• Worshipplanning.com_A
  • Jacksonville, FBC 2015 Pastors Conf_A
  • Greater Things_A
  • NC Pastor's Conference_A
  • The Story_A
  • CP Challenge #2_A

N.C. marriage amendment anniversary rally, May 8

May 5 2014 by L.A. Williams, Christian Action League

It has been almost two years since North Carolinians affirmed their belief in marriage with the passage of our Marriage Protection Amendment – an anniversary the Christian Action League believes worthy of commemoration.

"We're going to celebrate with a lunchtime rally on Thursday, May 8 in downtown Raleigh, so make plans now to attend," said Mark Creech, Christian Action League's (CAL) executive director. (Details here)

The CAL is joining the N.C. Values Coalition, the Upper Room Church of God in Christ, the N.C. Family Policy Council, Return America and Called 2 Action in sponsoring the "Second Anniversary Rally," set for noon to 1 p.m.

"We all worked hard to get the Marriage Amendment passed two years ago," said Tami Fitzgerald, director of the N.C. Values Coalition and chairwoman of Vote for Marriage N.C. She urged marriage supporters across the state to spread the word about the rally.

Attendees should pack a lawn chair or blanket and a bag lunch to enjoy the time of celebration, prayer, music and fellowship.

"Our marriage amendment – approved 61 to 39 percent on May 8, 2012 – is currently under attack in the court system, but our victory in holding up God's standard for marriage is no less significant now than it was on that election night," said Creech. "In fact, it's more important than ever that we continue to rally and take a stand for marriage."

Opponents of the Marriage Amendment, including the Campaign for Southern Equality and other homosexual rights groups, are planning to stage a protest on May 8 with same-sex couples expected to demand marriage licenses from the Wake County Register of Deeds Office or to insist that their out-of-state "marriages" be recorded there.

"It is extremely important for us to exhibit a strong showing for natural marriage and North Carolina's Marriage Protection Amendment, which we all worked so hard to secure," posted the North Carolina Family Policy Council in its online announcement of the event.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – L.A. Williams is a correspondent for the Christian Action League.)

Related stories:

Mohler revises statement on N.C. marriage law
Mohler mistaken about N.C. marriage law
5/5/2014 10:00:03 AM by L.A. Williams, Christian Action League | with 0 comments

Mohler mistaken about N.C. marriage law

May 5 2014 by Mark Creech, Christian Action League

There are certain people in the evangelical community for whom I have profound respect. I feel more a student of their knowledge and expertise than a peer. Such is the way I regard Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Mohler, in my estimation, is a spiritual and intellectual giant in our time. I don’t see myself as someone worthy to even unlace his sandals.
But recently (Tuesday, April 29) on his daily broadcast called “The Briefing,” Mohler erroneously maligned North Carolina’s Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA). The great preacher and theologian seemed to be taking his cues from a New York Times article that was egregiously misleading about a novel approach by the United Church of Christ (UCC) to knock down the state’s MPA on the basis of the First Amendment.
The lawsuit alleges that N.C.’s MPA violates the religious liberty of churches like the UCC that want to perform same-sex weddings. Mohler cited the New York Times piece as saying “the denomination argues that a North Carolina law that criminalizes the religious solemnization of weddings without a state-issued marriage license violates the First Amendment.” He also mentioned David C. Clark, Jr., general counsel for the UCC who argues clergy members in the state that perform “religious blessings and marriage rites” for homosexuals “are subject to prosecution and civil judgment.”
Mohler then went on to add, which was the crux of his concerns, that he is a strong defender of traditional marriage, but believed North Carolina’s MPA went to an extreme by addressing the behavior and speech of clergy. His concern was that the UCC, under such circumstances, would have a good argument in court, and the prohibition of any celebration of same-sex marriage in their churches could also result in faithful churches supporting traditional marriage ultimately being forced to perform same-sex weddings.

Mark Creech

The trouble here, however, is the New York Times got it wrong, and consequently Mohler’s alarms about the Tar Heel state’s MPA and its alleged infringement on religious liberty were completely unfounded. As a matter of fact, North Carolina’s MPA says just the opposite. The state’s MPA actually reads:
“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
It’s obvious from such clear and precise language that N.C.’s MPA in no way restricts the religious liberty of any faith group. It says nothing about what ministers or their churches can or cannot do. The amendment simply clarifies the state’s sovereignty to recognize marriage with all its legal rights and privileges is to be defined only as between a man and a woman. It does not bar contracts and other means private parties may agree upon. How much plainer could the amendment possibly be? None!
The confusion seems to be fostered by the New York Times article, as well as the UCC’s lawsuit mixing the language of the amendment with the language of the state’s two marriage statutes.
So the next day in his briefing, Mohler corrected his assertions against the state’s MPA, this time defending it, but then he went on to express his apprehensions about the state’s marriage laws instead. North Carolina’s marriage laws read:
“Solemnization without license unlawful. No minister, officer, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of the state shall perform a ceremony of marriage between a man and woman, or shall declare them to be husband and wife, until there is delivered to that person a license for the marriage of said persons, signed by the register of deeds of the county in which the marriage license was issued or by a lawful deputy or assistant.
“Every minister, officer, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of this state, who marries any couple without a license being first delivered to that person, as required by law, or after the expiration of such license, or who fails to return such license to the register of deeds within 10 days after any marriage celebrated by virtue thereof, with the certificate appended thereto duly filled and signed, shall forfeit and pay two hundred dollars ($200) to any person who sues therefore, and shall also be guilty of a Class I misdemeanor.”
Mohler argued N.C.’s marriage statutes were problematic or potentially problematic in that they essentially declare ministers “must not bless what the state has cursed.” He contended the state should never be directing the way ministers or churches carry out their professed religious duties. His remarks were partly correct. The state shouldn’t be telling ministers or people of faith how to practice their religion. Nevertheless, his conclusions about the state’s marriage laws are in error, as were his comments about the N.C. MPA.
In an article titled, “Laws Defining Marriage as Union of Man and Woman Do Not Violate Religious Liberty,Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation discusses N.C.’s marriage laws and rightly interprets them, maintaining:
“This law isn’t talking about ministers celebrating marriages in churches solely for religious purposes, but about ministers who are acting as agents of the state to celebrate a state recognized marriage. But, again, there’s no religious liberty right to have the relationship of your choice recognized as a marriage by the state. And there’s no law preventing churches from celebrating marriage however they see fit.”
I wouldn’t bother to point out Mohler’s mistakes in this situation, except his influence is far and wide. In my estimation, he is the E.F. Hutton of Southern Baptist life. What he says carries a tremendous amount of weight. And, unfortunately, he drew from a liberal and biased newspaper to wrongly criticize and defame North Carolina’s MPA, indict those who crafted it, and argue evangelicals ought to be troubled.
The next day he partially corrected his course in his second briefing on the subject. (Wednesday, April 30). He revised his statements on the amendment, but still hadn’t seen the light on the state’s marriage statutes and held them in question. In his second briefing, he also noted that he had contacted N.C. House Majority Leader, Paul “Skip” Stam, as a more reliable source of information than something like the New York Times. But wouldn’t Mohler have done better to have contacted the people who worked on North Carolina’s MPA – members of the executive committee of N.C. Vote for Marriage (a committee on which I served) – or at least even contacted Paul Stam – before launching an attack on the credibility of the state’s marriage amendment or its laws by saying they could negatively impact religious liberty? The assertion is nonsense.
All of this matters because Dr. Mohler’s words unintentionally provide fodder for the enemies of marriage that this issue is about religious freedom, a First Amendment matter, when it is not. In fact, that claim is nothing more than a legal fiction on the part of the UCC.
Make no mistake, the real question is not religious freedom for these people and their cohorts, it is the redefinition of marriage! And for those of us in North Carolina who have been fighting to protect marriage as one man and one woman for a decade, it’s no help when an individual of Mohler’s stature in the evangelical camp wrongly associates the redefinition of marriage with the free exercise of religion.
Mohler’s remarks were a critical error. They were like tearing open a feather pillow in the midst of a great gust of wind. One may try to clean up the feathers afterward, but one will never succeed in removing all of them from the landscape of the debate.
Perhaps a lesson to be gleaned from these unhappy circumstances is the need to be exceedingly careful that in our zeal to right a perceived wrong we don’t inadvertently create another wrong – something I earnestly pray I haven’t done in faulting Dr. Mohler – someone for whom I have intense admiration and respect.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark Creech is the executive director of the Christian Action League. This piece was originally posted to the Christian Action League’s website.)

Related stories:

Mohler revises statement on N.C. marriage law
N.C. marriage amendment anniversary rally, May 8
5/5/2014 9:50:25 AM by Mark Creech, Christian Action League | with 1 comments

Mohler revises statement on N.C. marriage law

May 5 2014 by R. Albert Mohler

Earlier this week, we looked at the controversy in North Carolina where the very liberal United Church of Christ has filed suit against the state of North Carolina, alleging that that state’s amendment identifies marriage as exclusively the union of a man and a woman violates religious liberty by preventing clergy from performing same-sex ceremonies and weddings.

Now as we have considered over the last several days, there could well be religious liberty complications in such a law, but in the case of the amendment in North Carolina, there is no such concern, and the statutory law there in North Carolina should not operate in such a way that it would violate religious conscience and it never has. In other words, that law in North Carolina has never been employed or used in any way but to regulate how legal marriages are performed by ministers in North Carolina. Analyses by Ryan T. Anderson at the Heritage Foundation and by Mollie Hemingway, writing at The Federalist, have made this point very clear.

R. Albert Mohler

But we also see in this situation that there are religious liberty complications on the horizon every time the intersection of marriage and law comes about because as the church operates on its understanding of marriage and as Christians committed to the Bible operate on an exclusively biblical understanding of marriage, we see a conflict on the horizon. And even a law like that on the books there North Carolina could, if in the wrong hands, in the wrong way, be used against evangelical ministers.

 The principle is simply this: what the law enjoins, the law can also require. And that’s why we’re going to have to look at these things very, very carefully. What happens, for instance, when a state says to a minister, if you’re saying, “By the authority granted to me by this state, I declare you man and wife,” if that minister as an agent of the state says, “I will refuse to say you’re husband and husband or wife and wife,” how long is it before the state shows up, as it has in the offices of county clerks, and says, “As an agent of the state, you’re going to have to do what the state says and you’re going to have to be nondiscriminatory when it comes to marriage.”

That hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. And that’s why those who care for religious liberty, who want to defend marriage as a pre-political institution that has and must always mean the union of a man and woman, are going to have to watch these things very, very carefully. The debate in North Carolina is just one indication of the kind of conversation we’re going to be having state-by-state in years to come.

This, too, is the chaos spawned by moral revolution.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – The Biblical Recorder received the following statement from the office of R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a transcript of his comments in the Friday, May 2 edition of "The Briefing.")

Related stories:

Mohler mistaken about N.C. marriage law
N.C. marriage amendment anniversary rally, May 8
5/5/2014 9:29:17 AM by R. Albert Mohler | with 0 comments

‘Future of marriage’: topic of ERLC conference

April 10 2014 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Escalating support for same-sex marriage from the American people and their court system is part of a new wave of challenges for Christians, the Southern Baptist Convention’s lead ethicist says.

A revolution “surrounding sexuality and marriage is happening across America, creating new and challenging questions for Christians and churches,” said Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), noting that the Bible “presents marriage as an unchanging picture of the gospel through the union of one man and one woman.”

“Our desire at the ERLC is to equip faithful Christians on the importance of looking to Scripture, not the ever-changing culture, as our guide,” Moore said.

The ERLC announced Monday (April 7) a national conference to help with that goal. The event, titled “The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage,” will be held Oct. 27-29 in Nashville.

The announcement of the conference came as same-sex marriage experiences unmatched popularity in polls and unprecedented gains in courts and legislatures. And it came as evangelical pastors and churches seem increasingly to be seeking ways to evangelize those who identify as gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons, while also helping Christians struggling with same-sex attraction.

Public opinion surveys in March demonstrated the dramatic shift in favor of gay marriage in recent years:
  • 59 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, while 34 percent oppose it, according to a poll by The Washington Post and ABC News. The result was nearly the exact opposite of the same poll in March 2004, when only 38 percent favored legalizing gay marriage and 59 percent opposed it.
  • 50 percent said the U.S. Constitution protects the right of homosexuals to marry, while 41 percent disagreed in The Post-ABC poll in March.
  • 69 percent of American adults under 30 years old support legalizing same-sex marriage, according to the Pew Research Center. Among those 18 to 29 years of age who identify themselves as Republican or leaning Republican, 61 percent agree with legalizing gay marriage. Meanwhile, the same survey shows overall 54 percent of Americans and 39 percent of Republicans, or those who lean toward the GOP, support same-sex marriage.
Gay marriage’s advance in the United States has been even more pronounced in courts and legislatures.

In the first three months of 2014, federal judges struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia. A judge in Utah issued a ruling invalidating that state’s ban in December. Those decisions have yet to be enforced while the cases go through the appeal process.

Also this year, federal judges in Kentucky and Tennessee have issued opinions requiring those states – in spite of their bans – to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. A federal judge in Ohio has said he will issue a ruling in mid-April to require the state to recognize gay marriages entered into legally in other states.

Apart from those recent court decisions, the same-sex marriage movement had its best year yet in 2013, when eight states legalized gay unions. Same-sex marriage is now legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

These kinds of developments indicate “irrefutable momentum for the freedom to marry,” gay marriage advocate Evan Wolfson told reporters in a phone conference call Tuesday (April 8). Wolfson is president of Freedom to Marry.

In this cultural setting, the ERLC says it hopes to address at its October conference such issues as ministering to homosexuals; equipping Christians with same-sex attractions to be sexually faithful; developing a healthy marriage culture in churches; providing pastoral counseling to same-sex couples who seek to join churches; and talking to children about sex.

In addition to Moore, others speakers will include Rosaria Butterfield, author of “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert,” which describes her journey from a lesbian lifestyle to Christ; Sherif Girgis, co-author of “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense”; J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.

Registration for the conference, which will be at the Opryland Hotel, will begin June 1. Information on the event may be accessed at erlc.com/conference.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)
4/10/2014 11:56:10 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

World Vision reverses gay hiring decision

March 27 2014 by Baptist Press

World Vision U.S. is reverting to its longstanding conduct policy of requiring faithfulness within the biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, expressing regret with an earlier decision to hire legally married gay Christians.

World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns and board chairman Jim Bere announced in a letter the reversal March 26, just two days after drawing ire from the Christian community by saying World Vision would begin hiring legally married gays.

"Today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our employment conduct policy," they said in the letter. "The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman."

"We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority," the board reported. "We ask that you understand that this was never the board's intent."

Hiring married gay Christians would have broken with the ministry's commitment to biblically traditional marriage, and was made without adequate counsel with ministry partners, World Vision said.

"In our board's effort to unite around the church's shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.'s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, 'We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God,'” the letter said. "And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage."

World Vision confirmed its commitment to the biblical view of marriage and asked for the Christian community’s continued support.

"We are asking for your continued support. We commit to you that we will continue to listen to the wise counsel of Christian brothers and sisters, and we will reach out to key partners in the weeks ahead," the letter said. "While World Vision U.S. stands firmly on the biblical view of marriage, we strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect."

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press general assignment writer/editor.)
3/27/2014 8:40:11 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Minister’s wife uses experience to encourage others

November 11 2013 by Emily Blake, BR Editorial Aide

The N.C. Baptist Minister’s Wives had its 58th annual meeting Nov. 11 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro. Women from all over North Carolina joined together for breakfast, worship and an encouraging message from Janice Drum of Conway, S.C.

“[Ministry] is what you make of it,” said Drum, whose husband Hampton serves as senior pastor of Langston Baptist Church in Conway.

The fellowship, with the name “The Master’s Hands, My Man’s Heart, gave around 80 pastor’s wives an opportunity to renew their relationships and to encourage one other in the Lord. The time was also used to review business reports, budgets and to announce upcoming officers.
Melissa Baker ministers with her husband John at Green Hill Baptist Church in Rutherfordton, and has been to several of these meetings. She enjoys the time to spend with other women who are in her same situation and who have had many of the same experiences. Pastor’s wives of less than a month were joined together with women who have been pastor’s wives for more than 40 years.

Drum spoke passionately about her 30 years spent in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Her main topic was a wife’s responsibility to support and love her husband as he obeys God’s calling on his life. Drum was adamant that pastor’s wives build up their ministers with respect, a response to his ministry and by seeking after their hearts.
Wives were instructed to ask themselves, “Is your man your minister?” and
“Are you building him up like you should?”
Barbara Watkins from Mount Zion Baptist Church in Bryson City was attending the meeting for her first time. She, like many others, was moved to tears during Drum’s message.
“An excellent speaker,” said Watkins. “She really challenged me to look at my position in a different light. It was such a blessing for me to be here.”
The meeting ended with all the women standing together holding hands in prayer – a fitting symbol of the unity and support meant to be fostered among the wives at the yearly meeting. Afterward they lifted their voices again in worship led by a youth worship team from Hull’s Grove Baptist Church in Vale. Beth and Mikala Qualls, Samuel Redding and Taylor Stamey used the Veteran’s Day holiday to serve as the worship leaders for the group.

The N.C. Baptist Minister’s Wives officers for 2013-2014 are Harriet Lovett as president, Lisa Miller as vice president, Gina Powell as secretary/treasurer; Susan Stamper, publicity. For the 2014 retreat, Becky Blakely is chairwoman and Donna Burnop and Talitha Gwaltney are vice retreat chairwomen. For the 2015 retreat Amy Harmon is chairwoman with Diane Smith and Kim Gates as vice chairwomen. Regional representatives include: Beverly Spears, eastern; Diane Smith, central #1; Amy Harmon, central #2; Julie Pierce, western #1; and Sylvia Murphey, western #2. The group has vacancies for president elect 2015, vice president elect 2015, secretary/treasurer elect 11/2014.
(EDITOR’S NOTE ­– Dianna L. Cagle, BR production editor, contributed to this story.)
11/11/2013 10:06:12 PM by Emily Blake, BR Editorial Aide | with 0 comments

After porn: A marriage is restored

September 20 2013 by Joni B. Hannigan, Florida Baptist Witness/Baptist Press

LAKELAND, Fla. – Seven years after Cathy Dyer and her husband were married, pornography erupted as a crisis in their marriage, nearly destroying it.

Dyer recounts her real-life story of “God’s ability to turn tragedy into triumph” in Our Hardcore Battle Plan for Wives, a resource for women coauthored with Jay Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla.

Utilizing handwritten pages from her personal journal, Dyer gives readers poignant insight into her private pain and process of restoration after her husband’s secret addiction to pornography came to light.

Our Hardcore Battle Plan for Wives is part of the Join 1 Million Men campaign to help men win the battle against pornography. Dennis pioneered the initiative at First Baptist Church at the Mall and introduced it to the Southern Baptist Convention at its annual meeting last June in Houston.

In Our Hardcore Battle Plan for Wives, as noted on Amazon.com, Dyer and Dennis address issues women encounter once pornography has entered the marital relationship – including how to keep the marriage intact and preventive steps wives and moms can take to keep their families porn-free.

Dyer and her husband Greg, who have two children, have now been married 19 years.

Dyer, in an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, answered questions about the book, released by New Hope Publishers, a division of Woman’s Missionary Union.

Q: What did you anticipate will result from the release of your book?

I hope and pray that the book for women, along with the books Pastor Jay has written for men and pastors, will be a catalyst for many things: for people to find a kindred spirit, practical advice, help and deliverance. Additionally, it has been my prayer that pastors will use these materials with their congregations and join the movement.

Q: How have you prepared for any of the “shame” issues that come with disclosing such personal information to the public?

Honestly, shame was a minor issue as I worked on this material. My husband and I have been involved in some capacity of ministry in this area since about 2003, so I’m fairly used to putting my story “out there” and sharing openly. However, when we first started sharing with groups of people, it was nerve-wracking. Until you get used to it, telling people that your husband was unfaithful and a porn addict is an awkward topic to broach; but Greg and I realized – from our own situation – that this is a topic that sorely needs to be addressed. Someone has to be bold and have those awkward conversations. Why not us?

Q: How do you think this will help other women who are dealing with the same issue?

When I was going through all the mess of my marriage, it helped so much to read people’s personal stories, to know that someone out there had gone through the same thing ... and survived. One influential book for me was by Bonnie Keen, called Blessed Are the Desperate. I hope many things for my book, but my number one hope is that women who are struggling with pornography or even an affair in their marriage will find solace in my story, that they will connect with my pain and then see the hope on the other side, that they will draw near to God as they are going through all the wreckage.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, newsjournal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. Our Hardcore Battle Plan for Wives” and other resources in the Join 1 Million Men initiative can be accessed at www.join1millionmen.org.)
9/20/2013 2:23:07 PM by Joni B. Hannigan, Florida Baptist Witness/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Gay marriage now legal in Minn., R.I.

August 6 2013 by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Gay marriage became legal in Minnesota and Rhode Island after both legislatures approved the unions, extending gay marriage to 13 states and the District of Columbia.
“This is a sad day in Minnesota and Rhode Island as politicians have allowed a mockery to be made of the institution of marriage, which throughout our history has been our only social institution to bring men and women together for the benefit of any children born of their union,” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a written statement Aug. 1.
“Today Minnesota and Rhode Island embark on a new path that jettisons the interests of children from their state marriage law, and puts people of faith in harm's way for being punished for their beliefs. We will work tirelessly to hold the politicians accountable for this travesty,” Brown said.
Gay couples in Minnesota married as early as 12:01 a.m. Aug. 1 in locations including the Minneapolis City Hall, St. Paul's Como Park, the Mall of America’s Chapel of Love and at many county courthouses, The Washington Post reported. Officials in the state estimated 5,000 gay couples would marry there in the first year.
Ceremonies in Rhode Island were performed as early as 8:30 a.m. Aug. 1 when municipal offices opened, the Christian Science Monitor reported, citing speculation that many gays there had already married in neighboring states where the practice was legalized.
Brown predicted the changes in law will lead to the criminalization of the Christian view of marriage as between one man and one woman.
“It’s only a matter of time before people of faith are targeted for punishment by government officials, and cease to enjoy the full rights of citizenship because they believe what their faith teaches them – that marriage can only be between one man and one woman,” Brown said.
“Based on what has already happened elsewhere, we predict that people of faith will face lawsuits, lose contracts, be denied employment and be forced to stop providing goods and services. Charities will be forced to close,” Brown said.
The National Organization for Marriage has pledged to spend up to $600,000 to publicize politicians’ voting records on gay marriage in Minnesota and Rhode Island.
“Virtually no politician in Minnesota or Rhode Island ran on a platform that openly pledged that he or she would redefine marriage if elected to office,” Brown said. “Yet, when given the opportunity, they did so. ...
“When the inevitable consequences happen, we will make sure that voters know who is responsible for them,” Brown said. “This issue is far from settled in either of these states.”
Already, the Minnesota Human Rights Commission has issued guidelines making no exceptions for religious or conscience objections for individuals, according to NOM. Rhode Island’s marriage law similarly allows no exceptions for individuals or small businesses, NOM reported.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler.) 
8/6/2013 11:12:32 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

After marriage ruling, are your church policies adequate?

July 29 2013 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

As the future of marriage across the country seems uncertain after the Supreme Court ruled on this issue in June, many pastors in North Carolina are wondering how churches should prepare in case same-sex marriage is ever legalized nationwide.
For now, officials and legal counsel for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) recommend that churches update or establish wedding policies.
But changes to their articles of incorporation, constitutions or bylaws are “not necessary at this point,” said Brian Davis, associate executive director-treasurer of the BSC.
“[With] the issue of marriage, we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg of the changes and challenges that are coming,” he said.
On June 26 the High Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and chose not to get involved with Proposition 8 in California, essentially allowing gay marriage to resume in that state. North Carolina law, however, only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman.
“The rulings related to what the Supreme Court has done … only impacts the state of California in a very specific matter,” he said. “And when it impacted DOMA, that … again is not impacting us here.
“That’s why we’re saying we should not rush to change constitutions and bylaws … at this point.”
Davis clarified that a church constitution and bylaws can take more time and effort to amend than church policies that allow for regular reviews, updates and adjustments.
While churches need to pay attention to news reports, new legislation and cultural changes, any response by the church should begin with a review of their day-to-day policies.
“Start there,” Davis said. “If you don’t have wedding policies, this is a great time to look at establishing [them].”
“This is oversimplified [but]… your constitution and your articles identify who you are and what you do,” he added. “Your bylaws identify how you do it, in the broad sense, but … what governs your day-to-day activities is found in your policy manuals.”
And simply put, policies sound less bureaucratic.
“What you don’t want when you’re sitting down with a couple is to say, ‘Now here’s our constitution and bylaws. … [Instead you can say,] ‘Here’s our wedding policy.’”
What do good wedding policies look like?
A wedding policy could include expectations for counseling, conduct during weddings and receptions, and a clear statement in the introduction that explains the church’s beliefs on the issue of marriage.
“A good wedding policy should not focus on who you will not marry, but who you want to marry and how you want to help them,” Davis said.
“You don’t want to just focus on doing weddings. You want to build families. So make it a very positive and proactive statement about who you are and what your stance is on marriage as opposed to this being a list of the things we want to do.”
John Small, an attorney who provides legal counsel for the BSC, also added that churches should be prepared to discuss more than same-sex marriage when making changes to any governing documents.
“You’re going to get into issues,” Small said. “If you want … a wedding policy that says certain marriages can be performed and certain marriages can’t be performed in the church that’s fine. …  Just be ready to address a whole range of issues if you open that door.”
Any new policies or adjustments to governing documents could spark conversations about other issues such as divorce, cohabitation before the wedding, whether or not couples should be members of the church and much more. Focusing on one issue in a policy or governing document also can create the perception that other related situations are allowed.
“You may think you’re solving one problem, and you may be creating another,” Small said.
Churches that rent out their facilities for weddings to non-members also could encounter more questions and challenges than churches that only allow members to be married on their property.
“If they’re members then there is a connection with the church,” Small said. “They’re going to be somewhat in agreement with the desires of the church.”
Most churches, however, don’t have any type of wedding policy other than information about the facility and wedding fees.
“We don’t have a wedding policy,” said John Attaway, pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in State Road. “I think you would find that most don’t have any policy [about weddings].”
In most cases, Attaway said, churches leave it up to their pastors to decide who should and shouldn’t be married. He added that establishing a policy could be helpful.
“If a church has a strong position [on] kinds of marriages they don’t believe are right, they need to state it,” he said. “That solves a lot of problems down the road when the new pastor comes in [and] nobody even bothered to ask about that particular aspect, and he has a different viewpoint than the church.”
Right now, Attaway is leading his church to seek legal advice over their membership policies.
“We’re trying to make sure we have adequate safeguards on the way our membership policies are stated, so somebody couldn’t use that against us legally,” he said. “The wording is important. … The idea can be right, but the wording can be wrong, and it can become a point of trouble.
“Some churches have stated that they were going to put in their bylaws ‘No gays,’” he said. “That’s like a red flag. … You’re singling out a certain subset of society. … Somebody would challenge that in court. I guarantee it.” 
The important thing is to identify potential problems early, and be prepared to handle them before it’s too late, Attaway said.
“We need to be proactive and jump on this now and not wait until 50 churches in North Carolina are being sued,” he added. “We don’t need to be reactive; we need to be proactive.”
For more information contact Brian Davis at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5506, or bdavis@ncbaptist.org. The Christian Life and Public Affairs blog also provides a list of several websites the BSC recommends that address this issue. You can find that list at http://blog.ncbaptist.org/clpa/.
7/29/2013 3:06:30 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Prop. 8 case: Calif. high court refuses stay

July 17 2013 by Baptist Press

SAN FRANCISCO – A California Supreme Court case regarding Proposition 8 will continue into August after the court refused to grant a stay Monday (July 15) as it considers whether the state’s county clerks are legally issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“This has become more than just a fight over marriage,” Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, Proposition 8’s official proponents, said. “The authority of local government officials, and the future of the initiative process itself, is put at grave risk if state officials are allowed to nullify a proposition by executive order, backed by no binding legal precedent.

“Now it is up to California’s highest court to breathe life back into the people’s power of initiative,” Pugno said, referring in part to the 7 million California voters who approved Proposition 8 as a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

ProtectMarriage.com, along with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed a petition with the California Supreme Court July 12 asking the court to enforce Proposition 8, which has not been struck down by a qualified court despite publicity surrounding a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“Although we would have preferred for the California Supreme Court to issue a stay so that the state’s marriage amendment would be respected sooner rather than later, the proponents of Proposition 8 will continue to urge the court to uphold the rule of law,” Austin Nimocks, senior counsel for ADF, said.

“We remain hopeful that the court will recognize that Proposition 8 remains the law of the land in California and that county clerks must continue to enforce it,” Nimocks said in a July 15 news release.

Kellie Fiedorek, ADF’s litigation counsel, wrote in a blog post Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to defend the amendment in federal court did not impact the validity of the marriage law.

“The only direct effect that the Court’s decision has on marriage in California is to permit the four plaintiffs in that case, and them alone, to seek and receive marriage licenses,” Fiedorek wrote. “The district court’s ruling extends no further than to these four individuals.”

ADF’s lawsuit contends that at least 56 of 58 county clerks must continue to follow Proposition 8 because they were not involved in the recent case against it.

“It is simply not true that one unelected district court judge has overturned this voter-approved ballot initiative,” Fiedorek wrote.

When the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling against Proposition 8, no legal precedent was left declaring the amendment unconstitutional statewide, ProtectMarriage.com said.

“California’s constitution requires public officials to enforce any voter-passed initiative until an appellate court declares it to be unconstitutional statewide,” ProtectMarriage.com said.

Pugno compared the current case to former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s attempt to order the county clerk to disregard the man-woman legal definition of marriage. In this case, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris ordered county clerks statewide to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Mayor Newsom had no authority to instruct the county clerk to defy state law, and today we contend that the governor and attorney general don’t have that authority either,” Pugno said.

“With so much at stake,” ADF’s Fiedorek wrote, “we owe the citizens of California – and future generations of Americans – nothing less than every ounce of our efforts to seek justice in this matter.”

The state Supreme Court has given both sides until early August to file all their legal arguments.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach.)
7/17/2013 3:55:42 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

 |<  < 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9  >  >| 
Displaying results 1-10 (of 85)
  • BRWeekly_C
  • 2014 Convention Booth_C