 30 and given 15 days to recant. “I am a Christian, and I have never been a Muslim,” she told the judge, according to Morning Star News. Ibrahim, who is due to give birth soon, is married to Daniel Wani, a South Sudanese Christian who also is a U.S. citizen.

Her sentence, set to be carried out two year’s after her child’s birth, is representative of “increasing Islamization” of Sudan sparked by the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Christianity Today reported. Read more at ChristianityToday.com.

Americans inflate church attendance
It’s easier to be honest online, at least about church attendance. A new study by the Public Religion Research Institute found Americans inflate their levels of religious participation, especially when answering questions about it over the phone. For example, 36% of Americans who took PRRI’s telephone survey said they attend services weekly or more, compared to 31% who answered an identical question on a self-administered online survey.

Among white evangelical Protestants, 9% answering over the phone said they seldom or never attend services, while 17% reported the same on the online survey. PRRI reports young adults, Catholics and white mainline Protestants are most likely to over-report their church attendance. Read more at publicreligion.org.

‘Gay Christian’ publisher out of National Religious Broadcasters
WaterBrook Multnomah resigned this month from the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) network over a controversial book published by an affiliated imprint, Convergent Books. “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships” by Matthew Vines theorizes that Scripture doesn’t condemn monogamous same-sex relationships.

Though WaterBrook Multnomah and Convergent are separate entities with the same leader, employees of both companies are reported to have worked on the book. According to a Christianity Today report, NRB President Jerry Johnson wrote in a letter to his board, “This issue comes down to NRB members producing unbiblical material, regardless of the label under which they do it.”

Baptist history gets hip-hop treatment
“Now this is a story all about how the Baptists became what they are now…” Rapping seminary study Ashley Unzicker took the outline from one of her classes and set it to the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song, creating a 5-minute ode to Baptist history that starts with religious persecution in England, and concludes with the election of Fred Luter as the SBC’s first African American president. Now, that’s fresh. Watch the video on YouTube.

NEWS | Meredith Flynn

Nashville, Tenn. | There are few things that make the Gospel more offensive and more out of sync with culture than what the Bible teaches about sex. But the church has to keep talking about it.

J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., told leaders gathered for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s summit on the Gospel and sexuality that the church can’t surrender the “high ground” in talking about sex, and also shouldn’t avoid hard topics like homosexuality. Greear also stressed that the root of sexual sin is idolatry, and the Gospel is powerful to deal with it.

“Our message cannot simply be, ‘Stop having sex.’ Our message has to be, ‘Behold, your God.'”

Encouraging leaders not to avoid hard topics, Greear said he had struggled two years ago with whether to speak publicly in favor of his state’s attempt to define marriage as between a man and a woman. He did and was met with harsh criticism, including one blogger who published the Greears’ home address.

For three weeks, Greear thought he and his leadership team might have made the wrong decision, he said. But now he has little doubt it was the right thing to do. Teaching his church to think “Christian-ly” about the issue was the goal; also, his church has seen several people come out of a homosexual lifestyle, accept Christ, and be baptized.

Greear’s message and the first day of the ERLC summit got a lot of attention on Twitter; by Monday evening, #erlcsummit was one of the social media site’s top trends. Posts from conference attendees were positive, but others watching from home or following the tweets expressed different views. The Twitter traffic seemed to increase when several leaders joined Greear on stage for a panel discussion on the Gospel and homosexuality.

There were light moments, like when Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins told pastors to reject “redneck theology” when talking about homosexuality. No more “Adam and Steve” jokes, he said. But the conversation was serious when the panel talked about what pastors should do when gay people or couples want to join their church, or how to counsel a Christian who still feels attracted to members of his or her same sex.

“There are things that are broken because of the curse of sin that you becoming a believer doesn’t automatically fix,” Scroggins said. That’s why pastors have to preach the second coming of Christ, he said, and the transformation of all believers who are in Christ. “In some mysterious way that I can’t comprehend, He is going to put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” Scroggins said. Breaking into a grin, he added, “Can’t wait to see these tweets.”

Watch the ERLC Summit online at live.erlc.com.