February 2014

Marvin wears gold for Team Jesus Christ

February 24 2014 by Allen Palmeri, Baptist Press

SOCHI, Russia – Gigi Marvin was among the heartbroken Team USA players as a 2-0 lead vanished against Canada in women’s hockey Feb. 20 along with hopes for a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.
 
Marvin likely found a unique form of comfort after Canada took the gold with a 3-2 overtime victory at the Sochi Games that left her with a second consecutive silver medal.
 
“I played for my high school team and I’ve worn that jersey,” she told Baptist Press in an interview prior to the Olympics. I’ve played college and worn that jersey. And I’ve played with the U.S. team and worn that jersey. But that jersey’s always coming off.
 
“However, the jersey that never comes off is Team Jesus Christ.”
 
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Photo by David G. McIntyre/Genesis Photos.
Gigi Marvin, #19 USA (upper left), watches teammate defenseman Megan Bozek, #9, battle Finland forward Susanna Tapani, #77, during a preliminary round at the Sochi Olympics.

Marvin, 26, a 5-foot-8 defenseman from Warroad, Minn., reflected, “How blessed am I that I have a God who gave me free life? I get to skate. I get to live. I get to walk around and interact with people and be free. There’s freedom in Christ.”
 
Weeks before her country’s colors flew above the medal stand in the silver position, Marvin noted their biblical significance through the atoning work of Jesus.
 
“The red being the blood on the cross, the blue being cleansed and the white the purity,” Marvin said.
 
“Hey! It’s white as snow,” she said of God’s forgiveness. “You’re clean. There is no more stain.”
 
Marvin was raised in a Christian home and gained a more mature walk with Christ as a freshman at the University of Minnesota as a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
 
“I learned what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that I could not live according to these do’s and don’ts of faith,” she said. “That’s why Jesus Christ came, so I get to be transformed by Him every single day. In Him and Him alone can I be righteous and pure and holy and patient and kind.”
 
Marvin comes from a town of fewer than 1,800 residents located near the Canadian border. Warroad has produced a number of U.S. Olympic hockey players and Hall of Famers like Gordon, Roger, Bill and David Christian; Henry Boucha; and T.J. Oshie, one of current American stars.
 
As a northern Minnesotan, hockey is so engrained in Marvin that she identifies “the skating, the stick handling, the shooting, the competition, the teamwork, and the friends and family that are supporting you and encouraging you” as her list of likes.
 
Her pastor, Scott Stoll of Warroad Baptist Church, noted that her university spiritual experience was pivotal. Her growth since then has been steady to the point where Stoll baptized her in the Warroad River last summer.
 
“Our little girls here at church, and actually our guys too, just kind of like the whole athletic thing,” Stoll said. “Gigi’s just a hero to them. They’ll contact her through Facebook and things like that, and Gigi will take time to respond to them. Gigi’s been a great blessing to us.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Allen Palmeri is a writer from Jefferson City, Mo. With reporting by Baptist Press sports editor Tim Ellsworth.)
2/24/2014 10:06:56 AM by Allen Palmeri, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



BSC Board elects 2014 officers

February 21 2014 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

In a called meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) board of directors on Feb. 20, new officers were elected for 2014. The meeting at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church near Greensboro lasted less than one hour and was necessary since the board’s Jan. 28-29 meeting at Caraway was cancelled due to winter weather.

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BR Photo
The current board president, Michael Barrett, was re-elected without opposition for the third year. Perry Brindley was re-elected as vice-president of the board, also without opposition. Pam Young, executive assistant to the executive director-treasurer of BSC, was elected uncontested to serve as secretary of the board.

The board is required to elect four of its members to serve at-large on the executive committee. Four nominations were offered from the floor and all four were elected. They are Sandy Marks, pastor at Alexis Baptist, Alexis; Bobby Lewis, pastor at Salem Baptist, Dobson; Mitchell Shields, director of missions, Truett Association; and Robert Garbett, bi-vocational pastor of New Hope Baptist, Richlands.

The composition of the executive committee also includes the chairs of the board’s committees. The newly elected chairs are Business Services: Jimmy Adams, Greensboro; Christian Higher Education: Gordon Benton, Weaverville; Christian Life and Public Affairs: Ray Barnhill, Wilson; Christian Social Services: Wanda Dellinger, High Point; Church Planting and Mission Partnerships: Ben Whitmire, Weaverville; Communications: Michael Pardue, Icard; and Evangelism and Discipleship: Chris Hawks, Hamlet.

In other action at-large members of the Business Services Special Committee were approved. Jimmy Adams nominated two men to serve: Russell Reaves, pastor, Immanuel Baptist, Greensboro, and Alan Taylor, director of missions, Robison Association, Lumberton.

The convention officers are responsible for nominating new members for the Committee on Nominations each year. The board approved the officers’ nomination of Charlie Martin, Winston-Salem, to serve as the committee’s chair. The following individuals were also approved to serve on the committee: Charles Hester (filling a one year unexpired term), Riegelwood Baptist, Riegelwood; Eddie Yount Jr., Mount Hebron Baptist, Taylorsville; Reginald Bakr, Saint Paul Baptist, Greensboro; Pao Ly, First Hmong Baptist, Morganton; Noah Crowe, First Baptist, Robbinsville; Alex Casio, Apex Baptist, Apex; and Hak Ung, Promised Land Community Church, Butner.

Brian Davis, associate executive director-treasurer of BSC, presented a revision of an indemnification resolution that was approved by the convention several years ago. It is part of the convention’s legal documents to identify those key individuals responsible for conducting business on behalf of the convention. Davis explained that the current resolution uses titles and or positions that no longer exist since the staff restructuring in 2013. The new resolution corrects those titles and properly indemnifies the appropriate leaders. The board approved the resolution.

Jimmy Adams presented three property-related recommendations from the business services committee.

The first motion dealt with construction projects at Caraway Conference Center in Asheboro. It called for the board to “... approve the use of $2.25 million from the convention contingency fund for purposes of constructing Hollifield Hall auditorium and additional lodging units at Caraway Conference Center with the reserve to be replenished from the five annual payments to be received on the note from the sale of the Hollifield Leadership Center (HLC).”

The HLC property was sold to the North Carolina Boy’s Academy last year. The organization will be making payments to BSC over five years. The recommendation was approved.

Adams said the action allows Caraway to move forward with the planned construction of a new auditorium and additional lodging. The auditorium, Hollifield Hall, will be named in honor of Wyndolyn Royster Hollifield, the namesake for the Lake Hickory facility. The new building could be ready for occupancy early next year.

The second motion asked the board to approve the sale of property the BSC owns on the campus of East Carolina University (ECU) in Pitt County. The motion called for the sale of “... the Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) building for $775,000 to East Carolina University, with the net proceeds being placed into a designated reserve for collegiate partnerships.”

Adams explained that the proposal was part of an “... Option Agreement proposed by ECU.” The BCM property is one of several properties the university needs to acquire in order to build a new student center. In exchange the university will provide a 5-year renewable lease to guarantee space for the Baptist ministry in the current student center and in the new student activities center.

John Butler, executive leader for business services was authorized by the board to execute all necessary documents to complete the sale of the property. The board approved the motion with no opposition.

The final motion asked the board for permission to proceed with a construction project at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell.

The board approved construction of a 6,000-sq.-ft. cottage that will house 60 campers and chaperones. Funds are in hand and previously reserved for the project. Construction will begin as soon as an acceptable bid is negotiated.
2/21/2014 3:43:52 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Mohler: Urgent need for Christian understanding of Islam

February 21 2014 by Aaron Cline Hanbury, Southern Seminary

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Islam is the “great rival system of belief” to Christianity, according to R. Albert Mohler Jr. And with 1.6 billion adherents, Muslims make up nearly a quarter of the world’s population. In response, the leadership of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary opened and dedicated a new academic center for the study of Islam, Feb. 13.
 
“I am very, very excited about the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam,” said Mohler, who is president of Southern Seminary, during a chapel service immediately preceding the dedication. He said that faithfulness to the Great Commission requires ministers to study this rival religion, and  “not merely to understand Islam as others might seek to understand it, but to achieve a Christian understanding of Islam.”
 
The dedication of the new center coincided with the seminary’s annual Great Commission Week. The four-day event included panel discussions with veteran missionaries and church planters, outreach “excursions” in the Louisville community and evangelistic training sessions.
 
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SEBTS Photo
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaks at a Feb. 13 dedication ceremony launching the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam at the school in Louisville, Ky. Connie and Bill Jenkins (center), benefactors for the new center from Paoli, Ind., join Mary Mohler, wife of Southern’s president, for a ribbon-cutting of the center’s office in Norton Hall. 

According to Mohler, the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam, named for donors Connie and Bill Jenkins, will lead Southern Seminary – and the broader evangelical academy – in studying and engaging Islam through the lens of the Christian gospel. And while he affirmed the value and even necessity of studying Islam through secular and Islamic scholarship, the primary concern of the center is engagement, including evangelism and apologetics.
 
Randy Stinson, senior vice president for academic administration and provost, explained that a group of fellows who are “experts in the area of Islam” will lead the Jenkins Center through research, seminars and writing.
 
“Not only will they be able to help believers understand various global events from a Christian perspective, they will be producing articles, books and other resources for the church,” Stinson said. “They will also host conferences, roundtable discussions and summits with Islamic scholars from around the world.
 
“I am personally grateful for the generosity of the Jenkins family and believe that this center will be significantly instrumental in the effective training of future generations of gospel ministers,” he said.
 
The center opens with four fellows, two of whom cannot be announced for security reasons related to their work. The other two, J.D. Greear and Michael Youssef, are scholars who live and minister in the United States.
 
Greear, who is lead pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., studied Islamic theology during his doctoral work at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and served as a missionary among Muslims prior to pastoring in the United States. In anticipation of the center’s launch, he expressed the urgency of the center’s mission and his excitement about helping lead in the effort.
 
“In many ways, Islam represents the ‘great frontier’ for the Christian church,” he said. “How exciting to see God bringing together such a high caliber team of gospel-saturated, faith-filled believers at Southern Seminary to believe God together for the salvation of Muslims. I am excited about the discussions and the future together. Might our generation be the one that sees this vast network of unreached peoples turned for the gospel?”
 
The Egyptian-born Youssef is an author, founding rector of the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Ga., and founder and president of Leading The Way, a worldwide media ministry. Originally, the seminary planned for Youssef to present the inaugural Jenkins Center lecture in conjunction with the center’s launch. However, inclement weather prohibited his traveling to Louisville. Youssef will give the inaugural lecture at a later date.
 
In place of Youssef, Mohler gave an address during chapel, “Monotheism Is Not Enough.” Speaking from James 2:19, he pushed back against the idea of three “Abrahamic religions” – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – arguing that authentic Abrahamic faith leads to Jesus Christ.
 
“We often hear … the idea that there are three Abrahamic faiths. I can only imagine what Abraham would say to that,” Mohler said, referencing an exchange in the John 8:58, where those who claim to be the sons of Abraham fail to believe in Jesus. In response, Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I am.”
 
Mohler explained that while Abraham was certainly a monotheist, he “learned to look forward and trust God for his unilateral provision for salvation,” he said. “Monotheism is not enough.”
 
Mohler described “two great rival systems of belief,” arguing that Islam represents the “main rival” to Christianity around the world.
 
“In the west, that main system of belief is modern secularism – which is a complete worldview system. But almost everywhere else in the world, Islam is the main rival in terms of the belief systems that take a hold of humanity,” he said.
 
Mohler outlined challenges Islam presents the church, starting with demographics. He pointed out that the vast majority of unreached people live in Islamic nations or in regions where Muslims are the majority, explaining that increasingly the task of Christian missions requires engaging Islam.
 
Islam also presents challenges related to theology and apologetics, according to Mohler. He stressed again that Christian discussions of Muslim theology must seek to understand Islam in light of the gospel.
 
Finally, Mohler said that Christians face a challenge of love regarding Islam. Loving Muslims, he said, means understanding and engaging Muslims in both  “honest and accurate” and “loving and respectful” ways.
 
“Jesus ordered us to go into all the world and to find all the world as our neighbor – a neighbor we are to love,” he said. “And if we do love, we will seek to understand what they believe and we seek to confront them with the gospel.”
 
Closing, Mohler emphasized the importance of Southern Seminary’s new initiatives in developing this Christian understanding of Islam, calling it a “non-negotiable” for future ministers.
 
The Jenkins family attended the Jenkins Center dedication chapel service and the ribbon-cutting ceremony. During a reception immediately following, members of the seminary community expressed thanks to the family. The Jenkins are member of Paoli Christian Church in Paoli, Ind., where Bill Jenkins, co-founder and manager of Mainstream Investments and Advisors in New Albany, Ind., is an elder and Connie Jenkins, a graduate of the Women’s Ministry Institute at Southern Seminary, is involved in the women’s ministry. They have four grown sons: Aaron, Stephen, Chad and Neil.
 
The Jenkins Center website – jenkins.sbts.edu – provides information about and resources for the engagement of Islam.
2/21/2014 11:45:46 AM by Aaron Cline Hanbury, Southern Seminary | with 0 comments



Ezell: Help churches ‘redefine success’

February 21 2014 by Mike Ebert, Baptist Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Ezell told trustees of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) he is determined to help pastors and laypeople redefine what success looks like for their churches.
 
“Success cannot be defined based on how many people a church keeps,” Ezell, NAMB’s president, said. We must help them redefine success based on how many a church sends. Churches are designed to be sending agencies.”
 
As Ezell addressed the trustees Feb. 5, winds blew 7 inches of newly fallen snow through the streets of Indianapolis, as if to illustrate that the city differs greatly from the South where Southern Baptists are so strong. Since becoming NAMB’s president in September 2010, Ezell has repeatedly challenged South-based churches and leaders to put more money and focus on hard-to-reach, underserved areas of North America.
 
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BP Photo
Kevin Ezell

Indianapolis, the fastest-growing city north of the Mason-Dixon Line, has only one Southern Baptist church in its entire downtown area. Ezell said it will take new thinking for churches to turn that around.
 
“I want to encourage churches to begin to tally, as they plant churches, what those churches actually run on a Sunday,” Ezell said, recounting that Atlanta-area pastor Bryant Wright recently told him attendance at the church he leads, Johnson Ferry Baptist, was flat in 2013, “But when they calculated the number of people they had sent out to other states and other countries and the attendance that was happening at those churches, it was incredible what their attendance was compared to 10 years ago.
 
“When you invest to that degree, it hurts. When you send out your best, it takes months and sometimes years to recover,” Ezell said.
 
In other trustee business:
  • NAMB Chief Financial Officer Carlos Ferrer said Cooperative Program revenues are 8 percent off budget and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering gifts are off 2 percent so far this year but he anticipates both offerings will improve in the months ahead. In 2013, giving to NAMB’s Annie Armstrong Offering totaled $57 million, slightly off from the 2012 total of $57.2 million.
  • Trustees approved a modification of NAMB’s first ministry assignment to allow NAMB to cooperate with the International Mission Board to plant churches outside of U.S. and Canadian borders in limited circumstances. This would give NAMB the potential for planting churches near American military bases abroad that would serve U.S. service men and women. The change must meet with SBC Executive Committee approval before being voted on by messengers at an upcoming meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.
  • Trustees heard regional reports including word that Canada saw 33 church plants in 2013 compared with 19 in 2012. In NAMB’s West Region, Alaska reported 19 church plants after averaging five or fewer each year over the last decade. In the South, a new funding model will allow NAMB to shift several million more dollars to non-South regions beginning in 2016.
NAMB will release a new resource tentatively titled Life On Mission this fall, Ezell reported. The book will help churches become more missionally focused and help individuals discover how their lives can be on mission. The book will include an evangelist tract and mobile app component to help churches train members to share the gospel.
 
Ezell said NAMB’s next Send North America Conference, Aug. 3-4, 2015, in Nashville, will be designed to include laypeople who want to learn new ways to make their lives more missional.
 
In addition, NAMB is expanding its ethnic church planting focus. Korean, Chinese, Hispanic and Native American groups each have NAMB-funded National Church Planting Catalysts (CPC) focused on starting churches for their groups. Additional CPCs will work to start churches for the deaf and for members of the military. Another CPC has been given the task of starting missional communities in each of NAMB’s 32 Send North America cities. These communities will focus on evangelism and spiritual development with the goal of becoming church plants.
 
Turning to the 1,000 SBC churches that die or otherwise disappear from SBC roles each year, Ezell spoke of NAMB’s legacy church planting efforts.
 
“Literally millions upon millions of dollars of buildings a year are being vacated,” Ezell said. “It’s the perfect opportunity to pass the baton of what once was to what can be. And we must walk them there. It’s very difficult and it takes a good bit of trust and time.”
 
Ezell highlighted recent reports that Southern Baptist churches planted in 2010 have a 91 percent survival rate after three years and continue to gain in membership, attendance, baptism rates and missions giving.
 
“We have to do everything possible to come alongside these very courageous missionaries who are pushing back darkness,” Ezell said. “To do that we have to do everything possible to change the conversation to help churches define success in not how many they keep, but how many they send out. That’s why we did not choose the name ‘Keep North America,’ we chose the name ‘Send North America.’”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mike Ebert writes for the North American Mission Board.)
2/21/2014 11:31:55 AM by Mike Ebert, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Ronnie Floyd to be SBC president nominee

February 21 2014 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention at the SBC annual meeting this June, seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced Feb. 20.
 
Floyd has “unparalleled experience as a leader among us, an unquestioned commitment to the Great Commission, and he has demonstrated an unstinting urgency to unite Southern Baptists around our shared beliefs, mission, and programs,” Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., wrote in an open letter to Southern Baptists stating his intention to nominate Floyd at the SBC annual meeting in June.
 
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BP Photo
Ronnie Floyd

During the 27 years Floyd has led Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, it has become “one of the most evangelistic, visible and innovative congregations in our convention,” Mohler wrote. The church encompasses campuses in Springdale, Rogers and Fayetteville.
 
Highlighting Floyd’s support for Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program channel for funding missions and ministries internationally, nationally and in each state, Mohler wrote:
 
“Over the last several years, Ronnie Floyd has led his church to become one of the convention’s leading contributors toward the Cooperative Program. Last year, Cross Church contributed over $700,000 to the Cooperative Program. What makes that giving even more remarkable is that Cross Church increased its giving during a time of economic stress in the nation. Ronnie Floyd led the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCR) for our denomination [2009-2010], and when that task force called for Southern Baptists to demonstrate a bold commitment to increasing giving through the Cooperative Program, Ronnie Floyd took that vision home to his church, and the church has responded with great generosity and a vision for missions at home and around the world.”
 
In addition to the GCR Task Force, whose wide-ranging report included a call for international missions to receive 51 percent of all Cooperative Program gifts, Mohler noted that Floyd is a former chairman of the SBC Executive Committee and was a member of the SBC’s Program and Structure Task Force during the mid-1990s. That task force produced The Covenant for a New Century restructuring that streamlined the number of SBC entities to nine from the former 12 and set forth updated ministry assignments for each SBC entity.
 
Mohler noted: “... when Southern Baptists have asked Ronnie Floyd to serve, he has always answered that call with visionary leadership and an eagerness to serve the denomination he so clearly loves.”
 
Floyd’s nomination is the first to be announced for the June 10-11 annual meeting in Baltimore. The new SBC president will succeed New Orleans pastor Fred Luter of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, who became the first-ever African American to lead the SBC when he was elected in 2012.
 
Fred Luter has led us so well as he has unified and inspired us,” Mohler wrote. “Our next president needs to unify and inspire us for our next steps together.”
 
Floyd, as “a visionary and a unifier,” will help “keep us united and focused on our shared task – to mobilize a denomination of churches in service to the Great Commission. He will maintain a constant vision of Southern Baptists going, sending, and giving so that the nations will rejoice in Christ.”
 
For the full text of Mohler’s letter in behalf of Floyd, go to FloydNomination.pdf.
 
Floyd has been a key organizer of two pastor/leader prayer gatherings that each drew participants from nearly 30 states in recent months – a Jan. 13-14 meeting in Atlanta attended by 400 pastors and leaders and a Sept. 30-Oct. 1 meeting in the Dallas-Fort Worth area attended by 175-plus pastors.
 
Floyd, in comments to Baptist Press after the Atlanta gathering, said God is “raising up a generation of pastors who are biblically based, theologically balanced and spiritually empowered” and who are committed to seeing revival and awakening.
 
In seeking the “manifestation of the presence of God in our midst,” Floyd noted, “God can do more in a moment than we can do in a lifetime. Therefore, we must pursue Him and experience His presence powerfully so that we can lead the church to do the same. As the church is coming alive and experiencing the power of God, we believe that America will begin to see spiritual awakening in various places. This is absolutely imperative so we can reach the world for Jesus Christ.”
 
Floyd also has served as general editor for the updated and enhanced version of “Bible Studies for Life,” LifeWay’s most popular Bible study curriculum series, released last fall. The series is used in an estimated 30,000 churches, reaching more than 1.5 million people. Floyd led an advisory team of pastors and ministry leaders from across the nation to help design the new material from a church perspective.

He is the author of 10 books, including Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission (2011) and The Power of Prayer and Fasting (2010). His wife Jeana is the author of two books: 10 Things Every Minister’s Wife Needs to Know (2010) and An Uninvited Guest: One Woman’s Journey from Cancer to Hope (2007).
 
The Floyds, who have been married 37 years, have two married sons and six grandchildren.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.)
2/21/2014 11:20:20 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Survey: Most pastors say religious liberty on decline

February 21 2014 by Bob Smietana, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Most Americans say religious liberty is important, but they don’t always agree on how much liberty is enough or too much.
 
Religious liberty is the issue at the heart of the upcoming Supreme Court hearings between Hobby Lobby and the Obama Administration over the HHS contraceptive mandate. It’s a dispute that is unlikely to go away, no matter what the Supreme Court decides.
 
American preachers, it turns out, are more than a bit uneasy about religious liberty these days, according to a survey by LifeWay Research, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
 
The survey found that seven out of 10 senior pastors at Protestant churches said religious liberty is on the decline in America. About seven in 10 also said Christians have lost or are losing the culture war. The telephone survey of Protestant senior pastors was taken Sept. 4-19, 2013. 
 
Seventy percent agree with the statement, “Religious liberty is on the decline in America.” Twenty-seven percent disagree. Self-identified evangelical pastors (81 percent) are more likely to agree than mainline pastors (47 percent).
 
Researchers also asked pastors to respond to this question:  “Many Christian leaders have talked about society being in a culture war. Regardless of how you feel about that terminology, how would you explain the current situation?”
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BP Photo 

 
Nearly six in 10 (59 percent) say Christians are losing. One in 10 (11 percent) say the culture war is already lost. Few (10 percent) say Christians are winning the culture war.  
 
Evangelical pastors (79 percent) are more likely than mainline pastors (60 percent) to say Christians are losing or have lost the culture war.
 
Mainline pastors (30 percent) are also most likely to say they “don’t know” when asked about the culture war. By contrast, 13 percent of evangelicals said they don’t know. Overall, one in five pastors (19 percent) said they don’t know. 
 

Culture shifts

Some of the unease about religious liberty is due to shifts in American culture and church practice, said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research.
 
In the 1960s, nearly two-thirds of Americans were Protestants. Today, they make up less than half of the population, according to the General Social Survey.
 
Fewer Protestants means less cultural power, Stetzer said.
 
In the past, he said, Christians – and Protestants in particular – took it for granted that Americans would look to the church for guidance on moral issues. Churches, he said, were seen as being good for society and so they were given special privileges – like exemptions from taxes and other laws. “Even if people did not go to church, they looked to the church,” Stetzer explained.
 
That’s no longer the case, as the government and culture no longer defer to Protestant Christians, which makes pastors and their congregations nervous.
 
“They feel like in some ways there was a pact made at the founding of the country – between God and America,” he said. “That pact has been broken.”
 
That’s not all bad news, Stetzer said.
 
“The fact that ‘Christian’ is not just a demographic category can have a positive side,” Stetzer said, as it means that Protestants and other Christians have to be more active in living out their faith.
 
But it also has political and social consequences, as a sizable number of Protestants and other Christians run into conflicts with societal norms on issues like sexuality and marriage and other issues.
 
Protestants (and like-minded religious people) have to think through a new strategy that defends their religious liberty but also acknowledges that conflict, Stetzer said.
 
Several recent court battles also may play a role, said Thomas Kidd, professor of history at Baylor University, and author of God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution.
 
Kidd pointed to the Hobby Lobby case as well as the Supreme Court’s 2012 Hosanna-Tabor ruling. Both involve disputes between the government and religious groups over exemptions from federal law.
 
In both cases, religious liberty was seen as less important than other issues – like nondiscrimination or healthcare, Kidd said.
 
“There’s a real sense that something has changed dramatically,” he said. “Some questions about the meaning of religious liberty are now in play.”
 
Those court battles, as well as the decline in Protestant cultural power, can make pastors nervous. “Less clout plus more aggressive policy creates a sense of crisis,” he said.
 

Most Americans concerned about religious liberty

LifeWay researchers found similar concerns about religious liberty in a telephone survey of 1,001 Americans, conducted Sept. 6-10, 2013.
 
More than half (54 percent) agree with the statement, “Religious liberty is on the decline in America.” About four in 10 (38 percent) disagree.
 
Half (50 percent) also agree with the statement: “Christians increasingly are confronted by intolerance in America today.” Thirty nine percent disagree.
 
Researchers also found about a third of Americans (34 percent) say Christians complain too much about how they are treated.
 
Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, said concerns about religious liberty have become widespread. 
 
“Half of Americans say that religious liberty is on the decline,” he said. “That’s a lot of people.”
 
Many of the new freedoms Americans want are less compatible with religion, McConnell said. Freedoms always have limits, he added, and Americans disagree about how to weigh religious liberty against other concerns.
 
“It’s not that people don’t care about religious liberty,” he said. “It’s that other values are seen as more important.”
 
Methodology:  The telephone survey of 1,007 Protestant pastors was conducted Sept. 4-19, 2013. The calling list was randomly drawn from a stratified list of Protestant churches. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted to reflect the geographic distribution and denominational groups of Protestant churches. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
 
The telephone survey of 1,001 adult Americans was conducted Sept. 6-10, 2013. Interviews were conducted in either English or Spanish. Both listed and unlisted numbers were called and approximately 20 percent of the sample was reached by cell phone. Responses were weighted by age, gender, education, race/Hispanic ethnicity, region and CBSA market size to more accurately reflect the population. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.)
2/21/2014 10:34:36 AM by Bob Smietana, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Clayton promoted to CP vice presidency

February 21 2014 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee employee C. Ashley Clayton is now vice president for Cooperative Program and Stewardship Development, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page has announced.

Clayton has helped guide Cooperative Program (CP) promotion and stewardship development since joining the Executive Committee in 2006 as associate vice president for Cooperative Program and Stewardship. After holding several related posts, he was named in March 2013 as special assistant to the president for CP and stewardship.
 
Page announced Clayton’s promotion at the SBC Executive Committee’s Feb. 17-18 meeting in Nashville.
 
“He has served faithfully our Executive Committee staff for several years and has grown in his strategic ability,” Page said of Clayton. “We’re proud of him and thankful.”
 
Clayton will continue working with pastors and cooperating state Baptist convention ministry leaders to strengthen Cooperative Program giving and encourage individual and church stewardship among cooperating churches.
 
“At the Executive Committee, we understand our primary and most important assignment is to advance SBC missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program,” Clayton said. “We are striving for consistent messaging and a simple plan for fueling Southern Baptists’ long-held values, international missions, church planting and evangelism across North America, church revitalization, theological education, biblical stewardship, meeting human needs, having a voice for morality and religious freedom, collegiate ministry, disaster relief, church strengthening, and so many other important ministries through our state convention partners.”
 
Stewardship, Clayton said, goes hand in hand with the Cooperative Program. From 2006 through 2010, his primary focus was on stewardship development, developing “It’s a New Day” stewardship resources and conducting workshops across the nation in partnership with Crown Financial Ministries.
 
In 2011, he transitioned into the Executive Committee president’s office to work more directly with Cooperative Program promotion; but has continued to coordinate stewardship conferences in concert with the six seminaries and many state Baptist conventions.
 
Clayton has an extensive background in church ministry, having served as minister to children, minister of education, and an associate pastor at churches in Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Georgia and Tennessee.
 
He is the author of several resources in church growth and the 2009 financial management book, Confessions of a Poor Money Manager, published by B&H Publishing Group.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/ editor.)
2/21/2014 10:29:05 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Ukraine’s violence escalates; churches share Scripture & pray

February 20 2014 by Baptist Press

KIEV, Ukraine – Scripture portions helped provide a flicker of faith as violence escalated in Ukraine on Feb. 18. At least 25 were killed and hundreds injured as government forces acted to forcibly remove protesters from Kiev’s Independence Square. The dead include civilians and police officers.
 
The Interior Ministry demanded that protesters leave the square by 8 p.m. Tuesday. When the deadline passed, riot police dismantled barricades with the help of armored vehicles, water cannons and stun grenades.
 
Some protesters responded by throwing Molotov cocktails and paving stones dug up from the streets.
 
But churches near the mayhem responded differently.
 
“Thousands of Scripture portions have been distributed and the prayer tent on Independence Square is very active,” said International Mission Board worker Tim Johnson*, who was in close proximity to the violence Tuesday.
 
ukraine02-20-14.jpg

Photo by Ukrainian evangelical believer Igor Prus
Many churches in Kiev have set up tents in Independence Square to pray for individuals, serve hot tea, hand out tracts and witness for Christ. IMB workers say God is at work in the hearts of Ukrainians in the midst of escalating violence.

Many churches have been using a tent-based outreach in Independence Square to pray for individuals, serve hot tea, hand out tracts and share their faith during the three-month upheaval in Ukraine and its capital city, Kiev.
 
It is unclear what sparked the mid-February sudden rise in violence, with each side blaming the other. Protests began Nov. 21 when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed away from a trade deal with the European Union in favor of accepting financial aid from Russia. The conflict has now been named “EuroMaidan,” Ukrainian for “Eurosquare.”
 
“Tensions in the center of Kiev are extremely high,” Johnson said. “I was downtown when the metro system was shut down so I joined the ranks of the walkers, trying to find a bus that would stop. Since they were overloaded, there were dozens of people at every stop trying to board, but only one or two might crowd in. I walked two hours from downtown to our apartment, but it was a good time to prayerwalk.”
 
Johnson said all IMB personnel in Ukraine are safe and in contact with local believers to support their efforts to share Christ in the midst of the violence.
 
Brady Sample*, an IMB worker who lives in Kiev, said God is at work even amid the violence.
 
“This past month we have seen an amazing outpouring of God’s Spirit,” said Sample, who works closely with the Ukrainian Baptist Union, the largest evangelical association of churches in the country, which is calling for members to pray for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
 
“They are not taking sides and not encouraging the protests,” Brady said. “They are praying for our country to turn to God.”
 
Sample has been meeting with Christian leaders about discipleship and talking with individuals who want to discuss spiritual issues.
 
“God is moving. This event is causing people to pray, and while they are praying for peace in the land, God is trying to bring peace into people’s hearts,” Sample said.
 
V’acheslav Nesteruk, president of the Ukrainian Baptist Union, asked Christians to continue to pray.
 
“I encourage each believer to pray to the Lord, that He would stop the violence and bloodshed in our country,” Nesteruk said. “Let us savor Christ in every place. Let us do good. Help those in need. Urge those around us to be at peace. We preach love and forgiveness. Remember that everyone will give account not only to the law of the state, but to God.”
 
In an earlier Baptist Press report, International Mission Board worker Larry Forbes* described the city center in Kiev where the protesters had set up camp as like a city within a city.
 
“People bring in food and supplies and wood....[Some] who are down there are not planning on giving up – they are digging in,” Forbes said.
 
EU-related talks over the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 weekend in Germany gave EuroMaidan protesters resolve to push ahead with demands for President Yanukovych to resign. The military’s recent support of the government has further hardened their resolve.
 
“There is a general feeling that Russia is going to intervene at some point,” Forbes said. Eastern Ukraine is strongly Russian in its identity, but the western part tends toward European influence. Forbes suggested many think Russia will use the connection with the east to justify lending their help to bring order to the country. With a population of 45 million, Ukraine is experiencing tension between an older generation with loyalty to Russia and a younger generation with ties to Western influence, particularly the European Union.
 
In spite of potential violence, Forbes had said he and his colleagues were not fearful.
 
“Pray for what we’re doing – what we believe God called us to do,” Forbes said, noting that the primary thing Ukrainian believers desire is for a peaceful solution and for God to bring the nation to Himself.
 
Contributing to the tension: a package of legislation suppressing political dissent that was rammed through Parliament in mid-January by Yanukovych supporters, but the president agreed to revisit the action in an upcoming special legislative session. As it is, the legislation categorizes protesting against the government as “slander,” punishable with a 15-year prison term, and it calls organizations that receive funding from outside Ukraine “foreign agents,” penalizing them with a tax, according to Mission Network News.
 
Michael Cherenkoff of the Kiev-based Russian Ministries likened the new laws to Stalin’s Soviet Union of 1937. Many of the Christian ministries operating in Ukraine previously operated in Russia but left because of religious freedom concerns, Mission Network News reported.
 
“It’s much like Russia’s laws but much worse,” Cherenkoff told Mission Network News.
 
Slander is not clearly defined under the new legislation, and Cherenkoff said this is “a very Soviet approach to the church [and] to society.” Usually, citizens would be given time to express their opinions about potential new laws, but in this case the president signed the legislation with no chance for discussion.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – *Names changed. This article includes reporting by Nicole Lee, an IMB writer based in Europe.)
2/20/2014 12:49:10 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Updated qualifications weighed for messengers

February 20 2014 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee will consider a proposal June 9 to update the SBC constitution regarding qualifications for churches to send messengers to the annual meeting.
 
During its Feb. 17-18 meeting in Nashville, the Executive Committee decided to place the item on its June 9 agenda prior to the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore to allow Southern Baptists time to discuss the proposed change and provide feedback. The committee’s deliberations, then, will determine whether the proposed revision will be presented to messengers at the June 10-11 SBC annual meeting.
 
The Executive Committee also took action on motions referred from the 2013 SBC annual meeting in Houston regarding gender-neutral Bible translations and churches’ response to mental health issues.
 

Church messenger qualifications

The proposal to amend Article III came as a motion from the floor at last year’s SBC annual meeting – the 16th motion on this article in the past 35 years – to reevaluate the minimum qualifications for seating additional church messengers at the SBC.
 
Article III currently states that churches in friendly cooperation with the convention can send one additional messenger for every 250 members or for each $250 per year “paid to the work of the Convention,” an amount dating back to 1888.
 
Under the new proposal to be considered at the June EC meeting on the Monday before the SBC annual meeting, additional messengers would be recognized from a cooperating church by one of two options, whichever allows the greater number of messengers:
  • One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts through any combination of gifts through the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for convention causes or to any SBC entity.
  • One additional messenger for each $6,000 the church contributes in the preceding year through the same combination of the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for convention causes or to any SBC entity.
The $6,000 figure was arrived at by adjusting for inflation and other factors since 1888. It is meant to be comparable to the $250 figure adopted 126 years ago.
 
Additional updates to Article III will be discussed, with a Q&A on the matter to appear in SBC Life and other outlets at the request of SBC President Fred Luter.
 
Frank Page, president of the Executive Committee, noted that the proposed revision mentions Cooperative Program as the preferred means for convention funding for the first time. He also underscored EC chairman Ernest Easley’s affirmation that the revision of the SBC constitution “is not a hill on which to die.”
 
“The question for me ... if the perception is that it will hurt small churches, this is DOA,” Page told EC members. “I will not tolerate something that even seems like it’s going to hurt small churches.... My heart is with small churches, and I don’t want anything that even seems to be in some way pejorative toward their involvement.”
 
Executive Committee members want to hear from Southern Baptists on the issue to help make the best decision for the convention. The goal is not to decrease the number of messengers to the annual meeting, Page said.
 

Gender-neutral Bible translations

The Executive Committee, in adopting a recommendation addressing a motion from last year’s annual meeting, stated it does not have authority to publish a theological position paper concerning which Bible translations Southern Baptists should and shouldn’t use. The EC added that messengers have addressed the issue through resolutions during three past SBC annual meetings ñ- 1997, 2002 and 2011 – which encourage pastors to make their congregations aware of possible translation errors in various translations of the Bible.
 
The recommendation addressed a motion by Tim Overton, pastor of Halteman Village Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind., that the Executive Committee publish a theological position paper on whether to recommend that Southern Baptists use gender-neutral Bibles.
 
Addressing committee members Feb. 18, Overton shared why a position paper endorsed by the EC would be helpful to Southern Baptists and would provide “clarity” on the issue.
 
In the committee’s recommendation, it pointed to a 1997 resolution encouraging Southern Baptists “to be continually vigilant regarding this matter and prayerful for the Bible publishers and translators in the monumental task that they undertake.” In 2002 and 2011 resolutions, messengers encouraged Southern Baptists to make their congregations aware of possible translation errors found in such translations as the Today’s New International Version and the 2011 New International Version.
 
The Executive Committee also noted that convention messengers in a 2012 resolution “On Biblical Scholarship and the Doctrine of Inerrancy” reaffirmed their “belief in and adherence to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture, as set forth in the Bible itself and in Article 1 of The Baptist Faith and Message.”
 
The EC recommendation added that “the Convention has not assigned the Executive Committee the duty of recommending to churches or individual Southern Baptists whether or not they should use particular translations of the Bible, believing, as Convention resolutions consistently affirm, that it is the duty of pastors to teach and disciple their members on such matters….”
 
The recommendation stated the Executive Committee has posted in the past scholarly position papers by Southern Baptists on a variety of biblical subjects at baptist2baptist.net and will continue to post such papers, including papers on Bible translation theory.
 
In other action ...
 
The Executive Committee also:
  • approved the 2014-15 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget of $188,000,000 for recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention during its June 10-11 annual meeting in Baltimore.
The proposed budget maintains current allocations to the convention’s ministries, including 50.41 percent of receipts to the International Mission Board and 22.79 percent to the North American Mission Board, for an overall total of 73.20 percent allocated for mission ministries nationally and internationally.
 
The convention’s six seminaries will receive 21.16 percent. The seminary enrollment formula will be: Southwestern Seminary, 4.38 percent; Southern Seminary, 4.87 percent; New Orleans Seminary, 3.86 percent; Southeastern Seminary, 4.27 percent; Golden Gate Seminary, 2.07 percent; and Midwestern Seminary, 2.47 percent. (Cumulative numbers may not match the sum of individual seminary percentages due to rounding.)
 
The budget proposal maintains a 1.65 percent allocation to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and .24 percent to the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives.
 
The SBC Operating Budget, the only CP-funded facilitating ministry, encompassing the SBC annual meeting costs and the work of the Executive Committee, would receive 2.99 percent of the budget.
  • affirmed the name Global Hunger Relief as the successor to the name World Hunger Fund for the SBC-approved fund “through which Southern Baptists and others may give to help meet hunger needs of any person or group of persons wherever they may reside, with administrative and distribution costs borne through our Cooperative Program partners.”
The new name has been developed by representatives of the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, Executive Committee, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, LifeWay Christian Resources, Woman’s Missionary Union and Baptist Global Response.
 
In affirming the Global Hunger Relief name, the Executive Committee also affirmed “the current distribution of 80 percent  for overseas hunger relief and 20 percent for hunger relief in the United States and Canada.”
  • approved recommendations of Birmingham, Ala., as the site of the June 11-12, 2019 SBC annual meeting and Orlando, Fla., for the June 9-10, 2020 annual meeting. The recommendations will be presented to messengers at this year’s annual meeting, June 10-11 in Baltimore.
  • received as information that C. Barry McCarty will be retained as the chief parliamentarian for this year’s annual meeting.
  • approved a request for a $70,000 reimbursement by the SBC Pastors’ Conference for use of the Baltimore Convention Center’s meeting hall and facilities, June 8-9, preceding the SBC annual meeting, as part of a three-year process toward reimbursement for all costs by 2015.
  • elected Key Holleman and Randy Pittman as Southern Baptist Foundation trustees for terms to expire in 2017. Holleman, of Nashville, is senior vice president of investments at Raymond James. Pittman, of Mount Juliet, Tenn., is the chief financial officer of Hemphill Brothers Motor Coach in Goodlettsville, Tenn.
  • authorized a 1.5 percent increase in the Executive Committee salary structure for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press staff Erin Roach, Shawn Hendricks and Art Toalston.)
2/20/2014 12:36:31 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Moore: Gay marriage issue dominating

February 20 2014 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Same-sex marriage’s dominance is growing rapidly even in surprising places, so much so that churches that refuse to endorse such unions soon will be considered bigoted, Russell D. Moore has told Baptist state leaders.
 
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), addressed gay marriage and other cultural issues in a Feb. 12 question-and-answer session with Baptist state executive directors and editors. The joint session took place during the annual meetings of the Fellowship of State Executive Directors and the Association of State Baptist Publications in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Moore, who answered questions via Skype, was scheduled to be at the meeting but was unable to attend because weather problems resulted in cancellation of his flight.
 
Same-sex marriage commanded much of the attention during the session.
 
“I told somebody the other day, ‘I expected the same-sex marriage issue to dominate in 2014. I didn’t really expect it to be happening in Utah, Oklahoma and Kentucky,’” Moore said of states where judges recently have ruled against laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman. 
 
“This is moving very, very fast, and it’s moving in some unexpected places. But we really shouldn’t be surprised by this.”
 
The U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in Windsor v. U.S. “set the groundwork” for gay marriage’s advance in the states, he said. That ruling invalidated a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, thereby enabling same-sex couples to access federal benefits previously limited to heterosexual, married couples.
moore02-20-14.jpg

Russell Moore

 
The “sort of language” used in Windsor has established the basis “for the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states,” Moore told the Baptist leaders. “So I think we need to be ready ... for that to happen.
 
“I think we need to be equipping our people to say, ‘What is ministry going to look like in a [post-legalization of] same-sex marriage America?’ And that’s not just in those blue states – Oregon and Massachusetts and New York – but Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia.”
 
He said, “rankly, any congregation that is not actively blessing same-sex unions over the next five to 10 years is going to seem bigoted in the eyes of the world. That is going to be the case.”
 
Regarding same-sex marriage and other sexuality issues, Moore included the following points:
  • The immediate threat to religious freedom regarding such issues is not to churches but to institutions and individual consciences. Regarding churches, Moore said, “I don’t think it’s going to happen immediately – by immediately I mean in the next 25, 30, 40 years – in terms of the government coming in and prosecuting people for speaking” against homosexuality. Instead, he said, the near threat is to institutions, such as adoption agencies and children’s homes, and individual consciences, such as those of florists who refuse to provide their services for same-sex weddings.
  • Churches need to address the gamut of sexual immorality. “What we need to say to our people and to the outside world is the standards of sexuality that we have are not ours to change,” Moore said. “These are not things that we can vote on like our bylaws. These are things that have been given to us by Jesus.... I think when we’re very clear about that and we teach that while at the same time being on mission so that we’re loving people, we’re listening to people and giving that clear word of reconciliation of what it means to come to Christ and to know Christ, I think that’s what’s going to bear fruit in the long run.”
  • “What we have to do is to spend more time talking about why marriage isn’t just a social issue; it’s not a political issue; it’s a gospel issue.” He said, “he sexual union in marriage is picturing a gospel presentation....We’ve got to explain biblically speaking what marriage is and this is why it differs from what you’ve seen around you from the divorce culture and now from the sexual revolution culture. It’s a very different thing.”
  • “It’s also important that we don’t try to provide simple answers to the origins of homosexuality in a way that can sometimes lead to the condemning or shaming of Christian parents.” Parents in churches fear asking for prayer for their children who are homosexuals because they think people will question what they did wrong in their homes, he said. “Instead, we need to be able to equip those families to love children who are sometimes far from the Lord and to be able to provide that bridge [on] which they can come back.”

Assessment after eight months at ERLC

Moore told the state executive directors and editors he recommends a two-fold perspective for Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians after serving as ERLC president since June 1.
 
“I think we need to have a sobriety in understanding what is happening around us, while at the same time understanding and seeing a sense of hopefulness in the triumph of Christ. God’s people are moving. God’s Gospel is moving forward,” he said.
 
“And we need to recognize that one of the things that we’re going to see happening is that we’re going to face some challenges that we didn’t face before. Some of those are going to be cultural. Some of those are going to be technological.”
 
He said, “Behind all that is a cultural change, a culture that is starting to see Christianity as something that is stranger and stranger to it. And we just need to be faithful in equipping and raising up a new generation of people who understand, ‘Yeah, Christianity is counter-cultural. Christianity is something that’s going to be bucking against the spirit of the age regardless of what age it is.’
 
“And we need to be cultivating the kind of people who are able to live with that kind of stigma, sometimes that kind of cultural marginalization but who are able to do it with the proclamation of the gospel.”
 

Optimistic about Hobby Lobby decision

While he is not hopeful the Supreme Court will uphold the biblical, traditional definition of marriage, Moore said he is optimistic the justices will defend religious freedom against the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate.
 
The high court will hear oral arguments March 25 in cases involving challenges by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties to the mandate, which requires employers to provide contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs, for their workers. The family owned businesses have conscientious objections to paying for drugs and devices that can cause abortions.
 
Moore is “very optimistic,” he said, because of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires the government to have a compelling interest to restrict religious liberty. He also is hopeful because past Supreme Court opinions reflect “a commitment to religious liberty among some [justices] who wouldn’t be with us on some other issues,” he said. “If I had to predict it right now, I think we’ll not only win the Hobby Lobby case, but I think there are going to be a couple of votes on the Supreme Court that are going to shock some people.”
 

Encouraged and discouraged regarding Roe v. Wade

He is both “cautiously optimistic and somewhat pessimistic” regarding the future of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that struck down all state abortion restrictions, Moore said.
 
Describing Roe as “a train wreck of a ruling,” he said, “I think the longer we get away from it, the more apparent that is going to be.
 
“I’m also optimistic because of the fact that we have such a vibrant pro-life movement in this country and because that pro-life movement is actually persuasive.... People are actually being persuaded, and they’re being persuaded on the basis of seeing things. They’re being confronted with the fact that this is a person. Technology is actually in our benefit.”
 
He also said, “What makes me pessimistic are a couple of things. One is there is a really committed abortion activist lobby in this country.... And they are very well organized and are [pushing ahead] because they see it as being all or nothing on this.”
 
The other reason for concern regards the changing technology represented by abortions induced by drugs outside clinics, Moore said.
 
“Right now, we’re concentrating, rightly so, on the issue of clinics,” he said.
 
“The problem is though that the technology is moving away from the clinical and more toward the chemical, which gives an even more accepted sense of anonymity.... So I think we need to be watching how the abortion movement becomes more chemicalized, which means it’s going” to be more dangerous, he said.
 
He has noticed an interesting, recent trend in his interactions with reporters on the abortion issue, Moore told the audience.
 
“When I’m having conversations with secular, non-Christian media people and the cameras are off and we’re just kind of talking [afterwards],” he said, “I can’t tell you how many times a media person will say, ‘I totally disagree with you on [homosexuality], but you’ve got a point on abortion. I can see where you’re coming from on the life issue.’
 
“I don’t think that would have been the case 10 years ago,” Moore said.
 

Immigration reform in next 18 months

The country is moving toward agreement on the volatile issue of immigration reform, and he expects a solution in the next 18 months, Moore said.
 
“I really think the country is moving to a place where we’re coming to more agreement rather than more disagreement on this issue to say, ‘Let’s fix the border, and then let’s try to find a way and a means for the people who are law-abiding, hard-working people ... who are trying to find a way to make that right [to have an earned path toward citizenship],’” he said.
 
“And I think we’re probably going to get there in this country over the next year, year and a half. It’s a slow process, but frankly I think slowness sometimes is good in order to work through all the kinks and all the problems we might have in the process. But I think we’re going to move to some solution there.”
 
Something he is excited to see among Southern Baptists and others “is the way that we have such a large number of first- and second- and third-generation Americans, some of them immigrants, some of them who are already citizens who are part of our churches and who are really changing church life,” Moore said.
 
The first question asked of him recently by a reporter for a Spanish language media outlet, he said, was: “‘Why are Southern Baptists so kind and so other-directed?’ And it kind of took me back because I don’t know that I’ve ever been asked that in an interview before.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Baptist Press’ Washington bureau chief.)
2/20/2014 11:39:15 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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