Archives For immigration

For some Christians, immigration concerns at odds with battle for religious liberty
The Washington Post reports that while some denominations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, have publicly spoken against the separation of families at the border, the current crisis is a complex issue for many conservatives weighing it against cultural issues like abortion and marriage.

Baptist church receives donation from First Daughter
Ivanka Trump pledged $50,000 to a Southern Baptist church in Texas whose pastor tweeted about their desire to help children and families at the border. Prestonwood Baptist Church pastor Jack Graham, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said members of his church will travel to McAllen and Brownsville to assess needs for the immigrant children, and how churches should respond.

Related:

Religious restrictions on the rise—again
More than a quarter of 198 countries studied by Pew Research Center have “high” or “very high” levels of religious restriction, according to data released June 21. This is the second consecutive year that overall restrictions have increased in the countries studied, Pew reported.

Russian churches work around evangelism ban for World Cup outreach
Evangelistic outreach around this summer’s World Cup will have to get creative as a result of the host country’s anti-evangelism regulations, Christianity Today reports. Across Russia, churches will open their doors for viewing parties and other events to share the love of God, and soccer.

More Americans belong to multiethnic churches
Diverse congregations are on the rise, according to new research from Baylor University that found nearly one in five American worshipers now belong to a multiethnic church.

Sources: Washington Post, The Christian Post, ERLC, CNN, Pew Research, Christianity Today (2)

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to include a blog post/podcast from Albert Mohler.

Four  prominent Southern Baptists are taking public—and differing—positions on President Trump’s executive order that restricts immigration from seven Muslim countries, suspends entrance of all refugees for 120 days, and prevents all Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely.  Commentary from both Russell Moore and Ed Stetzer was published in the Washington Post, while Ronnie Floyd and Albert Mohler are speaking out on their blogs.

61222russell_moore

Russell Moore

Russell Moore, the president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has begun commenting on actions by the new administration, after a relatively quiet December. He wrote a letter to President Trump, Vice President Pence, Speaker Ryan, and Majority Leader McConnell responding to the president’s order on refugees that the Post has exclusively on its opinion page.  In the Jan. 30 letter, Moore references the Resolution on Refugee Ministry passed by messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis. “’Scripture calls for and expects God’s people to minister to the sojourner.’ Southern Baptist churches throughout the United States lead the way in carrying out this calling,” Moore wrote.

Moore also expressed concern for the safety of Southern Baptists who, “are among the many Americans living in majority-Muslim countries to carry out the biblical call to love their neighbors.” He also called on the president to reaffirm his administration’s “commitment to religious freedom” and “adjust the Executive Order as necessary.”

Ed_Stetzer_PC

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, the former Executive Director of LifeWay Research who now serves as the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, had his own op-ed published by the Post Jan. 26, “Evangelicals, we cannot let alternative facts drive U.S. refugee policy.” Stetzer agreed with the president on a need for a greater focus on national security however, he said, “I’m concerned that the president is operating on generated fear rather than facts. We need a better way.”

Stetzer’s better way is to “reject false facts,” “recapture a vision of what it means that all are made in God’s image,” and to “fight for those without a voice.”

Ronnie_Floyd_press

Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church and immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, published, “Navigating through the refugee issue from a biblical perspective,” to his blog, RonnieFloyd.com. In his post Floyd declared, “If we do not look at it biblically, we enter into dialogue without authority and clarity.” He advised: Love the refugee, fix the immigration system, and pray diligently.

He too referenced the 2016 Resolution on Refugee Ministry, “…one line in this resolution that realized the biblical responsibility of government: ‘RESOLVED, That we call on the governing authorities to implement the strictest security measures possible in the refugee screening and selection process, guarding against anyone intent on doing harm…’”

Floyd, who served on Trump’s religious advisory board during the election, wrote, “This line was included in the resolution because as followers of Christ, we must understand the tension that occurs because our government has a responsibility it is mandated to fulfill.”

He concluded by asking Christians to stress balance in their reactions to what is taking place. “Believing and operating with biblical balance, we know the Church must realize biblically that the government’s duty is to protect its citizens. Simultaneously, we must affirm the responsibility of the Church to minister to refugees who are brought inside the borders of America.”

albert-mohler2

Albert Moher

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, devoted the January 30 edition of The Briefing to the controversy. He sought to clarify misconceptions many have concerning the executive order by pointing out the seven countries on the identified in the order are known terrorist threats. He noted several other countries have much larger Muslim populations and do not appear on the list.

“The entire system of laws in this country concerning our borders and entry into the country is a part of the government’s responsibility to keep the nation secure,” Mohler said.

Mohler compared previous immigrants who came not just to live in America but to be American, to the teachings of classical Islam. “It is not just what is often called radical Islam, it is classical Islam, it is the Islam believed by the vast majority of Muslims around the world that requires that every Muslim seek to bring every nation under the law of the Quran, under Sharia law.”

He cautioned, “The significant issue to observe here is that even though some who are coming in terms of these waves of Muslim immigration intend to join these communities and these cultures, the reality is that the majority of these immigrants and Muslims have not been assimilated into the cultures. To put it in terms of the American experiment, we have to be very careful that we do not reshape America by creating a population that does not intend, even though they are resident in this country, to be a part of the American project.” He pointed to the situation in Europe as an example of this reshaping.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

After two police officers were shot March 12 in Ferguson, Mo., chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team were back in the community where they served six weeks last year.

“It is not possible to solve a community’s deep-rooted problems with a team of chaplains deployed for six weeks, and we knew that before we started,” Billy Graham Association President Franklin Graham said then, according to a story on billygraham.org. “But God used the chaplains to touch many hearts and to plant fruitful seeds in the community.”


The_BriefingLawmakers in Tennessee proposed legislation in February that would make the Bible the official state book. Not surprisingly, some opponents say such an action is unconstitutional. But Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station), who introduced the bill in the House, said the action recognizes the Bible’s “historical importance.”

“The Bible has certainly had a pivotal role in the history of our state as well as our nation,” Sexton told the Baptist & Reflector newspaper. “The Bible also plays a significantly important role in our state today with several companies in Nashville being responsible for publishing more Bibles than possibly any other city in the world.”


68% of evangelicals say Congress should act on immigration reform this year, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research. Other findings: 86% say reform should secure U.S. borders, and 61% say it should include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.


The Christian Post reports San Francisco’s largest evangelical megachurch will no longer require celibacy from gay people desiring to be members of the church. “We will no longer discriminate based on sexual orientation and demand lifelong celibacy as a precondition for joining,” Senior Pastor Fred Harrell wrote in a letter on behalf of the church’s elder board. “For all members, regardless of sexual orientation, we will continue to expect chastity in singleness until marriage.”


In honor of today, check out this 2009 post from Russell Moore on “what evangelicals can learn from St. Patrick.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | The U.S. State Department released its International Religious Freedom Report on Monday, citing 2013 as a year when “the world witnessed the largest displacement of members of religious communities in recent memory.”

The report also listed nations where religious freedom is severely threatened and violated. Those “countries of particular concern” are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented the report, President Barack Obama announced his nominee for the country’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Rabbi David Saperstein would be the first non-Christian to hold the post, reports Christianity Today. He is director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, an attorney, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Saperstein’s nomination requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

“Rabbi Saperstein is a respected thinker and leader who brings gravity to this important task,” said Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “He has my prayers and my pledge of full cooperation. The downgrade of religious freedom and the persecution of religious minorities around the world must end.”

Other news:

Texas church ministers with blankets, BIbles, coloring books at the border
De Dorman first felt a burden for families stranded at the U.S./Mexico border when she herself was stuck in an airport for three days in June. Dorman, a member of First Baptist Church in McAllen, Texas, went back home and organized a group of volunteers from her church to help out at an immigrant processing center in their town. Part of their ministry is giving out blankets to children who aren’t used to constant air conditioning, along with bilingual Bibles and Gospel-themed coloring books. “We tell them wherever you journey, the Lord wants to go with you,” Dorman told the Southern Baptist Texan. “We do our best, as God opens the doors, to speak to them and to set resources into their hands for that long bus ride.”

Pastor preaches forgiveness after hate crime
A church in Clarksville, Tenn., has forgiven whoever burned a cross outside their building, said Pastor Vernon Hooks of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. “Whoever did it, we forgive them,” Hooks said after the cross was discovered on the grounds of his mostly African American church early on July 22. “That’s the message, that we are a forgiving church and we’ll let the police do their job.” Police have classified the incident as a hate crime and are still investigating. Read the full story from the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle.

The Bible, re-designed?
A project aimed at making the Bible more readable for more people has earned more than $1.4 million in support on the fundraising site Kickstarter.com. “Bibliotheca,” an idea from book designer Adam Lewis Greene, organizes the Bible into four volumes designed like modern books. The text is in one column, and there are no verse or chapter notations. A video on Greene’s Kickstarter page explains  the inspiration behind the project.

Barna survey measures Americans’ dietary worries
Healthier eating habits may be on trend these days, but nearly half of all Americans are worried they eat too much. And 63% say they’re concerned about not eating enough fresh produce. The new research from Barna also found 55% of Americans experience some kind of “food guilt.” Read more at Barna.org.

 

The_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | A new survey shows 21% of same-sex couples in Illinois have opted to wed since it became legal in the state June 1, but a second survey asks how long those marriages will last. And two more new polls cast doubt on the percentage of homosexuals in the U.S.

Equality Illinois, a group that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in Illinois, surveyed the state’s 102 counties and found at least 3,274 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples and 1,694 civil unions have been converted to marriages. According to the most recent U.S. Census, 23,409 same-sex couples reside in Illinois. Using this data, 21.2% of same-sex couples in the state have married or plan to marry.

The group stated the exact number of licenses issued or civil union conversions is difficult to determine because not all of the state’s county clerks recorded whether licenses were issued to same-sex couples, while others recorded conversions together with licenses, not separately.

Nine counties reported no licenses issued to same-sex couples or civil union conversions and five counties did not respond to the survey.

What might the future hold for these couples? The National Review’s online blog, The Corner, reported this month in a new Scandinavian study of civil unions (more heavily equated to marriage than in the U.S.) over the nearly two decades that they have been legal in that region of the world. The study reported male couples were 35% more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples, and female couples were over 200% more likely to divorce. It also found, whether or not the couples had children made little difference in the divorce rate.

Gay, more or less

In related news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported July 15 that less than 3% of the U.S. population identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. It’s the first time the government has measured American’s sexual orientation through the National Health Interview Survey.

According to the 2013 survey just out, 1.6% of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7% consider themselves bisexual.

And these findings conflict with a new Pew Research Center survey that says there are more homosexuals in the United States than previously reported. The figure cited for years was 10%, based mostly on the Kinsey Report of 1948. Critics called Kinsey’s methods flawed, and said the number was more like 4% to 8%.

Pew used two survey methods, allowing for indirect responses. While the “direct report” method shows 11% of U.S. adults “do not consider themselves heterosexual,” the “veiled report” showed considerably higher numbers: 19% of U.S. adults said they “do not consider themselves heterosexual.” That’s 15% of men and 22% of women.

Using the “veiled method,” Pew also found that 27% of U.S. adults admitted having a sexual experience with someone of the same sex.

Overall, the public perception of the number of homosexuals in the U.S. has grown as same-sex marriage has dominated the news. A 2013 Gallup poll that found Americans believe 25% of the population is gay, lesbian or transgendered.

-Reported by Lisa Sergent for the Illinois Baptist

Other stories:

SBC leaders tour Texas border shelters
Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and ethicist Russell Moore will today visit two border facilities tending to the needs of children detained after attempting to cross into the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security reports 57,000 such kids have been detained in the last nine months. The children “need immediate attention that elevates their health and safety above all,” Floyd wrote for Baptist Press last week. “From my point of view, the children must become our number one priority.” Read more at BPNews.net

Research guages ‘religious temperatures’
Americans view Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians warmly, according to a new study from Pew Research that measures perceptions about different religious groups. Respondents ranked groups on a “feeling thermometer” of 0 to 100. The “warm” groups all received average rankings in the low 60s, while atheists (41) and Muslims (40) received the lowest numbers. Read more at PewForum.org.

Baptist school gets partial win in court
A California Superior Court ruled in July that a Southern Baptist university had the right to expel a transgender student for violating its code of conduct. Domaine Javier, a former California Baptist University nursing student who identifies as a female, sued the school for gender discrimination after being expelled for claiming to be female on his application.

Judge Gloria Connor Trask ruled the school didn’t violate the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act because its on-campus activities do not constitute a “business enterprise.” But Trask did award attorney’s fees and $4,000 in damages to Javier because he was excluded from off-campus enterprises open to the public. Read more at BPNews.net.

Movies to explore Tolkien/Lewis friendship
Christianity Today reports on two upcoming movies that will look at the relationship between beloved Christian authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The films “Tolkien and Lewis” and “Jack and Tollers” are expected in 2015, and another movie about Tolkien’s life also is in the works.