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Moore at EFL: Dignity, Gospel neededVIENNA, Va. (BP)-- Human dignity and Gospel mission should characterize the Christian voice at a time when people are treated like machines, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said at Evangelicals for Life Thursday (Jan. 17).
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, opened the second day of the annual conference sponsored by the ERLC. The two-day event at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., continued with a full day of addresses, panel discussions and breakout sessions on such topics as abortion, adoption, disability, racial unity, immigration, Christian persecution and criminal justice reform.
Many EFL attendees planned to participate in the annual March for Life Friday (Jan. 18) on the National Mall. Read More
Protestants remain majority group in CongressWASHINGTON (BP) -- Self-identified Protestant Christians -- including more than 30 Southern Baptists -- continue to make up by far the largest religious group in Congress.
Protestants total 293 members, or 55 percent, of the 116th Congress, according to a study published Jan. 3 by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. The analysis of data on members of the Senate and House of Representatives showed a decline of six Protestants from the previous Congress.
The largest Protestant category is "unspecified/other," which consists of 80 members who identify themselves by such descriptions as Christian, evangelical or Protestant without citing a denomination. The general category of Baptists is the next largest with 72 members, the same as in the 2017-18 session. Read More
'First Step' criminal justice reform becomes lawWASHINGTON (BP) -- The launch of criminal justice reform backed by both conservatives and liberals has become a reality in federal law.
The First Step Act to promote the rehabilitation and societal re-entry of prisoners while maintaining public safety was signed by President Trump on Friday (Dec. 21). The measure provides training for inmates and reforms some sentencing requirements, including certain drug offenses.
Trump's action followed the House of Representatives' passage of the bill Thursday (Dec. 20) ... Read More
Repeal of tax on churches appears to fail in CongressWASHINGTON (BP) -- The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday (Dec. 20) to reverse a year-old law that calls for churches to file tax returns for the first time in American history, but it appears unlikely the effort will go any further in this Congress.
The House voted 220-183 in a nearly party-line vote for a bill that included repeal of a 2017 tax cut's provision -– Section 512(a)(7) -- that required houses of worship and nonprofit organizations to pay a 21 percent tax on such employee benefits as parking and transportation. Only Republicans voted in favor of the proposal, and all but three of those opposing the legislation were Democrats. Read More
ERLC focuses on human dignity, family in 2018NASHVILLE (BP) -- Human dignity and the family occupied much of the Gospel focus of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission during 2018.
The ERLC co-hosted a racial reconciliation conference attended by about 4,000 people on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., again co-sponsored Evangelicals for Life (EFL), and addressed the Gospel and the family in its annual national conference. The entity with offices in Nashville and Washington, D.C., also continued its advocacy for religious freedom domestically and internationally. Read More
TX So. Baptists, ERLC call for repeal of parking taxWASHINGTON (BP) -- Southern Baptist leaders in Texas have joined the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in calling for a repeal of the parking and transportation tax on non-profit organizations, including houses of worship found in the Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017.
Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Houston, Texas and Robert B. Sloan, president of Houston Baptist University, published an op-ed in today's (Dec. 19) Houston Chronicle calling the provision fundamentally troubling for the future of religious freedom.
"There are important reasons why non-profits and houses of worship are not taxed in the United States" write Lino and Sloan. "The bright line that separates the domain of church from the domain of state must be guarded. One of the most fundamental powers the state has is the authority to tax. Houses of worship ought not be taxed because houses of worship ought not be regulated by the government." Read More
Senate passes justice reform billWASHINGTON (BP) -- The federal government took a major step toward criminal justice reform Tuesday night (Dec. 18) when the Senate approved legislation backed by a broad coalition that includes the Southern Baptist Convention's ethics entity.
Senators voted 87-12 for the First Step Act, which is designed to promote the rehabilitation and societal reentry of prisoners while maintaining public safety. The bill -- which enjoyed backing from every Democratic senator and all but 13 Republicans who opposed it or did not vote -- also would reform some sentencing requirements, including in the case of certain drug offenses.
It is anticipated the House of Representatives, which adopted an earlier version of the legislation with a 360-59 vote in May, will pass the Senate-approved bill quickly. President Trump endorsed the measure in November and is expected to sign it into law shortly after the House vote. Read More
Abortion decline calls for ongoing pro-life effortWASHINGTON (BP) -- The continued drop in the number, rate and ratio of abortions in the United States is a cause for celebration but also for further efforts to protect children and assist women in need, Southern Baptist pro-life advocates say.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Nov. 23 the total, rate and ratio of abortions in 2015 -- the latest year for which statistics are available -- all declined by two percent from 2014. The ratio and rate reached their lowest points since the Roe v. Wade ruling legalized abortion in 1973, while that year was the only one since the Supreme Court decision with fewer abortions than in 2015, according to numbers attributed to the CDC.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), described the lower abortion rate as "good news. No doubt, the heroic advocacy of the pro-life community contributes to this lower rate." Read More
Iraq-Syria genocide bill draws praiseWASHINGTON (BP) -- The head of the Southern Baptist Convention's religious freedom entity and his fellow advocates have praised bipartisan congressional action to help Christians and other survivors of genocide committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The House of Representatives approved without opposition Nov. 27 the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act, H.R. 390, and sent it to President Trump. The Senate passed the bill in October, also without opposition.
The measure will provide humanitarian aid to Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities in the two Middle East countries. It also will support criminal investigations and prosecutions of the terrorists responsible for genocidal acts and crimes against humanity. Read More
Moore: Church must recall loyalty to help lonelyWASHINGTON (BP) -- Christians need to recall where their greatest allegiance lies to help Americans living in a time marked by loneliness, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said during a Washington, D.C., forum.
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, addressed the evangelical church's role while responding to Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., during a Nov. 26 conversation sponsored by The Trinity Forum. Sasse spoke on themes from his new book, "Them: Why We Hate Each Other -- and How to Heal," including Americans' "crisis of loneliness," as he describes it in the book. Read More