Pastor Ken Whitten reflects on how times have changed

 
Ken Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in the Tampa suburb of Lutz, has been in the ministry for 40 years. I recently had the chance to spend some time with him, and one of the things I wanted to know was how he felt the role of the pastor had changed during his time in ministry. He was quick to point out that, biblically speaking, he thinks the expectations of the role are unchanged. Practically speaking, however, the challenges ...

Movie reviewer urges Christians to send Hollywood a message

 
Following a contentious election season, it's apparent that many Americans are tired of corruption and ineptness in our political system. Will this latest presidential election change Washington, D.C., for the positive? We can hope and pray that it will. Now, when it comes to Hollywood, there is an opportunity for Christians and conservatives to send a message that could provoke change for the better. Many Christians want change in the entertainment capital. It's time the prejudice and bigotry against ...

Gay-affirming churches trigger Texas convention's response

 
In response to messenger actions at the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting Nov. 15, convention leaders will ask the BGCT Executive Board to consider withdrawing fellowship from two churches that permit practicing homosexuals to be members. The congregations at issue are First Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, and Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. Neither church cooperates with the Southern Baptist Convention or the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. "The BGCT believes First Baptist Church Austin and Wilshire Baptist Church ...

Film reviewer lists his favorite movie moments

 
Do you have a favorite movie moment? I sure do. Several. For even though Hollywood has never been a beacon of religious propriety, occasionally movie folk have offered insights that amused or blessed me through the years. Admittedly my "greatest movie moments" list is subjective, but its entries do, in this humble cinema commentator's conviction, represent positive influences that redeem a medium now plagued with crudity and profanity. See if you agree with my selections. Greatest movie opening: "Wall-E" In ...

'Modern Family' debuts transgender child character

 
An 8-year-old girl who lives as a transgender boy appeared on the Sept. 28 episode of ABC's "Modern Family," portraying a transgender friend of Lily, the daughter of the show's leading gay couple. "Modern Family" Director Ryan Case identifies the show's first openly transgender actor on Twitter, saying, "He's 8 years old, from Atlanta, and just happens to be transgender. He plays Lily's friend Tom in this week's Modern Family." Jeff Johnston, issues analyst for the marriage and parenting group Focus on ...

Moms' group urges Kraft Heinz to discontinue raunchy TV ads

 
Two television commercials using graphic and raunchy sexual innuendo to sell frozen food dinners are inappropriate for family viewing and should be discontinued, One Million Moms is urging the Kraft Heinz Company. In protesting the Devour microwave meal ads that have become more visible this football season, One Million Moms Director Monica Cole said Kraft Heinz has gone too far and likely will lose loyal, conservative customers. "The commercials [are] extremely perverted in nature [and are airing] during family viewing ...

Nashville joins cities who have lightened up on marijuana penalties

 
Nashville and surrounding Davidson County have joined a lengthy list of governments giving law enforcement officials the option of issuing civil citations to persons possessing small amounts of marijuana. Marijuana possession and use in the city and county are still considered crimes. But under the new measure passed Sept. 20 by the Nashville Metropolitan Council, law enforcement officials may choose whether to charge a person with a civil offense or a criminal misdemeanor for knowingly possessing a half-ounce of marijuana or ...

Ken Ham believes Bill Nye series will reject true Savior

 
The upcoming Netflix talk show "Bill Nye Saves the World" will likely attack creationism and other matters of faith as damaging to scientific theory and study, apologist and creationist Ken Ham predicted. "I am sure Bill Nye will see his new TV series as one where he can try to 'save the world' from those biblical creationists that he falsely believes undermine science/technology," Ham told Baptist Press. "I believe he will try to appeal to the millennials in particular ...

ERLC conference focuses on Gospel-based cultural engagement

 
Speakers and panelists sought to help Christians understand how they can engage the culture in a Gospel-focused manner during the second day of a Southern Baptist-sponsored conference Aug. 26 in Nashville. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's 2016 National Conference featured pastors, academics and authors providing guidance to the audience—which consisted of more than 900 registrants—regarding not only what biblically based cultural engagement is but how to avoid being a captive of cultural Christianity. Dallas-area pastor Matt Chandler said ...

Russell Moore: Gospel-defined conservatism needed

 
Christians need to make certain what they are seeking to conserve in America is distinguished by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Russell Moore told attendees of a national conference on cultural engagement. "[I]f what we are conserving is not defined by the Gospel, defined by a righteousness found in the lived life and shed blood of the resurrected Jesus Christ, a Gospel that is seen in the authority of the Bible as the Word of God, a Gospel seen ...

Target's bathroom fix falls short, boycotters say

 
Target's $20 million plan to add single-stall bathrooms in its U.S. stores does not fix its policy allowing bathroom and dressing room use based on gender identity, the leader of a national boycott against the company said. Target announced Aug. 17 the timeline and cost of its plan to install the locking, single-toilet bathrooms for customers who feel uncomfortable using the bathroom with those who identify as transgendered. Details of the plan came the same day Target released its second-quarter earnings ...

DEA underscores lack of medical use for marijuana

 
Despite medical marijuana's legality in most states and the District of Columbia, the Obama administration announced Aug. 11 that the drug will continue to be classified by the federal government as having "no currently approved medical use" and "a high potential for abuse." Kim Jones, a pharmacy professor at Union University, told Baptist Press the decision may appear "somewhat surprising" in light of American culture's increasing acceptance of marijuana use, but it is "not surprising" from a scientific standpoint. The Drug ...

Florida Baptist pastor applauds McDonald's for filtering porn

 
The McDonald's corporation's decision to filter pornography from Wi-Fi at its U.S. restaurants has been called "brave and bold" by the leader of Southern Baptists' anti-pornography campaign. "I applaud McDonald's for this brave and bold step of protecting people, especially children, from the evil that hovers over every place that offers Wi-Fi," Jay Dennis, co-sponsor of the Join One Million Men Campaign, told Baptist Press in written comments. "McDonald's wisely understood and acted upon the fact that pornography is ...

Perry Noble's termination reignites alcohol debate among Baptists

 
Alcohol consumption has jumped back into Baptist discussions, this time stirred by the termination of a high-profile pastor. Perry Noble's removal as senior pastor of the multi-campus NewSpring Church in South Carolina was communicated to members and attendees during Sunday worship services, July 11. "Perry's posture towards his marriage, increased reliance on alcohol and other behaviors were of continual concern," according to a statement by NewSpring's board of directors and pastor advisory team that was read aloud. "While this is the ...

Sports film seeks 1 Corinthians 10:31 movement

 
The struggles of a Christian high school girls' cross country track team are used to discourage self-centeredness in "Remember the Goal," the latest release of brothers Dave and Rich Christiano and Five & Two Pictures. The limited-release film highlights 1 Corinthians 10:31, exhorting "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God," and drawing from the personal cross country competition and coaching experiences of Dave Christiano, the movie's writer, director and producer. "That one verse alone takes your eyes off self ...

Teen abstinence rate up 28 percent since 1991

 
The number of American high schoolers who have never had sexual intercourse has increased by 28 percent since 1991, according to data recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The finding was hailed by advocates of abstinence-based sexual education -- also known as Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education -- as proof the message of delayed sexual activity is catching on with teens. "I think this data is very clear," said Valerie Huber, president and CEO of Ascend (formerly the ...

Brexit vote draws response from Baptist analysts

 
Though the United Kingdom's vote yesterday (June 23) to leave the European Union took many political observers by surprise, leaders at GuideStone Financial Resources and the Southern Baptist Foundation say they've had the referendum in view for months and have taken steps to protect Southern Baptist investors from the resultant market volatility. Meanwhile, Christian commentators on both sides of the Atlantic have weighed in on the "Brexit" -- as Britain's E.U. exit has been dubbed -- with opinions divided and ...

Bellevue Baptist sings of King on Fox, at Carnegie Hall

 
The choir from newly elected Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines' pastorate sang the Gospel alongside Elvis hits in New York's Times Square on Fox TV today (June 20) in advance of their concert tonight (June 20) at Carnegie Hall. An Elvis impersonator with the choir said the Memphis, Tenn., group loves to sing of "the King." "We always want to sing about the King," said the impersonator, one of two Bellevue choir members who impersonated the rock star on the live ...

Orlando community mourns at Baptist prayer services

 
Pain pulsing through Orlando this week touches many more than the families of the 49 murdered and the 53 wounded by a single gunman's terrorism on the Lord's Day at a gay nightclub; it touches the entire community, pastors holding prayer services told Baptist Press. Prayer services continue today (June 15) at 6:30 p.m. at Delaney Baptist Church two blocks from the crime scene, and at 7:30 p.m. at Church at the Cross, both Southern Baptist congregations. "They're locals. They're people that we ...

Orlando massacre spurs prayer, compassion

 
Calls for prayer and compassion rang out from Southern Baptists nationwide hours after the mass murder of 49 and the injury of 53 early Sunday (June 12) at an Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Armed with a handgun and an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, a U.S.-born citizen of Afghani parents, walked into the Pulse nightclub around 2 a.m. and began shooting among the more than 300 patrons at the club as ...

Christian educators haven't seen influx of students since transgender directive

 
The Obama administration's transgender directive for public schools does not seem so far to have provoked a widespread rush of families toward other education options, but it could be a factor if such a movement develops in the future, say leaders in the Christian school and homeschooling movements. The May 13 guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice directed public schools and universities to permit transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their gender identity instead ...

Ohio Baptists agree with zoo's decision to shoot gorilla

 
Local Baptists have expressed support for the Cincinnati Zoo's decision to shoot and kill a 450-pound gorilla in order to protect a 3-year-old boy who fell into the animal's enclosure over Memorial Day weekend. Much of the reaction was released to Baptist Press the same day the boy's family shared a statement with media outlets expressing "praise" to "God for His grace and mercy." The child, whose name has not been publicized, suffered only "a concussion and a few scrapes" ...

11 states sue Obama administration over transgender directive

 
Eleven states and two school districts filed a lawsuit May 25 challenging President Barack Obama's directive demanding all federally funded schools apply a controversial interpretation of Title IX requiring schools to define a student's sexual identity based not on biological traits, but on feelings. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin; Maine Gov. Paul Lepage; the Arizona Department of Education; Harrold Independent School District (HISD) in Texas and Heber-Overgaard Unified School District ...

Does transgender bathroom policy enable predators?

 
In the battle across the United States over providing transgender access to public restrooms, key groups are divided about the effects of such a policy. Opponents of transgender access say it would increase sexual assaults and abuse, enabling predators to claim a specific, perceived gender identity to access bathrooms used by potential victims. Proponents say such a policy is necessary to prevent discrimination against transgender individuals, defined as those who perceive their gender to be different than the gender of ...

Southern Baptists decry White House's transgender order to schools

 
The Obama administration has directed public schools and universities to permit transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identity instead of their biological sex. The across-the-board guidance, issued May 13, met quick protests from Southern Baptist leaders. Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, described the federal guidance as "an outrageous attack on our Creator Himself, human sexuality and morality, and an advancement of the attack against religious freedom." "Gender is not fluid ... but a ...

Sexual addiction tragedy prompts seminary conference

 
The suicide death of a beloved colleague after a sexual addiction came to light drove the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary community to their knees in prayer last August. They rose determined to help others caught in pornography and sexual addiction. "Recalibrate," a campus-wide conference with Greg Miller of Faithful & True, a ministry to those impacted by sexual addictions, came together as a response to the death of John Gibson, longtime professor at NOBTS' Leavell College on the opening ...

Facebook's alleged anti-conservative bias debated

 
Southern Baptist social media observers have expressed diverse reactions to allegations that Facebook "routinely suppressed" news of interest to conservative readers from the site's "trending" news section. National Religious Broadcasters President Jerry Johnson said Facebook "must change if they want our trust and participation in their platform." Meanwhile, social media expert Marty Duren of LifeWay Christian Resources and digital strategist Darrel Girardier of the Nashville, Tenn.-area Brentwood Baptist Church said Christians desiring to stay informed should not rely on ...

Russell Moore responds to Donald Trump tweet

 
Russell Moore finally has found agreement with one of Donald Trump's insulting tweets. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, responded in television interviews Monday evening (May 9) to the following Twitter comment from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee early in the day: ".@drmoore Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!" Appearing on MSNBC's "Meet the Press Daily," Moore said he ...

Chick-fil-A to N.Y.: 'no political agenda'

 
Homosexual New York councilman Danny Dromm has urged the boycott of a Chick-fil-A scheduled to open in his Queens council district this fall, releasing an official press statement accusing the chain of supporting groups opposed to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered lifestyles. At an unrelated press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio counseled citizens not to frequent the chain that already has two successful restaurants in Manhattan, citing the chain ownership's support of biblically based marriage, but stopped short ...

N.C. governor defends restroom law in suit

 
North Carolina's governor went to federal court Monday (May 9) to defend his state's new restroom privacy law against a threat from the Obama administration. Gov. Pat McCrory's lawsuit asks a judge to declare the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, also known as H.B. 2, does not violate federal anti-discrimination protections by requiring individuals in government buildings to use the restrooms of the sex on their birth certificates. The Department of Justice (DOJ) had written McCrory and two other state ...

Developments in transgender restroom debate

 
In the continuing political debate of transgender restroom policies, one U.S. state has received a threat from the Obama administration over its restroom use restrictions while another has asked discount retailer Target to explain how it will protect women and children from abuse of an open restroom policy. North Carolina pro-family leaders say the Obama administration has engaged in "bullying" and an "attack on religious freedom" by threatening legal action if the state does not rescind its law requiring ...

Target transgender policy: Protests escalate

 
With more than 736,000 people signing on to boycott Target over the retailer's transgender restroom policy, evangelical leaders are discussing whether consumer boycotts are an effective means of cultural engagement. Many conservative evangelicals apparently disagree with Target's policy of allowing customers to use whichever restroom or fitting room corresponds to their perceived "gender identity." Yet some—like the American Family Association and the watchdog group Faith Driven Consumer—have urged a boycott while others—including Southern Baptist Convention ...

Labeling porn 'public health hazard' may bring change

 
Labeling pornography a "public health hazard" may prove to be a game-changer. That is the hope of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) and its allies in the attempt to prevent exposure and addiction to pornography and to help those impacted by its use. The effort to reverse the spread of sexually explicit material and its effects received a boost March 29, when Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution saying pornography is establishing "a public health crisis." The first-of-its-kind ...

Unashamed outsider: What evangelicals can learn from Lecrae

 
Is this "the year of black memoir?" Imani Perry, professor of African-American studies at Princeton, thinks so, and she places recent books like Ta-Nehisi Coates' "Between the World and Me" and Clifford Thompson's "Twin of Blackness" squarely in the black literary tradition. People, however, may read such memoirs as representing all of black thought. "Telling one's story is one's story," Perry reminds, not a prototype you can foist on all the people in a group.  But this drawback doesn't ...

Study: TV content ratings system needs reform

 
The television content ratings system has harmed children by failing to protect them from graphic sex, violence and profanity on screen, the Parents Television Council (PTC) reports in a new study analyzing 20 years of broadcasting. Operated by a TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board that provides insufficient oversight, the ratings system has suffered "systemic failures" and should be comprehensively reformed, the PTC announced at an April 4 press conference releasing the report. "Parents who rely on the TV content ratings system to ...

'God's Not Dead 2' opening falls short of predecessor

 
The sequel "God's Not Dead 2" opened much weaker than its 2014 predecessor, trailing the top-grossing "God's Not Dead" in per screen earnings by 72 percent, according to Box Office Mojo statistics. With total earnings of $8.1 million for the April 1-3 weekend, God's Not Dead 2 averaged $3,350 per screen in 2,419 theaters. Its predecessor averaged $11,817 per screen in 780 theaters, earning $9.2 million when it opened in March 2014. "God's Not Dead" was the highest-grossing independent faith film of 2014 at $60.8 million. The sequel's total earnings ranked first among ...

Conference speakers urge attendees to be 'driven by truth'

 
Secularization requires that Christians articulate their worldview in defense of the truth, evangelical leaders said at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s inaugural Driven By Truth conference, March 18-19. “A conference like this is important, because from this generation forward no Christian will have a non-apologetic moment, and we must learn how to live faithfully in the world,” Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told the 200 conference attendees. Preaching from John 18:33-38, Mohler said faithful Christians ...

Pornography addiction & steps to freedom

 
In every age and culture there are certain habits of sinful behavior that are particularly common and overwhelmingly destructive. In modern Western cultures one of the most soul-destroying habits is consumption of pornography, which leads us to commit adultery in our hearts. For this reason (see Matthew 5:28) we should give special scrutiny to how habits of porn consumption develop and how they can, by the power of the Gospel, be overcome. Job 31:1 describes how to sever the shackles of porn. ...

ERLC conference to address cultural engagement

 
Gospel-centered cultural engagement will be the theme of the third national conference sponsored by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "Onward," the ERLC's 2016 National Conference, will be held Aug. 25-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. The event will focus on helping Christians apply the Gospel of Jesus to interaction with various aspects of a culture that is growing increasingly hostile to that message while remaining faithful to the Bible. Conference topics to ...

Marriage & family author/speaker Gary Smalley leaves large legacy

 
Gary Smalley, a self-effacing yet prolific author and auditorium-packing speaker on marriage and the family, died March 6 in Branson, Mo. A cause of death for Smalley, 75, had not been reported at Baptist Press' mid-afternoon deadline March 8. "Gary Smalley was a tremendous communicator and personality," said Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. "When he spoke at our church, the place was packed, people were helped and hundreds of marriages were ...

New book: Pro-life women are 'pro-woman'

 
A misleading concept prevalent about women is the focus of a new book from the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's publishing arm. "There is an idea out there that those who are pro-choice are pro-woman, and the rest of us do not care about women," said Trillia Newbell, editor of "Women on Life: A Call to Love the Unborn, Unloved and Neglected." "This, to me, couldn't be further from the truth." The book features 16 female writers addressing a ...

Amid digital-age porn, kids need 'safe place'

 
Traylor Lovvorn saw porn for the first time when he was 8. It set him on a path that ripped his family apart for years before God healed him and put them back together. It breaks his heart. It sobers him. And it makes him wonder what's about to happen in the next few years. "Today's 8- to 12-year-olds, when they are first exposed to porn it is not a Playboy or Penthouse centerfold—it is much more graphic and ...

'Risen' movie takes first place among new releases

 
"Risen," a film that tells of Jesus' resurrection from the eyes of an unsaved soldier who participated in His crucifixion, opened in first place at the box office among new wide releases the weekend of Feb. 19-21, Box Office Mojo reported. The movie grossed an estimated $11.8 million, well ahead of its nearest competitor among new releases "The Witch," which took in $8.68 million. Among all films at theaters, "Risen" brought in $4.015 million to place second on opening night Feb. 19 behind the ...

Fred Luter: Church can lead in modeling racial reconciliation

 
Race relations issues have not improved since the election of the first African-American U.S. president, but the church can lead in modeling reconciliation, said Fred Luter Jr., immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the first African-American to hold the position. Luter, speaking on a Black History Month video, "Answering the Call", produced by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said, "I really thought this nation was ready to move forward" with the historic election of Barack ...

Survey: Most Americans unfazed by Planned Parenthood videos

 
"What videos?" seems to be the reaction of most Americans to the series of undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood over the past six months, according to a new LifeWay Research survey. The videos made national headlines, provoked outrage in Congress and prompted investigations in about a dozen states. In showing undercover activists from the Center for Medical Progress discussing with Planned Parenthood officials possible payments for donated fetal remains, CMP contends the videos show Planned Parenthood illegally selling fetal remains. ...

Saeed Abedini requests prayer for his marriage

 
Freed pastor Saeed Abedini has requested prayer for his relationship with his wife, Naghmeh, as court proceedings continue in her filing for legal separation. "I am grateful for marriage counselors who have been helping me but my wife's relationship with me is not good at this point, so we need prayer that she joins this counseling process with us," the 35-year-old pastor wrote Feb. 14 in his first Facebook comments since his release in January from an Iranian prison where he ...

Boyce College professors challenge evangelical response to homosexuality in new book

 
The Gospel demands change, write Boyce College professors Denny Burk and Heath Lambert in a new book, "Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says About Sexual Orientation and Change." Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, and Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and visiting professor of biblical counseling, recognize the truth of the Gospel is for homosexuals because it is for all people. They argue that while homosexuality might be an uncomfortable subject to talk ...

Kirk Cameron passionate about strengthening marriages through 'Love Worth Fighting For'

 
Like other children of the '80s, I grew up watching the sitcom “Growing Pains.” And like almost every girl my age who drew breath, I had a crush on Mike Seaver, the adorable imp with the snarky mouth played by Kirk Cameron. But, as the Bible says, when I grew up, I put childish things behind me. So imagine my surprise when my inner fangirl jumped into high gear upon hearing that I would be interviewing Kirk ...

People turn to Scripture in search for love

 
As it turns out, many people are looking for love in the perfect place—the Bible. More people searched for “love” at Bible Gateway, an online Bible search site, than any other word in 2015. It remained consistently at the top of the rankings throughout the year. In addition, “love one another” and “love is patient” were also among Bible Gateway’s 25 most-searched words and phrases last year. Both of those became the ...

Human trafficking victim: 'I went to church regularly. No one noticed anything'

 
Everyone is looking to be loved. Anna was no exception. While still in her late teens, she met and fell in love with an older man who gave her what she craved. "Could he be the one to love and accept me for who I am?" she wondered. This longing for love made her vulnerable to her boyfriend, who had ominous plans for their relationship. Over the ensuing months, she would be subtly manipulated into becoming part of his special "...

Abortion-rights group slams Super Bowl ad for 'humanizing fetuses'

 
An abortion-rights group's protest that a Super Bowl ad wrongly engaged in "humanizing fetuses" has drawn protest from several Southern Baptist leaders. During the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, Doritos aired a commercial depicting a husband and wife viewing an ultrasound image of their unborn child. In the ad, the child begins motioning for the Doritos her father is consuming. In response, NARAL Pro-Choice America tweeted, "#NotBuyingIt—that @Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses & sexist tropes of dads ...

Super Bowl survey asks, 'Does God care who wins?'

 
An old gospel hymn says God's eye is on the sparrow, but what about panthers and broncos? When it comes to the ones from Carolina and Denver matched up for Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, most Americans are skeptical about divine intervention on the football field, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research. A phone survey of 1,000 Americans found nearly nine out of 10 respondents (85 percent) said "no" when asked, "Does God determine winners and losers in the Super Bowl?" About ...

Saeed Abedini praises wife, denies 'much' of abuse claim

 
Saeed Abedini denied "much" of what his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, has alleged of spousal abuse and a pornography addiction in his first statements about their marriage since his release from an Iranian prison, but he praised his wife for advocating for his freedom. "Much of what I have read in Naghmeh's [Facebook] posts and subsequent media reports is not true," he said in a Jan. 30 statement to his hometown newspaper, the Idaho Statesman. "But I believe we should work on ...

San Francisco church's heart: 'Know the person first'

 
It is important for pastors and churches to not turn their backs on people who identify as gay or transgender, says Ryan Blackwell, pastor of First Baptist Church in San Francisco. While the church seeks to welcome all persons, Blackwell believes it is important to preach clearly on all matters, including those that go contrary to prevailing cultural thought. "It is important that pastors not be nuanced," he said. "We have to be very clear what we teach people. If ...

'Snowmageddon' doesn't thwart pro-lifers at March for Life

 
Pro-life supporters from across the country braved the elements in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 to legalize abortion, to make the annual March for Life from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Supreme Court building. Couples, women with babies snug against their chests, students, grandparents, Catholics, Protestants, representatives from the Jewish community and those with no faith braved the biting cold, waving signs, cheering and clapping for speakers while ...

More churches using films as outreach tool

 
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus used parables to communicate truth to the people He encountered. Through the power of storytelling, Jesus connected with people in meaningful and relatable ways that changed lives. Today, churches have the opportunity to harness the power of a story to reach people in their communities with the Gospel through faith-based films and partnerships with faith-based film companies like never before. First Baptist Church in Englewood, Fla., has been using movies as an outreach for the last ...

Study: Americans share conflicting views on sports gambling

 
Wagering on sports isn't morally wrong, most Americans say—but nearly half think it should be illegal anyway, a newly-released study shows. And as millions nationwide manage their fantasy sports rosters, Americans straddle the fence on whether heavily advertised daily games by companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings should be banned. A study released today (Jan. 22) from LifeWay Research shows widespread belief that sports gambling is morally acceptable. Nearly two-thirds of Americans disagree that it's morally wrong to bet ...

Study: Monthly porn exposure the norm for teens

 
Half of teenagers and nearly three-quarters of young adults come across pornography at least monthly, and both groups on average consider viewing pornographic images less immoral than failing to recycle. Those are among the findings of a survey of 2,700 Americans released Monday (Jan. 19) by Josh McDowell Ministry and the Barna Group. McDowell Ministry and the Internet accountability software provider Covenant Eyes paid approximately a quarter-million dollars to commission the online survey, McDowell told Baptist Press. The study also found porn ...

Martin Luther King Jr.'s advice to pastors called key to revival

 
Sixty years ago, the Montgomery Bus Boycott famously catapulted Martin Luther King Jr. to national leadership of the civil rights movement and led to the end of segregated public transportation in Alabama. Less commonly known is that the boycott occasioned advice to pastors by King that some Southern Baptists say they still take to heart. King, in this 1958 book "Stride Toward Freedom," recounted the struggle in Montgomery, then asked, "Where do we go from here?" Pastors, he concluded, were an ...

Baptist College of Florida among schools targeted by homosexual activist group

 
The homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign has targeted 23 institutions of higher learning with Southern Baptist ties in a report that also names 35 other colleges and universities with distinct Christian identities. The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville is one of the schools listed in the report. Released just before the 2015 Christmas season, the report, "Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemptions Putting LGBT Students at Risk," asks Obama Administration education officials to increase reporting requirements for these 58 schools because each ...

Seminary president hears heartbreak over same-sex marriage

 
"I'm a deacon," the man told Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. "I've followed Jesus all my life, and so have my children. Now my granddaughter has come home and announced she is a lesbian and is going to marry another woman. What do I do?" The church deacon is among the many brokenhearted individuals Iorg has encountered at state and associational meetings across the nation in speaking about the book "Ministry in the New Marriage Culture." ...

Discovery of Fanny Crosby's lost lyrics expands her legacy

 
Fanny Crosby's hymns have impacted lives for Christ worldwide for generations, but until recently 2,700 of them were overlooked in an archive, unsung and unpublished. Now on the album "Blessed Assurance: The New Hymns of Fanny Crosby," some of those forgotten lyrics have come to life through today's worship writers and singers, introducing a new generation to one of the most substantive hymn writers of all time. Fanny Crosby (1820-1915), undaunted by lifelong blindness, was "a songwriter for the people," Adrian ...

LifeWay study: God ranks high in New Year's resolutions

 
When Americans make New Year's resolutions, a better relationship with God ranks almost as high as better health, according to a study by LifeWay Research. And for many groups, faith actually outranks health. Older Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics and Christians are all more likely to say they've made resolutions about God than about health. Overall, 57 percent of Americans report making health-related New Year's resolutions in the past while 52 percent say they've addressed their relationships with God. Those were the top two ...

Star Wars & Christians: Old, new analysis awaken

 
The latest Star Wars movie has awakened a force of Christian-themed commentary touching on subjects from the film's theological errors to its relation to the storyline of the Bible. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," rated PG-13, which had a record-breaking $238 million opening weekend in North America and could earn up to $1 billion in domestic box office revenue, becoming the top grossing movie of all time, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film is set 30 years following "Star Wars: Episode VI--Return ...

Russell Moore's 'Onward' wins Christianity Today's Book of Year award

 
Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore's latest book--"Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel"--is Christianity Today's Book of the Year. The leading evangelical magazine announced Wednesday (Dec. 16), its editorial team had selected Moore's book as the winner of its first-ever "Beautiful Orthodoxy" award as the release during 2015 that best exemplifies the magazine's "pursuit of truthfulness and loveliness." Christianity Today also named the book by the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) as the winner in ...

GameDay Church has successful launch outside EverBank Field

 
When I told my kids we would be visiting a new church Sunday morning, they were less than enthusiastic, wanting instead to congregate with their friends at our home church. But when I told them we would be attending a tailgate-style worship service right outside EverBank Field, they quickly jumped on board with the idea. GameDay Church, which launched Dec. 13 right before the Jacksonville Jaguars played the Indianapolis Colts, did not disappoint. The sunny day and light breeze provided the ...

NFL tight end and author Benjamin Watson: 'Changed hearts' can heal racial divide

 
Race is an issue that continues to divide, said New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson during a book signing at the LifeWay campus store at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The solution is "changed hearts" in Christ, Watson said. The event fell on Nov. 24, the one-year anniversary of the ruling in the racially charged Ferguson, Mo., case of the shooting death of Michael Brown. Watson's book, "Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race—and Getting Free from the ...

'God isn't fixing this' story draws Christian response

 
Southern Baptist leaders are responding to the headline "God isn't fixing this" that dominated the Dec. 3 cover of the New York Daily News. Images of tweets from Republican leaders surrounded the headline, displaying sympathetic "thoughts and prayers" for the people affected by a Dec. 2 mass shooting. "I'm hard-pressed to think of a more cynical and exploitative headline at a time of national mourning," Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told The Washington Post. The massacre occurred ...

SBC leaders express concern, hope on abortion survey

 
Southern Baptists responded with concern and hope for greater grace in churches to a new LifeWay Research study that shows post-abortive women think congregations are more judgmental than caring. The LifeWay survey, sponsored by the Care Net pregnancy center network, found 43 percent of women who have had an abortion were attending church at least once a month when they underwent the procedure that took their babies' lives. Only 7 percent discussed their decision with someone in the church, according to the ...

Pro-life leaders decry deadly shooting at Planned Parenthood clinic

 
Pro-life leaders condemned the deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., while expressing grief and concern for the victims and their survivors. The uniform opposition by leading pro-life advocates came in response to the shooting deaths of three people and injuries to nine others Nov. 27. Robert Lewis Dear Jr., 57, surrendered to police at the clinic after a five-hour standoff. Killed at the clinic were Garrett Swasey, 44, a police officer, father of two children and elder at ...

Staten Island church thanks NYPD through Police Appreciation Day

 
Crossroads Church pastor Ray Parascando didn't like the unfolding narrative of those who were maligning police officers in New York City and across the nation in rallies, marches and even riots. The revolt against law enforcement was casting all officers as bad people. "It's one thing to have people boo you, another to have people chant 'death to cops,'" Parascando said. "Our culture is heading down a wrong road. I think we're facing a moral cliff that is disastrous." ...

New LifeWay Research study focuses on abortion, women's views of church

 
Many women with unplanned pregnancies go silently from the church pew to the abortion clinic, convinced the church would gossip rather than help, a study released today (Nov. 23) by LifeWay Research shows. More than four in 10 women who have had an abortion were churchgoers when they ended a pregnancy, researchers found in a survey sponsored by Care Net, a nonprofit organization supporting more than 1,100 pregnancy centers across North America. The study features data from a survey conducted May 6-13. "That's ...

Southern Seminary launches new app, redesigned website for Albert Mohler

 
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has launched a new mobile app and redesigned website for R. Albert Mohler Jr., offering users more convenient ways to engage with the evangelical leader's content. In the past year, more than 1.6 million people visited AlbertMohler.com for the seminary president's essays, his daily podcast "The Briefing," and "Thinking In Public" conversations, resulting in 6.4 million pageviews. The new design offers more accessibility for mobile users, which made up more than half of the visits to the ...

Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky announces July 7 opening

 
Modern-day construction crews will finish in about a year what it took Noah a century to do: build an ark. Work on the life-sized replica of Noah's Ark is expected to be completed and opened for visitors on July 7, 2016. The infrastructure of the mammoth boat rises above a rural swath of rolling farmland in Williamstown, Ky., about a half hour south of Cincinnati. Cranes are doing the heavy lifting, putting massive wooden beams in place some four stories high. Ken ...

LifeWay study: Thankfulness still priority at Thanksgiving

 
For Americans, Thanksgiving is about faith and family, and not much else, a new study shows. More than half (56 percent) tell LifeWay Research the most important part of the annual holiday is "being thankful to God for my blessings." Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) say "time with family and friends" tops their Thanksgiving priorities. Times of prayer and thanking God for the harvest stretch back to the Protestant Reformation in Europe and continued as Pilgrims and Puritans settled in America. While ...

SBC President Ronnie Floyd calls pastors to action at racial reconciliation celebration

 
Racism is from Satan and his demonic forces, and the only hope for its defeat is the church of Jesus Christ united across societal divisions, Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd told a culturally diverse group of Baptists in Jackson, Miss., Nov. 4.   "I believe that the issue of racism is from Satan and the demonic forces of hell," Floyd told hundreds gathered at Mission Mississippi's racial reconciliation celebration at the Jackson Convention Center. "Racism is completely opposite from the ...

Southern Seminary’s Expositors Summit: Preaching demands convictional courage

 
Churches need expository preachers confident in God’s authority and power to confront complex cultural situations, said speakers during the Oct. 27-29 Expositors Summit at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.   “The Holy One took our place, the Crucified One rose again, and the Risen One is seated at the right hand of the Father, and the Seated One is coming back again,” said H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. &...

Study spotlights divorce among churchgoers

 
Before a divorce, churchgoers in troubled marriages look a lot like their happily married counterparts at church—participating, serving and leading at similar rates, a new study shows. After a divorce, the differences can be stark. Twenty percent have dropped out of church entirely. In many cases, their children have stopped attending, too. A third give less to the church than they did before. Their churches report leadership voids and fractured relationships. Yet, pastors may have difficulty helping couples ...

Halloween offers evangelism opportunities for churches

 
While retail stores across the nation are selling Halloween costumes and all kinds of sweets, many Southern Baptist churches are getting ready to offer their communities a safe and fun alternative. These events, scheduled on or around Oct. 31, are growing in size to the point where some of them now compare as outreach opportunities to Easter, Vacation Bible School and Christmas. Wayside Baptist Church in Miami started hosting Halloween alternatives in the early '90s. It was one of the ...

Kansas City Royals' Ben Zobrist a 'missionary' to teammates

 
Ben Zobrist has proven his value on the baseball field to the Kansas City Royals. In Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, Zobrist homered off Toronto pitcher R.A. Dickey in the top of the first to give the Royals a quick 2-0 lead, sparking a four-run inning in a blowout 14-2 win. Two games later, Zobrist again went deep in the first inning to give Kansas City a quick lead, setting the stage for a clinching 4-3 win ...

Study: 3 in 5 Americans say Halloween 'is all in good fun'

 
When it comes to Halloween, most Americans don't have a problem celebrating the spooky holiday, a new study shows. Yet, one-third say they avoid Halloween or its pagan elements. Although three in five Americans told LifeWay Research that Halloween is "all in good fun," 21 percent avoid the holiday completely and another 14 percent avoid the pagan elements. Halloween has been known in North America since colonial days. But it wasn't until Irish immigrants brought their Halloween customs to America in the 1840...

Federal, state officials keep heat on Planned Parenthood

 
Federal and state government officials are continuing their efforts to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for its trade in baby body parts. The actions—in this case by the U.S. House of Representatives and the state of Texas—have come in response to revelations in undercover videos that show various Planned Parenthood officials in different locations discussing the sale of organs from aborted children. The 10 videos released since mid-July include acknowledgements by Planned Parenthood employees of their willingness ...

LifeWay study: Pastors grow more polarized on Islam

 
Protestant pastors are increasingly polarized about Islam, with a growing share labeling the Muslim faith violent while a sharply rising minority calls it spiritually good, a new study shows. Although a majority considers Islam dangerous, a small but increasing segment believes Islam is similar to Christianity, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research. And two-thirds of Protestant pastors agree Christianity and Islam should seek to coexist in America. The softening of some pastors' views toward Islam is a ...

‘We cannot be silent,’ Albert Mohler writes in new book

 
In the span of three months this summer, three headlines marked historic events that generations of Americans past could never have imagined. First it was former “world’s greatest athlete” Bruce Jenner debuting his gender transition on the cover of Vanity Fair. Next the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Within a few weeks Americans witnessed the horrors of abortion in a series of undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood profiting from the sale ...

'Woodlawn' opens in top 10 at box office

 
The faith-based drama "Woodlawn," promoted as a potential catalyst for revival and spiritual awakening, opened in the top 10 at theaters Oct. 16-18, Box Office Mojo reported. Woodlawn opened in the eighth spot Oct. 16, earning $1.485 million in 1,553 theaters, and finished the weekend at No. 9, earning a total of $4.1 million, Box Office Mojo said. Based on the true story of a high school football team in the midst of racial integration 40 years ago in Birmingham, Ala., the film follows the journey of ...

Guidance offered for ministry in new marriage culture

 
How should the church respond to a gay couple requesting premarital counseling? What about when the new girl with the Awana ministry brings her two mothers to meet her teacher? Or when a church member who owns a business doesn't want to provide marriage benefits to same-sex couples? The new book "Ministry in the New Marriage Culture" focuses on helping churches and ministry leaders address these questions and more. Edited by Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, "...

Florida Baptist pastor Ted Traylor to participate in conversation on racial unity

 
  Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, and I will lead "A National Conversation on Racial Unity in America" in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Dr. Young and I spoke at a rally recently called "Stronger Together," held at the First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss. It was an incredible night, one of my most memorable as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.   Dr. Young leads the largest predominantly African-American Christian denomination in the United States. ...

Florida pastor Jay Dennis speaks out on pornography, changes in Playboy

 
Playboy's decision to remove nude photos from the U.S. print edition of its magazine, pornography opponents say, in no way suggests the company is moving away from the objectification and exploitation of women. "This decision was not a moral one, it was purely business," said Charles Beeghley, a Missouri pastor whose proposal to the Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee this summer eventuated in the convention's statement "on pornography and sexual purity." "It is their attempt to redesign a failing ...

Lecrae named Artist of the Year at Dove Awards

 
Lecrae, called "one of the leading lights in the gospel-rap movement" by Billboard, was named Artist of the Year at the 46th-annual Dove Awards, Oct. 12 in Nashville. It marks the first time the top award has gone to "a rapper," according to The Tennessean, though the newspaper added a qualification: "rap-pop artist" TobyMac was named Artist of the Year in 2008. Lecrae also won Dove Awards for Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year for his 2014 release "Anomaly" and Song of ...

Baptist commentators warn about dangers of fantasy sports betting

 
As news breaks of a federal investigation into the fantasy sports industry, Baptist commentators warn that betting in fantasy leagues is not harmless fun. The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 14 that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is "investigating [the] daily fantasy sports business model" to see if it violates federal law. A front-page story in the Oct. 15 New York Times stated the fantasy website DraftKings appears to be the focus of the probe, with rival site FanDuel also potentially facing ...

South Florida man goes from Zen Buddhism to church planting

 
Aldo Leon, a self-described Cuban-American Miami boy, recently moved back to Miami from Los Angeles to plant Reconcile Church Miami with the purpose of reaching the lost in south Dade County. Leon, 33, married and a father of two, wasn't always so passionate about the Gospel. He says that he grew up in a home that was very "unreligious," and in college he had very liberal professors who fed his dislike for religion—Christianity in particular. "I was taking criminal ...

Billy Graham marks 97th year with new film

 
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) will release Oct. 15 a new film in its global "My Hope" outreach and is encouraging pastors to use the free resource in conjunction with Graham's 97th birthday celebration Nov. 7. "Value of a Soul" showcases the testimonies of three born-again believers, including a former hard-core underground rapper, a Purple Heart recipient and a twice-divorced mother who suffered an abortion years ago at age 16. The new film and accompanying resources are suited for use by pastors ...

Study: Nonreligious Americans see evidence of creator

 
Life didn't just happen, most Americans say—and a surprising number of nonreligious people agree, a newly released study says. More than four in 10 of the nonreligious believe physics and humanity point to a creator, LifeWay Research finds. A third say human morality indicates a creator who defines right and wrong. The study, released today (Oct. 7), is based on a survey taken Sept. 26-Oct. 5, 2014. And although the nonreligious are less likely than other Americans to see evidence of a ...

LGBT protestors spark news conference at SBTS

 
Reparative therapy is a "superficial" response to homosexual and transgender change and Christian ministers must instead call all people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, said leaders of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors in a Monday (Oct. 5) news conference. "We don't think the main thing that is needed is merely repair but rather redemption," said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. "When it comes to sexuality, we do believe that wholeness ...

Pastor's granddaughter shot in Oregon campus attack

 
A 26-year-old man who killed nine and injured perhaps nine others at an Oregon community college reportedly targeted Christians in the attack, said a Southern Baptist pastor whose granddaughter was shot and survived. "The shooter asked a question, 'Are you a Christian?' And if they said yes, he said, 'Good, because you're going to see God in a second,' and he shot them. My granddaughter hid and got a bullet through the leg," Howard A. Johnson, founding pastor ...

Is any marriage safe in an adulterous culture?

 
Amid news of men, women and families being thrust into the shadow of the Ashley Madison adultery website hacking, Baptist Press asked the wives of a few longtime Southern Baptist leaders how Christian wives can feel safe in their marriages. Carol Ann Draper, Jodi Chapman and Janet Vines expressed gratitude for their husbands and discussed how the Lord has strengthened their marriages through challenges along the way. Tony Rose, a Kentucky pastor with years of pastoral care experience, also offered ...

'War Room' movie drawing diverse crowds

 
Nothing for years had ever interfered with the Sunday lunch "Granny" Inez Harrell has served at her home after church services at a small Baptist church where the 83-year-old serves as treasurer. But after joining her son Kelvin and daughter-in-law Tamra for an Aug. 29 showing of "War Room" at the single-screen Zebulon Theatre, the only movie house in Cairo, Ga., Granny changed her Sunday afternoon priorities. "You need to go get Kelvin and get him in here and y'all need ...

'War Room' tops at box office on opening night

 
The Kendrick Brothers' "War Room" opened in first place in box office sales on the single night of Aug. 28, but finished second to "Straight Outta Compton" over the entire opening weekend ending Aug. 30, Box Office Mojo reported. War Room, promoting the power of a disciplined prayer life, grossed $4.045 million on Aug. 28, averaging $3,564 on each of 1,135 screens. Straight Outta Compton, an R-rated movie about the American hip-hop "gangsta rap" group N.W.A., took in $3.85 million that same night, averaging $1,225 on 3,142 ...

Baptist leaders offer 'post-worship war' counsel in book

 
Breaking the paradigm of age-segregated services, navigating a "post-worship war culture" and fostering multicultural praise gatherings are among the topics addressed in a book by Frank S. Page and L. Lavon Gray on worship challenges for 21st-century churches. Worship "has become a big claim in the 21st century church; but, based on the reality of people's lives, the worship that we claim to be experiencing is not truly affecting the quality of our lives, our families and our witness," Page, ...

Kendrick film 'War Room' lauded by Baptists

 
"War Room," the latest film by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, is being applauded by Southern Baptist leaders and others as a picture of God's power and an effective tool for encouraging Christians in prayer. Starring noted Bible teachers Priscilla Shirer in a lead role and Beth Moore among supporting cast, the film opens in wide release Aug. 28 in the United States, with advance showings a day earlier in limited cities. Endorsers include Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd, pastor ...

Baptist leaders respond to Ashley Madison scandal

 
With the potential affairs of millions exposed by a hack of the adultery-facilitating Ashley Madison website, Southern Baptist leaders have offered counsel to affected families, churches and individuals. "We are already hearing stories of families torn apart, of children terrified about what is happening to their dad, and of the tragedy of suicide," LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer wrote in an Aug. 26 blog post. "Church leaders cannot respond in their own power. God, however, can provide them all they ...

Planned Parenthood protest includes seminary contingent

 
Students, faculty and staff from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., bolstered 500 pro-life protesters at Louisville's Planned Parenthood office Aug. 22, part of a nationwide effort in 320 cities to bring public attention to the nation's leading abortion provider in the wake of undercover videos released since July by the Center for Medical Progress. The videos, which have led to federal and state investigations of Planned Parenthood, show officials and others associated with the abortion giant casually discussing selling organs of ...

City council blocks Chick-fil-A from Denver airport

 
A committee of the Denver City Council has stalled what was expected to be routine approval of a Chick-fil-A restaurant at the Denver International Airport after at least four council members expressed disapproval of the company's alleged opposition to same-sex marriage. During an Aug. 18 hearing, council member Robin Kniech said she was concerned about a local franchise generating "corporate profits used to fund and fuel discrimination," The Denver Post reported. Councilman Paul Lopez compared the pro-family stances of some Chick-fil-A ...

Americans' views on suicide studied

 
Most Americans believe they are seeing an epidemic in the United States of people taking their own lives, a LifeWay Research study shows. But most Americans don't view suicide as a selfish choice, and they don't believe it sends people to hell, the survey finds. "Americans are responding with compassion to a tragedy that touches many families," said Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research vice president. "For example, as researchers learn more about the effects of mental illness, people may be more ...

Former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran now a preacher

 
Kelvin Cochran was enjoying newfound popularity in 1981 as one of the first black firefighters in Shreveport, La., when women began following him to the fire station with their phone numbers in hand, charmed by his presence on the back of the fire engine. The 21-year-old dated like "crazy" for four months, he said, until God woke him up one morning and changed his life. "Son, this is not the life I called you to. You need to find yourself a ...

Russell Moore's book 'Onward' addresses engaging culture

 
Sanity and Christianity should mark the church's cultural engagement, Russell Moore says. So he wrote a book to help followers of Jesus live up to both. "I noticed that fellow Christians often struggled with how to understand and communicate Gospel truth in contentious cultural contexts," Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in an email interview with Baptist Press. "Political and social issues can often make Christians crazy. Every Christian has a responsibility to articulate ...

Miami pastor shares 'positive hour' on radio

 
It may seem strange to some that in the age of podcasts and YouTube videos that an AM radio program is as highly ranked as "La Hora Positiva" in Miami. La Hora Positiva also is a Christian radio program on a secular radio station. But La Hora Positiva—"The Positive Hour" in English on 670 La Poderosa—is ranked second among Spanish-speaking AM radio programs in South Florida by Nielsen, a global information and measurement company. Guillermo Escalona, the ...

Americans' views on divorce studied

 
Pastors believe not all divorces are created equal, but for many Americans any reason is as good as another, a new study shows. "Pastors make a distinction about the rightness of a divorce based on the reasons behind it," said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research in Nashville. "They want to account for the parts of Scripture that speak of possible rationales." However, Americans view virtually all reasons for ending a marriage in the same moral light. In a ...

Ferguson tensions show need for SBC's Crossover

 
More than 200 Baptist pastors and leaders gathered at First Baptist Church in Ferguson, Mo., on the day violence had broken out in the early morning hours during the one-year anniversary weekend of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. Baptist leaders from the Missouri and Illinois sides of the Mississippi River met to hear plans for and the challenges of Crossover St. Louis, which will precede the Southern Baptist Convention's 2016 annual meeting, June 14-15 in St. ...

3 states defund Planned Parenthood in wake of videos

 
Three states have acted swiftly to accomplish what the U.S. Senate could not—defund Planned Parenthood. Alabama, Louisiana and New Hampshire all have eliminated funding for the country's leading abortion provider after the release of videos providing evidence Planned Parenthood trades in baby body parts. Since mid-July, an investigative group has released five undercover videos that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organs from aborted children for research. It is expected more videos will be released ...

ERLC endorses bill to defund Planned Parenthood

 
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission endorsed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood on the same day a fourth video was released showing an official of the abortion organization discussing trade in baby body parts. ERLC President Russell Moore wrote the leaders of both houses of Congress on July 30 to announce the entity's support for a bill to eliminate federal funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates. In his letter, Moore told Senate Majority ...

Culture shift will create new challenges, opportunities to share Gospel

 
The most far-reaching implications of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states could have very little to do with gay marriage. Even before the Supreme Court issued its 5-4 opinion on the matter, 37 states and the District of Columbia already had made gay marriage the law of their land. But, now, the broader ruling could very well set the stage for what many evangelicals are fearing will be the complete sexualizing of American culture. ...

Panel: Conviction, kindness key to gay marriage response

 
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage, Christians and churches must respond by speaking with confidence, conviction and kindness while also creating biblical community, said speakers at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty's inaugural Equip gathering. "We have been called to be a people of both truth and grace, of both conviction and kindness, in a world that is often fearful and angry," ERLC President Russell Moore said during his opening message, based on 2 ...

Third CMP video may build pro-life momentum

 
Some 13,000 pro-life activists called on Congress to defund Planned Parenthood at more than 60 rallies across America on the same day the Center for Medical Progress released a third video showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of baby parts obtained through abortion. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate will vote on defunding Planned Parenthood before Congress's August recess. The House appears unlikely to vote on defunding before the recess, though pressure on Speaker John Boehner to schedule ...

Baptist leaders: Boy Scouts' vote may diminish numbers

 
The Boy Scouts of America's executive board has voted to lift the Scouts' national ban on gay adult leaders and employees—a move Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd said may hasten the exodus of Southern Baptists from Scouting. "Sadly and regrettably, I believe churches who stand on the biblical ethic of sexuality will have to cease their sponsorship and involvement in the Boy Scouts of America," Floyd told Baptist Press in written comments. "I also believe it is ...

Southern Baptist leaders disappointed by latest Boy Scouts vote

 
The Boy Scouts Executive Committee's approval of gay and bisexual adult leaders disappointed but did not shock Southern Baptist spokesmen—and prompted one to predict an even greater exodus by Baptist churches from the organization. The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday (July 13) the unanimous vote by its Executive Committee to rescind the across-the-board ban on gay and bisexual employees and unit leaders. The resolution approved July 10 by the committee protects the rights of religious organizations, however, to bar ...

Florida Baptist worship leaders deal with the power of preference

 
The power of preference is an issue that pervades music ministry from the leader down to the congregation. Each party has to decide to what degree it will be ruled by its preferences, and from where those preferences actually originate.   The preferences of the congregation and the preferences of the leader planning the worship service are factors that many worship pastors feel they have to navigate carefully.   “Preference can take the focus from God,” said Todd ...

'Jesus Tent' at Bonnaroo festival draws large response

 
Among 80,000 people at Bonnaroo—an annual camping and music festival in Tennessee—quite a few trekked to "The Jesus Tent." An estimated 13,000-17,000 Bonnaroovians visited The Jesus Tent for its 24/7 offer of shade cooled by fans, snacks, water, smartphone charging stations, WiFi and conversation—a peaceful oasis at a festival featuring 150-plus acts, ranging from Billy Joel and Earth Wind & Fire to Childish Gambino and Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters, over four days at ...

Majority of Americans say U.S. special to God

 
In a nation founded on religious liberty, most Americans believe God has a special relationship with the United States, and they're optimistic the best is yet to come. Despite headlines lamenting the global decline of the United States since the Cold War, 54 percent of Americans believe the nation is on the upswing, according to a survey by LifeWay Research released July 1. Only four in 10 think "America's best days are behind us," LifeWay Research reported from data in a September 2014 survey. ...

Guide available to protect churches from 'sexual liberty'

 
The Southern Baptist Convention's religious liberty entity has collaborated with a leading legal advocacy organization to provide guidance for churches and other institutions in the face of the advance of "sexual liberty" and same-sex marriage. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have published "Protecting Your Ministry," a legal manual for Southern Baptist churches, schools and ministries. The 44-page booklet is designed to equip SBC and other evangelical churches and institutions with legal protection against ...

B21 panel addresses how the church should deal with sexuality, gender issues

 
Southern Baptists must remain resolute in the challenges of sexuality and gender while facing denominational decline and contend for religious liberty, panelists said during the Baptist21 luncheon in Columbus, Ohio. More than 1,000 people attended the sold-out event in the Greater Columbus Convention Center during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting. Jedidiah Coppenger, co-founder of Baptist21 and lead pastor of Redemption City Church in Franklin, Tenn., moderated the panel, which featured R. Albert Mohler Jr., Daniel Akin, Russell Moore; David Platt; ...

South Carolina massacre 'demonic,' Baptist pastor says

 
Christians are uniting in prayer and benevolence across racial distinctions in Charleston, S.C., after a 21-year-old man allegedly massacred nine Christians in a June 17 prayer service at historic Emanuel AME Church, said neighboring Southern Baptist pastor Keith Biggs. "Everyone together—white, black, Hispanic, everybody—we're coming together in unity to see this not only [as] an attack on people, but an attack on the body of Christ," said Biggs, associate pastor of Citadel Square Baptist Church, which ...

NBA champion Stephen Curry credits God, family for success

 
With four minutes left in the first half, the camera catches a blur moving in the corner of the screen. Enter the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, who receives a pass from his teammate and drains a 3-point shot over a lunging defender on the biggest stage of the NBA—Game 1 of the Finals. After his shot, the camera also picks up Curry making a quick fist pump to his chest and then pointing a finger toward the rafters ...

Gallup poll: Pro-lifers at lowest number since 2008

 
Abortion pro-choicers significantly outnumber pro-lifers in the U.S. for the first time in seven years, according to the Gallup 2015 Values and Beliefs poll. Half of Americans identified themselves as pro-choice in the poll that has since 2001 tracked Americans' views on abortion. The last time pro-choicers accounted for such a large chunk of the populace was in 2008, when they also numbered 50 percent. Of those polled, 44 percent identified themselves as pro-life, the same percentage found in 2008, Gallup reported. "The pro-choice view ...

LifeWay survey: ‘Nones’ open to variety of denominations

 
Americans have a surprising openness to Christian churches, even those who are supposedly turned off to religion, a new survey from LifeWay Research shows. No matter which denomination is in the name of a church, fewer than half the nonreligious say, “It’s not for me.” Their views are more favorable than unfavorable toward a wide range of faiths—Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, and nondenominational. These findings, based on a new survey of ...

Boy Scouts should allow gay leaders, BSA president says

 
The Boy Scouts of America should end its ban on gay adult leaders, BSA President Robert Gates said today (May 21), lending credence to the concern expressed in a 2013 Southern Baptist Convention resolution that opening the group's membership to homosexual youth was "merely the first step toward future approval of homosexual adult leaders in the Scouts." A policy allowing gay Scout leaders "was a matter of time," said Ernest Easley, who was chairman of the SBC Executive Committee in 2013. "Back when ...

Southern Baptist leaders react to study of 'America's Changing Religious Landscape'

 
The number of Christians in America has dropped nearly 8 percentage points since 2007 while the number of religiously unaffiliated adults has increased by nearly 7 percentage points during the same period. That's the finding of the Pew Research Center's 200-page study of "America's Changing Religious Landscape" released May 12. The survey of some 35,000 adults drew a variety of reactions from Southern Baptist leaders. "The results of the survey communicate growing evidence that the greatest need in America is a spiritual awakening," Southern Baptist ...

Southern Baptist leaders comment on Baltimore violence

 
Racial turmoil in Baltimore commanded the nation's attention April 27-28. "While we watch on the screen and read what is happening in Baltimore," Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd said, "we need to pray for our pastors and churches in Baltimore as they rise up together, calling Baltimore to a better way to live personally and collectively. "This better way is God's way, the Gospel way," Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, said in a statement to Baptist ...

LifeWay study: Gay marriage gap widens for evangelicals & culture

 
Americans who have gay or lesbian friends are twice as likely to say gay marriage should be legal as those who have none. And more than half of Americans, meanwhile, say homosexuality is not sinful. Such survey results place evangelicals increasingly in a minority position in American culture over same-sex relationships. Same-sex marriage Nashville-based Lifeway Research, in a phone survey of 2,000 Americans on gay marriage, reported that friendship and faith play an influential role in how Americans view the issue. "...

LifeWay survey: Americans see value in church attendance

 
The overwhelming majority of Americans say they find value in attending church, a new LifeWay Research study shows. Two-thirds of Americans think attendance is admirable; only 11 percent consider church useless. Even among nonreligious people, 80 percent believe church attendance is acceptable, and 43 percent label it admirable. Just 29 percent call it useless. But despite their professed fondness for church, Americans are more likely to believe attendance is declining (55 percent) or the church is dying (42 percent) than growing (36 percent) or thriving (38 percent), according ...

ERLC race summit: Reconciliation is Gospel imperative

 
The Gospel of Jesus is the solution to America's racial divisions, speakers said on the opening day of a Southern Baptist-sponsored leadership summit titled "The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation." Black, white and Hispanic pastors and leaders addressed the issue of racial reconciliation March 26 at the event conducted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) in Nashville. Longtime civil rights leader John Perkins told the audience of about 500, "I think that we are putting reconciliation back where it belongs—...

Ferguson, Missouri's healing envisioned block by block

 
Changing the streets of unrest in Ferguson to streets of love and ministry is the aim of an "Adopt a Block" initiative underway amid the Missouri city's racial tensions. Adopt a Block is "a good, simple plan," said Stoney Shaw, pastor of First Baptist Church, one of the participating local congregations. "We want to join with other churches and minister. Walking the streets and praying is a simple yet powerful plan," Shaw told The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist ...

'A.D.: The Bible Continues' launches April 5 on NBC

 
Actress and producer Roma Downey and reality TV show producer Mark Burnett shared with media professionals about the making of “A.D.: The Bible Continues,” their follow-up project to the popular TV series “The Bible,” during the Feb. 23-26 National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention in Nashville. The newest series is a 12-part continuation of “The Bible” that portrays the history of the early church, according to the first 10 chapters of Acts. The series will ...