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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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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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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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from The Blaze:

Two Arizona Christian artists face the possibility of being jailed, in addition to being fined, after they recently refused to make invitations for a same-sex wedding.

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski own a Phoenix-based stationary company that crafts wedding invitations, among other things. But they recently refused to create invitations for a same-sex wedding, citing a contradiction with their religious beliefs.

Now they’re being accused of violating a Phoenix ordinance that protects gay people from discrimination. The ordinance also prohibits the business owners from informing customers and the public why they can only create art consistent with their Christian beliefs about marriage.

According to Charisma News, the business owners face a fine of up to $2,500, in addition to six months imprisonment for holding to their Christian beliefs.

They’re being represented by a religious-based law firm, the Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF attorney Jonathan Scruggs told the Charisma News:

We fully expect to have a hearing in the next few weeks on our motion for preliminary injunction and to have the Arizona superior court grant our motion and vindicate the free speech and religious liberty rights of our clients.

No American, including artists, should have the government force them to create art against their artistic and religious beliefs.

In addition, another attorney representing the business owners, Kristen Waggoner, told Fox News last week that Americans don’t give up their constitutionally-protected rights in order to make a living and neither should artists.

“We don’t force artists to create artistic expression under threat of jail time,” she argued.

Many Americans, especially Christians, would argue that their First Amendment right to freely practice their religion is increasingly being encroached upon, as more continue to be persecuted for believing that same-sex marriage is wrong and outside of God’s design.

Most famously, cake bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein had their business effectively shut down by the state of Oregon and were issued a fine of more than $135,000 after they refused to bake a gay couple a wedding cake in 2013.

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from Berean Research:

According to a report by Todd Starnes, host of Fox News and Commentary, the “LGBTQ mob” has their sites set on HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gains.  If if turns out that they share their pastor’s beliefs on homosexuality, powerful LGBTQ activists will go to great lengths to destroy the couple.  Their pastor, Jimmy Seibert, holds to the biblical view of marriage — one man one woman for life.  He doesn’t happen to share the PC view that homosexuals are born that way; his opinion, which he’s entitled to, is that homosexuality is a “lifestyle.”  Moreover, he believes homosexuality is a sin against God.  Pastor Seibert’s beliefs come from the clear teaching of Scripture:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. — 1 Cor 6:9-11

So now to Todd Starnes’ report….

One of my guilty pleasures in life is to watch Fixer Upper marathons on HGTV.

Hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines have not only made Waco, Texas a tourist destination, but they’ve also educated us about the many uses of shiplap.

If you aren’t a fan of the show, you might want to Google that.

I also appreciate that Chip and Joanna are devout Christians. Viewers can see how their faith flavors not only their television program – but also their family life.

But not everyone appreciates those Christian beliefs – especially the militant LGBT crowd.

And now, they are on the warpath.

The Mainstream Media and militant LGBT activists are unleashing their fury over reports the Gaines family attends Antioch Community Church, a non-denominational megachurch.

“Chip and Joanna Gaines’s Pastor Preaches ‘Homosexuality is a Sin’” – blared a headline on Cosmopolitan.

“Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Church is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage,”screamed a Buzzfeed headline. “Their pastor considers homosexuality to be a ‘sin’ caused by abuse – whether the Fixer Upper couple agrees is unclear.”

What the shiplap, America?!”

“Their pastor, Jimmy Seibert, is both staunchly against same-sex marriage and a strong believer that homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle’ choice and a ‘sin’,” Cosmo reported.

This bit of news was more than their feeble journalistic minds could handle.

“Given the diversity of Fixer Upper’s audience, this is a startling revelation that has left many wondering where Chip and Jo stand,” Cosmo reported.

Buzzfeed went so far as to investigate Pastor Seibert’s sermons – demonstrating that what is preached from the pulpit at Antioch Community Church is the same kind of message being preached in nearly every evangelical church in America.

Our friends at Newsbusters tracked down this item from US Weekly:

“As a Fixer Upper fan, I would love to know @joannagaines and @chippergaines’s thoughts on their pastor’s hateful, anti-LGBT beliefs,” one viewer declared. Another went further, writing: “If Chip and Joanna Gaines end up being anti-LGBT, I am cancelling my mag subscription and ignoring their show.”

An HGTV spokesperson told me in a statement, they “respect the privacy of our show hosts and will not comment on matters related to their personal lives.”

Understandably, neither the Gaines family nor the church wanted to comment. And nor should they have to comment.

“While fans shouldn’t necessarily jump to conclusions about what this might mean, for many people who watch the show, their silence speaks volumes,” Cosmo wrote. ‘Here’s hoping they speak up about this soon.”

Well, here’s a truth bomb for Cosmo and Buzzfeed. It’s really none of your business where Chip and Joanna Gaines worship.

And for the record, where were their hysterical screeds when President Obama’s pastor was asking God to damn America? Anybody want to talk about those roosting chickens?  Continue reading

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