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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
ERLC book delivery to Congress about human dignityWASHINGTON (BP) -- Providing books to all 535 congressional offices is about the Gospel and human dignity for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
The ERLC's Washington office has been hand-delivering three books produced by its staff to all the members of Congress since Nov. 1. It will continue to do so until the books are in the offices of 100 senators and 435 representatives.
The goal is about more than winning a policy battle, said Brent Leatherwood, the ERLC's director of strategic partnerships. Read More
Chapmans, Gettys, Platt join expanded EFLWASHINGTON (BP) -- Southern Baptist-sponsored Evangelicals for Life 2019 has expanded its schedule and added two leading couples from the modern Christian music world and a well-known preacher/author to the program.
Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and David Platt will appear at the fourth annual EFL conference, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) announced Nov. 8 in an email to registrants. The ERLC, host of EFL, also disclosed the conference will begin a day earlier, Jan. 16, than previously scheduled. Read More
NFL's Watson aids life through Psalm 139NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- National Football League player Benjamin Watson has again joined with the Southern Baptist Convention's ethics entity to provide an ultrasound machine for the benefit of women in crisis pregnancies.
Watson, a veteran tight end with the New Orleans Saints, and his wife Kirsten donated a machine through the Psalm 139 Project for a center that is part of Baptist Community Health Services (BCHS) in New Orleans, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) announced Nov. 5. Psalm 139 is the ERLC's ministry to help place ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers across the country. Read More
SBC DIGEST: NOBTS & Louisiana College aim for collaboration; former House staffer joins ERLC in D.C.New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Louisiana College sign memorandum of understanding for seminary credit; former congressional staffer Chelsea Sobolik joins Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's Washington office. Read More
Voters to weigh pro-life protectionsWASHINGTON (BP) -- Voters in Alabama and West Virginia will be looking ahead to a day when states may again regulate abortion as they go to the polls Tuesday (Nov. 6).
Amendments on ballots in both states would revise the Alabama and West Virginia constitutions to make clear those documents do not provide a right to abortion or require its public funding. A third state, Oregon, will vote on a proposal to ban state funding of abortion except when "medically necessary" or mandated by federal law. Read More