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from Baptist News:

A historic Baptist church in the nation’s capital has called a legally married lesbian couple as co-pastors.

Calvary Baptist Church in Washington announced Jan. 9 the hiring of Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen as the congregation’s new senior ministers. The couple, married the weekend after same-sex marriage became legal in South Carolina in November 2014, were ordained to the gospel ministry by First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., on Nov. 15, 2015.

Calvary isn’t the first Baptist church to hire an openly gay minister or even to have lesbian co-pastors, but challenging the status quo is nothing new for the congregation started by abolitionists in 1862.

In 2014 the congregation ordained what is believed to be the first transgender Baptist minister, Allyson Robinson, a George W. Truett Theological Seminary graduate who previously had been ordained as a man.

Carol Blythe, chair of the ministerial selection committee, said the couple brings complementary skills and backgrounds that will serve the church’s needs in new and exciting ways.

“As we met and talked with Sally and Maria about their vision for pastoral leadership at Calvary, we were struck by their deep faith and commitment to being part of a gospel community,” Blythe, a past president of the Alliance of Baptists, said in a news release. “We were impressed by how their gifts, talents and experience matched our ministry priorities — and we are thrilled about their upcoming pastorate and the versatility the co-pastor model will provide our congregation.”

Swearingen, a master of divinity graduate of Duke Divinity School, currently serves as associate university chaplain at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. She earned her undergraduate degree at Baylor University in 2007.

She is the daughter of a Southern Baptist pastor and Puerto Rican mother and grew up speaking Spanish in a bilingual household. She has served in leadership roles in the Alliance of Baptists and is co-chairingthe 2017 annual gathering.

Sarratt, currently sabbatical minister at Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, also works as associate chaplain for behavioral health in the Greenville Health System. After graduating from Carson-Newman College she served two years as a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Service Corps missionary in New York City before earning an MBA and working several years in the corporate world.

She reclaimed her call to ministry by enrolling at Emory University in Atlanta, where she earned a master of theological studies degree in 2014, studying religion in public life with a focus on the Moral Mondays movement and California’s Proposition 8.

Sarratt serves on an Alliance of Baptists Identity Discernment Group formed by request of the board of directors to focus and clarify the group’s identity in anticipation of its 30th anniversary gathering April 28-30 at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.

The new co-pastors officially begin duties at Calvary Baptist Feb. 26. “We have found it so easy to fall in love with Calvary and its longstanding commitment to be a voice of justice and compassion for those who perpetually find the wholeness of their humanity disregarded and maligned,” they said in a joint statement.

The former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Baptist News Globalist columnist Amy Butler, left to become pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in New York City in 2014.

Edgar Palacios, associate pastor of Christian education who functioned as a missionary pastor for the church’s Latino fellowship, said his goodbyes last September after being appointed by his native El Salvador as ambassador to Canada.

According to a Greenville News article about same-sex couples seeking the city’s first marriage licenses after a federal court order finding South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional took effect on Nov. 20, 2014, Sarratt and Swearingen met six years earlier at Greenville First Baptist Church, when Swearingen served the church as an intern. They thought more than a year before they started dating about what it would mean for them to be in a relationship and to be Christian.

First Baptist Church in Greenville adopted a new policy in August 2015 of non-discrimination in the congregation’s life and ministry “based on sexual orientation or gender identity.” The church subsequently withdrew from the South Carolina Baptist Convention at the convention’s request.

Calvary Baptist Church severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, which automatically excludes churches that affirm or tolerate homosexuality, in 2012. The congregation remains affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA, the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the District of Columbia Baptist Convention.

Calvary Baptist Church also aligns with the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Baptist World Alliance, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

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From CBN News:

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A new California bill could prevent faith-based organizations from enforcing their own ethical standards and codes.

Many religious organizations ask new employees to sign a code of conduct that aligns with what the Bible says about abortion, contraception, and sex outside of marriage. However, a new bill called AB 569 calls these provisions discriminatory and says they should be banned.

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher, says religious organizations are “invading the privacy and personal lives of women” when they prohibit their “reproductive choices,” including abortion or extramarital sex.

“A woman should never face repercussions in the workplace for her reproductive choices,” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher. “It’s unacceptable.”

California Family Council President Jonathan Keller argues that preventing religious organizations from enforcing their own policies is religious discrimination.

“Every organization that promotes a pro-life message must be able to require its employees to practice what they preach,” said Keller. “The right to freely exercise one’s religion is enshrined in our Constitution and has always protected every American’s ability to freely associate around shared beliefs and practices. It is unconscionable for any politician to attempt to abridge this sacrosanct religious liberty by inserting themselves into the employee-employer relationship.”

Keller went further by pointing out that organizations must implement these policies if they are to be faithful to their religious beliefs and core mission.

Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, is working tirelessly to mobilize the nation against the bill. He encourages Americans  to call their lawmakers and make their voices heard.

“They have to call in droves,” Thomasson told CBN News. “But really, the repeal needs to be in our own hearts and minds. We have to stop voting for people that are against religious freedom.”

Americans who wish to get involved can do so by going to savecalifornia.com where they can find steps on how to fight the bill.

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This is the Orwellian world that we now live in, Prosecutors charge the people who uncovered the horrors of Planned Parenthood, which are just as evil as the heinous acts of the NAZI’s during World War II!

It tells you how perverse our society has become! God’s judgment is falling on the United States for allowing the murder and slaughter of over 57 million babies and the vast overwhelming majority of them murdered for the convenience of the woman carrying the child!

Moloch (Masoretic מֹלֶךְ mōlek, Greek Μολόχ) is the Biblical name relating to a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice.

Rabbinical tradition depicted Moloch as a bronze statue heated with fire into which the victims were thrown. This has been associated with reports by Greco-Roman authors on the child sacrifices in Carthage to Baal Hammon, especially since archaeological excavations since the 1920s have produced evidence for child sacrifice in Carthage as well as inscriptions including the term MLK, either a theonym or a technical term associated with sacrifice.

“Who was Moloch/Molech?”

 Leviticus: 18:21: You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.”

From MSN:

California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood with 15 felonies, saying they invaded the privacy of medical providers by filming without consent.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the charges against David Daleiden of Davis, California, and Sandra Merritt of San Jose. The two operate the Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress.

The allegations say the pair filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person. The 15th was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.

Becerra says they used a fictitious bioresearch company to meet with women’s health care providers and covertly record them.

Daleiden, in an email to The Associated Press, said the “bogus” charges are coming from “Planned Parenthood’s political cronies.”

“The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners,” Daleiden said.

In April of last year, Daleiden said in a Facebook post that California Department of Justice agents raided his home, seizing all of his video footage along with personal information.

Since then, the case had gone largely quiet, with virtually no revelations about the investigation and no indication that the charges were coming before they were filed Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court.

The prosecution got a new leader this year in Becerra, a longtime Congressional Democrat, who took over for Kamala Harris when she became a U.S. Senator.

Daleiden and Merritt had previously been indicted in Texas on similar charges in January of 2016, but all of the charges were eventually dropped by July as prosecutors said a grand jury had overstepped its authority. The grand jury had originally been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, but after finding no wrongdoing turned around and indicted Daleiden and Merritt instead.

Messages left seeking comment from Planned Parenthood representatives late Tuesday were not immediately returned.

 

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I saw this coming for years, but no one would believe it!

from Christian News Network:

Megachurch leader and author T.D. Jakes says that homosexuals should attend congregations that affirm their lifestyle and that politics do not need to reflect biblical ethics, adding that his position on homosexuality is both “evolved and evolving.”

During an interview with the Huffington Post on Monday, Jakes was asked by a viewer if he believes that homosexuals and the black church can co-exist.

“Absolutely… I think it is going to be diverse from church to church. Every church has a different opinion on the issue and every gay person is different,” he replied. “And I think that to speak that the church—the black church, the white church or any kind of church you wanna call it—are all the same, is totally not true.”

 Jakes said that he thinks homosexuals should find congregations that affirm their lifestyle.
“LGBT’s of different types and sorts have to find a place of worship that reflects what your views are and what you believe like anyone else,” he outlined.

“The church should have the right to have its own convictions and values; if you don’t like those convictions and values [and] you totally disagree with it, don’t try to change my house, move into your own … and find somebody who gets what you get about faith,” Jakes added.

He said that the issue of homosexuality is “complex.”

“Paul spends a lot of time wrestling back and forth, trying to understand should a woman wear a head covering, should you cut your hair,” Jakes stated. “I mean, they grappled back then and we’re grappling now because we’re humans and we are flawed and we’re not God.”

“Once you understand you’re not God, you leave yourself an ‘out’ clause to grow,” he said.

When asked if his position on homosexuality has “evolved,” Jakes agreed that it has.

“Evolved and evolving,” he replied. “I think that where I am is to better understand we, the church, bought into the myth that this is a Christian nation.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must legalize same-sex “marriage,” igniting a battle between the Church and State over the issue. In his comments on Monday, Jakes advocated for the separation of Church and State, which would allow for “all types of people” to have whatever rights they desire despite biblical prohibitions. He said that politics don’t need to be based on Christianity.

“[O]nce you get past [thinking America is a Christian nation] … Once you begin to understand that democracy—that a republic actually—is designed to be an overarching system to protect our unique nuances, then we no longer look for public policy to reflect biblical ethics,” Jakes explained.

“If we can divide—or what you would call separation of Church and State—then we can dwell together more effectively because atheists, agnostics, Jews, all types of people, Muslims, pay into the government. The government then cannot reflect one particular view over another just because we’re the dominant group of religious people in [this] country because those numbers are changing every day,” he asserted. “We need a neutralized government that protects our right to disagree with one another and agree with one another.”

Jakes had visited the Huffington Post to discuss his new book on “destiny.” The interview focused on motivational subject matter in following one’s dreams and passions as opposed to the eternal destiny of the soul.

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The final nail in the eventual destruction of the United States occurs when Christians  en mass step away from the Truth of God’s Word. The Truth of God’s word gives Christians wisdom and understanding of the mortal dangers of Islam.

There is a huge difference between having Christian love for those in false belief systems and on the other hand enabling beliefs that you know are contrary to what you believe! Not to mention enabling a belief system that teaches that those who do not believe as it does should be ruled over by force or exterminated!

from The College Fix:

A Christian university in Texas has created a prayer room for its Muslim students.

The Methodist-affiliated McMurry University dedicated the space in one of the school’s residential dorms for its Muslim students’ daily prayers.

Before its creation, Muslim students met for prayer in a nearby hotel, a student who helped establish the new prayer room told The College Fix in an interview.

That student, Joe Yousef, is president of McMurry’s Saudi Student Club. Of the roughly 1,000 students attending McMurry, about 60 are Muslim and many come from Saudi Arabia, Yousef said.

Yousef said now that Muslim students have a prayer room on campus, it will be much easier for them to meet both their religious and scholastic obligations.

“On Friday, we get together and sometimes we have to go home to pray and we need to be in university so we don’t have time to go home,” Yousef said.

Yousef admitted that some people at McMurry didn’t like the idea of having the prayer room.

Some students are also supportive.

“Being Christians, we should be open to free religion and letting everyone do what they want to do and I think the Muslim prayer room gives them that chance,” student Hector Flores told BigCountry.com.

McMurry’s chaplain, Jeff Lust, and Dr. Mark Waters, professor of religion and director of international education, reportedly helped the students in their effort. Lust did not respond to a request for comment from The College Fix.

McMurry’s associate director of communications, Gary Ellison, did not respond to requests for comment either.

Lust told KTXS that the room is “a step in the right direction.”

“We anticipate over time we’ll have students from a variety of countries and possibly different religions,” Lust said. “We need to learn to live and work together in this world that is increasingly diverse and then we can truly become better together.”

The room will also serve as a meeting place for a new interfaith club, which is slated to meet for the first time Feb. 21, according to Yousef.

He said he will help lead the interfaith club in the hopes that it will help students of different faiths understand each other better.

“We are going to talk about faith and belief,” he said. “Some people have their own bias. We want people to get together, so we can help each other out.”

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from the Seattle Times:

A Richland florist who refused to provide flowers to a gay couple for their wedding violated anti-discrimination law, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court ruled unanimously that Barronelle Stutzman discriminated against longtime customers Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed when she refused to do the flowers for their 2013 wedding because of her religious opposition to same-sex marriage. Instead, Stutzman suggested several other florists in the area who would help them.

“We’re thrilled that the Washington Supreme Court has ruled in our favor. The court affirmed that we are on the right side of the law and the right side of history,” Ingersoll and Freed said in a statement.

 Stutzman and her attorneys said they would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. They also held out hope that President Donald Trump would issue an executive order protecting religious freedom, which was a campaign pledge.
Stutzman called the ruling “terrifying when you think the government is coming in and telling you what to think and what to do.”

In its decision, the state’s highest court rejected Stutzman’s claims that since other florists in the area were willing to provide flowers, no harm resulted from her refusal.

Writing for the court majority, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud said, “We emphatically reject this argument. We agree with Ingersoll and Freed that ‘this case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases were about access to sandwiches.’ … As every other court to address the question has concluded, public accommodations laws do not simply guarantee access to goods or services. Instead, they serve a broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to the equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace.”

 The court also rejected Stutzman’s claims that her floral arrangements were a form of artistic expression and so protected by the First Amendment. Citing the case of a New Mexico photographer who similarly refused to take pictures at a gay marriage, the court said, “while photography may be expressive, the operation of a photography business is not.”

In December 2012, soon after the state legalized gay marriage, Ingersoll and Freed began planning a large wedding. Stutzman, who had provided flowers to the couple numerous times over the years, refused, citing her religious belief that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman.

The couple went ahead with their wedding, but they had it at home with 11 guests and flowers from another florist, instead of the larger event they had envisioned.

 The couple, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU) sued Stutzman under the state’s anti-discrimination and consumer-protection laws in what became a high-profile case that highlighted the clash between the right to be treated equally under the law and the free exercise of religion and speech.

A Benton County Superior Court judge last February ruled that Stutzman’s religious beliefs did not allow her to discriminate against the couple and that she must provide flowers for same-sex weddings, or stop doing weddings at all. The trial court also imposed a fine of $1,000 and legal fees of just $1.

Thursday’s state Supreme Court ruling upheld the lower court.

Ferguson on Thursday hailed the decision, saying, “It is a complete, unequivocal victory for equality in the state of Washington and sends a clear message around the country as well.”

 Speaking with Ferguson at a news conference in Seattle, Michael Scott, the ACLU attorney for the same-sex couple, said the decision recognizes “human beings and their lives” while upholding the “core value of American law” regarding human dignity.

Scott said he would be surprised if the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case, citing a century of unbroken legal precedent. “It’s not groundbreaking law,” he said.

read the full article here.

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from Life Site News:

An association of pediatricians is condemning National Geographic over its decision to put a 9-year-old child who identifies as transgender on the cover of its January issue.

National Geographic will be highlighting the “gender revolution” for its January 2017 issue, featuring Avery Jackson, a 9-year-old child, the first appearance of a transgender person on the publication’s cover.

Avery is quoted on the cover stating, “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy.”

Michelle Cretella, MD, president of the American College of Pediatricians, told LifeSiteNews that National Geographic is “promoting a political agenda over science and the wellbeing of innocent children” by featuring a young transgender child.

“’Affirming’ so called transgender children means sterilizing them as young as 11years old,” said Dr. Cretella. “Puberty blockers plus cross-sex hormones causes permanent sterility. And biological girls who ‘transition’ to male by taking testosterone may have a double mastectomy at age 16. The life time use of cross-sex hormones also puts these children at risk for stroke, heart disease, diabetes, cancers and more.”

Since the child began to identify as a girl at the age of three, Avery’s parents have remained avid supporters. Avery’s mother, Debbie Jackson describes her and Avery’s father’s feelings of confusion and doubt at the beginning of the process in a video statement: “Until that point she was quite a rough-and-tumble little boy with a buzz cut and a shark tooth necklace. But when she was three, she asked her dad and I if we could buy her a princess dress.”

Jackson explains not buying Avery a dress at first because they thought it was just a phase, but when they found out their son was wearing his favorite dress at daycare they went and bought him a princess dress. According to Jackson, Avery wore that dress every moment while at home, and eventually asked for more: dresses, nightgowns, headbands, and sparkly shoes. But his parents drew the line at girl underwear.

After meeting with a psychologist and endocrinologist, and ruling out any hidden medical issues, Avery was allowed to go to school dressed as a girl. Jackson and her family lost friends and family members and went “into hiding” for a year while Avery “grew out her hair to look like the girl she is,” Jackson explains. When the family emerged, “it was with a very happy and confident daughter.”

Cretella believes it is both unethical and harmful for parents to make such decisions regarding their children’s gender because they will most likely grow out of their gender dysphoria. “When a child under the age of 12 thinks they are the opposite sex and is allowed to naturally pass through puberty, 75%-95% of the time that child will accept his or her biological sex by the late teen years.”

Though National Geographic has covered the transgender before, this is by far it’s most high-profile treatment of the issue to date.

Cretella argues that public support of “transgenderism” in children is tantamount to “child abuse.” “When academic, medical and other public institutions propagate the lifetime use of toxic hormones and the surgical removal of healthy body parts as healthcare for children they are engaged in institutionalized child abuse,” she said.

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