Archives For Wheaton College

The BriefingRestroom directive harms the transgendered
The Obama administration’s directive regarding restroom use for transgender students at public schools and universities likely will harm children struggling with their gender identity and increase the number who become transgendered. That’s the conclusion of two Southern Baptist psychologists who have treated adolescents with gender dysphoria.

Transgender bathroom laws worry even liberal parents
Girls from a swim team in New York City’s Upper West Side are too scared to use the women’s locker room at a Parks Department swimming pool. In March, a sign appeared noting that everyone has the the right to use the restroom or locker room consistent with their “gender identity or gender expression.” Around the same time, the girls became concerned after they saw a “bearded individual” in the women’s changing room.

Abortion mandate cases returned to lower courts
The U.S. Supreme Court returned to the lower courts for reconsideration a disagreement between religious objectors and the federal government over the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate, which requires employers to make contraceptives available to their workers, including ones that can potentially induce abortions. The appeals involve the Little Sisters of the Poor and GuideStone Financial Resources.

Stetzer leaving LifeWay for Wheaton College
Dr. Ed Stetzer has been appointed to a newly created chair, The Billy Graham Distinguished Endowed Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism. In this role, he has been named Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College (BGCE). Stetzer shared some of the details as to why he’s making the move.

Going to church could help you live longer
Researchers have found that women who went to church more than once a week had a 33% lower risk of dying during the study period compared with those who said they never went. Women who regularly attended religious services also had higher rates of social support and optimism, had lower rates of depression and were less likely to smoke.

Sources: Baptist Press, Time, Baptist Press, Christianity Today, CNN

Reported IMB baptisms drop sharply; lowest since 1969
The Louisiana Baptist Message reports overseas baptisms by the International Mission Board 2015 dropped to 54,762 from the 190,957 reported for 2014, according to information submitted by the International Mission Board in response to a request by the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. Likewise, the number of new churches fell from 13,824 to 3,842 over the same one-year period.

Groups urge NCAA to end ties to Title IX waiver colleges
As March Madness started, a homosexual advocacy group began pressuring the NCAA to exclude from its membership all schools with federal government approval to “discriminate” against transgender individuals on religious grounds. Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. predicted the NCAA eventually will succumb to pressure from activists and grant the request to ban schools with a biblically orthodox view of human sexuality from America’s most prominent college athletics association.

Wheaton names first female provost
For the first time in Wheaton College’s over 150-year history, the Illinois evangelical higher education institution has named a woman to be the school’s provost. Wheaton College President Philip Ryken announced Seattle Pacific University assistant provost and Wheaton alumna Margaret Diddams will take over as provost after current provost Stanton Jones steps down later this year.

Tchividjian fired over prior affair
The grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, Tullian Tchividjian, has been fired by another church after confessing to another affair that he previously had. The news broke when Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, FL, explained that the 43-year-old pastor admitted he had an affair with another woman, which he had not previously mentioned.

Billboard: Nuns are sticking with St. Louis
Racial tensions and severe floods have rocked St. Louis in recent months. Then, the city’s NFL team announced it’s move to Los Angeles. But the Catholic nuns of the metropolitan area want the city to know that they are sticking around and they have launched a billboard campaign to show their commitment, featuring the message “We have faith in you, St. Louis.”

Sources: Louisiana Baptist Message, Baptist Press, Christian Post, One News Now, Religion News Service

The BriefingWho’s next for National WMU?
Wanda Lee, National WMU Executive Director, announced her retirement Monday (Jan. 11) at the annual January Board Meeting of the Woman’s Missionary Union. Lee has been at the helm of the National WMU since 2000 when she replaced Dellana O’Brien. Among those speculated on as her possible replacement is Sandy Wisdom-Martin, former Illinois WMU Executive Director and current Executive Director of Texas WMU.

SBC President on the ‘spiritual’ state of the union
As President Obama prepares to give his final State of the Union address tonight (Jan. 12), the President of the Southern Baptist Convention issued his own spiritual state of our union. Floyd shared on his blog, “What’s especially alarming to me, serving as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, is that we fail to realize how the spiritual health of our nation affects the state of our union. As our spiritual lives go, so goes the nation.”

Over 5,000 to join Chicago’s March for Life
Pro-lifers in Illinois are expecting over 5,000 people to join the annual Chicago March for Life event ahead of the national march in Washington D.C. A local version of the march held every year in the nation’s capital on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, the Chicago march on Jan. 17 is expected to be the largest held in the entire Midwest.

Process begins to remove prof over ‘same God’ comments
A panel of Wheaton College faculty will meet within the next 30 days to consider whether to recommend termination for political science professor Larycia Hawkins. Administrators placed Hawkins on paid leave in December after she made comments on social media about Muslims and Christians worshipping the same God.

Churches see need to screen volunteers
Almost half of the background checks requested by churches through LifeWay’s program with reveal some type of criminal offense. Most of those are minor incidents such as speeding tickets, but 21 percent of inquiries discovered misdemeanors or more serious crimes.

Sources: Baptist Press, Christian Post, Facts and Trends,, SBC this Week

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Wheaton College has removed the name of former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert from the school’s public policy center, following Hastert’s indictment on charges he paid $1.7 million to cover up past sexual misconduct, and then lied to the FBI about it. J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy opened in 2007.

Hastert resigned from the board of the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy May 29, and college officials announced the name change two days later in a statement on its website:

“We commit ourselves to pray for all involved, including Speaker Hastert, his family, and those who may have been harmed by any inappropriate behavior, and to continue the work and mission of the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy.”

Gallup: Americans are thinking less traditionally on moral issues
American views on key moral issues continue to trend in a less conservative direction, Gallup reports. According to research from May, “gay or lesbian relations” is morally acceptable to 63% of people, up from 40% in 2001. Also on the rise: perceived acceptability of having a baby outside of marriage, sex between an unmarried man and woman, divorce, and embyronic stem cell research.

Young people key in Ireland’s marriage vote
After a majority of Irish citizens voted to legalize same-sex marriage, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the vote is indicative of the Catholic Church’s relationship with young people. “I ask myself, most of these young people who voted yes are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years,” Martin told national Irish broadcaster RTE. “I’m saying there’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church.”

A new Gallup poll of American adults found 60% support same-sex marriage, an all-time high.

Coach withdraws from fundraiser amid controversy over group’s marriage stance
Clemson University football coach Dabo Swinney was to be honored by South Carolina’s Palmetto Family Council today along with “defenders of religious liberty” in the state. But after Swinney’s appearance at the conservative group’s fundraiser raised objections from Clemson students, GLAAD, and others, he withdrew from the event.

“I appreciate the recognition of my and the foundation’s efforts,” Swinney said, according to this ESPN report. “However, after much thought, in order to avoid a distraction for the team and the entire football program, I’ve decided it is in the best interests of all involved that I not attend the event on June 2.”

Subsidiary wins bid to purchase bankrupt Family Christian Stores
Family Christian Stores, the country’s largest Christian bookstore chain in number of locations, has avoided closure for now, Christianity Today reports. A bid to purchase the bankrupt company by FC Acquisitions, a subsidiary of Family Christian’s parent company, was awarded last week and must be approved by a bankruptcy court this month. The chain filed for bankruptcy in February.

Black Hawk Down vet graduates from Baptist seminary
Jeff Strueker, a hero of the Somalian conflict portrayed in the 2001 movie “Black Hawk Down,” recently received his Ph.D. in Christian leadership from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Baptist Press reports.

Church’s photo project restores Joplin
After a massive tornado barreled through Joplin, Mo., five years ago, First Baptist Church in nearby Carthage started a ministry to help restore and return lost family photos. The “Lost Photos of Joplin” project, begun by Minister of Music Thad Beeler, has returned more than 17,500 photos to people through reunification events.

“Why God landed [this ministry] here, I don’t know,” Beeler told The Pathway newspaper in Missouri. “But I do know that we chose to follow His lead, and we’re going to keep doing that until He shuts the door.”

NEWS | The U.S. Supreme Court has issued additional protection to Wheaton College as it fights a mandate in the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to cover drugs like the morning-after pill in their employee health plans.

Wheaton, a Christian college in a western Chicago suburb, already qualified for an exemption from the Affordable Care Act offered to faith-based non-profit organizations. But many have said the government’s plan – to let non-profits sign a form allowing insurers to pay for the drugs, rather than the organization itself – isn’t enough. As the Associated Press reported July 3, “Wheaton and dozens of other non-profits have sued over the form, which they say violates their religious beliefs because it forces them to participate in a system to subsidize and distribute the contraception.”
The Supreme Court’s unsigned opinion July 3 says that during its court case, Wheaton doesn’t have to sign the form but can write a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explaining its objection to the requirements.

The Court’s three female justices – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor – disagreed with the temporary injunction. Sotomayor wrote that the Court’s action “undermines confidence in this institution.”

On June 30, the justices ruled 5-4 that “closely held,” for-profit businesses Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties don’t have to cover abortion-inducing drugs in their employee plans. has a helpful infographic from The Becket Fund forecasting next steps in court cases against the mandate.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

An estimated 60,000 people gathered around video screens and computer monitors on Good Friday for Secret Church, an annual event hosted by Alabama pastor David Platt. Speaking from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Platt delivered nearly six hours of teaching on heaven, hell and the end of the world.

“We need to pause,” and consider the big questions related to what comes next, Platt said, because we are “continually blinded by the temporal, subtly numbed by the trivial, and we desperately need to contemplate the eternal.”

Platt covered biblical truths about heaven and hell before turning his attention to controversial questions in the book of Revelation. Speaking in rapid-fire sentences, he worked through a 190-page, fill-in-the-blanks notebook while viewers around the world scrambled to keep up, some with the help of a live Twitter feed that provided the answers.

Questions related to heaven, hell and Jesus’ return have always intrigued Christians, and often have been a source of disagreement. A 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center found nearly half of U.S. Christians believe Jesus will definitely (27%) or probably (20%) return to earth in the next 40 years, while 38% disagreed.

In the first few minutes of the Secret Church simulcast, Platt urged his listeners to “leave room for disagreement over secondary (and tertiary) doctrines while celebrating agreement on primary doctrines.” And to live with urgency. He quoted 18th century preacher Jonathan Edwards:

“Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.”

Read more about Secret Church here.

-David Platt quotes from Secret Church study guide

Other news:

Kerry advocates for Iranian pastor’s freedom
(From Baptist Press) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry late Friday (March 22) called for the release of pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent who is suffering in a notoriously brutal Tehran prison because of his Christian faith. The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini’s wife and two young children living in the United States, called Kerry’s statement “a tremendous step forward in our government’s involvement in securing Pastor Saeed’s freedom.” Read more at
Piper preaches final message at Bethlehem Baptist
Pastor John Piper ended his pastoral ministry at Minneapolis’ Bethlehem Baptist Church over Easter weekend by preaching during the church’s holiday worship services. Christian leaders went online to honor Piper, blogger Justin Taylor. “When all is said and done, John Piper will be remembered for many things. But apart from his own relationship to God and his relationship to family, his most important vocation will remain serving as a faithful, worshipful, prayerful shepherd to a local body of believers,” Taylor wrote at
Russell Moore elected next ERLC President
(From Baptist Press) Russell Moore, currently dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been elected the next president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Moore, 41, a native of Biloxi, Miss., will be the eighth president of the entity charged by Southern Baptists with addressing moral and religious freedom issues. “I pray for God’s grace to lead the ERLC to be a catalyst to connect the agenda of the kingdom of Christ to the cultures of local congregations for the sake of the mission of the Gospel in the world,” Moore said. Read more at
In sculpture, Jesus takes on ‘dirt’ of mankind – literally
A Wheaton College art professor has meticulously covered a sculpture of Jesus with dirt and dust collected from all over campus, in an effort to artistically express how Christ took on the sin of mankind through his death and resurrection. David Hooker’s Corpus will be displayed in the college’s biblical and theological studies department, Christianity Today reports. The magazine talked to Hooker about the inspiration and method behind his work.

THE BRIEFING | Posted by Meredith Flynn

From Peoria to Murphysboro, from Hoffman Estates to Mt. Vernon, video gambling will arrive in communities across Illinois in the next few weeks. The Illinois General Assembly approved a bill to allow video gambling in 2009, but the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) hasn’t been prepared to enact the legislation – until now. The law allows video gaming terminals to be placed in bars, fraternal and veteran’s organizations, and truck stops.

Quincy is just one Illinois town considering allowing video gambling now that the IGA has moved forward with the bill. Quincy First Southern Pastor Tom Rains is working with fellow pastors to prevent it from being approved. “This type of gaming revenue does more harm than good,” he said. “There are too many innocent victims. Studies have shown it takes just one year to become addicted to video gambling, while it takes three and half years for all other forms of gambling.”

An estimated 250 cities and counties in Illinois have bans on video gambling, but that doesn’t mean those communities will remain free of video gambling. Recently in Springfield, city council members voted to overturn the city’s ban and approved video gambling within the city limits.

The state projects it will earn 30 percent of the money video gamblers spend at the machines from taxes on the terminals. That could amount to anywhere between $184 million and $342 million in funds, which are slated to be spent on road, bridge and school construction. Five percent of the tax will go to the city or county where the terminals are located. The IGB reports it has received 1,000 applications from businesses wanting to have terminals and has approved 70.

But at what cost to cities and taxpayers? According to research by Baylor Professor Earl L. Grinols and University of Georgia Professor David B. Mustard, communities where gambling is legal pay $13,067 each year in criminal justice, social services, regulatory and other costs per pathological gambler. They also found for every $1 in tax revenue a community receives from gambling, it cost taxpayers $3.

Reported by Lisa Sergent, contributing editor for the Illinois Baptist.

Other news:

Warren hopes for audience with presidential candidates
No formal plans are yet in place, but Baptist Press reports Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, hopes to interview President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the church’s second presidential forum. The first, between Obama and John McCain, was held in August 2008 at the church’s Lake Forest, Ca., campus. Read more at

Restaurant pres. is no chicken, stands firm on traditional values
Some news outlets and event organizers initially reported National Eat at Chick-Fil-A Day was July 25. It’s actually scheduled for Wednesday, August 1.
Tomorrow, July 25, has been deemed National Eat at Chick-Fil-A Day by some conservative leaders, including former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who have rallied around the restaurant chain’s president, Dan Cathy. He is currently under fire for affirming Chick-Fil-A’s position on same-sex marriage in an interview earlier this month. Cathy told The Biblical Recorder, a Baptist newspaper in North Carolina, his company is “guilty as charged” of supporting traditional family values. His comments drew fire from proponents of same-sex marriage, some of whom called for a boycott of the restaurant chain. Read more about National Eat at Chick-Fil-A Day at

Wheaton College files suit against contraceptive mandate
Wheaton College has joined several fellow universities in opposing the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services Preventative Services mandate, which requires organizations to provide contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs through their insurance policies. According to the school’s website, Wheaton is partnering with The Catholic University of America in the suit, bringing the number of lawsuits filed against the mandate to 24. Read more about Wheaton’s suit at

Colorado church reaches out in aftermath of theater shooting
The members of Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church woke up last Friday morning with a new, probably deeper, burden to reach out to their community with the hope of Christ. The church is located less than a mile away from the Century Aurora 16 movie theater, where a gunman took 12 lives early last Friday morning and critically injured many others. Along with offering public prayer services and counseling, “We are equipping our members to share with our community that God is real, that He loves them desperately and that He will walk this road with them if they will only turn to Him,” Pastor Mitch Hamilton told Baptist Press. “He is with each one walking this road and He offers His presence to any who will call upon Him.” Read more at