October 2012

N.C. Baptists on standby for Sandy

October 29 2012 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

North Carolina Baptists are waiting to see what super storm Hurricane Sandy will do before responding.
 
One North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) disaster relief volunteer is in New Jersey working with the American Red Cross there to assist with the expected mass feeding efforts.
 
“We are preparing for a major response,” said an update on the NCBM website.
 
NCBM has three feeding units on standby to respond to New Jersey. They are working with the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey to assess what is needed and respond accordingly.
 
Cities up and down the Eastern Seaboard were shutting down Sunday (Oct. 28) and today (Oct. 29) to prepare for the worst from Hurricane Sandy.
 
Other Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) leaders were preparing for a large response as well.
 
“This has the potential to be an unusual storm,” said Fritz Wilson, disaster relief team leader for the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Wilson said SBDR leaders began preparation for response last week.

“We worked through the weekend to make sure we have a solid plan in place,” he said. “And not only a plan, but we have already begun to make sure the people to work the plan will be in place to respond and meet needs. This storm could bring a hurricane response and a winter storm response, in the same event.”
 
Wilson transported one of NAMB’s mobile recovery units to Harrisburg, Pa., Monday. The Pennsylvania-South Jersey state Baptist convention mission house in Harrisburg will serve as the area command center for the storm response. Given the wide range of possible damage, and the potentially large area affected, Wilson said he fully expects multiple incident command centers to be established for the response.
 
Other Baptist conventions were ready to respond as well including the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland-Delaware, New England, New York, Ohio, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia.
 
High winds and localized flooding have affected North Carolina as well. The western portion of North Carolina was also getting snow. The storm’s center is more than 300 miles off the coast, but it is still expected to bring life-threatening storm surge flooding to the mid-Atlantic coast, including Long Island Sound and New York Harbor, bringing coastal hurricane winds and heavy Appalachian snows. Landfall is expected Monday night (Oct. 29) or early Tuesday morning (Oct. 30) between New Jersey and New York. Predictions call for possible landfall in Atlantic City with storm surge as high as 11 feet.
 
In an Oct. 26 email Richard Brunson, executive director of NCBM, asked for prayers for the people of Cuba. With sustained winds of 105 mph, Sandy, then a category 2 storm, struck near Santiago, Cuba. NCBM has a partnership with the Eastern Baptist Convention of Cuba.
 
“The pastors and churches are already showing the love of Christ,” Brunson said, indicating one pastor had traveled from house to house ministering to people. This same church “had a prayer meeting in their church with about 15 people present to cry out to God to ask for His help and direction. After the prayer meeting they pulled out their generator and charged cell phones and flashlights.”
 
An estimated 100 neighbors thanked the church family for helping them this way. The pastor says that he wants to try to cook at least 100 hot lunches a day on a gas oven for the community around his church for at least a couple of weeks. Other churches will do the same.
 
Electricity in Cuba was expected to be out for 2-3 weeks. “Many have completely lost their homes and all their material possessions,” Brunson said. “The vast majority of structures were already in terrible shape before the hurricane struck. There are many homes partially destroyed, with roofs that blew away or walls that crumbled. Several of the Baptist church buildings received damage. There was also a lot of damage at the elderly home that N.C. Baptists have helped build. The challenge now is trying to find the right materials and the needed quantity to fix what can be fixed.”
 
For updates from NCBM visit its Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/ncmissions) or website: (http://www.baptistsonmission.org/Projects/Type/Disaster-Relief/Hurricane-Sandy).
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway from the North American Mission Board contributed to this story.)

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10/29/2012 3:55:32 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Struggling teen finds hope with help of Baptist Children’s Homes

October 29 2012 by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications

Unwanted and unloved – this is exactly how Travis felt. He spent his childhood believing his life had little meaning to his parents. “My mother was a cocaine addict and my father was a drunk,” Travis said. As a young boy, Travis bounced back and forth from his mother’s house to his father’s house. He shared that his father was often completely disconnected from him because of his addiction to alcohol. When spending time with his mom, it was not uncommon for her to leave Travis alone at night.
 
On one occasion, Travis’ mother stayed away for days leaving her son with a friend she barely knew. News of this incident left Travis’ father concerned. Worried about his son, he called his sister Karen to see if she and her husband would take care of Travis while he sorted out his personal struggles.
 
“My husband, Daniel, and our two children agreed that there wasn’t anything to discuss,” Karen recalls. “Travis was coming to stay with us.”
 
What the family could not prepare for was the raw emotion and anger the 7-year-old boy would bring with him. Travis completely shouldered the blame for his parents’ problems. But he was also dealing with severe trust issues, related to his mother. He took his frustration out on his aunt who was now Travis’ mother figure.
 
“While my uncle was at work, all my pain would come out on Aunt Karen,” Travis explains.
 
Years passed, but his parents’ personal issues did not improve. As a result, Karen and Daniel were granted permanent custody of Travis. And while the judge left the door open for his parents to one day gain visitation rights, or even regain custody, it became evident to Travis that they were not working toward that goal. His self-worth plummeted while his anger elevated to new highs.
 
One Sunday after the family returned home from church, Travis’ emotions erupted. “He said his parents didn’t love him, he wanted to die, and he wanted to leave,” Karen says. “We knew that through our family, his therapist and the guidance of our church, we had done everything we could for Travis. We reached out to Cameron Boys Camp for help.”
 
When Travis and his aunt and uncle first visited Baptist Children’s Homes’ residential wilderness program near Southern Pines, things clicked immediately for the 13-year-old boy.
 
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BCH Photo

The Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina provided Travis, right, with the stability he needed to help he and his family. From left: Dan and Kathy, Travis’ aunt and uncle; Benjamin and Victoria, Travis’ cousins. After two and a half years of living at Cameron Boys Camp, Travis and his family have found healing and are reunited.


“I knew I had to focus on taking care of myself,” Travis says. “It was like God was saying that Camp is the right place for me.”
 
Travis had become a believer and was baptized at his aunt’s and uncle’s church. Cameron Boys Camp chiefs – counselors that provide guidance to the boys and live with them at campsites – and Camp social workers helped Travis understand how God could heal his hurt.
 
“I had hated God because of the things that had happened in my life,” Travis said. “Once I understood that these things weren’t my fault, I was able to recommit my relationship to Him. God has much better things in store for me.”
 
Through Camp’s Christ-centered focus and unique support structure, Travis shared about his pain and feelings for the very first time.
 
“Camp pushed me to deal with it,” he says. “The respect chiefs show us campers, and we show them, made me realize I needed to be doing that at home.”
 
Travis and his aunt and uncle attended family sessions with Camp staff to work through the pain together. “Aunt Karen is the mom I should’ve had,” Travis says. “Uncle Dan is like my second dad.”
 
Travis consistently tells his story of hope and healing to others. The teen regularly shared his testimony with congregations as he traveled with campers and staff to be a part of worship services. The church visits not only impacted the people in the pews, but the care and support of Baptists profoundly moved Travis.
 
“After he’d been on a church visit, Travis said to me, ‘Aunt Karen, they really love me. I’m worth being loved,’” Karen said. “Travis is just special, and BCH and Cameron Boys Camp were able to pull that out. It had been stuffed down so deep inside of him.”
 
The dark days for Travis have receded, and he has successfully returned home to live with his aunt and uncle. After two and a half years of living at camp and the three of them working hard on some big problems, the family has been restored and reunified.
 
“Everybody we know has been affected by the change in Travis because of what Baptists in North Carolina have done for us,” Karen said tearfully. “They didn’t know us, they just knew they loved God and they loved His children.”
 
This year’s theme for Baptist Children’s Homes annual Thanksgiving offering is Sharing Hope. For more information, or to see the 2012 offering video on Travis’ story, go to bchfamily.org/offering. Or, call (800) 476-3669, ext. 1209, to order free offering promotional materials for your church.

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10/29/2012 3:36:59 PM by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications | with 0 comments



World Series gives Mich. Baptists an entrée

October 29 2012 by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

DETROIT – Michigan Baptists used the World Series in Detroit as an opportunity to share the gospel with fans headed to the games between the Tigers and the San Francisco Giants at Comerica Park.

The Giants won a four-game sweep over Detroit, where the games were played Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 27-28).
 
“Although Michigan is a mission field, I am so proud of Michigan Baptists for being a mission force,” said Bobby Gilstrap, lead state missionary and executive director of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.

“Opportunities like the World Series outreach allow churches to mobilize their people for evangelistic impact,” Gilstrap said.
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Comerica Park, Detroit


Volunteers from Michigan Baptist churches have been assembling outreach packets that contain materials from the North American Mission Board’s “Find It Here” evangelistic campaign as well as trading cards of current and former Detroit Tigers with their testimonies on the back. Volunteers distributed the materials to fans around the stadium.

Projects such as this are more difficult in Michigan than in some states with larger conventions, Gilstrap said, because about two-thirds of the convention’s churches have 50 or less worshippers on Sunday mornings.

For the trading cards, the Michigan convention worked with SCORE Ministries director Jeff Totten. The cards feature such players as Tigers utility outfielder/infielder Donnie Kelly and second baseman Ramon Santiago, as well as former Tiger Willie Horton, a member of Detroit’s 1968 World Series championship and a four-time All-Star.

“My life and priorities began to change when I fully yielded all areas of my life to Christ,” Kelly writes in his testimony. “I continue to try and live God’s will in my life, and it is always interesting to see how God has used certain experiences in life to mold me.

“Through good and through bad, I always try to fully trust in God’s plan for my life and to maximize the talents and gifts He’s given me for His glory.”

Gilstrap said two Baptist associations did outreach projects during the 2006 World Series in Detroit, which led to some relationships and partnerships that helped this year’s effort. He said this year’s outreach involves more churches and more volunteers than the 2006 outreach.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports, the sports site of Baptist Press. He also is director of news and media relations for Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)
10/29/2012 3:28:02 PM by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



ERLC search committee aims toward 2013 SBC

October 29 2012 by

NASHVILLE – As the first phase of the search for a new president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) comes to a close, the trustee search committee’s chairman said he is pleased with the committee’s progress.

“I have been encouraged both by the attitude and work of the search committee itself and by the engagement of a wide variety of leaders among Southern Baptists,” said Barry Creamer, vice president of academic affairs and professor of humanities at Criswell College in Dallas and an ERLC trustee.

Creamer said the search committee group is hopeful of completing its search before next summer to recommend a successor to Richard Land, who has led the ERLC since 1988 and has announced his retirement effective Oct. 23, 2013. The commission addresses moral, ethical and religious liberty issues from a biblical perspective from its offices in Nashville and Washington, D.C.

“Everything so far indicates we will have a fruitful process,” Creamer said in an Oct. 25 interview, recounting that the search committee has met either via conference call or face-to-face every week since being organized in August. The committee has primarily focused on “resolving issues about the process the committee will use to find God’s man for the ERLC,” Creamer said.

Once the committee selects a nominee for the ERLC presidency, Creamer said the candidate would be presented to the full trustee board for consideration prior to the June 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Houston.

The presidential search committee launched a website – erlc.com/presidentialsearch – in early October, which includes an outline of the attributes the ERLC trustees are seeking in a candidate as well as a prayer guide for the committee’s work.

The committee set an Oct. 31 deadline for receiving curricula vitae from individuals interested in the position. Creamer said the committee does not anticipate extending the date. He noted curricula vitae (CV) are only accepted through a portal on the committee’s website.

Creamer indicated he hadn’t known what to expect regarding interest in the position but is pleased with the response so far. “We tried to make the candidate profile information on the website sufficiently clear to ensure that recommendations and CVs would be mostly for qualified candidates, and the results indicate that the strategy has worked,” Creamer said.

The presidential profile developed by the committee lays out an expectation that a candidate would “demonstrate a commitment to applying Biblical principles and gospel understanding to critical ethical concerns of our time.”

The profile notes an individual considered for the ERLC’s chief executive position should have “significant education in and demonstrated understanding” of ethics, philosophy and history, among other academic disciplines, and “be able to comprehend complex and significant ethical issues quickly and respond to them succinctly.”

As the search committee moves into its next phase, Creamer said its goals are relatively straightforward.

“We intend to work through the recommendations and CVs to find a person with the calling, credentials, background and qualifications whom we can then nominate to the ERLC board as our candidate to be the next ERLC president,” he said. “We are remaining flexible but do expect quite a bit of work with calls, interviews, background work, references and so forth.”

Search committee members, in addition to Creamer, are Kenda Bartlett, executive director of Concerned Women for America in Washington, D.C.; Kenneth Barbic, a lobbyist with the Western Growers Association in Washington, D.C.; Lynne Fruechting, a pediatrician in Newton, Kan.; Ray Newman, executive director of Georgia Citizens Action Project in Atlanta; and Bernard Snowden, family life pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Bowie, Md. ERLC trustee chairman Richard Piles, who appointed the search committee, is an ex officio member. Piles is pastor of First Baptist Church in Camden, Ark.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dwayne Hastings is a vice president with the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.)
10/29/2012 3:21:26 PM by | with 0 comments



Visits to Chick-fil-A increase after controversy

October 26 2012 by Baptist Press

ATLANTA – Visits to Chick-fil-A restaurants increased by 2.2 percent in the third quarter, apparently driven by those supporting the restaurant in the face of criticism over the issue of gay marriage.

Research specialist Sandelman & Associates reports that across the board – from consumer use to market share to ad awareness – Chick-fil-A’s numbers were up in the July-September period, a span which includes Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in which hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the restaurant Aug. 1. USA Today and several other national outlets reported the data.

The appreciation day was a way for Chick-fil-A’s supporters to speak out in light of the criticism the restaurant was receiving after its president, Dan Cathy, defended the biblical definition of marriage.

Jeff Davis, president of Sandelman & Associates, said the controversy was “something that brought Chick-fil-A to the forefront of peoples’ minds.”

“There was a lot of talk that this would hurt Chick-fil-A, but it actually helped the brand,” Davis told the newspaper. The restaurant broadened its regular customer base in 28 of 35 media markets, Davis said.

Sandelman surveyed more than 30,000 fast-food customers and found that Chick-fil-A’s market share was up .6 percent and its ad awareness up 6.5 percent.

It is an “unusual situation,” Davis told ABCNews.com, for a company to struggle in the public relations realm and to come out ahead in support.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)
10/26/2012 2:15:24 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Family Research Council shooter charged with terrorism

October 26 2012 by Jeanie Groh, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury added terrorism to the list of charges faced by the Virginia man who was indicted in the shooting of a security guard at the conservative Family Research Council’s (FRC) Washington offices.
 
Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, of Herndon, Va., was arrested Aug. 15, shortly after police say he opened fire in the lobby of the FRC’s downtown headquarters, injuring an unarmed security guard.
 
Before he opened fire, Corkins reportedly was carrying a bag of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and told security guard Leo Johnson he disagreed with the FRC’s politics; the FRC had supported the fast-food chain’s donations to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
 
Corkins pleaded not guilty to initial charges of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, as well as the District of Columbia offenses of assault with intent to kill while armed and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.
 
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RNS photo by Chris Lisee

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins speaks Aug. 16 outside the Family Research Council Headquarters in Washington, D.C.


In addition to the new terrorism charge, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia said Oct. 24 that a federal grand jury added six District of Columbia charges, including attempted murder while armed; aggravated assault while armed; second-degree burglary while armed; and three counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.
 
Corkins is the first defendant to be charged with committing an act of terror under the District of Columbia’s 2002 Anti-Terrorism Act, a charge that carries up to 30 years in prison.
 
Though prosecutors declined to share information about the case, Bill Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said “the investigation has been continuing” and that Corkins is due in court Friday (Oct. 26) for a status hearing.
 
“The terrorism indictment announced today - the first under the District’s 10-year-old anti-terrorism statute - makes clear that acts of violence designed to intimidate and silence those who support natural marriage and traditional morality violate the law and undermine the security and stability of our form of government,” FRC President Tony Perkins said in a statement.
 
“The Family Research Council and our supporters understand the essential nature of our First Freedoms of religion and speech in the survival of our constitutional republic and remain unequivocally committed to our mission of advancing faith, family and freedom.”
10/26/2012 2:06:57 PM by Jeanie Groh, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



Polls: Marijuana initiatives in danger of losing

October 26 2012 by Baptist Press

DENVER – Ballot initiatives in three states that would legalize marijuana are all under 50 percent in the latest polls – a sign that all three could be defeated.

No state allows the recreational usage of marijuana, but that could change Nov. 6 when voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington consider the issue.

In Colorado, a Denver Post survey of 614 likely voters shows the measure there (Amendment 64) leading, 48-43 percent, with 9 percent undecided. A month ago, it led 51-40 percent.

In Oregon, a SurveyUSA poll of 579 likely voters has that state’s initiative (Measure 80) trailing, 43-36 percent, with 21 percent undecided.

And in Washington, an Elway Poll of 451 likely voters shows a marijuana initiative (I-502) leading 48-44 percent.

Typically, ballot initiatives that fall under 50 percent in pre-election polls have difficulty passing.

The Colorado group opposing the initiative in that state says marijuana legalization is bad for teens and children.

“For children and young adults, smoking marijuana permanently affects brain development, impairs learning ability and contributes to depression,” the No on 64 campaign says on its website. “Adolescents are more likely than adults to develop problems with marijuana abuse and addiction. Marijuana abuse accounts for 67 percent of the adolescents in substance-abuse treatment programs in the United States.”

An August study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showed that individuals who regularly use marijuana during their teenage years have an average drop in I.Q. of eight points and are vulnerable to mental health problems.

The same Colorado group also said marijuana legalization would make roads more dangerous.

“According to recent statistics, between 2006 and 2010, more than 400 people were killed in Colorado from car crashes involving a driver who was on drugs,” the group says. “Smoking pot reduces coordination and impairs decision-making which will lead to a significant increase in the number of crashes and deaths due to people who are driving under the influence of marijuana.”

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Marijuana-dependent teens’ loss of I.Q. poses long-term dangers

October 26 2012 by Anne Reiner, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – New evidence of marijuana’s negative effect on intelligence and, yet, its increasing use by teenagers shows the need to educate young people and prevent the drug’s legalization, a Southern Baptist ethics leader says.

Individuals who use marijuana during their teenage years have an average drop in I.Q. of eight points and are vulnerable to mental health problems, according to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) released in August. This news followed a May report that showed marijuana use among teens has grown by 21 percent since 2008.

The PNAS study “adds additional support to the necessity of keeping marijuana out of the hands of adolescents,” said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “The significant impact marijuana can have on the I.Q. of teens is alarming. We must redouble our efforts to educate young people about the dangers of marijuana use.”

The study’s release came as more states prepare to vote on whether to legalize marijuana use.

Voters in Colorado, Washington and Oregon will determine Nov. 6 if they want to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Arkansas and Massachusetts voters, meanwhile, will decide whether to legalize marijuana for medical use. Medical marijuana already is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

Teens’ use of marijuana will increase even more if it becomes legal, Duke said.

“Legalization of marijuana will assure its greater availability,” Duke told Baptist Press (BP). “Too many teens are already limiting their futures by using marijuana. We shouldn’t do anything to add to their numbers. Rather we should do all we can to prevent the tragic results of marijuana use.”
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Researchers in the PNAS study tested the I.Q. of more than 1,000 New Zealanders from the city of Dunedin over a 25-year span, once at age 13 and again at age 38. The study found 5 percent of the study group was dependent on marijuana, referred to as cannabis by researchers. Those 5 percent showed a decline of eight I.Q. points from age 13 to 38.

We must deliver “to the public the message that cannabis use during adolescence can have harmful effects on mental abilities,” said the study’s lead author, Madeline Meier, a psychologist and post-doctoral researcher at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Eight points lowers a person from an average I.Q. rate of 100 to 92, dropping him from the 50th percentile to the 29th percentile of intelligence, according to PNAS. This drop will affect the person’s education, income, health and ability for a longer life. Users who quit smoking marijuana cannot fully reverse the neurological damage, according to the study.

Lower I.Q. ratings are not found in all marijuana users, just primarily those who use the drug during adolescence. Users who began marijuana use in adulthood showed no marked neurological change, according to the study. It concluded the brain is more vulnerable to drug abuse while it is still developing.

That is a sobering finding, since more than half of marijuana users are teenagers, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA).

Among studies showing rising teen use or acceptance of marijuana:
  • A 2011 survey showed 2.6 million individuals age 12 and older use marijuana, with nearly 58 percent of those under 18, according to SAMHSA.
  • Two of five teens have tried marijuana at least once in the last year, representing an increase from 31 percent in 2008, according to the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) released in May and sponsored by the MetLife Foundation.
  • Heavy, past-month use of marijuana by teens has grown to 27 percent from 19 percent in 2008, a 47 percent increase, according to the PATS study.
  • Nearly three-fourths (71 percent) of teens say they have friends who smoke pot regularly, PATS reported. While 61 percent of teens say they disapprove of their friends’ drug use, only 51 percent say they see “great risk” with marijuana use.
In 2011, teens smoked marijuana more than cigarettes for the first time, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Adolescents are getting the message that cigarettes are dangerous but marijuana is not, which again highlights the importance of getting the message out to adolescents that cannabis is not harmless,” Meier told BP.

“There should be public service announcements targeting adolescents that state clearly and simply that cannabis use in adolescence can lead to I.Q. decline.”

Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, said children are not “emotionally and intellectually predisposed” to focus on marijuana’s ill effects while their minds are constantly changing and developing.”

“Throw in alcohol, throw in marijuana, throw in prescription drugs and then what do we get ... a decline in mental functioning,” Clark told BP.

Parents must be more involved in their children’s lives to stop them from abusing drugs, Clark said. If they receive a “message of disapproval” from their parents, it will help show them this is not good behavior, he said.

Adolescents need to prepare for their future and be equipped to find jobs, Clark said. If marijuana interferes with their cognitive development, it should be discouraged, he said.

“This is a world where competition rules, and you don’t want to give up that edge,” Clark said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Anne Reiner is an intern with the Washington bureau of Baptist Press.)

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10/26/2012 1:47:31 PM by Anne Reiner, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Planned Parenthood gains court victories

October 26 2012 by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – New federal judicial rulings have stymied efforts by two states to prohibit funding for the country’s leading abortion provider.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Indiana cannot enforce a ban on state-directed funding of abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood. In its decision Oct. 23, the Chicago-based court affirmed a lower court’s preliminary injunction against the law while it remains under judicial consideration.
 
On Oct. 19, a federal judge in Phoenix blocked enforcement of a similar Arizona law while the case proceeds in court. That law also prohibits state money for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

The Obama administration filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting Planned Parenthood’s lawsuits in both cases in further examples of its commitment to maintaining government funding for the controversial organization.

Planned Parenthood and its affiliates benefit greatly from federal, state and local governments – having received $487.4 million in grants, contracts and reimbursements in 2009-10, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Those funds help support an organization that performed 329,445 abortions in 2010. That was more than one-fourth of the lethal procedures in the United States for the year.

The rulings came as no surprise to pro-life organizations.

Planned Parenthood “has been able to rely only on sympathetic courts and the Obama Administration to buck the will of the taxpayers” while 14 states have proposed or passed bans on funds for abortion providers during the last two years, said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, in a written statement after the Seventh Circuit ruling. “Planned Parenthood may have been handed a victory in the court but is losing, more importantly, in the court of public opinion.”

Local and state government actions in 10 states the last two years have reduced funding for Planned Parenthood alone by more than $60 million, according to the SBA List.

The 2011 Indiana law, which was the first state funding ban on abortion providers, would eliminate about $1.3 million that Planned Parenthood of Indiana receives each year, The Indianapolis Star reported. The law exempts hospitals and outpatient surgery centers.

A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court agreed with a federal judge that Planned Parenthood was likely to succeed in its contention that the Indiana ban violates a federal law that mandates state Medicaid programs permit patients to choose their health-care providers. The panel said the Indiana law “excludes a class of providers from Medicaid for reasons unrelated to provider qualifications” and returned the case to the federal court.

A pro-life lawyer criticized the decision.

“The will of Indiana taxpayers to close loopholes so that their money isn’t used to fund the operations of abortion sellers should be respected,” said Steven Aden, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, in a written statement. “During these tough economic times, it makes no sense to contradict the will of the people of Indiana, who don’t believe abortionists deserve to receive government funding.”

In the Arizona case, Federal Judge Neil Wake – like the Seventh Circuit panel – said the ban is likely to be found to infringe the federal right of Medicaid patients to select their health-care providers, the Associated Press reported. Wake scheduled a hearing in the case for Dec. 6.

Josh Credit, legislative counsel with the Center for Arizona Policy, told CitizenLink, “We lost round one. But the attorneys defending the law are going to be either going forward with the lawsuit on the merits, or talking about an appeal of this decision.”

In contrast to the latest rulings, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans delivered a victory in August to Texas in its attempt to prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in a women’s health program. A three-judge panel lifted a federal judge’s preliminary injunction that blocked implementation of the 2011 law.

The measure prohibits the state from contracting under the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program with organizations that “perform or promote elective abortions or affiliate with entities that perform or promote elective abortions” but reportedly affects only Planned Parenthood. The panel returned the case to the federal court for consideration.

The Obama administration has responded to some state laws that defunded Planned Parenthood by directly giving money to the abortion provider. The administration took such action in New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Tennessee in the last two years.

According to federal law, federal family planning funds cannot be used for the performance of abortions, but pro-life advocates point out that the grants to Planned parenthood free up other funds for use in performing abortions.

Planned Parenthood, which has been plagued by various scandals in recent years, is the target of a congressional investigation that began last year. A subcommittee of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee has been looking into reports of potential fraud and failure to report suspected sex abuse and human trafficking.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)


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10/26/2012 1:41:43 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



What is going on at the annual meeting?

October 25 2012 by

Plan now to attend the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting Nov. 12-13 at Greensboro Coliseum. Other events that will be happening before and during the annual meeting are:

• Pastor’s Conference – Nov. 11-12 at Lawndale Baptist Church. (See story).

• N.C. Baptist Ministers’ Wives Annual Meeting – Nov. 12, 9:30 a.m. at Lawndale Baptist Church, Greensboro. This event is free and registration is not required. The meeting theme is “Polish your shine,” based on Philippians 2:14-15 and Colossians 1:24-27. Featured speaker is Dwain Bouldin. Contact Renea Henderson at (336) 629-7995 or jrhendco@asheboro.com.

• North Carolina International Missionary Fellowship – Nov. 12 from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Lindley Park Baptist Church. Contact rlamb12@carolina.rr.com. There is a cost for lunch.

• Hispanic Conference and Banquet – Nov. 12, 2 p.m.-6 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex Special Events Center, Meeting Room 1. This event is for pastors as well as lay leaders. The focus is small group discipleship, and how small groups can be used to help start new churches. Contact Maria Luoni at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5629, or mluoni@ncbaptist.org.

• GCP Interviews – The Office of Great Commission Partnerships is hosting live interviews in the exhibit hall throughout the annual meeting.

Monday, Nov. 12, there will be two interviews:
  • 4:30-4:45 p.m. – Unreached, Unengaged People Groups (UUPG) interview with Joe Dillon, missional church strategist, International Mission Board, and Mark Harrison, missions pastor, Old Town Baptist Church, Winston-Salem;
  • 5:30-5:45 p.m. – Moldova interview with John Miron, president, Baptist Union of Moldova.
Tuesday, Nov. 13, there will be four interviews:
  • 9:15-9:30 a.m. – Toronto interview with Andrew Lamme, director, Toronto Church Planting;
  • 10:10-10:25 a.m. – New York interview with George Russ, executive director, MNYBA, and Jae Lee, pastor, Ebenezer Mission Church, Queens;
  • 2:15-2:30 p.m. – Boston interview with Curtis Cook, church planter and pastor, Hope Fellowship; SEND North America Boston city coordinator; and
  • 3:30-3:45 p.m. – SEND North America interview with Kevin Ezell, president, North American Mission Board

• Great Commission Partnerships Missions Breakfast – Nov. 13, 7 a.m.-8:15 a.m., Greensboro Coliseum, Special Events Center - West Wing B; contact Michael Sowers at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5654, or msowers@ncbaptist.org.

• Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Luncheon – Nov. 13, noon; meeting room 1A at Greensboro Coliseum; reservations required; cost: $20. Contact Rebecca Taylor: (919) 761-2177 or rtaylor@sebts.edu.

• Heavenly Banquet – Nov. 13, noon-1:30 p.m., Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Special Events Center - West Wing B; contact Kate Durham at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5628, or kdurham@ncbaptist.org. Cost: $10; deadline to register is Nov. 2.

• Gardner-Webb Friends and Family Luncheon – Nov. 13 at 12:15 p.m.; meeting room 3A, Greensboro Coliseum; reservations required; cost: $15. Contact Aaron Hinton at (704) 406-4101 or ahinton2@gardner-webb.edu.

• North American Mission Board Reception – Nov. 13, Special Events Center - West Wing B, Greensboro Coliseum Complex. Immediately following the conclusion of the Tuesday evening session. This is your opportunity to meet the missionaries who are participating in the commissioning service. Visit ncannualmeeting.org.


Related stories

For complete coverage of the BSC annual meeting, visit here.
10/25/2012 2:29:44 PM by | with 0 comments



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