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Christian Post: Failures of the Church to reach members of the LGBT community were highlighted at a Wednesday panel during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
The Daily Signal: Culture is central because it affects everything else. Francis highlights that a “throwaway culture” harms both social and physical ecology: “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities—to offer just a few examples—it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.”
Baptist Press: The living former Southern Baptist Convention presidents elected since 1980 issued a joint statement Wednesday declaring they will stand on the biblical truths concerning marriage despite anticipated legal and civil changes to the definition. Pastor Jack Graham called it “the most critical issue of our times — religious freedom and the very definition of marriage itself.”
Religion News Service: The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination, and therefore, such efforts are notable. Here are three things you need to know about their marriage resolution.
Religion News Service: Americans have less confidence in organized religion today than ever measured before — a sign that the church could be “losing its footing as a pillar of moral leadership in the nation’s culture,” a new Gallup survey finds.
Manual tells how Christian churches, schools can protect themselves from LGBT ‘discrimination’ lawsuits in US
Christian Today: The Southern Baptist Convention and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have released a manual which contains instructions on how churches, Christian schools and Christian ministries can protect themselves from potential sexual-orientation and gender identity lawsuits in the United States.
The Columbus Dispatch: Being made available at the annual meeting are copies of Protecting Your Ministry, from the convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the Alliance Defending Freedom, to provide a legal resource for churches regarding same-sex marriage issues. Floyd said the commission is on hand to help congregations prepare.
Religion News Service: The largest Protestant denomination in the United States is meeting this week, but it’s not as large as it was last year, or the year before. Southern Baptists now number just under 15.5 million members, down from a peak of 16.3 million in 2003.
Church Law and Tax: After reviewing thousands of published and unpublished rulings by state appellate and federal courts in 2014 that pertain to churches, I am able to identify the top five reasons churches go to court.
The Gospel Herald: Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the issue of same-sex marriage, one Christian denomination has a plan to skirt around anti-discrimination laws, particularly in regards to the LGBT community. The Southern Baptists Convention have released their plan online.
National Review: Christianity is in decline. The “Nones” are ascendant. And Millennials are the driving force for the entire demographic disruption. So says the prevailing coverage of the latest Pew Research Center survey released in May.
Legal resource offers guidelines to ensure religious freedom protection for churches and Christian organizations
Christianity Daily: Two organizations collaborated to create a free legal resource for churches, ministries, and schools to protect themselves if issues related to religious liberty were to occur.
Aleteia: The Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice says it strives to “eliminate bias, bigotry and racism in our state by promoting respect and understanding among all races, religions and cultures.”
BR Now: Christiana Holcomb, litigation counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said churches that do not have specific and clear policies leave “gray areas that can be exploited.”
How can Christian organizations protect their religious freedom? Russell Moore and ADF offer guidance
Christian Post: The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Alliance Defending Freedom published legal guidance to help Christian groups prepare for the religious freedom challenges likely to result from sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination ordinances, and the legalization of gay marriage.
BR Now: ADF President Alan Sears said his organization is honored to cooperate with the ERLC “as fellow servants of churches and gospel ministers across America who are looking for answers to the challenges against our fundamental freedoms of religion, speech and conscience.”
NC Register: President Barack Obama is addressing the future of health care at the Catholic Health Association’s annual assembly today. The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) has had a tense relationship with the Catholic Church since its passing in 2009 and subsequent implementation. The controversy has centered especially on the provision of contraceptives in health-insurance plans and a lack of the “robust conscience” protections promised by the president prior to the law’s passing.
ERLC: “The ERLC is an indispensable champion for religious freedom and human dignity and a strong, steady voice of hope,” said ADF CEO, Alan Sears. “ADF is honored to partner with the ERLC as fellow servants of churches and Gospel ministers across America who are looking for answers to the challenges against our fundamental freedoms of religion, speech and conscience.”
Canon and Culture: Ministry and mission opportunities have taken me to several “closed” countries, nations whose governments consistently silence Christianity. I have seen how routinely and brutally those in power attempt to intimidate Christians into silence. I have returned from each of those experiences with a greater appreciation of the democratic and representative republic in which I live, but also with a deeper resolve to exercise the rights and responsibilities of my citizenship.
World Magazine (Subscription Required): What was billed as both an anti-Islam and pro-free speech rally in Phoenix turned into a peaceful, but heated, religious debate Friday night.
The Washington Post: “We’re identifying those places where we understand that people are going to need protection on religious-freedom and freedom-of-conscience grounds, and engaging allies in those states,” said Greg Scott, an Alliance spokesman.
Christianity Today: Last year, the National Association of Evangelicals asked its members if they included denominational affiliation in the name of their church. Well over half—63 percent—said they did not.
First Things: Though the U.S. Supreme Court is at present considering whether the constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry in civil law, the Court is not obligated to take into consideration the anthropology of Genesis 1-2 as it is received by the New Testament. But any church worthy of the name is indeed obligated to do so.
Ecumenical News: The Malaysian church which took down its cross in April after Muslim protesters pressured it to do so has vowed to put the symbol back on its building.
USCCB: The Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness will take place from June 21 to July 4, 2015, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the “freedom to bear witness” to the truth of the Gospel.
BP News: Passage of the only surviving religious liberty bill in the 84th session of the Texas Legislature gives pastors some legal protection against litigation should they refuse to preside over a same-sex marriage. Senate Bill 2065, the Pastor Protection bill, passed overwhelmingly May 21.
YouTube (CitizenLink): The Supreme Court is considering redefining marriage. What happens to churches if the court finds a constitutional right to same-sex marriage? CitizenLink has free resources to help protect your church or ministry. Please visit the following link to download these resources.
Juicy Ecumenism: When the LGBT agenda infects church authorities something has to give: the Gospel or sexual libertarianism. In the case of Dr. Giles Fraser, the priest-in-charge of South London’s St. Mary’s Newington and former canon chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the gospel gave.
The Washington Post: In spite of what you may have read or heard, the recent Pew Research Center report “America’s Changing Religious Landscape” was better news for Christians than this. “Is Christianity in America Doomed?” asked one headline, about a faith with which 71 percent of Americans still identify.
World Magazine (Subscription required): Attorney Jim Campbell, who handles various constitutional cases for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has a working list written down at his office in Scottsdale, Ariz. The list details benefits religious nonprofits could lose if the Supreme Court makes gay marriage a constitutional right. When he arrived at work recently, he read it off: 501(c)3 status, tax benefits, government licensing, accreditation, and government contracts or grants, among others.
Western Journalism: Erik Stanley, author and Senior Legal Counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund [sic], explained the Johnson Amendment was a bill that got inserted into the tax code through back-room deals made by a powerful Senator seeking reelection at any cost. As a result of the bill, freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion have been trampled.
National Catholic Register: A one-day study meeting — open only to a select group of individuals — took place at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Monday with the aim of urging “pastoral innovations” at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Family in October.
Winnipeg Free Press (AP): China’s president warned in a key policy speech that religions must be independent from foreign influence, as the government asks domestic religious groups to pledge loyalty to the state.
Law and Religion UK: Following its vote last Saturday to allow the ordination/induction/appointment of ministers and deacons in civil partnerships, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has now taken the first step to extend that permission to ministers in same-sex marriages.
Christian Concern: Last week the Church of Scotland voted to permit clergy in same-sex partnerships to be appointed to leadership positions.
The Federalist: The Supreme Court is soon to decide a case that could potentially impose same-sex marriage as a nationwide civil “right.” During one exchange in oral arguments in the case, Obama administration Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was asked by Justice Alito whether a religious school could lose its nonprofit status if it held that marriage is between one man and one woman. Here is the solicitor general’s response: “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is it is going to be an issue.”
Texas Values Action: Today, the Texas House passed the Pastor Protection Bill, SB 2065, with bipartisan support, 141-2, with two Democrats voting against the bill. The bill protects pastors, ministers, clergy and churches from being forced to perform marriage ceremonies that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Time: In a bid for the support of the evangelical wing of the Republican Party, Sen. Ted Cruz spoke to a private gathering of 600 conservative pastors and their wives Thursday morning in Washington.
The Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required): A federal court again denied the University of Notre Dame’s challenge to the health law’s contraception provision, saying a compromise arrangement offered by the Obama administration appears adequate to meet the Catholic institution’s religious objections to covering birth control for students and staff.
Pew Research: Immigrants to the U.S. are increasingly identifying themselves as religiously unaffiliated, that is, atheist, agnostic or having “no religion in particular,” according to a new Pew Research Center study of America’s religious composition. Indeed, recent immigrants (those who have arrived since 2000) are as likely to have no religious affiliation as the country’s overall adult population.
The Washington Post: Inequality has become the hot issue in politics, and the latest squabble has scrutinized the efforts of religious groups – or lack thereof – to raise Americans’ focus on the issue.
The American Conservative: The point is that the times we’re entering are going to do away with Moralistic Therapeutic Deist parishes and denominations. We know this. We are going to need something strong and clear to stay on the straight path through this dark wood.
Religious Freedom Coalition: Gunmen killed a church pastor and more than 70 other Christians in Plateau state in the past month, sources said.
Christianity Today: Since Pew Research Center released its religion survey data on Tuesday, my team and I have been hard at work analyzing the data and writing articles for this blog, the USAToday, the Washington Post, and more to come.
Christian Today: Christian leaders in Pakistan have received death threats for their involvement in church planting, leading a country expert to warn that religious minorities are facing worse conditions day by day.
The Christian Institute: Spokesman for ADF Casey Mattox said: “Churches and other religious employers should not be coerced by the government into violating their fundamental beliefs by being party to elective abortion”.
The New York Times: Having offered some cautions about over-interpreting the findings of the latest Pew religion survey, let me throw that caution to the wind and offer a quick interpretation myself.
Aleteia: If you’re a Catholic who’s been involved in one way or another in the act of abortion—undergoing the procedure or performing one or encouraging someone to get one—and you happened to pick up the New York Post last week, you might have discovered some surprising ideas.
The New York Times: The Christian share of adults in the United States has declined sharply since 2007, affecting nearly all major Christian traditions and denominations, and crossing age, race and region, according to an extensive survey by the Pew Research Center.
The Daily Beast: Yes, 1 in 5 people raised in a community of faith now identify as non-religious—the primary talking point from yesterday’s well-publicized report. But what most of this week’s flurry of media coverage missed is an even more pronounced trend in the opposite direction: nearly half of everyone raised with no religion is now part of a faith tradition.
The Gospel Coalition: Whatever previous information those claims about evangelicalism were based on, it doesn’t appear to match the current reality.
The Daily Caller: A major study on religion in the U.S. released Thursday has Christians at 70.6 percent, a drop from 78.4 percent when the survey was last conducted in 2007.
Canon and Culture: A new study from Pew reveals that evangelical Christianity in America isn’t dying quite like some in culture thought or hoped. In fact, given the force of secular headwinds against it, evangelical Christianity might even be considered resurgent.
Pew Research Center: The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center.
RedState: “Christian” like “Catholic” and “Jew” have become expressions of ethnicity or culture in this country. Being an actual Christian, as opposed to calling yourself one because you were born into a supposedly Christian household, is a completely different thing.
Russell Moore: Christianity is dying. At least, that’s what major newspapers are telling us today, culling research from a new Pew Center study on what almost all sociologists are observing these days—the number of Americans who identify as Christians has reached an all-time low, and is falling. I think this is perhaps bad news for America, but it is good news for the church.
One News Now: Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom, seeking documents about a lawsuit settled between the IRS and an atheist group, the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
Life Site News: ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb told LifeSiteNews that “the IRS has put us off, month after month, and finally, in April, we said, ‘Enough is enough. You have intentionally ignored all of your statutorily mandated deadlines,’ so we filed a lawsuit against the IRS.”
Baptist News: Joining the ELRC in the coalition were Alliance Defending Freedom, Americans United for Life, March for Life, Concerned Women for America and the Susan B. Anthony List. In February the ERLC joined the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in opposing both RHNDA and a new human rights amendment.
CNS News: Casey Mattox, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom – one of the eight groups that issued a statement Wednesday vowing to fight the law – called it “unnecessary and unconstitutional.”
The Salt-Lake Tribune (AP): A Chinese province where authorities have forcibly removed hundreds of rooftop crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches has proposed a ban on any further placement of the religious symbol atop sanctuaries.
The Global Dispatch: “Pro-life organizations in our nation’s capital should not be forced to pay for abortions or hire those who oppose their pro-life beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox.
World Magazine (Subscription Required): The House of Representatives passed a resolution last week that would have blocked a Washington, D.C., measure some say violates religious freedom. But with President Barack Obama’s promised veto of the resolution, pro-life organizations are preparing to continue fighting the law.
The Christian Post: “Pro-life organizations in our nation’s capital should not be forced to pay for abortions or hire those who oppose their pro-life beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “While the D.C. Council has retreated from this law’s original goal, which was to force pro-life organizations to pay for abortions in violation of their conscience, RHNDA remains an unnecessary and illegal attack on pro-life conscience that Congress must stop and that we will fight, if necessary, in the courts.”