July 2012

Editor recounts ‘positive’ Chick-fil-A story; some reports ‘distorted’

July 20 2012 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

As debate continues to swirl over comments made by Chick-fil-A’s president, the Biblical Recorder’s editor described many media reports of his conversation with the company’s president as “distorted.”
 
During a call-in radio interview Thursday evening (July 19) with WORD-FM in Pittsburgh, K. Allan Blume discussed the interview and described his conversation with Dan Cathy as “very positive,” unlike how it is being portrayed in a variety of news reports.
 
Baptist Press (BP) re-posted the original story July 16 – which was published in the Recorder’s July 7 issue and posted on its website brnow.org with the headline “‘Guilty as charged,’ Dan Cathy says of Chick-fil-A’s stand on faith, family values.”
 
After BP re-posted the story, related articles soon surfaced in the Huffington Post, Associated Press, USAToday, Los Angeles Times, Fox News, and other news agencies – many of which ran articles with “anti-gay” in the headline.
 
Many of those reports “turned [the original story] into a negative,” said Blume, adding the term “anti-gay” never came up in the June interview while Cathy was speaking in the Raleigh area.
 
“He was not saying ‘guilty as charged anti-gay,’” Blume added. “[Cathy] never even brought up that subject. Everything he stated was on the positive side … He never stated anything negative.”
 
Blume asked Cathy about opposition to the company’s support of the traditional family, and Cathy responded, “Well, guilty as charged.”
 
In the interview Cathy went on to say, “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
 
Blume expressed his surprise at how standing up for traditional family values in today’s politically correct society has become code for hate speech.
 
“I don’t understand why that’s a bad thing all of a sudden,” he told the radio hosts.  “It was not an anti-gay statement. It was a pro-family statement.”
 
“Sadly even some religious press organizations have published that as an anti-gay statement.”
 
Blume added that during their conversation Cathy also said, “We’re a business that serves the public, all people are welcomed into Chick-fil-A, and frankly we do not feel called to weigh in on a lot of social activism that’s taking place as it relates to the definition of the family, but we do definitely want to encourage strong families.”
 
Blume, who has not been in touch with Cathy or the company since the story was first published, referred to Chick-fil-A as a “class organization.”
 
“They’re very positive,” he said. “This is basically an All-American organization that’s worked hard and been very successful, and yet, they’re painted to be very anti-American or something worse than that.          
 
“They don’t shut anybody out from their restaurant … they welcome everyone.”
 
Cathy’s comments in the story have sparked more than 13,000 comments on Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page.
 
While some criticized the company and vowed to never buy a Chick-fil-A sandwich, many comments were supportive. One person wrote “I love Chick-fil-A for their wonderful food and their great family values!”
 
“Thank you Chick-fil-[A]!!!,” another person wrote. “It is refreshing to see a company to live out in practice what they believe instead of compromising. We should all learn a lesson on living out our faith in a faithless generation. I liked Chick-fil-[A] before, I’ll try to eat there more often now!”

Related stories
‘Guilty as charged,’ Dan Cathy says of Chick-fil-A’s stand on faith
Chick-fil-A interview with BR triggers media storm
Guest Column: Dan Cathy’s views are in the majority
7/20/2012 10:55:12 AM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



‘Trust the trustees’ editorial stirs responses

July 20 2012 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An editorial written by a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) state newspaper editor has opened a dialogue on the role and accountability of the various boards of trustees governing SBC entities.

In a July editorial, “Trust the trustees,” North Carolina Biblical Recorder Editor K. Allan Blume encourages Southern Baptists to operate under the system of leadership established through boards of trustees governing LifeWay Christian Resources, the mission boards, GuideStone Financial Resources, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the six SBC seminaries.

Blume referenced LifeWay President and CEO Thom Rainer’s response to a question a messenger raised at the 2012 SBC annual meeting, writing that Rainer’s statement was worth repeating.

Rainer was responding to a messenger’s inquiry about LifeWay’s decision-making process in choosing which books, videos and other products to sell. For instance, LifeWay this year chose to continue selling the New International Version 2011 Bible, and chose to discontinue selling the movie “The Blind Side.”

“You see, you Southern Baptists have elected 57 trustees to represent you at LifeWay. … They are pastors, educators, directors of missions, homemakers, businessmen, businesswomen and so on,” Blume quoted Rainer as saying. “They have a common love for the Lord, the inerrancy of the Word of God and the commitment to you, the Southern Baptist Convention. They ask us the hard questions.”

Rainer continued, “They hold us accountable. ... Please allow us to be represented by your trustees, some of the greatest men and women I have ever known. How do we decide certain books? How do we decide certain videos? How do we decide what we do? It is your trustees who hold us accountable. Trust the trustees. That’s how we make our decisions.”

Bart Barber, a trustee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, posted on the Biblical Recorder’s website a comment defending messengers’ right to question trustees.

“I do not think that anyone is out of line to ask the boards of trustees or the various entity administrations to explain themselves to the messengers and to answer our questions,” Barber wrote. “I hope that LifeWay has a good uniform standard by which it makes decisions about what to sell and what not to sell. An entity that large in that particular business and with this particular constituency ought to have such a standard, approved by the trustees.

“I just can’t see any reason why that standard ought to be kept a secret from the messengers.”

Barber added, “‘Trust the trustees’? Certainly. Great answer, just not to this particular question, which, as I understood it, attempted not at all to wrest power away from the trustees or control sales policy at LifeWay, but instead merely asked for a report of what document or principles underlie that policy.”

Barber pointed out he is in favor of selling the NIV 2011 Bible and “The Blind Side.”

Bill Tomlinson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustee and pastor emeritus of Arlington Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, N.C., responded to Blume by referencing the conservative resurgence the SBC experienced in the 1980s and 1990s.

“As we struggled trying to bring about the conservative resurgence, the one argument we heard over and over again from those who opposed us was that we [should] ‘trust the trustees,’” Tomlinson wrote on the Recorder’s website. “If we had listened to them then, there would have been no conservative resurgence.”

In response, Blume defended Rainer.

“I believe Dr. Rainer’s comments were reflecting the fact that the resurgence is history,” Blume wrote in a response supporting his editorial. “He implied that today, we not only have good conservatives serving as trustees, we also have a CEO at LifeWay who is a solid conservative. So, hopefully the trust levels should be high for our boards.”

In his editorial, Blume pointed out the importance of openness and trust in SBC dealings, encouraging messengers to work harmoniously.

“Having worked within the process for several decades, I learned that most trustees are outstanding Baptist men and women,” Blume wrote. “I’ve encountered a few who did not seem to fit. But they are in the minority. Most trustees are dedicated to the goals and mission of the entity. Their purpose is to make that entity effective in Kingdom work. Their desire for service is not motivated by prestige or power, but to see souls saved and lives changed. Board members give their valuable time without pay to offer wise counsel. Blanket accusations against boards or general statements critical of the leadership are counterproductive.

“We are free to disagree, but we do not need to be disagreeable,” Blume wrote. “Remember that the SBC is made up of an eclectic membership representing believers of diverse backgrounds, traditions and methodologies. Our commonality is set by parameters within the Baptist Faith & Message.”

Blume noted that trustees are elected to four-year terms and that no single trustee can control a board.

Brent Hobbs, pastor of Severn Baptist Church in Severn, N.C., posted a comment emphasizing the integrity of the trustee system.

“Unless some egregious instances surface, we should let the trustees determine what they sell and relax about it,” Hobbs wrote. “If there becomes a pattern of irresponsibility, then some action can be taken at that point. If the Blind Side is the biggest problem – then we really do have more important things to worry about.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is staff writer for Baptist Press.)
7/20/2012 10:48:33 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Chick-fil-A interview with BR triggers media storm

July 19 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- In a day when companies such as General Mills, Nabisco, JC Penney and Target seemingly compete to appear the most supportive of gay marriage, Chick-fil-A and its biblically-based values stand out -- and the nation and media are noticing.
 
 As a company, Chick-fil-A takes no position on gay marriage, but comments Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy made to the Biblical Recorder newspaper -- in a story re-posted by Baptist Press -- have launched a media storm. The story, in which Cathy takes a biblical stance on the issue, has been mentioned on networks such as CNN and referenced by the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Associated Press and Huffington Post, just to name a few. It quickly became the most-read story on Baptist Press' website for the year. 
 
The company issued a statement Thursday (July 19) telling its customers that "going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena" and that its tradition is "to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -- regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender." It also noted that it has applied "biblically-based principles" to business management and will continue to do so. There are more than 1,600 Chick-fil-A restaurants. 
 
Cathy's comments were tame from a biblical perspective and would have gone unnoticed had they been made by the pastor at his home congregation, New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga. Yet in the current environment in which celebrities and companies on a weekly basis make statements affirming gay marriage, Cathy's statements stood out. 
 
Asked about the company's support of the traditional family, Cathy said in the Biblical Recorder story, "Well, guilty as charged." 
 
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit," Cathy said. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
 
Chick-fil-A's stores are closed on Sundays and the company, he said, "operate on biblical principles." The media storm grew larger when a June 16 radio program was spotlighted in which Cathy underscored the need for children to have a mom and a dad.
 
"As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Cathy said on "The Ken Coleman Show." "I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about." 
 
The Los Angeles Times story carried a headline, "Chick-fil-A's anti-gay-marriage stance triggers online uproar." The Washington Post included an online poll asking readers, "Will you continue to eat at Chick-fil-A?" 
 
The Human Rights Campaign -- the nation's largest gay activist group -- posted a Chick-fil-A logo on its website with a fake tagline, "We Didn't Invent Discrimination. We Just Support It." 
 
It remains to be seen whether the controversy will harm Chick-fil-A, but the company likely will survive and might even pick up some new customers. That's partially because its base is passionate about its food and, for the most part, apparently appreciates its traditional stance. That Washington Post poll -- although not scientific -- showed that 66 percent of respondents say they'll continue eating at the restaurant. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 35,000 people had commented on Chick-fil-A's Facebook page, the majority of them supportive of the company.
 
The company also likely will thrive because its base remains in conservative states. Texas has the most Chick-fil-A restaurants at 262. Including Texas, five states have more than 100 restaurants, and they're all in the South. North Carolina, which has 143 Chick-fil-A restaurants, passed a constitutional marriage amendment in May defining marriage as between a man and a woman. By contrast, the entire state of New York has one Chick-fil-A restaurant. Washington state doesn't have any. Neither does Oregon. Or Vermont. 
 
After watching the uproar, Focus on the Family's Glenn T. Stanton, who often debates the issue of gay marriage and takes the traditional side, told Baptist Press, "I'm gonna have to stop by there for spicy chicken sandwiches and a milkshake more often."
 
"We hear almost monthly of new major companies announcing their support for the gay community, regardless of what most of their customers want," Stanton said. "And here we have the CEO of a clearly on-the-record traditional values company simply saying he supports the traditional family and how tampering with it is contrary to God's will. And the split-second reaction from these activists is to slander him and his company in the press and blogosphere. It just takes one company taking an alternative position to make the gay activists and liberal press hit the ceiling. But that's where we are today."
 
Stanton said the message by some opponents of Chick-fil-A apparently is, "Speak up for the natural, traditional family and we will come after you."
 
"If you don't believe this," Stanton said, "just watch how Chick-fil-A will be treated in the coming months. They  are the new close-minded fundamentalists."
 
Even in responding to the controversy July 19, Chick-fil-A mentioned its traditional roots.
 
"From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business," the company's statement said. "For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family. Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."
 
This year especially, Chick-fil-A's stance on traditional values stands out. In June, General Mills -- whose products include Cheerios, Pillsbury and Green Giant vegetables -- announced that it is opposing a Minnesota constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Voters will decide the issue in November. Also in June, Nabisco's Oreo brand posted on Facebook a picture of an Oreo cookie with six colorful layers representing the gay pride rainbow. The caption: "Proudly support love!"
 
Target has sold gay pride T-shirts this year and recently began selling greeting cards with gay marriage themes. And JC Penney has placed pictures of gay dads in its catalogue. 
 
7/19/2012 5:06:17 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 1 comments



Luter, while opposed to Obama on gay marriage, appreciates call

July 19 2012 by James A. Smith Sr., Florida Baptist Witness

TAMPA, Fla. (BP) – Fred Luter and Barack Obama share historical distinctions as African Americans’ first Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and U.S. presidents, respectively, but on the political-moral issue of gay marriage they are on opposite sides – a disagreement driven by Luter’s commitment to the Bible.

“I believe that nothing, nothing can be politically right if it’s biblically wrong,” Luter said in an interview with Florida Baptist Witness.

“The Word of God says marriage is between one man and one woman,” Luter said, adding that “no president, no governor, no mayor, no politician, no individual can change that fact.”

In light of the Bible’s teaching on marriage, Luter said he is “totally against” Obama’s support of gay marriage.

Luter sat down for a 30-minute interview with the Witness July 10 while in Tampa to preach at two Florida Baptist churches. In addition to Obama’s gay marriage position, Luter talked about a congratulatory phone call from President Obama, the state of race relations in the Southern Baptist Convention, his goals as SBC president, Calvinism and the recent death of his mother.
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Photo by James A. Smith Sr./Florida Baptist Witness

Fred Luter preaches at New Life Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., in one of his first speaking engagements since being elected as Southern Baptist Convention president during the SBC annual meeting June 19 in New Orleans.


The Tampa events were Luter’s first engagements since being elected SBC president in June, although the events were scheduled even before he decided to be a candidate for the presidency.

While Luter disagrees with Obama on gay marriage, he was quick to note that it’s not the first time he has disagreed with a president, and he remains committed to pray for the president and his family.

Following Obama’s May announcement of his “evolved” views in favor of gay marriage, Luter said many members of his predominantly African American congregation, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, asked for his reaction.

“I told my congregation I support our president. I pray for him, but on this same-sex marriage deal, I’m totally against it,” he said. “When I said that on that Sunday morning, not everybody, to be honest with you, but the majority of our members stood up and applauded because they’ve known me to be a man of the Book.”

When others became aware of Luter’s comments to the congregation, he received emails of appreciation “because not everybody’s taking a stand on that,” he said.

“That’s one of the things I have to deal with – people feel that because I’m African American I’ve got to agree with everything that the president says because he’s African American,” Luter said. “My mind is made up and set on this issue, and it doesn’t make me uncomfortable” to disagree with his fellow African American president, he said.

Luter said he is willing to be a spokesman for Southern Baptists on the issues of the day with the news media, adding, “I think you cannot avoid it in this position.”

Obama’s call
President Obama called Luter two days after his election as SBC president – a call he at first suspected was a prank. He said Obama was gracious and the call “made my day.”

Luter said Obama asked him, “How does it feel to be the most popular president in America?” Luter said the president greeted his wife, Elizabeth, saying, “Hello, First Lady Luter. Make sure this doesn’t go to his head. OK?”

During the five-minute telephone conversation, Luter said Obama expressed a desire to meet him, although no plans were made.

Obama’s call caused Luter to conclude his election “must be a big deal. I mean I didn’t win an NBA championship. I didn’t win the Super Bowl. I didn’t win the World Series.”

Race relations
The fact that he was elected the first African American SBC president on June 19 – Juneteenth, the day many African Americans celebrate the end of slavery in America – was important “symbolism,” Luter said, noting the SBC’s founding in connection with the defense of slavery.

“I really believe that it was God-ordained and that it was very significant, not necessarily to the masses, but it was significant to a lot of folk in the African American community,” Luter said of his election on Juneteenth.

As for race relations in the SBC, Luter said his election means Southern Baptists “can turn the page. We can turn that chapter.”

Luter said he became emotional at the time of his election because of the response of the messengers – “just to see 8,000 folks stand up in unison and applaud – and nobody else ran.”

He added that his election shows that “this is not your grandfather’s convention anymore. … Fred Luter is Exhibit A that says that this convention is open to everyone.”

His goals
Noting he has a relatively short time as president – two years, assuming his reelection next year – Luter said he has given himself three months to talk with various SBC leaders, seek counsel and pray about a “vision” or “platform” for his presidency.

“I don’t have a position of power, but I do have a position of influence,” he said.

“God has given me the gift of building bridges throughout the years,” Luter said, adding that he would like to “take the energy” resulting from his election and use it to find a way for the SBC to “get together.”

Given the SBC’s diversity, Luter said he would like to “get us all on the same page as far as making the main thing the main thing – and that is evangelism and discipleship and winning lost folk to Christ and doing all we can as a convention.”

Luter compared dealing with the diversity in the SBC to the diversity in the local church.

“I tell people, ‘Listen, the church is not here to help you with your agenda. You’re here to help the church to carry out God’s agenda.’ And it’s the same thing in the convention,” he said.

“If we would let go of our egos, if we would let go of our own agendas and let’s come together – despite all of the diversity – let’s come together and do what’s best for the Kingdom of heaven, I really think that this convention can really continue to make an impact,” he said.

Calvinism
Asked about the debate about Calvinism that has become prominent in the Southern Baptist Convention in recent months, Luter said he is “still trying to wrap my mind around this thing,” noting that he is frequently asked about it.

Although he is studying the issue, admitting, “I don’t have a handle on it yet,” Luter expressed concern about the debate.

“One of the things I can say with surety, I have no doubt the enemy is behind it all. … I just believe that this may be an issue as … in the past that the enemy has tried to divide brothers, divide churches, divide friends to keep our mind off the main thing,” he said.

Mother’s death
Luter said he was grateful for the many expressions of support he received following his mother’s death – just one week after his election.

“I was riding this high, then my mom died. Of course, that was a low,” Luter said. “But to see the response from people across the country … it’s been overwhelming.”

He was especially thankful that Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, came to New Orleans for his mother’s memorial service. It was a “great, great testimony that Frank would come down to be a part of that,” he said.

Although Luter’s mother, Viola Blayton Brooks, 82, had been ill for about 10 months, her death was unexpected, he said.

“The greatest thing of all was that she was able to see her son make history,” Luter said, noting that she was very proud of him, both because of his pastoral successes and his SBC honor.

The day after he was elected SBC president, Luter said he visited her at her New Orleans home. Upon his arrival, she would typically greet him with the declaration, “Look at my pastor!”

“This time when I walked in her door … she said, ‘Look at my president! Look at my president!’ And she gave me a big old hug.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – James A. Smith Sr. is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, newsjournal of the Florida Baptist State Convention.)
7/19/2012 2:32:43 PM by James A. Smith Sr., Florida Baptist Witness | with 0 comments



Boy Scouts reaffirm exclusion of gay leaders

July 19 2012 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is upholding its policy to exclude homosexuals from membership and leadership posts in the group, despite activists’ cries for change.

“The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their rights to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” Bob Mazzuca, BSA chief scout executive, said in a BSA press release. “While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”

BSA also noted “that there will be no further action” on the matter.
07-19-12boyscouts.jpg

But that didn’t stop dismissed Ohio Scout den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian, from taking to the BSN’s Irving, Texas, office a petition demanding her reinstatement. Tyrrell took to the office a Change.org petition reportedly with 300,000 signatures.

“I hope to deliver the message that hundreds of thousands of people want this changed,” she told CNN affiliate WFAA July 17. “It’s not just me, it’s Scouts, former Scouts, Scout leaders, Scout masters, council members, everyone you could imagine, and they’re ready for this change, and they are tired of seeing people discriminated against.”

While the BSA press release indicated the 11-member review committee formed in 2010 included a “diversity of perspectives and opinions,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith told the Associated Press the committee was unanimous in its decision.

Names of committee members were not disclosed. But at least two members of the BSA national executive board, Ernst & Young leader James Turley and AT&T head Randall Stephenson, have indicated their desire to change the policy, according to the Associated Press (AP). Stephenson, the AP reported, is on track to become president of the BSA national board in 2014.

The BSA in its press release alluded to disagreement within its own board.

“Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting,” the BSA said. “While not all Board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization and supports it for the BSA.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in June 2000 upheld the Scouts’ membership policy as constitutional.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler.)
7/19/2012 2:25:11 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Gallup reports new low in religious confidence

July 19 2012 by Bruce Nolan, Religion News Service

Americans’ confidence in organized religion, slowly but steadily declining since the 1970s, slipped to a new low in the latest survey, the Gallup Organization reported.
 
Today only 44 percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in “the church or organized religion,” Gallup said. It was 68 percent in the mid-1970s.

Pollsters did not name any church or religion in particular, letting respondents define that as they wished, the organization said.
 
Most Protestants, 56 percent, expressed confidence in the church, but only a minority, or 46 percent, of Catholics did.
 
But Lydia Saad, Gallup senior editor, pointed out that the question deals with churches and organized religion. Americans are still generally a very religious people, although increasingly on their own terms.

In 2007 a poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found only about one in six respondents said religion was “not too” or “not at all” important in their lives.
 
Only five percent said they did not believe in God or a universal spirit.
 
Saad said in 1975, “the church or organized religion” was the highest-rated of the 16 institutions Gallup asked about.
 
It still ranks fourth. The top three institutions Americans have most confidence in are, in order, the military, small business and the police.
 
The least-trusted institution is Congress, in which only 13 percent of Americans voice “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence.
 
Health maintenance organizations and banks follow right behind Congress.
 
The survey included 1,004 adults and was taken June 7-10, Gallup said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bruce Nolan writes for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.)
7/19/2012 2:22:40 PM by Bruce Nolan, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



Alliance Defense Fund changes its name

July 19 2012 by Baptist Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), one of the nation’s leading Christian legal groups, has a new name – the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The organization switched to its new name July 9 in a change that accompanied a new logo and a tagline: “For Faith, For Justice.” The new name will allow it to keep its often-used acronym, ADF. The new name, ADF says, better communicates its purpose.
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“Our mission remains the same – defending religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family. Only our name has changed,” ADF President Alan Sears said in a statement. “The change is to help more people easily understand the work that we do and why it matters.”

Sears added, “The emphasis remains on the word ‘alliance.’ Continuously building an alliance of attorneys and like-minded individuals and organizations is absolutely essential to our mission. ‘Defending Freedom’ communicates the essence of what the alliance does: legally defending and advocating for religious freedom.”

In a list of questions and answers on the ADF website, the legal group said the old name “confused people more than it clarified what the ministry is and what it accomplishes.”

“This new name helps communicate who we are, our priorities and how we go about achieving those priorities,” the website said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)
7/19/2012 2:16:55 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Warren hopes to host Obama-Romney forum

July 18 2012 by Baptist Press

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Pastor Rick Warren says he hopes to host another forum between the major two presidential candidates this year – similar to what took place in 2008 – although no formal agreement is in place.
 
The pastor of Saddleback Church in California told reporters during a conference call July 16 that he has reached out to the campaigns of President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, FoxNews.com reported.

The purpose of the forum is “to promote social civility so that people with major disagreements [can] talk without beating each other up,” Warren said.

The forum would last two hours, FoxNews.com reported him as saying, and he is looking at hosting it the week of Aug. 20.

In 2008, Warren hosted Obama and then-presumptive GOP nominee John McCain in an event dubbed “the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency.” The candidates were interviewed separately by Warren, who asked identical questions to each. McCain, who was interviewed last, was placed in a room without a monitor and not allowed to know the questions in advance.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)
7/18/2012 3:17:16 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



How mentoring, discipleship changed the ‘most hateful man’

July 18 2012 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

(EDITOR'S NOTE – In the July 21 issue we focus on discipleship. What does it look like? Why is it important? Most importantly, we look at how you, your family and your church can get involved in making disciples. We hope you find the information in these stories to be helpful in that journey.)

Don’t be fooled by Jim Gillespie’s appearance – that leather vest, braided goatee and all-around rugged biker look.
 
Gillespie, pastor of men’s ministry at Richland Creek Community Church in Wake Forest, admits he doesn’t quite fit the typical profile of your average Southern Baptist pastor.
 
But it doesn’t take long to figure out that for Gillespie, being a follower of Christ isn’t about being typical.
Talk to Gillespie long enough and you’ll also hear him gush about his mentor, Bill Bennett, the founder and CEO of a non-profit ministry called Mentoring Men for the Master. The ministry began in 2000.
Eight years ago the two met shortly after Gillespie had committed his life to Christ.
 
Gillespie admits before that decision his life had been a mess. Once a member of a motorcycle gang, he had embraced drugs, alcohol and life on the road.
 
His wife, Laurie, once dubbed him the “most hateful man” she’d ever met. She told Gillespie her Christian faith kept her from divorcing him.
 
But all of that began to change for the better after he realized Jesus was his only hope.
 
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Baptist Press photo by Peter Field Peck

Jim Gillespie


Still, he had a lot of questions about what it meant to be a follower of Christ. As he started attending church regularly, he wondered why people in the church weren’t being held accountable for what was being preached on Sundays.
 
“Nobody is seeing if anyone is doing it,” he said.
 
“I mentioned that to somebody and they said, ‘You need to go see Dr. Bill Bennett at Southeastern’ Baptist Theological Seminary.”
 
The two soon met when Gillespie walked up to him at the seminary in Wake Forest, where – in addition to his Mentoring Men ministry – Bennett is a chaplain and teaches.
 
Bennett soon began pouring his life into Gillespie.
 
“He told me that if I kept coming he’d take care of my materials and keep teaching me,” Gillespie said.
 
“He never let go of me. He has loved me and kept me accountable. He asked me if I was reading my Bible and praying and serving and loving my wife. … I spent years with him … [Bennett asked] hard questions. He didn’t take excuses.”
 
Gillespie eventually went on to teach others about discipleship.
 
For the past five years, he has led Mentoring Men for the Master curriculum at Richland Creek.  Gillespie also works full time in the facilities department at Southeastern. About a month ago he was ordained as a pastor.
 
Gillespie said discipleship transformed his life, and it also has had a tremendous impact on Richland Creek. 
 
In many churches today discipleship is not happening, and today’s Christians are paying the price.
 
“We’ve made some pretty large assumptions within our churches, and we have found ourselves with men in leadership positions – as deacons and ministry leaders, Sunday School teachers – that we assumed did the foundational stuff,” he said.
 
“And they actually aren’t doing those basic things they need to do to grow as Christians.”
 
Those “basic things” include studying the Bible, prayer, worship, spiritual gifts and evangelism.
Gillespie said everything they teach about marriage, family, finances and personal holiness is built off of the foundation of those basics.
 
“We see now that our deacons, our elder body, our Sunday School teachers … our go-to guys that serve in the church are all men [who] have come through this program.”
 
And men in the church are also becoming leaders at home.
 
“You know you’re doing good when the wives are coming to you saying, ‘Hey, this has changed my husband’s life. Thank you so much,’” he said.
 
Gillespie’s mentor, Bennett, explained that once a man begins to “internalize” God’s Word, everything else falls into place.
 
“If the Word of God gets on the inside of a born again believer the Holy Spirit will transform him,” he said.
 “We really are an encouragement ministry,” he added. “The best way to describe it would be as the job of a football coach.
 
“The job of a football coach is to take men and make them do what they would not ordinarily want to do to be what they really want to be. … Men need encouragement. We all need it.”
 
For more information about the ministry at Richland Creek Community Church or Mentoring Men for the Master contact Bill Bennett at Bill.Bennett@MentoringMen.net or at (910) 470-5343. Check out the wetsite at www.mentoringmen.net.
 
 
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Editorial – Disciple making: the main thing
7/18/2012 3:00:27 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



10 life-changing tips that will change a man’s life

July 18 2012 by BR staff

(EDITOR'S NOTE – In the July 21 issue we focus on discipleship. What does it look like? Why is it important? Most importantly, we look at how you, your family and your church can get involved in making disciples. We hope you find the information in these stories to be helpful in that journey.)

In his two-volume book, Mentoring Men for the Master Handbook and 10 absolute life-changers of men; guaranteed, author Bill Bennett details how a man can transform his life for Christ – inside and out.
 
Since giving up his 50-year career as a successful pastor Bennett, the CEO of Mentoring Men for the Master, has developed a passion for shaping men’s lives through mentoring and discipleship. In 2000, Bennett founded the non-profit ministry to focus on men’s ministry.
 
One side is a handbook for the Mentoring Men for the Master ministry. The other side of the book, 10 absolute life-changers of men: guaranteed, details what Bennett refers to as the “ten imperatives” for living Christian life.
 
The nearly 300-page book lists what every man should do to be a true follower of Christ, but Bennett added that the book isn’t about  “a set of rules.”
 
07-18-12disiple3side.jpg

Bill Bennett


“It’s based on a relationship with Jesus,” said Bennett, a member of Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington. “You’ve got to depend on the Holy Spirit.”
 
In today’s society, Bennett contends that men are desperate to learn how to be a spiritual leader in their home and to incorporate the Word into their everyday life. “Most men are not the head of their home at all,” he said. “They don’t even lead in prayer. We show them how to disciple their families.”
 
If readers could pull one nugget from the book, Bennett said it would be “that they will see what discipleship is and what the call of God is upon their lives.”
 
For more information about the book, or to learn how you can begin a Mentoring Men study in your church, go to http://www.mentoringmen.net/. Contact Bennett at Bill.Bennett@MentoringMen.net or call (910) 470-5343 or (910) 256-5343.
 
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The pursuit of disciple making
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Church and family connect
Editorial – Disciple making: the main thing
7/18/2012 2:50:59 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



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