Day one of a three-day conference hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission discussing how Christians should react to the ongoing battle between those framing the homosexual lifestyle debate as a civil rights issue and those supporting what they believe to be biblical moral values, including traditional marriage, featured plenty of fireworks — most happening online through social media.
More than 1,200 are attending the ERLC conference which began on Monday. The conference, themed "The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage" is taking place in Nashville and offered by live stream over the Internet.
"Gotta be careful of making idols out of marriage and procreation when Scripture / Christ do not do so. #ERLC2014," tweeted Rachel Held Evans, author of Faith Unraveled. Evans was one of several Twitter users dishing up a steady volley of criticism over the ERLC conference. more >>
In interviews with The Christian Post, leaders of organizations whose lawsuits against the Internal Revenue Service was dismissed claimed their fundraising and advocacy efforts were harmed by the IRS harassment, and other conservative groups were effectively abolished by the IRS targeting.
Last Wednesday, U.S. District judge Reggie Walton dismissed the cases against the IRS filed by conservative political advocacy groups True The Vote, Inc., Linchpins of Liberty and several other groups. The groups sued claiming the IRS illegally targeted them because of the nature of their political speech and knowingly stalled the approval of the group's essential tax-exempt statuses for a multitude of years.
Although it took over three years for many of the groups to get their statuses, Walton dismissed both cases calling them "moot" because the IRS eventually granted tax exempt status, which was the main controversy of the case. Without an ongoing controversy, Walton wrote, his court does not have authority to decide the case. more >>
A religious freedom advocacy organization has expressed concern over the U.S. Labor Department's forthcoming new rule against LGBT discrimination among federal contractors, which was submitted for review without public comment and contains little guidance for faith-based federal contractors.
The Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance believes the Labor Department rule, meant to implement President Barack Obama's recent executive order barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for federal contractors, does not currently clarify the rights of faith-based organizations.
The rule was sent last week to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which is within the Office of Management and Budget, for review. The rule is not yet published, but IRFA has learned that the rule will offer little guidance to faith-based groups with government contracts. more >>
Although much has been reported regarding the ethics and legality behind the city of Houston's subpoena of five Houston-area pastors that had asked them to turn over all of their sermons that address homosexuality, gender identity, and the city's first openly-lesbian mayor, little attention has been given to who those five pastors actually are and the ministries they operate.
Although those five pastors, Steve Riggle, David Welch, Hernan Castaño, Khanh Huynh and Magda Hermida, were not technically parties of the lawsuit against the city's new equal rights ordinance that sparked the need for the subpoenas, they all participated in the coalition of 400 Houston area churches that stood in disapproval of the ordinance, which allows transgendered individuals to use public restrooms of the opposite gender.
Steve Riggle more >>
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order on Monday calling for the immediate revision of the state's rules that determine the eligibility of rape and sexual assault victims looking for state-compensation for medical charges directly relating to their assaults. Jindal called for an end to double victimization of Louisiana rape victims who are often billed thousands of dollars from hospitals for health exams and tests.
Jindal issued his orders in the hours following a tense meeting of Louisiana state lawmakers and state health officials on Monday that addressed the state's Victims Reparations Fund. The governor's orders demand that the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement reconstruct its rules to better protect sexual assault victims. The state currently requires conditional circumstances for victims to qualify for medical cost compensation through the fund, which prevents many victims from being eligible to receive the funding, leaving them with large personal debts.
"We should not be victimizing people twice with hefty bills or uncomfortable investigations," Jindal's spokesperson Shannon Bates said. "Sexual assault is a heinous crime that causes a tremendous amount of suffering and we want to do everything we can to protect the victims of these terrible acts." more >>
The recently launched #HoustonWeHaveAProblem Twitter campaign and petition that supports the Houston pastors who were subpoenaed to turn over their sermons dealing with topics on homosexuality, gender identity and the city's first lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, has reached 10,000 signatures.
The initiative launched by Faith Driven Consumer was initially blocked by the social media platform, but once the block was removed, the campaign was able to flourish tremendously.
"Thousands of concerned citizens are signing up in support of this important cause — harnessing the power of social media and keeping the pressure on Houston's governmental leaders. Faith Driven Consumers and people of conscience across the nation — including leaders at the local, state and national levels — are joining the call for the mayor and city officials to unequivocally reverse course and end their harassment of five respected area pastors and ultimately Christians throughout Houston," said Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer. "We will continue to rally greater levels of grassroots support until tolerance and equality for people of faith are restored in the nation's fourth largest city." more >>