April 2016

Mark Harris runs for U.S. Congress seat

April 11 2016 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Mark Harris announced his run for the United States Congress on March 28. In a “soft launch” announcement, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and former candidate for the U.S. Senate said he will seek the seat for the newly shaped 9th Congressional District.
 
Only two weeks before the announcement Harris said he was asked to “give serious and prayerful consideration” to entering the U.S. House race.

 
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Photo by Mark Harris campaign

“The 9th District was one of two districts that was almost completely overhauled in the redistricting that took place under the judges’ ruling,” he said.
 
Harris was referring to the legal battle over the shape of the state’s 13 voting districts. On Feb. 19 the U.S. Supreme Court did not stop a lower-court order that demanded North Carolina legislators draw new congressional districts. The decision means U.S. House primary elections did not happen on March 15 as scheduled. Primary elections for all of North Carolina’s congressional seats were rescheduled for June 7.
 
The new shape of the 9th District “really did fit me quite well,” Harris explained. “Previously, it was a district that was primarily Iredell County, most of Mecklenburg and a piece of Union County.” The new boundaries include much of the U.S. Highway 74 corridor from Charlotte to Lumberton. It covers 30 precincts in eastern Mecklenburg – including Harris’ home – plus all of Union, Anson, Richmond, Scotland and Robeson counties. Half of Bladen and half of Cumberland counties are also in the newly drawn district.
 
“As we began to pray about that race and looking at the people we would be representing in the 9th District, it became a genuine conviction that this is the door that perhaps God was opening up for us to bring my voice to the United States Congress,” said Harris.
 
The special election will require a lot of effort and education for voters, according to Harris. Most thought they were voting for congress when they voted in the March 15 primary. But the timing of the court’s ruling prevented printing new ballots in time for the primary. So a special election had to be set for a later date. “A lot of people I talk to are not even aware that there is a special election on June 7,” Harris added.
 
The turnout is expected to be low, which is normal for a runoff election. If Christians will be intentional about voting, Harris believes “we can elect someone who holds the same biblical world view and matches up to us doctrinally.” The low turnout in special elections also means every vote is more influential than in a typical election.
 
He has been endorsed by Sue Myrick, former congresswoman for the district. Harris said former republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has also endorsed him and will visit the state to campaign for him. Endorsements of other national leaders are forthcoming.
 
Since the district is close to his home Harris said, “I am able to sleep in my own bed every night and preach on Sunday, ... so I am not taking a sabbatical, but carrying on my responsibilities with the help of a great staff and a body of supportive deacons.”

4/11/2016 11:38:25 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 1 comments



California confiscates undercover Planned Parenthood videos

April 11 2016 by Bob Brown, World News Service

Center for Medical Progress (CMP) director David Daleiden revealed on April 5 that agents from the California attorney general’s office searched his Orange County apartment, seizing “all video footage” related to CMP’s investigation into Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the fetal tissue trade.
 
Reporting the raid on CMP’s Facebook page, Daleiden characterized the search and seizure of the videos as an “attack on citizen journalism.” He blamed the decision for the raid on the close alliance between California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Planned Parenthood.

 
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“Kamala Harris, who was elected with tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood … has steadfastly refused to enforce the law against the baby body parts traffickers in our state,” Daleiden wrote. On several occasions, Harris has publicly defended Planned Parenthood, and the abortion industry giant donated thousands of dollars to the Democrat’s successful 2014 re-election bid. (Leading Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has made campaign contributions to Harris as well, giving a total of $11,000.)
 
Daleiden noted in the Facebook post that the state attorney’s agents left behind documents that he alleges show the “illicit scheme between StemExpress and Planned Parenthood.”
 
Harris, who last year announced her candidacy for the Senate seat that 75-year-old Barbara Boxer will vacate when she retires at the end of this term, pledged in July to investigate CMP. The timing of the search of Daleiden’s apartment might be a response to mounting pressure against Harris: A Los Angeles Times columnist recently accused her of inaction in the CMP investigation.
 
A spokesperson for Harris said the attorney general’s office does not comment on ongoing cases.
 
This is not the first time a government lawyer has gone after Daleiden. In January, a Houston grand jury charged Daleiden and CMP employee Sandra Merritt with illegal acts stemming from CMP’s undercover investigation of the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) abortion center. In that case, pro-lifers questioned Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson’s ability to conduct an impartial investigation. One of Anderson’s assistant district attorneys held a position on PPGC’s board of directors. While indicting Daleiden, the grand jury seemingly overlooked video evidence of Planned Parenthood aborting babies alive to obtain valuable “intact fetal cadavers.”
 
Daleiden also faces two lawsuits in California, filed last year by the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood.
 

Related Stories:

CMP’s Daleiden unabashed by legal challenges
Pro-abortion lawyers throw support behind David Daleiden
Planned Parenthood by the numbers

4/11/2016 11:33:22 AM by Bob Brown, World News Service | with 0 comments



Travel bans to Mississippi, North Carolina called ‘ridiculous’

April 11 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

At least nine U.S. cities and five states have banned non-essential travel by government employees to North Carolina, Mississippi or both, claiming religious liberty bills adopted there discriminate against homosexual and transgendered persons.
 
A Mississippi pastor told Baptist Press he’s proud of his state legislature’s courage and confused by the seeming hypocrisy of some critics. Pastors in Vermont and Washington – two states to enact bans – said such actions are a predictable outworking of the secular worldview that dominates their local cultures.
 
Joining Washington and Vermont in instituting travel bans were the states of New York, Minnesota and Connecticut. Cities to institute bans included Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Santa Fe, N.M.; and Washington, according to USA Today.

 
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Chas Rowland, pastor of Bovina Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Miss., noted he was “proud of our state officials for making a stand for what is right in the face of the threats.”
 
“I think our major problem has been for far too long in America in general that we are so dominated by money,” said Rowland, a member of Mississippi Baptists’ Christian Action Commission. “It’s about time we started making decisions based on what’s right and wrong objectively as opposed to what profits our bank accounts.”
 
In addition to state and local governments, corporations have responded to the religious liberty legislation. In North Carolina, PayPal cancelled a $3.6 million expansion plan, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals said it was reconsidering plans to build a $50 million facility and the NBA suggested it might not follow through with plans to hold the 2017 all-star game in Charlotte, the Associated Press reported.
 
Rowland said at least some state and local government travel bans appear to be cases of selective outrage.
 
“I see a lot of hypocrisy that’s behind some of it,” Rowland said, “because there’s this idea we’re going to not travel to these states that have passed these laws, and yet there’s travel to other [countries] that are committing serious human rights offenses.”
 
Todd Starnes of Fox News argued in an April 7 column that hypocrisy is especially evident in the corporate world’s reaction, with PayPal, for instance, doing business in 25 countries where homosexual acts are illegal, including five where the penalty is death.
 
North Carolina’s law requires individuals in state government buildings to use restrooms designated for the gender indicated on their birth certificates and institutes a statewide nondiscrimination law that does not include protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
 
Mississippi’s law forbids discrimination against individuals and businesses that hold traditional views of marriage and gender. The measure includes a ban of forced participation in same-sex weddings.
 
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin told NPR April 7 that the travel ban he imposed against Mississippi and North Carolina is designed to combat “extreme hatred and bigotry” cloaked with language of religious liberty.
 
To argue that the Mississippi and North Carolina laws protect religious liberty is “exactly the same argument that was made by some when we ended slavery,” Shumlin said.
 
“This is no different. And I never thought in my lifetime that I would see this kind of extreme hatred and bigotry being played out in states where governors are literally signing laws that are no different than saying to people of color, ‘You shall not eat here. You shall not drink out of this water fountain,’“ Shumlin said.
 
Chris Goeppner, pastor of Riverbank Church in White River Junction, Vt., said Shumlin’s comments illustrate a sense of “social consciousness” among Vermonters that does not include any consideration of religion.
 
“The typical Vermonter or left-of-center northeastern person doesn’t even consider the religious aspect of the decision” to instate travel bans, Goeppner said. “It’s not even in play. They’re considering the absolute civil liberty and freedom of the ‘affected,’ which in this case would be the transsexual.”
 
In Vermont culture, “there’s a social self-righteousness” analogous to the “religious self-righteousness” prevalent in other regions, Goeppner said, adding self-righteousness of all sorts can be overcome only through believing the gospel.
 
Dale Braswell, pastor of LifePoint Church in Seattle-area Lynwood, Wash., agreed. He said Washington state political leaders “genuinely believe they are doing what is right” but lack a Christian worldview to guide them properly.
 
Braswell does not believe the secular mindset among his local and state government leaders will result in a widespread threat to religious liberty within the next decade. Yet even if it does, he said it won’t change the way he does ministry.
 
“The only thing that will really change is maybe the consequences we face for being obedient to the Word. But none of this has affected our call,” Braswell said, adding, “The gospel is no stranger to persecution and difficulty. In fact, sometimes the gospel flourishes better in those environments.”
 
Even so, Christians in the Bible Belt hope to preserve their remaining religious liberty and the residual influence of Judeo-Christian morality in their culture.
 
Lonnie Wilkey, editor of Tennessee’s Baptist and Reflector newsjournal, advised pro-gay and pro-transgender activists in other states, “Mind your own business.”
 
North Carolina’s restroom privacy bill “sent supporters of the LGBT population into a tailspin,” Wilkey wrote in an April 7 editorial. “It never ceases to amaze me how this group always lambastes those who disagree with their lifestyle as ‘intolerant’ when they are the most intolerant group on our planet today. They won’t be satisfied until everyone welcomes and supports their lifestyle.
 
“Breaking news – that’s not going to happen,” Wilkey wrote. “There is still a remnant (although it appears to be growing smaller) of people who still believe in morals and biblical values.”
 
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, expressed a similar sentiment.
 
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that the governor of another state or the mayor of another city would want to impose their radical bathroom policies on North Carolina,” said Fitzgerald, a trustee of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
 
North Carolina legislators rightfully sought “to restore the freedom of churches, schools and businesses to decide these policies about bathrooms and the use of their facilities [for same-sex weddings] for themselves,” Fitzgerald said.
 
USA Today speculated the travel bans may be “largely symbolic in their economic effects.”
 
Paul Stam, a Southern Baptist and member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, said the concept of ceasing “nonessential government travel” puzzles him to begin with.
 
“I would hope that governments would never spend taxpayer money on nonessential travel,” Stam said in an email.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/11/2016 11:25:44 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Cooperative Program’s broad reach for the gospel

April 11 2016 by Baptist Press staff

Southern Baptist churches are advancing the gospel state by state – and around the world – through their commitment to the Cooperative Program (CP).
 
From national and international mission boards to church-hosted evangelism training – amid a multitude of mission and ministry initiatives – the CP plays a key role in introducing people near and far to Jesus.
 
Among those with a grassroots vantage point to see the broad scope of Cooperative Program outreach are many state convention leaders, to whom Baptist Press turned for their insights.
 
Here are 15 leaders’ reflections.

 
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900 hurting kids touched by the Cooperative Program
Orphan care is only one ministry in a very long list of all the mission work accomplished through Cooperative Program offerings from Kentucky Baptist Convention churches. But the plight of orphans is no trivial matter in the eyes of God nor in the eyes of Kentucky Baptists. Currently more than 900 hurting kids in Kentucky are touched by the orphan care ministry we call Sunrise Children’s Services. While most of these 900 aren’t orphans in the traditional sense, their plight may be worse. Rather than experiencing their parents’ loss of life, the lives of these children were at risk at the hands of their parents, so much so that Child Protective Services determined these kids are no longer safe in their parents’ care. Yet, true to His nature, God has answered the cries of the fatherless and, through every church that gives through the Cooperative Program, provided a loving touch to heal the brokenhearted.
 
– Paul Chitwood, executive director, Kentucky Baptist Convention
 
Collegians & youth weigh missions through CP ministries
The sun never sets on the work of the Cooperative Program, thus never setting on the ministries of churches that give through the CP. Oklahoma churches are making Kingdom differences. For example, together these churches fund Baptist Collegiate Ministry on 36 campuses across Oklahoma, reaching and developing the next generation for Kingdom impact. Or consider that each summer, 52,000-55,000 students and sponsors attend Falls Creek during eight weeks of camp; each year, 2,200-2,500 of those students come to faith in Christ with more than 1,000 committing to missions and ministry. Leaders of the IMB have said repeatedly that there is no place on earth where more missionaries have been called. Without question, Oklahoma Baptists can do more together than we can ever do alone. The Cooperative Program is Oklahoma Baptists united to carry the gospel from the front door of the church to the ends of the earth.
 
– Anthony Jordan, executive director, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
 
Navy pilot becomes tentmaker in Asia via CP missions
The Pathway Church in Tacoma, Wash., started six years ago, thanks in large part to the Cooperative Program gifts of Southern Baptists in the Northwest and across the nation. The pastor received training and support through CP-supported church planting missionaries, and he himself received funding through CP. The Northwest Baptist Convention has a mission partnership in East Asia and, last November, The Pathway Church sent a team to work with an IMB missionary there. The missionary told them about a “tentmaker missions opportunity” for someone who could teach flying lessons in English. All eyes turned to a female mission team member who was a U.S. Navy pilot. She was preparing to leave the Navy, which she did, and on Feb. 21 of this year she moved to East Asia to see if serving God through this flight school was His next big plan for her. That is CP missions!
 
– Randy Adams, executive director, Northwest Baptist Convention
 
Church finds stability, vision through CP commitment
Pastor Glen Pearce shared at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Cooperative Luncheon on Feb. 29 the simple axiom that you can’t out-give God. When Glen became pastor of First Baptist Church in Iowa Park, Texas, the church was not meeting their bills. Cooperative Program was budgeted but other items received priority. At times staff was unable to get their salary checks. Even with this gloomy situation, pastor and people rallied to take care of God’s work. They decided to send the CP investment even when the income didn’t look promising. Several years later the church has returned to financial stability and renewed mission vision. Pastor Glen and the church rejoice in the provisions from God. It will take this type of sacrificial generosity from churches but we can reach our states and the nations through the CP.
 
– Jim Richards, executive director, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
 
3rd-grade boy’s faith blossomed with Cooperative Program nurture
The Cooperative Program is gospel Partnership. It is a strategy for a Great Commission coalition of churches. We unite for Immediate Impact. Churches from the first day of their planting have worldwide reach. We unite for Mutual Support so missionaries and seminary students can focus on their calling. We unite in Global Strategy. The sun never sets on Southern Baptist ministries and missions. And it is personal, even though it is comprehensive. It is as personal as the boy who came to your church in third grade, heard the gospel, went on a high school mission trip, was called to ministry, went to seminary, was mentored by pastors, planted a church – it is as personal as me (and so many others who have a similar story).
 
– Brian Autry, executive director, SBC of Virginia
 
New England trains, mobilizes witnesses via CP support
In an era when declining baptisms is a matter of great concern among Southern Baptists, New England Baptists rejoice in how God is using the Cooperative Program to help propel evangelistic efforts across our region. Because of the faithful Cooperative Program giving of 350 churches across the six New England states, Bruce James, BCNE evangelism director, and Tim Buehner, BCNE mission mobilization director, have trained more than 1,800 people in the last year in a wide variety of evangelism efforts. James said, “We decided that instead of having one big annual evangelism conference, we would have a lot of smaller conferences that focused on various people groups around New England.” The BCNE helped sponsor, and fund, 24 small conferences that have had as few as 20 and as many as 150 people present. Though this approach may not feature a flashy big-name speaker, in the end, more people were trained and mobilized to do evangelism, which has resulted in the third year in a row of record baptisms in the BCNE. The Cooperative Program also helps us provide direct grants to churches for specific evangelistic projects. Without the Cooperative Program, many of our smaller churches would lack the training and resources needed to reach their communities the way they feel led to.
 
– Terry Dorsett, executive director, New England Baptist Convention
 
Churches take root in Iowa through CP partnership
I led a training session recently with three of Iowa’s newest church planters on the topic of developing a church discipleship ministry. The encouraging thing is that all three church planters were carefully selected and developed at local churches in Iowa. We are seeing more and more churches fulfill their responsibility to disciple believers and give them vision and support to reach new communities for Christ. The Cooperative Program provides the structure to bring together the resources of the Baptist Convention of Iowa churches. Working together we each contribute the necessary elements of a healthy church plant: selecting and developing church planters, recruiting a core team, providing vision, leading specific training and contributing financially. The Cooperative Program enables the Baptist Convention of Iowa to partner with churches from across the nation to reach new communities for Christ. This has been an essential partnership with our convention since its founding 20 years ago.
 
– Tim Lubinus, executive director, Baptist Convention of Iowa
 
20 Utah/Idaho churches planted by the Cooperative Program
CP is being used to transform one life at a time among unreached people here in Utah and Idaho, across North America and the world. Through your faithful giving to the Cooperative Program, the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention is able to support starting new churches. Just this past year we saw 10 new churches planted. Currently we have 20 church plants supported by the Cooperative Program – the most at one time in our history. Through the Cooperative Program we are reaching people groups who call Utah home. Our Chin (Burmese) church plant is reaching refugees with the gospel. We have started an Urdu-speaking church and God is blessing five new Hispanic plants. We are seeing cowboy churches starting in eastern Idaho reaching the indigenous peoples through a church planter supported by the Cooperative Program. He is pastoring three cowboy church plants, an existing cowboy church and has just started a new Anglo church.
 
– Rob Lee, executive director, Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention
 
Skiers on Colorado slopes encounter Cooperative Program witness
Colorado is arguably one of the most beautiful states in the country. Each winter visitors flock to Colorado to enjoy our world-class skiing. One of the ministries we are able to fund thanks to the Cooperative Program is the outreach of ministers to those who come from all over the country to ski. We have 23 ski areas in the state. On any given week worship services are held on the slopes at most all these ski areas. At a given time skiers gather around the missionary, leaning on their poles and shuffling their skis back and forth. The minister reads a scripture, briefly shares his or her faith and closes with a prayer and an invitation to stay and visit if anyone has questions. In addition, the lift personnel are visited by our ministers as they work. They give a greeting and a baggie of cookies for the operators to enjoy – all in Jesus’ name. Only through the Cooperative Program are we able take advantage of the beauty of our state by funding these ministries.
 
– Mark Edlund, executive director, Colorado Baptist General Convention
 
High school rodeo outreach in Wyoming undergirded by CP
The Cooperative Program is the lifeline for Southern Baptist Great Commission advance. In Wyoming people are our greatest resource and the Cooperative Program provides ministry resources to churches through the Wyoming convention staff, both in the office and in the field. The Cooperative Program also provides materials and other resources for churches. Those people and material resources are possible through the support of churches and their members through CP giving. CP supports church planting, church evangelism projects, leadership development and support of churches in transition. As an example, for two years at the National High School Finals Rodeo, CP supported over 100 volunteers sharing the gospel nearly 4,000 times, with over 275 reported salvation decisions. Twelve church plants and 16 seed congregations are another example of CP support. It’s true – together we can accomplish more than any of us can do on our own. Cooperation is key to Kingdom advance.
 
– Lynn Nikkel, executive director, Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention
 
Montana Baptists not isolated due to Cooperative Program ties
The amazing part of the Cooperative Program for us in Montana is found in fact that many of the churches in our Montana convention are small, remote and feel rather isolated from the heartbeat of Southern Baptist life. Yet, by giving to missions through CP, even the smallest, most isolated church in Montana touches people living in the most isolated and remote places of the planet. This is an incredible reality and sets us apart from other mission-minded evangelicals. This fact of CP has resonated very strongly with Montana Baptists.
 
Fred Hewett, executive director, Montana Southern Baptist Convention
 
Cooperative Program forges outreach now & in the future
The Georgia Baptist Mission Board is currently promoting the theme “CP Beyond” to reflect four enduring components of the Cooperative Program. When I tithe through my local church, I give beyond myself through a covenant community committed to cooperative missions. As my church partners in association with sister Baptist churches, our CP giving connects us in mission with those beyond ourselves to reach the lost in Georgia, our spiritual Judea. Because we are Southern Baptists, our CP gifts go through the Georgia Baptist Mission Board beyond Georgia in mission to reach our Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. And our CP giving connects us with those who came before us and beyond now with those who will be called as missionaries after us, securing a missional avenue for future generations. No matter what the economic outlook, the Cooperative Program still allows us to reach beyond one offering.
 
– J. Robert White, executive director, Georgia Baptist Convention
 
CP is ‘stabilizing ministry’ in ‘today’s chaotic world’
Since its inception in 1925, the Cooperative Program has provided a consistent channel of both financial and strategic opportunities for Southern Baptists to impact the world with the gospel. Our culture is marked more and more by change, and in many ways, chaos. Kingdom partnership through the Cooperative Program brings stability into our ever-changing world. Here in South Carolina, the Cooperative Program allows churches to do more together than any one of them could ever do alone. The genius is that regardless of the size, style or setting, every church can be a part of getting the gospel to every person, beginning at home and stretching across the globe. I personally thank God for the many ways the Cooperative Program has impacted my own life and ministry and pray that future generations of Southern Baptist ministers and leaders will see the value added by heartily supporting the Cooperative Program. While we know God never changes, the world does, and the Cooperative Program is a stabilizing ministry factor in today’s chaotic world.
 
– Gary Hollingsworth, executive director, South Carolina Baptist Convention
 
War, economic woes, denominational strife, yet CP survives
Every once in a while, a people of God stumble across something that proves to be an act of genius. In 1925 our Southern Baptist forefathers instituted a mission funding process called the Cooperative Program. Soon after its inception, the United States was plunged into the Great Depression. CP survived and thrived. CP proved itself as a consistent way to finance missions through all kinds of conflicts from World War II to Afghanistan. CP has survived the ups and downs of the economy, denominational strife and denominational restructuring. I am convinced that it is still the best way any group of believes has come upon to fund the Great Commission efforts of God’s people.
 
– Bob Mills, executive director, Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists
 
Scripture abounds in Cooperative Program strategy
Use the word “strategy” in most churches and people’s eyes immediately glaze over. Yet, we see strategy planned and executed throughout the entire Bible. A few years ago, while studying the apostle Paul’s offering for the Jerusalem saints (Acts 24:17; Romans 15:25-28; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9), I was surprised to see the clear strategy steps through which Paul planned and received a missionary offering to display God’s glorious Messiah and win his people, Israel, to Jesus. Paul’s missionary offering was based on a number of principles:

  1. It was a familiar style of offering. Jewish communities scattered around the Roman world gave annually for the upkeep of the temple in Jerusalem through an offering called the Temple Tax (Nehemiah 10:32).

  2. It was a voluntary offering (1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 9:5,15, 8:8, 9:7). Individuals and churches decided how much to give. Paul didn’t demand a set amount.

  3. Yet, it was an obligated offering. “They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them in their material blessings” (Romans 15:27).

  4. It was a cooperative offering. Many churches pooled their resources together to help the missionary cause (Acts 16-17; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 Corinthians 8:11).

  5. It was an accountable offering (1 Corinthians 16:3). Paul took the offerings, verification letters, and people who could assure the funds delivered matched the funds given.

  6. It was a systematic offering. “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2).

  7. It was a missionary offering. Careful reading of the passages that mention the offering (especially Romans 15:5 and 2 Corinthians 9:10) coupled with the Old Testament metaphors (Isaiah 55:10 and Hosea 10:12) reveal that Paul’s offering was a missionary offering.

Remarkably, the principles of Paul’s strategy provide the biblical basis for Southern Baptists’ mission funding through the Cooperative Program.
 
– Leo Endel, executive director, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Art Toalston, senior editor of Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

4/11/2016 11:19:41 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



Texas church committed to local & global ministry

April 11 2016 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

Every day since devastating tornadoes touched down in rural communities northeast of Dallas this past December, First Baptist Church of Farmersville has been helping people recover.
 
Three or four times annually the last four years, the Texas church has ministered to an unreached people group in Senegal, West Africa. In January, members worked with an Iowa church in ministering to a nearby people group.

 
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Submitted photo
Members and guests of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, at the 150 Homecoming Celebration. The current church building was constructed in 1900.

The outreaches appear to demonstrate First Baptist Farmersville’s commitment to both local and international ministry. Not only that, but the church embraced the “1 Percent Challenge” to increase its giving to the Cooperative Program (CP), raising to 11 percent the 10 percent portion of undesignated gifts it had given to the program for 30 years.
 
“God willing, we’ll do what we can to support the Great Commission through the Cooperative Program,” said Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Farmersville since 1999. “I keep telling people what we’re doing locally and globally is very important, but the most effective thing we do is funding through the Cooperative Program.”
 
The Southern Baptist Convention CP is the mechanism Southern Baptist churches use to cooperatively support local, state and international ministries.
 
“The most productive thing we do to preach the gospel to all nations is to write a check each week to fund missions through CP,” Barber said. “The Cooperative Program is a conduit. It’s not a destination; it’s a pathway.”
 
Upwards of 300 people participate each week in Sunday worship at the Farmersville church. Children’s ministries include Awana, Trail Life USA, American Heritage Girls, 4-H and Upward Sports. Barber’s wife Tracy Barber heads the child care response unit for the Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief ministry and also is involved at the national level.
 
The church hosts the town food pantry and served as a shelter and county response center after the December tornados.
 
“We’re regularly reaching out to help people, such as building ramps and porches,” the pastor said. “We are the church in town, when people need help paying a bill, they come to us.”
 
The church partners with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in ministry in the Rio Grande Valley and with a Montana church in the planting of Crossroads Baptist Church in Four Corners, Mont. In 1996, First Baptist Farmersville started Iglesia Bautista Immanuel in Farmersville and is making plans to partner with a 2017 church plant in Montreal, Canada, for West Africans.

 
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Bart Barber

“We were involved in Cuba, in helping a London (England) church over a rough patch, and we’ve also been to Mexico several times,” Barber said. “Southern Cross Ministries took us to Thailand and Hong Kong.”
 
Helping people in the church’s hometown of about 3,500 has helped grow the church.
 
“We don’t have a college or university here, so people moving in tend to be families, and as a congregation we minister to people through family faith ministries,” Barber said. Through such activities as Upward Basketball and mountain climbing trips, the church shares the gospel.
 
“Also, we respond at difficult times and that has been helpful,” he said. “We’ve seen some fruit” from post-tornado ministry.
 
Participation in ministry helps deflect the increasing secularism seen “even in the Bible Belt,” he said. “We see even some children who grow up in church who hear the call of atheism and soft secularism. I think also we face the challenge of radically shifting morality in our country, even into the church.”
 
Barber, who was called to preach at 11 and has pastored since his junior year in high school, attends annual national and state Southern Baptist meetings, taking his wife and their two homeschooled children.
 
The 11 percent, $80,000, the church gives to the CP, Barber said, is indicative of his interest in the SBC.
 
“I wouldn’t hire an $80,000-a-year employee and not supervise him, not take an interest in what he is doing,” he said. “Besides, going to the annual meetings is the way our church has a voice in the Cooperative Program activities of our convention.”
 
It was at an SBC annual meeting in 2011 that Barber heard Tom Elliff, then president of the International Mission Board, challenge churches to adopt an unreached, unengaged people group. Barber took the challenge back to his membership, and went to every age group, even preschoolers, to ask them to pray about the outreach.
 
“I see all the more the beauty of the Cooperative Program because of what we’re doing in Senegal,” Barber said. “We know this people group exists because of CP. IMB-funded missionaries made the first contact and connected us with them.
 
“The primary thing we do there is evangelistic work,” he said. “We walk up to somebody’s house and see if they’re interested in talking. We tell them a couple stories out of the Bible and if they’re open to that, tell them the gospel.”
 
War-torn for 30 years, Senegal is not an easy place to minister, Barber said. Highly venomous snakes are among the wildlife. In the Casamance region of southern Senegal, landmines remain prevalent, and there is danger of encountering a “hot zone” of flying bullets. Islam is the dominant religion, although the 2010 Pew Research study, “Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa,” found that 58 percent of the general population of Senegal embraces the traditional religious practice of ancestral worship, common to animism.
 
“[Animism is] a very oppressive religion that builds fear and guilt into the people who adhere to it, and most of them know there’s no future in it,” Barber said. “When we tell about the power Jesus has over evil spirits, that generates a lot of interest in people hearing about the gospel.”
 
To date, 28 people in Senegal have made professions of faith in Jesus through First Baptist Farmersville’s evangelism, Barber said.
 
“We talk about Senegal at least monthly, mostly in the context of reporting back or requesting prayer for a trip we’re about to take,” Barber said. “We ask people to go to an active war zone and live without air conditioning or running water, and walk in the sun and in the jungle in Africa eight hours a day. And every time we go, people ask by name about everyone who has gone before. They want to see you again.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a Baptist Press national correspondent based in Utah.)

4/11/2016 11:09:20 AM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



LifeWay moves swiftly toward new headquarters

April 8 2016 by Lisa Green, LifeWay Christian Resources

LifeWay Christian Resources appeared to leave little doubt of its aggressive timetable April 6 for construction of its new building, breaking ground for new headquarters just hours after closing the purchase of the property.
 
Within two years, LifeWay expects to move 1,100 employees into a new office building on 2.5 acres in Capitol View, a mixed-use urban development in Nashville’s central business district.

 
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LifeWay employees gathered under a large tent on the wind-swept site of the ministry’s new headquarters building in downtown Nashville to pray and dedicate the location.

On April 6, the future site of the nine-story, 250,000-square-foot building was primarily dirt and gravel, with front-end loaders waiting idly beside a huge white tent. Hundreds of employees gathered for a brief ceremony to pray and dedicate the new location.
 
“There’s really a singular purpose to this – to celebrate through prayer,” LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer told the assembled employees.
 
Describing the future of the new property, Rainer said, “It’s going to be amazing to see what will happen. Lives will be changed and people will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The only thing we can do in response is say, ‘God, to You be the glory,’ and pray that every day we will be used by Him.”
 
Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, expressed thanksgiving for LifeWay’s legacy of commitment and quality. “We are proud to be partners with this organization,” he said.
 
Several LifeWay employees then led in prayer for the project’s builders and architects, for employees and the surrounding community, and for churches across the nation and around the globe.
 
The groundbreaking ceremony coincided with a celebration of the 125th anniversary of LifeWay, established in 1891 as the Baptist Sunday School Board. Its downtown Nashville campus eventually expanded to 14.5 acres, more than the ministry needs today.

 
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LifeWay president and CEO, Thom S. Rainer, led employees in a chapel service celebrating the ministry’s 125-year history prior to a groundbreaking and prayer service for the ministry’s new building.

In November 2015, LifeWay sold the property to San Diego-based Southwest Value Partners, a private real estate investment firm. The new owner plans to redevelop the site, but LifeWay will continue to occupy part of the property until its new building is complete.
 
Two months ago, LifeWay announced plans to build in Capitol View.
 
In a chapel service for employees before the groundbreaking, Rainer outlined LifeWay’s 125-year history through the accomplishments of its eight previous presidents, from entrepreneurial founder J.M. Frost, “one of my heroes of the faith,” to Rainer’s immediate predecessor, James Draper.
 
Rainer noted a worldwide shift toward digital technology since his own tenure began in 2006. Preparing to move to a new location during these years “has been a God-infused effort,” he said.
 
“Remember this place fondly – remember how God has worked in this place – but remember that the God of the Old and the New Testament is not limited to a place,” Rainer told employees. “As we move to Capitol View, the God who has been with us for 125 years will be with us in the future.”
 
Employees then boarded shuttles to the new location, where Rainer and his executive leadership team tossed dirt into the air with ceremonial shovels.
 
Construction of the new building is expected to begin almost immediately.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lisa Cannon Green is managing editor of Facts & Trends magazine, published by LifeWay Christian Resources.)

4/8/2016 11:19:59 AM by Lisa Green, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



California church plant baptizes 84 in 18 months

April 8 2016 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

While everyone else at New Song Parkside Church stood to sing – including Rick Hynes’ wife Antoinette, – Rick stayed in his seat with his arms crossed.
 
Later, when pastor Jim Britts was able to spend some time with Hynes, the veteran of nine Marine deployments told him, “There’s no way God could forgive me for some of the things I’ve done overseas.” When Britts asked Hynes how he dealt with the guilt, Hynes replied, “Well, I play video games and try not to lash out at my kids.”

 
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 Photo courtesy New Song Parkside
Jim Britts pastors New Song Parkside in San Diego. In less than two years the church as seen 84 Baptisms.

“You need a new strategy,” Britts said. He explained the forgiveness of Jesus and the gospel, and Hynes gave his life to Christ. The next Sunday, Hynes told him after the service, “Hey, Jim, don’t tell anybody, but I cried in church for the first time in my life.”
 
Hynes is not the only one at New Song Parkside whose life has changed. In the San Diego church’s first 18 months, they have baptized 84 people.

 

The Parkside Three-Week Challenge

Rick and Antoinette – and dozens of couples like them – connected with congregation through Kids Unleashed, a church program that offers free lessons to children in their North County, Calif., neighborhood. The wide variety of options – basketball, soccer, dance, cheer, drum line, magic, guitar, piano, sign language and more – draws young families to the church on Sunday mornings. Hundreds of kids join the activities on the playground and in classrooms of Temple Heights Elementary School, while New Song Parkside is holding its second worship service of the day in the school’s cafetorium.
 
Planted in September 2014 as a fourth campus of the original New Song Community Church in Oceanside, about 130 of New Song Parkside’s 250 adults will be engaged with Kids Unleashed for its seven-week run this spring. During the program’s closing ceremonies, Britts presents what he calls “the Parkside Three-Week Challenge.”
 
“I say, ‘Hey, would you check out Parkside for three weeks? You’ve come once. There’s only two more to go. At the end of three weeks, if this doesn’t feel like something good for your family, let me know and I will personally help you find a church that would be. It’s not about Parkside, it’s about finding a place where you can see all God has in store for your life.’“
 
The church’s content is for believers, but the programming is for seekers, Britts said.
 
“We have the seeker – the person who’s not interested in God – in mind every single week,” he said. “We have a sign out front, as you walk in, that says ‘No perfect people allowed.’ I tell everyone that sign’s out there so I’m allowed to come to my own church.

 
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Photo courtesy New Song Parkside
Rick (left) and Antoinette Hynes, are two of the 84 members of New Song Parkside that have accepted Christ and followed up with baptism since the church launched in September 2014. They Hynes and their two sons are part of the New Song community.

“We are trying to take people, wherever they are in their spiritual journey,” Britts noted, “and show them that God has awesome plans for them and their families and wants them to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

 

A need for new creations

The difference that can be made by transformed lives is badly needed in North County, Britts said.
 
More than 56 percent of the area’s residents are “Nones” with no religious affiliation at all, contrasted with a national average of 25 percent. The community is 60 percent Hispanic, and many of those parents speak little or no English, which makes it more difficult for their children to succeed in school. In fact, the four elementary schools closest to New Song Parkside rank 20 percent or more below California’s state testing average. And, not unrelated, the community adjacent to the church ranks sixth in the entire United States for percentage of people in prison and in recovery programs.
 
New Song Parkside is the first congregation planted in the neighborhood in 25 years, and they don’t intend to be the last.
 
“We are definitely a reproducing church,” Britts said. “We are partnering with a sister church in Mexicali to start a church there. We have one – and we are hoping two – church planters in our church in the next 18 months, and we are going to send them out with people. We are starting a Spanish service with a pastor who is from our community.”
 
For New Song Parkside, however, church planting isn’t about growing a big congregation.
 
“I think the best thing I have ever done for somebody discipleship-wise is have them plant a church with me,” Britts said. “Planting churches changes the lives of the people who plant. We think it should be impossible to come to Parkside for three years and not be part of a church plant.”
 
Visit New Song Parkside Church at newsongchurch.com/locations/parkside.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark Kelly is a freelance writer in Marietta, Ga.)

4/8/2016 11:08:56 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Ben Sells to lead Ouachita Baptist University

April 8 2016 by Trennis Henderson, Ouachita Baptist University

Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) trustees unanimously elected Ben R. Sells as Ouachita’s 16th president during a special called meeting April 7.
 
Sells will begin serving as president-elect this month and officially will assume the presidency June 1 of the 1,500-student university in Arkadelphia affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
 
Sells, who has extensive leadership experience in higher education, fundraising and missions involvement, served as vice president for university advancement at Taylor University in Upland, Ind., from the fall of 2006 to January of this year.

 
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Ben Sells

Sells directed record fundraising efforts during his tenure at Taylor and also had responsibilities for university strategic planning. Taylor has been ranked for nine consecutive years as the No. 1 baccalaureate college in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report, the same ranking held by Ouachita in the South region before moving to a national ranking in 2012.
 
Following an in-depth nine-month presidential search process, Sells’ election marks the first time in more than 60 years that a newly elected Ouachita president has not had previous ties to Ouachita as an alumnus, staff member or trustee.
 
“The presidential search committee’s desire to do a national search was different than all of our presidential searches in recent history,” said Jay Heflin, chairman of the OBU board of trustees. “However, I believe that this has resulted in our eyes being opened to several opportunities that we have not been able to see in the past. And, ultimately, I believe that this national search has brought Ouachita a new president who is wonderfully gifted in many ways.
 
“Dr. Sells has a broad base of Christian, liberal arts experience and shares the values of our university honed by serving at a similar campus in a small-town setting,” noted Heflin, a 1993 Ouachita alumnus who served as an ex officio member of the search committee. “His experience and giftedness is a wonderful complement to the unique set of needs that Ouachita has at this time in her history.”
 
Telling trustees he is “deeply honored and humbled” by the opportunity to serve as Ouachita’s president, Sells pledged “my solidarity with you in an unwavering commitment to steward, to sustain and to strengthen Ouachita’s mission.”
 
Sells succeeds Rex Horne who resigned as president last year to accept the presidency of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities. Charles Wright, retired dean of Ouachita’s school of fine arts, has served as interim president since last August and will continue to serve in that role through the current academic year.
 
Sells holds a bachelor of science degree from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., and two degrees, a master of arts and a Ph.D. in higher and adult education, from the University of Missouri in Columbia. In 2012 he earned a certificate from Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management and as an undergraduate he participated in the Oxford Overseas Study Program.
 
Other higher education experience includes serving as vice president for admissions and student life and director of university ministries at Southwest Baptist University and as an English instructor at Huaiyin Teachers College in China. He also has served as vice president for Avis Industrial Corporation, senior vice president of development for Enactus, coordinator of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board’s International Learning Center and director of the IMB’s International Centre for Excellence in Leadership.
 
Sells’ wife Lisa is the co-founder and executive director of Lift, an after-school faith-based initiative for elementary school students. They are the parents of three grown children and a high school freshman.
 
Gene Whisenhunt, immediate past chairman of OBU’s trustees and a 1983 Ouachita alumnus, served as chairman of the presidential search committee. Reflecting on the committee’s national search, he said, “There was interest in the position from many wonderful and qualified candidates. After consideration of the needs of Ouachita and her mission, our steps led us to Dr. Ben Sells. He has vast experience in many leadership positions and a passion for Christian higher education. We believe Dr. Sells will provide exceptional leadership of Ouachita Baptist University.”
 
Affirming “a confident call specifically to Ouachita,” Sells described his call as missional, educational, historical, denominational, geographical and relational.
 
While his past experience “significantly shapes the way I want to proceed here,” Sells told trustees, “I don’t come to Ouachita with a specific agenda for the future. I believe that such a plan will emerge as we seek the wisdom of the Lord, listen to the voices of the Ouachita family and engage in candid and respectful conversations.”
 
Although “we’re living in a disruptive time for higher education,” he said it poses “a pivotal moment for Christian colleges. At our core, we are focused on forming people – what Ouachita so importantly describes as ‘fostering a love of God and a love of learning’ – and that must remain foremost.
 
“We must not be tempted to do only what it takes to survive when it is possible to thrive,” Sells declared. “We must not be people of too much fear and too little faith. That is not our calling as Christians and that is not the character of this university.
 
“I cannot imagine a better time, a better opportunity for Ouachita Baptist University to lead the way in creating a more viable, more substantive and more enduring model of education,” he said. “This is Ouachita’s opportunity to further define, to differentiate and to distinguish itself as a Christian university, as a Baptist college, that will provide to students unparalleled value over time.”
 
Looking toward Ouachita’s future challenges and opportunities, Sells said key perspectives that will guide his approach to leadership include supporting faculty and staff, ensuring student learning and engaging alumni as well as innovating new programs, serving churches and strengthening the university’s financial sustainability.
 
“I believe that the search committee and Dr. Sells have both been extremely focused on God’s leading through this process,” Heflin emphasized. “It has been a journey that God has led and brought all parties together in such a way that has the potential to be life-changing for our beloved Ouachita.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Trennis Henderson is vice president for communication at Ouachita Baptist University.)

4/8/2016 11:05:14 AM by Trennis Henderson, Ouachita Baptist University | with 0 comments



African American church embraces Hispanic neighbors

April 8 2016 by Megan Sweas, LifeWay Christian Resources

At the end of a Black History Month-themed service at St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church, pastor Anthony Dockery rose to tell about his recent mission trip to El Salvador.
 
The mission team had served in the hometown of Jose Rivas, one of the pastors at St. Stephen. Beyond “good morning” and “God bless you,” Dockery had relied on Rivas for Spanish translation while in the Central American country.

 
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Photo provided by St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church and Megan Sweas
St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church’s annual block party now includes a Hispanic flavor reflecting its unfolding ministry as an African American congregation reaching out to its now-Spanish-speaking community.

The African American congregation enthusiastically applauded the news that 500 people came to the party hosted by St. Stephen in El Salvador.
 
Nationally, denominations and church networks are looking to bridge the gap between Anglo and African American churches. But in La Puente, Calif., about 20 miles east of Los Angeles, St. Stephen finds itself bridging African American and Hispanic communities.

  St. Stephen, a 4,000-member church with a 51-year history, has seen La Puente change dramatically. Years ago, the neighborhood surrounding St. Stephen was primarily African American. Latino residents now account for 85 percent of the city’s population, with African Americans at less than 2 percent, according to the U.S. Census.
 
Longtime church members have moved further into the Inland Empire region east of Los Angeles, Dockery says, yet many remain loyal to St. Stephen and commute back on Sunday mornings.
 
Still, it’s not certain that younger generations will continue the practice, Dockery says, noting, “It’s important for the church to be relevant to its community as well.”
 
Seeking to reach its transitioning neighborhood, St. Stephen has welcomed Rivas as its Spanish-language minister.
 
A native of El Salvador, Rivas came to La Puente to establish a new church, and St. Stephen volunteered its space to his congregation. In December 2013, however, the Spanish-language ministry decided to merge with St. Stephen’s existing community rather than start from scratch.
 

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Photo provided by St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church and Megan Sweas
The sign at St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church reflects the African American congregation’s intent to maintain its reach into the community that now is predominantly Hispanic.

“Their way of doing ministry aligned with what we wanted to do with our Spanish church,” Rivas explains. “St. Stephen has a tremendous program in leadership and Christian education.”
 
About 100 people now attend a Spanish-language service while the predominantly African American English speakers are in Sunday School classes.
 
The Spanish speakers have their own adult Sunday School, using the Spanish edition of the Bible Studies for Life curriculum from LifeWay Christian Resources. Children and English-speaking young people are incorporated into the English Sunday School.
 
While services remain separate due to language, other activities, such as the basketball league and church picnics, are for everybody, Rivas says.
 
One of his challenges is making sure the wider community knows that the historically African American church has a Spanish-speaking ministry.
 
St. Stephen reaches out to the local community through a food bank and a block party where people can access donated clothing and basic medical services. Since the Spanish ministry began, more Hispanics have started attending the event which Rivas describes as “a blessing to the church.”
 
St. Stephen’s approach to reaching its community is similar to how Rivas started an outreach in his hometown in El Salvador. He and his sister brought cake on a visit seven years ago and invited neighbors to come to a “birthday party.” Sixty kids came.
 
The next year, they repeated the party and spread the invitation further, with 300-plus kids on hand. At that point, they started to organize Bible study classes and establish a church.
 
Dockery and two African American women from St. Stephen accompanied Rivas’ most recent mission team last year. The congregation at St. Stephen donated 243 backpacks to the town’s children.
 
Whether in El Salvador or their own backyard, missionary work “has united us more in serving God,” Rivas says. “We believe church is to serve the families, obviously starting at home in our Jerusalem, which is here in La Puente.
 
“Whenever you bring races together like this, it’s God’s power,” Dockery says. “Love indeed conquers all.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Megan Sweas is a freelance journalist in Los Angeles. This story first appeared in the Winter issue of Facts & Trends factsandtrends.net, published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

4/8/2016 10:58:11 AM by Megan Sweas, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



Businesses fuel economic debate over N.C. bathroom law

April 7 2016 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

PayPal announced April 5 that it is withdrawing plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, saying North Carolina’s new law “invalidates protections” of LGBT rights. The online payment company’s decision, announced by CEO Dan Schulman in a statement on their website, allegedly costs the city hundreds of jobs.

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State lawmakers passed HB 2 in a special session March 23 to overturn a controversial sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council before it took effect April 1. The SOGI policy would have allowed transgender individuals to access the bathrooms, locker rooms or other public accommodations according to their gender of choice.
 
HB 2 requires state agencies to designate single-sex bathrooms and changing facilities for use according to biological sex as indicated by birth certificate.
 
The bill cites “improved intrastate commerce” and benefits for new and existing businesses as reasons for sustaining a statewide non-discrimination policy. The law’s supporters said Charlotte’s ordinance would also endanger women and children by potentially allowing sexual predators to exploit the policy.
 
PayPal is joined by dozens of businesses that have also expressed opposition to the legislation, stoking the ongoing debate.
 
“The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” said Schulman.
 
Conservative advocates deny the allegation that HB 2 enables discrimination, and claim PayPal’s actions are hypocritical, since the company operates in countries with governments that oppress LGBT people.
 
“PayPal currently does business in 19 countries where homosexuality is illegal and six countries where they can be executed,” Tami Fitzgerald, director of the N.C. Values Coalition, said in a press release. “The hypocrisy is just too great!”
 
Mark Harris, congressional candidate and senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, said, “PayPal is perfectly happy opening operations in Cuba despite well-documented human rights violations, while they already operate in China and Saudi Arabia. This is the height of hypocrisy and shows more political expediency than common sense.”
 
Fitzgerald added, “PayPal only agreed to come to Charlotte after holding out for millions in corporate incentives ($3.7 million to be exact, plus $480,000 in community college incentives). Under HB 2, PayPal could have chosen to fill all 400 jobs with employees of their choice and provide bathroom and non-discrimination policies designed to their liking. But instead, they forfeited the opportunity to build an operations center in one of the top economically thriving states just for political posturing and ‘political correctness.’”
 
More than 40 large corporations that do business in the state – such as Google, Bank of America and Apple – criticized the new law in online comments. In a tweet March 30, American Airlines called for a repeal of HB 2 “in support of our LGBT employees & customers.”
 
Fitzgerald said, “I would like to be a fly on the wall in American Airlines’ shareholder meetings as they try to justify why they have chosen to side with convicted sex offenders and not the common sense consumers who buy their airline tickets.”
 
Red Hat Inc., a tech firm in downtown Raleigh, said on the company blog, “We cannot see any economic benefit from divisive legislation.”
 
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Basketball Association and cable network ESPN also expressed concern about the effects of the law on their respective sporting events, according to Raleigh’s News & Observer.
 
Prior to the passing of Charlotte’s controversial LGBT ordinance, Forbes magazine listed North Carolina as the second best state for business in 2015, according to their website. 

4/7/2016 6:45:21 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 1 comments



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