In this week's edition of my week-in-review feature, The 3, I report on an encouraging meeting in Mississippi on race relations featuring the heads of two large Baptist denominations. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will review the government's contraception mandate again, this time regarding non-profit organizations. And, there were elections held this past Tuesday, with some notable pro-family victories that emerged.
3 - Baptist leaders from black and white backgrounds meet in Mississippi
This past Wednesday in Jackson, Mississippi, there was an important meeting concerning the topic of race relations. A Religion News Service preview reported that leaders of the two largest Baptist denominations, one mostly white and the other predominantly black, were scheduled to meet with pastors from both groups for what was termed a "Conversation on Race in America."
The event was timed ahead of an annual luncheon of Mission Mississippi, a Christian organization that has worked for more than two decades to address racism, which its leaders believe hinders evangelism.
Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention addressed the gathering, and Baptist Press featured a report.
Floyd declared: "I believe that the issue of racism is from Satan and the demonic forces of hell," adding, "Racism is completely opposite from the message of Jesus Christ; it is completely opposite of the message of love, it is completely opposite of the message of dignity, value and the sanctity of human life. It is completely opposite of the message of reconciliation." In his comments, Floyd presented the church as one body of Christ, descended from one man and comprising one race.
Young said that, "I believe that it is God's providence that has brought us here today...I am absolutely prayerful that when we leave this place, that those of us who are here will have decided that we're going to spearhead a movement in this country that is relative primarily to the church, that we will no longer be satisfied to be persons who will simply declare the Gospel with our lips, but we're going to demonstrate it with our lives."
The article stated that Mission Mississippi President Neddie Winters, joined Floyd and Young in calling the church to action. He is quoted as saying: "It is time for the Christian community, for the church of Jesus Christ, to do what it professes to do," adding, "Stand, and live, and act like Christians, and be the salt and light for our society. Too long have we been silent on this issue as a church, and as a community."
2 - Supreme Court announces it will hear contraception mandate cases involving non-profits
The U.S. Supreme Court made the announcement Friday that it would hear seven lawsuits that have been filed by non-profit organizations challenging the mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services requiring employers to provide free contraception and abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans.
WORLD reported on the announcement, saying that the seven cases before the high court would include the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic dioceses, Priests for Life, GuideStone Financial Resources, and religious colleges such as Houston Baptist University, Geneva College, and the Catholic University of America.
The case is scheduled to be heard in March.
The WORLD article highlighted that the federal government has a special regulation for nonprofits who object to the mandate on religious grounds. What happens is that the nonprofit signs a form for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), stating its objection and naming its insurance provider. Then HHS arranges coverage of the objectionable drugs for the nonprofits’ employees through the insurer or a third party. But, the organization still must sign on to the arrangement. Churches are fully exempt from the mandate.
1 - Pro-family victory in KY Governor's race, Houston gay rights ordinance defeat, pot turned back in OH
In some areas of our nation, the first Tuesday of November, which is the traditional day set nationally for elections, was actually that - Election Day. Next November, Americans will select a President on that day.
But, this year, voters in Kentucky and Mississippi went to the polls to select governors, Houston residents voted on a mayor, as well as controversial ordinance, and Ohio residents voted on greater availability for pot sales.
In Kentucky, Republican Matt Bevin was the winner in the governor's race there. As the Family Research Council's Washington Update stated:
Nowhere was the potency of social issues more evident than in the Kentucky governor’s race, where a trailing Matt Bevin (R) pulled off a surprise upset over Democrat Jack Conway, who paid mightily for refusing to defend the state’s marriage amendment as attorney general last year. Bevin, who was down in the polls as recently as last week, surged ahead on Tuesday’s ballots after making a point to highlight social issues. In Kentucky, home to the Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis controversy, the turning point for Bevin came when he made an intentional effort to defend the conscience rights of government officials.
FRC also reported on the Houston ordinance and the marijuana vote in Ohio. Regarding Ohio, the Update said that "... to the surprise of most Buckeyes, a referendum to legalize recreational and medical marijuana failed miserably. By a 2-1 margin, Ohioans turned out to drub the pro-pot crowd, which spent upwards of $25 million on advertising. In the words of conservative Curt Steiner, 'Never underestimate the wisdom of Ohio voters' -- or any voters with the courage and the facts to make a difference."
Christianity Today reported that the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, was defeated by a 3-2 margin. The ordinance would have extended protections for LGBT residents among other groups.
It said that the bill was "branded the 'bathroom bill' by opponents who feared accommodation of transgender individuals would give men, including sexual predators, the right to use women’s restrooms in public." The report continued:
After Mayor Annise Parker's failed attempt to subpoena sermons by pastors who attempted a petition drive to dismiss HERO, the Texas Supreme Court ordered that the ordinance be repealed or put to a popular vote.
Conservative Christian congregations in America's fourth-largest city rallied and prayed against HERO as a violation of their beliefs on gender identity.
“Biology and the Bible show us that there’s a difference between men and women,"said Gregg Matte, pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church. "In order to keep men out of women’s locker rooms, I want to encourage you to vote ‘no’ to Proposition 1 (HERO).”
And, according to the article, Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist Church, reportedly told his congregation, “It has been reported that we discriminate,” adding, “If we open up our facilities so that someone can choose … those of us who believe that men should use men’s facilities and women’s facilities, we will be discriminated against.”
Back to the FRC website, which stated:
“Once again, big business wants its freedom to operate according to its values, but wants to deny that freedom to others,” Ryan Anderson pointed out. As part of Proposition 1, local businesses would have been punished for holding natural views on sexuality -- when in reality, they should have the same right to embrace those beliefs as corporate America does not to! Instead, companies are turning on their own and demanding conformity on an issue the people will decide with their own dollars. If consumers don’t like what a Houston employer stands for, they can shop elsewhere! That’s the beauty of the free market.
(By the way, as FRC points out and as has been reported by other news outlets, supporters outspent opponents 3-1, contrary to what the CT story said.)