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Give Me Those Old-Time Baptists
Joe Phelps, Louisville Courier-Journal
(June 2009)
"Baptists come in all flavors and sizes. With the Southern Baptist Convention's annual gathering taking place in Louisville later this month, and with a recent SBC vice-president saying in an interview that he prays for the death of President Obama, it is timely to recite the old adage, "No Baptist speaks for another." I don't speak for them, and they surely don't speak for me."
Seminary President Says Smaller Families Hurting Baptism Totals
Associated Baptist Press
(June 2009)
"A seminary president calling for a "Great Commission Resurgence" in the Southern Baptist Convention says reversing the denomination's declining baptism totals is a matter not merely of evangelism, but also birthrates."
Social Conservative Leaders Feel Scapegoated
(May 2009)
"There is a brooding sense within top social conservative circles that they have become the revolving scapegoat of the Republican Party. Many of the longtime leaders of the Christian right, from Richard Land to Tony Perkins to Gary Bauer, expressed resentment in extended interviews with a singular theme: that the most loyal GOP bloc has been so quickly thrown under many critics' bus."
Shurden Lectures Available Online
Baptist Joint Committee For Religious Liberty
(April 2009)
Randall Balmer was the recent featured speaker of the annual Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lecture on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State, hosted this year by Mercer University.
Predicting the End of Faith in America
History News Network
(April 2009)
Is religion exiting stage right in America? Not so fast, according to two editors of The Economist.
One Nation Under God?
(April 2009)
The latest NEWSWEEK Poll finds shifting American attitudes about religion and faith. Still, the U.S. remains a deeply religious land.
Judson Press Collection Celebrates Baptist Witness
American Baptist Churches-USA (April 2009)
This calendar year, 2009, is a year of Baptist milestones. Believers worldwide are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Baptist beginnings in Amsterdam, Holland in 1609. And in the western hemisphere, American Baptists are recognizing the oldest Baptist publisher, Judson Press, for its 185th year of Christian publishing.
Alexandria Pelosi, "Right America: Feeling Wronged," Republicans
(February 2009)
"Millard Fuller, a millionaire entrepreneur who gave away his fortune to create Habitat for Humanity International in 1976, died Feb. 3 after a brief illness. Fuller, 74, led the worldwide house-building ministry with his wife, Linda, for 29 years before both were fired in January 2005 following several months of conflict with their board of directors. Afterward Fuller formed a new organization, the Fuller Center for Housing."
Habitat for Humanity Founder Millard Fuller Dies
Associated Baptist Press
(February 2009)
"Millard Fuller, a millionaire entrepreneur who gave away his fortune to create Habitat for Humanity International in 1976, died Feb. 3 after a brief illness. Fuller, 74, led the worldwide house-building ministry with his wife, Linda, for 29 years before both were fired in January 2005 following several months of conflict with their board of directors. Afterward Fuller formed a new organization, the Fuller Center for Housing."
Vestal Recovering After Successful Surgery
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
(February 2009)
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal underwent successful surgery Feb. 2 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta following a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer. The procedure revealed that the cancer had not spread, and Vestal is expected to make a full recovery.
Carter Draws Huge Church Crowd for Baptist Message
Birmingham News, AL
(February 2009)
Former President Jimmy Carter addressed a packed Sixteenth Street Baptist Church with his New Baptist Covenant message of racial reconciliation and cooperation on social issues.Some 1,200 people filled the historic Birmingham church Saturday where four black girls died in a 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing.
Center for Baptist Studies Compiles Resources on 400th Anniversary of Baptists
January 2009

In 2009 Baptists worldwide are celebrating 400 years of Baptist heritage. In 1609, John Smyth and Thomas Helwys established the first Baptist congregation in Amsterdam, Holland. The Center for Baptist Studies is providing information and educational resources for the observance of the 400th anniversary of Baptists.
Robert Handy, Baptist Historian, Seminary Professor, Dies
Associated Baptist Press
(January 2009)
Robert Handy, who studied under legendary Christian scholars like Paul Tillich before becoming a prominent Baptist historian in his own right, died at a retirement community in West Caldwell, N.J., Jan. 8. He was 90.
What Happened to the Religious Vote? It's Complicated
Austin American-Statesman
(November 2008)
Martin Marty, a venerable and astute observer of religion in America, noted a telling distinction in how we are sizing up this presidential election. Two news stories appeared within a day of each other, one from The Wall Street Journal that characterized conservative Christians (including white evangelicals and Catholics) as still solidly Republican, the other from The New York Times that credited President-elect Barack Obama with making significant inroads among evangelicals (particularly the younger part of that demographic). Can both be true?
Crowd at Ebenezer Baptist Celebrates Historic Election
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
(November 4, 2008)
"At 11, CNN projected Obama as the president-elect, and the sanctuary erupted in a shrill noise like a jet taking off.  People jumped up and down in the pews, raised their arms to heaven, and many began to weep.  “It’s the spirit of God,” said Annette Gay of Atlanta as she buried her face in her hands and burst into tears."
European Baptists Seek End to Demand for Prostitution
Christian Today, UK
(October 2008)
The European Baptist Federation’s anti-trafficking group is working on a handbook that will give congregations across Europe ideas on how best to eradicate prostitution.
Why is Palin Such a Good Liar for God?
Frank Schaeffer
(October 2008)
The Evangelicals live in a resentment-fueled, inward-looking subculture. They are convinced that the world is out to get them and put them at a perpetual disadvantage. They equate knowledge, facts and education with an elite that they feel belittled by.  The Evangelical "base" have unwittingly become the enemy of democracy. They are democracy's enemy ... Palin's lies depend for their success on those who are willfully blind to facts.
Evangelical Christians in the South are Conflicted Over Torture
Macon Telegraph
(September 2008)
Last week Mercer University hosted a National Summit on Torture.  A poll commissioned by Faith in Public Life and Mercer reveals that white evangelicals in the South are more likely to condone torture than the American public in general.
Black Baptists Confront 'Age Gap'
Cincinnati Enquirer
(September 2008)
From Southern Baptists to National Baptists, fewer and fewer younger persons are attending church.  At the National Baptist Convention in Cincinnati last week, some pastors talked about the challenges of reaching the younger generations.
Creativity in Theological Education
a report from Baptist theologians
(September 2008)
Geoff Pound from Theologians Without Borders has assembled a host of creative teaching ideas that Baptist theologians around the globe are implementing in their own settings. 
Separation of Church and State and Hiring
Brent Walker, Baptist Joint Committee
(August 2008)
Walker responds to Rick Warren's hosting of John McCain and Barack Obama in a debate forum.
Separation of Church and State Applies to the Spending of Our Tax Dollars
in the Clarksville Online (TN)
(August 2008)
"The erosion of the Constitution in recent years is disturbing, and the laxness in enforcement and the granting of exceptions to government regulations is deplorable, even and perhaps for faith groups."
Why Obama Seized the Faith-Based Mantle
(July 2008)
This wasn’t just a matter of political opportunism designed to remove an arrow from the GOP’s quiver. The Democratic nominee believes in the Bush program, and he’s upping the faith-based ante with fresh ideas.
Reclaim Noble Heritage
by Gary Burton in the Montgomery Advertiser, AL
(July 2008)
Burton provides an excellent overview of four centuries of Baptist witness and work.
Obama: Finding His Faith
By Lisa Miller and Richard Wolffe
(July 2008)
“So much has been made about Barack Obama's religion. But what does he believe, and how did he arrive at those beliefs?"
A Real To-Do List For the Church
On Faith: A Conversation On Religion
(June 2008)
“A lot of us believe that the reason for Jesus is to get our souls to heaven," Brian McLaren notes.  "But I don’t think Christianity is a fire escape message. I think the message of Christianity is about the Kingdom on Earth.” The Lord’s Prayer, McLaren reminded people, says “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” – not ‘get me off this planet’."
Georgia Group Aims to Coax More Seminarians to Pulpit
Associated Press
(June 2008)
Addressing the challenge of filling tomorrow's pulpits.
Congregational Model for Caregiving
Christianity Today
(May 2008)
To really understand the politics of the Christian Right, we need to look not only to public activity, but to private matters.
Stewardship Resources from American Baptist Churches USA
(May 2008)
A helpful collection of resources.
People of Faith Seek New Dialogue on Immigration
Jim Wallis
(April 2008)
New, harsh measures against immigrants have led some church leaders to pledge civil disobedience.
Going Behind Closed Doors in Christian Right Households
(April 2008)
To really understand the politics of the Christian Right, we need to look not only to public activity, but to private matters.
Ted Turner, Churches Fight Malaria
Associated Press
(April 2008)
The man who once called Christianity a "religion for losers" has apologized for his remarks, and now works with Lutherans and Methodists to fight malaria in Africa.
Jeremiah Wright: Prophet and Pastor
Chronicle of Higher Education
(April 2008)
Martin Marty offers personal insight into Barack Obama's controversial pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Postmodern Missionaries
Savannah Morning News
(March 2008)
The rebirthing of a church in a changing culture.
Chaplains Come Calling in the Workplace
(March 2008)
Workplace chaplains are a "new wrinkle" in corporate wellness trends.
The Greening of the Baptists
TIME Magazine
(March 2008)
Some Southern Baptist leaders have (finally) accepted the consensus regarding Climate Change.
Unto Caesar
The American Scholar
(February 2008)
Religious groups that have allied themselves with politicians, and vice versa, have ignored at their peril the lessons of Roger Williams and U.S. history.  By Ethan Fisher, professor of political science at the University of South Alabama.
Americans Change Faiths at Rising Rate, Report Finds
New York Times
(February 2008)
The American religious landscape is changing, as religious persons more frequently leave their childhood faith for another faith, or no faith.
Baptists Today Coverage of New Baptist Covenant
Baptists Today
(February 2008)
News coverage, blogs, commentary, editorials ... full coverage of the landmark event is here!
Carter Calls Moderate Baptists to Atlanta Convention
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
(January 2008)
Former President Jimmy Carter's faith was once welcomed by his fellow Southern Baptists.  But when fundamentalists took over the SBC, he lost his denominational home.  Now he is challenging a much broader spectrum of Baptists to a task shunned by SBC leaders: the preaching and living of the whole Gospel.
U.S. House Resolution Affirms Myth of America as Christian Nation
Baptist Joint Committee
(January 2008)
Politicians are seeking to formally endorse the myth of America as a Christian nation, in the process denying the sacrifices made by our Baptist ancestors to secure the Separation of Church and State in America.  The link above is to the actual bill now before legislators.
2008 Religious Liberty  Essay Photo Contest
Baptist Joint Committee
(January 2008)
The Essay Contest for high school students ends March 3.
Ministers Lose Job Tax Exemption in Kentucky County
Baptist Joint Committee
(January 2008)
Ministers in a Kentucky county will no longer be granted an occupational tax exemption after a local atheist sued to challenge the practice.
Shurden Feted at Mercer
Baptists Today Blog
(December 2007)
Walter B. Shurden was recently honored by Mercer University with a retirement dinner.  John Pierce offers his observations of the event.
Global Divisions Faced as Baptists Plan to Convene
by Jimmy Carter
(December 2007)
Jimmy Carter, writing for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, offers his thoughts on the upcoming New Baptist Covenant Celebration.
Religious Right Meltdown: More Fact Than Fiction
Media Transparency
(December 2007)
Despite rumblings in the traditional press about a religious right 'crackup,' key conservative Christian organizations are bringing in 'more money than ever' says Americans United for Separation of Church and State
In God's Name
(November 2007)
Contrary to predictions that religion would diminish in the world in the face of advances in science and technology, faith instead plays an increasingly prominent role in world affairs.  "Moreover, from a secularist point of view, the wrong sorts of religion are flourishing, and in the wrong places. In general, it is the tougher versions of religion that are doing best—the sort that claim Adam and Eve met 6,003 years ago."
15 Green Religious Leaders
(October 2007)
Fifteen spiritual leaders who are spreading the eco-gospel.
What is Mormonism? A Baptist Answer
(October 2007)
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, in the face of Mitt Romney's presidential bid, has declared Mormonism to be an "Abrahamic religion."
Carter Says U.S. Tortures Prisoners
(October 2007)
"I don't think it. I know it," former president Jimmy Carter declares. Carter also accuses Bus of creating his own definition of human rights.
A Nation of Christians is Not a Christian Nation
Jon Meacham, New York Times
(October 2007)
Meacham responds to John McCain's embracel of the myth of America's founding as a Christian nation.

Faith and Progress
The American Interest
(October 2007)
Calvin and Max Weber, finding fertile soil in capitalistic America, have created a unique religion that continues to have vast implications for individuals and society at large.

Unto Ceasar
The American Scholar
(October 2007)
Bush's legacy consists of the undoing of Roger Williams and the Baptist heritage of separation of church and state, according to Ethan Fishman, a professor of political science at the University of Southern Alabama.
Most Americans Think U.S. Constitution is Christian
First Amendment Center
(September 2007)
65% of Americans believe the nation's founders intended to establish a Christian nation, and 55% believe the Constitution establishes a Christian nation.  Widespread acceptance of such myths, as perpetuated by the Religious Right, reveal just how far America - and American Christians - have strayed from their heritage.
Has Rick Scarborough Assumed the Mantle of Jerry Falwell?
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
(September 2007)
Perhaps you've not heard of Rick Scarborough.  He's the Texas Baptist pastor who has wholeheartedly embraced the myth of America's founding as a Christian nation, and now he wants to control the "soul of our nation."  He may be coming to your city to tell you how to vote in 2008.
Your Postman May be a Pastor
Orlando Sentinel
(September 2007)
Kudos to the Sentinel for examining bi-vocationalism among 21st century ministers, a trend that may actually be on the upswing.
Arab Woman Receives First Freedom Award (February 3, 2007) -- "University of Richmond Law School Professor Azizah Y. al-Hibri was recently awarded the 2007 First Freedom Award by the Council for America's First Freedom. Professor al-Hibri was one of four distinguished advocates of religious freedom to receive First Freedom Awards at a dinner held on January 25, 2007 at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia." Read the rest of the story.  BG
Politics Not Behind Carter Plan (January 23, 2007) -- "An ambitious plan to unite Baptists in North America around the compassionate message of the gospel is not secretly a plan to get Baptists to elect Hillary Clinton as president, one of the plan's leaders said Jan. 23.  Bill Underwood, a co-organizer of the effort with former President Jimmy Carter, said former President Bill Clinton's offer to lend his star power to the upcoming Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant is not a covert political move." Read the rest of the story.  BG
Seeking a New Baptist Voice (January 8, 2007) -- "The nation's two living Baptist ex-presidents are calling for a historic convocation in Atlanta next year, intended to improve the 'negative' image of Baptists in North America and to unite the majority of Baptists into a loose-knit network to address social ills. President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton will announce the 2008 convocation in a press conference in Atlanta, following a meeting of about 80 diverse Baptist leaders at the Carter Presidential Center. The 2008 convocation is a result of Carter's initiative to create a new Baptist 'voice' to counter what he and others say is a negative and judgmental image of Baptists in North America." Read the rest of the story.  BG
When Religion Loses Its Credibility (November 20, 2006) -- "Galileo was persecuted for revealing what we now know to be the truth regarding Earth's place in our solar system. Today, the issue is homosexuality, and the persecution is not of one man but of millions. Will Christian leaders once again be on the wrong side of history?BG
A Christian View of War (September 20, 2006) -- Many Christians in today's America seem to revel in war, contrary to the teachings of Jesus regarding the primacy of compassion, justice and peace.  Oliver "Buzz" Thomas dares to express a contrarian opinion in his calls for a Christian view in regards to war and terrorismBG
Republican Lies and the Baptists Who Believe Them (August 29, 2006) -- Brent Walker, Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, offers an excellent rebuttal to Katherine Harris' lie that "the separation of church and state is a lie." BG
Reconciling Faith with Democracy (August 18, 2006) -- "I think it's time that we join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic society," notes Senator Barack Obama in his Call to Renewal address. WBS
The Social Attitudes of Americans (August 4, 2006) -- The recent Pew Poll on Americans and Social Life will be a much discussed and, doubtless, much debated survey of the social attitudes of Americans. Read for yourself. WBS
Moderate Baptists Challenged on Collegiate Ministry (May 8, 2006) -- During what church historian Walter Shurden called “a long needed and critical meeting for moderate Baptists,” approximately 90 persons gathered May 4-5 at the First Baptist Church of Decatur, Ga., to raise awareness, share ideas and take at least one concrete step toward enhancing efforts to minister more intentionally and effectively to college students. Read the rest of the story. BG
A Time for Heresy (April 6, 2006) -- "This is the heresy of our time -- to wrestle with the gods who guard the boundaries of this great nation's promise, and to confront the medicine men in the woods, twirling their bullroarers to keep us in fear and trembling. For the greatest heretic of all is Jesus of Nazareth, who drove the money changers from the temple in Jerusalem as we must now drive the money changers from the temples of democracy."  Thus declared Bill Moyers in a recent speech. BG
A Blog a Day for Religious Freedom (March 29, 2006) -- If you are concerned about the issues of religious freedom in America and around the world, bookmark "Blog from the Capital" sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. WBS
StopReligiousDiscrimination.Org (March 28, 2006) -- "The Coalition Against Religious Discrimination is a group of religious, civil rights, labor, education, health, and advocacy organizations who believe in defending the First Amendment and the religious liberty of all Americans." You can help support the effort to defend the First Amendment. WBS
Calling All Over 50 (March 27, 2006) -- "The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love" is the slogan for the Peace Corps. And today more and more of those over 50 are heeding the call. In 1966 1% of the PC volunteers were over 50; today that number is 6%. Read about it in "Giving Peace A Chance." WBS
Republicans Against Bible Reading in School? (March 17, 2006) -- In a strange turn of events, the Religious Right in Alabama is loudly campaigning against Bible reading in public schools. In When Would Jesus Revolt?, Amy Sullivan of the Washington Monthly examines deepening political fissures among evangelicals. BG
Jerry Falwell Meet John Leland (March 14, 2006) -- When Falwell meets his Maker, he will get a tongue lashing from John Leland. In a brilliant article Steven Waldman describes how eighteenth and early nineteenth century evangelicals radically differed from evangelicals today on the issue of separation of church and state. WBS
Pope Doesn't Budge on Women Priests (March 13, 2006) -- When asked if women could have more of a governance role in the Vatican that is a men's only club, he said "possibly." However, like his predecessor, John Paul II, he unfortunately said that women cannot be priests. WBS
Freedom of Religion Facing Resistance (March 13, 2006) -- A Sunday Washington Times commentary, by Grace V. Smith begins this way: "Despite the increasing appeal of democratic ideas around much of the world, a core democratic principlefreedom of religion continues facing stiff resistance." WBS
Calling All High School Seniors (March 10, 2006) -- The Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C. is sponsoring an essay writing contest for high school seniors graduating in 2006 or 2007. Win $1,000 and a trip to Washington! Click here for more informationWBS
The Gospel vs. H.R. 4437 (March 7, 2006) -- Cardinal Roger Mahoney of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the biggest in the nation, says he will urge his priests and laity to defy H. R. 4437 if the law makes it a felony to aid immigrants. Maybe the largest civil disobedience in the nation's history? Click here for more informationWBS
Beyond Sectarian Captivity (February 2, 2006) -- "Jack Danforth wishes the Republican right would step down from its pulpit. Instead, he sees a constant flow of religion into national politics. And not just any religion, either, but the us-versus-them, my-God-is-bigger-than-your-God, velvet-fist variety of Christian evangelism." The retired Republican U.S. Senator and Diplomat believes Americans are tired of the Religious Right's arrogance and bullying.  BG
Help Preserve Religious Liberty in America (January 31, 2006) -- As you may know by now, some members of Congress and the Bush administration are advocating the use of government funds to be used for religious discrimination.  If their efforts are successful, American citizens could be denied jobs in government-funded public service sectors based solely on their religious faith.  Learn how you can get involved and help prevent government discrimination against religion.  BG
Church-State Evaluation of Alito (January 9, 2006) -- "Alito's church-state record is mixed. While some of his free exercise opinions suggest a strong commitment to protecting religious rights, his record on applying the Establishment Clause to protect religious freedom is less promising.." Read the rest of this article.  BG
Religion vs. Evolution (January 2, 2006) -- "As a Baptist minister, I believe in an intelligent designer whom I unabashedly call God. But this is a religious affirmation, not a scientific proposition suitable for inclusion in a science classroom." Read the rest of Brent Walker's editorial on why the positing of religion vs. evolution is a "false dichotomy."  BG
Intelligent Design Overruled (December 21) -- A federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that intelligent design is not science, and cannot be taught as science in public schools. Read about the ruling hereBG
The Battle for Louisiana College (December 15) -- Four professors have not given up in their struggle to restore academic integrity to the Louisiana Baptist school. Read about the lawsuit they have filedBG
A Bible of Ambiguity (November 15) -- A recent New York Times article explores the ambiguous role that the Bible plays in the ongoing debate over abortion. BG
Poverty or Abortion? (November 10) -- In a recent discussion of religion and public life held in Nashville, ministers differed on whether churches should target abortion or poverty. BG
Katrina Lessons and Stories (September 29) -- Natural disasters have shaken America, bringing out both the best and the worst in people.  Well-know author Max Lucado talks about What Katrina Can Teach Us, while Chris and Karen Harbin, former Baptist missionaries to Brazil, share their own relief work stories in their Katrina JournalBG
The Bible and Public Schools (September 23) -- The nonprofit Bible Literacy Project has unveiled "a new textbook aimed at teaching public high school students about the Bible while avoiding legal and religious disputes."  The curriculum is endorsed by major educational organizations and Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups.  Read the CNN story.  BG
Destroying the Baptist Heritage (September 13) -- Political and religious conservatives in America are determined to demolish the Baptist heritage of the separation of church and state, as Bill Moyers candidly observes in his thoughts on America and God four years after 9/11.  BG
John Claypool Dies of Cancer-Related Causes (September 6) -- Influential preacher and theologian John Claypool died Saturday, Sept. 3, from treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, at a hospital in Atlanta.  Claypool, a Kentucky native and former Baptist pastor, was a visiting professor of preaching at Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology. He was 74.  Read the Associated Baptist Press story.  BG
Examining Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts (September 2) -- The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty has released a church-state evaluation of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. The report concludes that Roberts would "weaken church-state separation and provide less protection for religious freedom."  BG
Air Force Bans Leaders' Promotion of Religion (August 31) -- "The Air Force issued new religion guidelines to its commanders that caution against promoting any particular faith - or even 'the idea of religion over nonreligion' - in official communications or functions like meetings, sports events and ceremonies."  Read the New York Times story.   BG
Paving the Way for Supreme Court Nominee Roberts (July 22) -- According to the New York Times, the Bush administration spent the past year grooming Roberts with the Religious Right.  "For at least a year before the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court, the White House was working behind the scenes to shore up support for him among its social conservative allies, quietly reassuring them that he was a good bet for their side in cases about abortion, same-sex marriage and public support for religion."  Read the entire article, including insights regarding Robert's wife. BG
FBI Monitoring ACLU, Other Rights Groups (July 18) -- "The FBI has thousands of pages of records in its files relating to the monitoring of civil rights, environmental and similar advocacy groups, the Justice Department acknowledges." Why is the Bush Administration monitoring groups that protect the U.S. Constitution, the rights of American citizens, and the environment?  Read the Washington Post story.   BG
Challenging "Uncivil Religion" (July 7) -- At the annual Religious Liberty Council Luncheon July 1, The Rev. Charles Foster Johnson, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas, urged BJC supporters to challenge "uncivil religion." Johnson said, "Religion in the public square has been stripped of its civility."  BG
10 Commandments Neutrality Upheld (June 28) -- "In two decisions regarding Ten Commandments displays, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed a principle requiring religious neutrality by government and emphasized the rule that the constitutionality of government displays with religious content depends on the context."  Read the entire press release from the Baptist Joint Committee.  BG
Is Benedict XVI Already at Work? (June 21) -- It is widely assumed, says John Buchanan, editor/publisher of The Christian Century (see June 14, p.3), that the recent departure of Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit weekly America, was connected to the new pope.  We hope this is not true.  But apparently America published articles that questioned official Roman Catholic teaching on a number of issues.  And did you hear that Loyola University in Chicago and 18 other Catholic schools rescinded invitations to commencement speakers because of their shakiness on some aspect of official Catholic teaching? Buchanan wisely noted that Roman Catholics lack monopoly on such actions and attitudes. WBS
The Gift of Infertility (June 20) -- Yes, that is the title of Yale theologian Miroslav Volf's article in the June 14, 2005, issue of The Christian Century.  Both the fertile and infertile will come away richer in sensitivity and knowledge of this painful and pressing issue for so many.  WBS
Onward Moderate Christian Soldiers (June 17) -- An Episcopal minister and former Republican Senator calls for moderate Christians to make their voices known, noting that "religion should be inclusive, and it should seek to bridge the differences that separate people .... we welcome to the Lord's table all who would come .... we reject a political agenda that displaces that love.  BG
Schiavo Autoposy Exposes Lies of Religious Right (June 16) -- Results of an autopsy on Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman whose tragic condition sparked unprecedented governmental intervention by fundamentalist groups and their politician allies, debunk Religious Right claims by proving that her condition was irreversible. WBS
Ever Heard of Crazy Ole Richard Semmler? (June 15) -- A 59-year-old mathematician, he teaches math at Northern Virginia Community College. In the last 35 years, By working part-time jobs and forgoing a home telephone and vacations, and by living in an efficiency apartment and driving an old car, Semmler has donated as much as half of his annual income or more to charity. Talk about radical stewardship!! Read Jacqueline Salmon's article in the Washington Post. WBS
First Amendment in Danger (June 14) -- The United States Senate confirmed William Pryor by a 53-45 vote. Baptists, of all religious groups as well as all Americans, should be concerned that we now have a powerful judge in place who has said “God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time, this place for all Christians, Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox to save our country and save our courts.” "This place" of America is for Christians and non-Christians, religious and irreligious.  To have activist judges that fail to see this basic and fundamental constitutional principle is a danger to the First Amendment and religious liberty.
Genuine Ecumenism (June 13) -- A recent convocation at the Washington National Cathedral brought together 1,000 people of faith from all across the theological, ethical, and political spectrums of American religion to confront global poverty. Now in that issue we might could find some genuine ecumenism. Are Moderate Baptists at the table? WBS
The Church at the Crossroads (June 10) -- Led by the unprecedented gathering of 10,000 African-American Baptist ministers in January, this year has witnessed the coming together of Christian groups to forge a common social agenda, in reaction to the growing militant agenda of the Religious Right.  Tim Yeager, a Chicago-based Trade Union activist, believes the American Church is at a Crossroads. WBS
Activist Judge? (June 9) -- The United States Senate voted 56-43 to approve Janice Rogers Brown a seat on the federal appeals bench for the District of Columbia. In a previous speech at Pepperdine University Brown argued that the Supreme Court has "relied on a rather uninformative metaphor of the 'wall of separation of church and state.'" Not a good sign for church state separation or the relationship of religion and government. WBS
God's Own Party (May 12) -- In the wake of the ongoing fallout from recent events reflective of the marriage of the Religious Right and the Republican Party, Jim Wallis reminds us that "our faith must not be narrowed to the agenda of one political party." BG
Over the Top (May 11) -- Americans are realizing that the Religious Right is overplaying its hand in trumpeting the Republican Party as the Party of God.  The country is in dangerous territory, one writer notes.  The Religious Right is pretending to be a victim while redefining freedom and democracy, charges another writer. 
The Church No One Wants to Join (May 10) -- In the midst of the uproar over the North Carolina pastor who tossed Democrat members out of his church, Keith Herron, pastor of Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, delivers a sobering message for the 21st century church BG
Support George W. Bush, or Leave This Church! (May 6) -- "East Waynesville Baptist (NC) asked nine members to leave. Now 40 more have left the church in protest. Former members say Pastor Chan Chandler gave them the ultimatum, saying if they didn't support George Bush, they should resign or repent. The minister declined an interview with News 13. But he did say 'the actions were not politically motivated.'" (Update: Read the related Associated Baptist Press story.) BG
Federal Court Decides Against Faith-Based Prison Program (May 3) -- A state-funded religious prison ministry in Iowa is "so infused with religion that it is impossible to separate its sectarian from nonsectarian functioning," according to a Federal district judge. WBS
Religious Favoritism at U.S. Air Force Academy (May 2) -- "Recent news accounts have chronicled allegations that Academy staff have promoted evangelical Christianity and that cadets of other faiths have been the victims of religious bias." WBS
Hijacking Christianity (April 29) -- Some 1000 people attended a rally in Louisville this past weekend to protest the fundamentalist, theocratic "Justice Sunday" event.  Jim Wallace declares that it is time for Christians in America to take back their faith and prevent any further attempts to establish a theocracy. WBS
Deceit from the Pulpit (April 28) -- When you attend church on Sundays, do you anticipate hearing a message of deceit and deception?  If Justice Sunday was any indication, there is much deceit and deception being projected from pulpits throughout America, according to this editorial.
Holy Warriors: Bush and Benedict XVI (April 27) -- In the summer of 2004, President Bush made a pilgrimage to the Vatican to ask for John Paul II's help in winning re-election.  The Pope obliged.  Benedict XVI is an even closer cultural ally of the Religious Right, according to Sidney Blumenthal. BG
Church-Going, Bible-Believing Baptists No Longer Christians? (April 26) -- If you are a church-going, Bible-believing Baptist, the religious fundamentalists who staged "Justice Sunday" this past weekend have a message for you: unless you subscribe to their political and legal agenda, you are anti-Christian and hostile to religion.  Melissa Rogers says it's time to tell the truth about the lies of the Religious Right. BG
First Amendment in Peril (April 22) -- Addressing the First Freedoms conference last weekend, Shurden lamented the fact that sermons in a Baptist church on religious liberty, freedom of conscience and separation of church and state that once were “old hat” now cause a negative energy in the room that he called “sanctuary electricity.” Read the ABP story. BG
Enslaving Religion to Politics (April 21) -- A planned telecast to combat what organizers have described as a "filibuster against people of faith," is a blatant exploitation of religion for partisan political purposes, says a Baptist religious liberty organization. BG
The Government Should Approve News Stories? (April 7) -- Seemingly missed in ongoing debates over the First Amendment was a recent study of American high school students' attitudes towards the First Amendment.  The results are shocking: half of the students surveyed said newspapers should not be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories. This is merely one of the startling findings in the article. BG
Theologian Stan Grenz Dead (March 30) -- Baptist theologian Stan Grenz died March 12 in Vancouver, at age 55. A leading evangelical theologian, Grenz was best known for embracing postmodern culture in his presentation of the Gospel.  Grenz's first book was Isaac Backus–Puritan and Baptist: His Place in History, His Thought, and Their Implications for Modern Baptist Theology, published by Mercer University Press. BG
Delay, Deny and Demagogue (March 25) -- "Oh my God, we really are in a theocracy. Are the Republicans so obsessed with maintaining control over all branches of government, and are the Democrats so emasculated about not having any power, that they are willing to turn the nation into a wholly owned subsidiary of the church?" New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd addresses the Schiavo case. BG
Beyond the Eye Candy (March 22) -- Gadsden, Alabama-based Beyond the Eye ministry is challenging Christian churches to resist cultural trends which demean women, and to do so by teaching healthy Christian womanhood.  Carol Ann Vaughn, director of Samford University's Christian Women's Leadership Center, argues that the modern Christian Church must bear much of the blame for devaluing womenContributed by Mark Ray, Alabama
Trends in Baptist Polity (March 15) -- William M. Pinson, executive director emeritus of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, briefly explores current developments in Baptist Polity. BG
Ten Reasons Not to Post the "Big 10" (March 8) -- Following years of controversy, the Supreme Court finally agreed to take on public displays of the Ten Commandments.  Jim Evans offers ten reasons why the court should rule against public displays of Scripture. BG
Shurden Challenges Moderates at Mainstream Meeting (March 2) -- "Baptists will not see a new day until we reassert the centrality of preaching," said Shurden, executive director of Mercer University's Center for Baptist Studies. Good preaching makes a difference in a local church."  Read the ABP story. BG
Jim Wallis on Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It (February 25) -- Read what Wallace had to say about his latest book in an interview with the San Francisco ChronicleBG
Jesus the Heretic (February 24) -- Carl Beyerhelm, a writer and retired Lutheran pastor (ELCA), asks, "Where do liberals come from, anyway?" as he examines the life and teachings of Jesus.  BG
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Offering for Religious Liberty and Human Rights (February 21) -- The
Coordinating Council of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) unanimously voted on February 17 to
name the General Assembly offering "The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Offering for Religious Liberty and Human Rights." For the next five years, one-third of the offering will go to the Baptist World Alliance for its work on religious liberty and human rights and two-thirds of the offering will go for the same causes within CBF. WBS
Hollman Rebuts Sider on Faith-Based Initiative (February 14) -- Holly Hollmann of the Baptist Joint Committee offers a thoughtful rebuttal to Ron Sider's positive spin on Bush's policy of charitable choice. WBS
Is France Getting Religion? (February 11) -- Immigrants are changing the face of France, and in the process both Protestantism and Islam are making significant strides in a notably secular culture. BG
One Indian Woman's View of America (February 1) -- Columnist Sarita Sarvate reflects on her first summer in America fifty years ago, and her recent return visit to the heart of the Bible BeltBG
What Would Jesus Do in Alabama? (January 31) -- For years, Jim Evans has written thought-provoking religious editorials in Alabama newspapers.  Some Evans' fans are saying that his latest piece, "Get Moore Jesus in the Statehouse?", may be his best yet.  BG
The Day After Bush's Second Inauguration (January 21) -- Ekklesia, a theological news journal from the United Kingdom, offers a larger perspective on the state of American Union, via the following three stories: Poverty Groups and Christians Attack Bush Inaugural Vision, Economic Injustice Leads to Rising Abortion Under Bush, and God's Politics Straight to NY Times Bestseller ListBG
Martin Luther King's Legacy (January 18) -- Birmingham, Alabama was an epicenter of the American Civil Rights struggle, and on this year's MLK Day the city celebrated King's legacy through both word and deed.  BG
American Christianity: Scandalous? (January 13) -- "Scandalous behavior is rapidly destroying American Christianity," says Ronald J. Sider, professor of theology and holistic ministry at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  "Why don't Christians live what they preach?"  Read more of what Sider has to sayBG
Christian Motives in Tsunami Relief Efforts Questioned (January 10) -- Christian groups are rushing into devastated regions of Asia to help Tsunami victims.  Although most efforts are welcomed, some groups are being criticized for acting inappropriately BG
Five Questions on Religious Liberty (January 5) -- The Interfaith Alliance is monitoring all cabinet level appointees and sends a letter to the Senate urging them to ask each nominee to answer five questions. TIA urges all cabinet appointees to answer these questions for both the Senate Commerce Committee and the American public:
1.How will your religious faith and values impact your role in carrying out the laws of the United States?
2.When speaking in your official capacity, will your use of religious language reflect the language of your religious tradition, or will it be more broadly inclusive?
3.What active steps will you take to show respect for the variety of religious beliefs of the people living in this country?
4.What are your views on the Constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state?
5.How will you balance the principles of your faith and your pledge to defend the Constitution, particularly when the two come into conflict?  WBS
 2004 News and Views Items
Roy Honeycutt Dead at 78 (December 22) -- Roy Honeycutt, retired president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, died Tuesday, December 21, from head injuries following an accident.  Elected president of SBTS in 1982, Honeycutt held the post for 11 years.  He is remembered for his statesmanship in attempting to negotiate middle ground during the early years of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC.  The memorial service will be held at Crescent Hill Baptist in Louisville on Thursday, December 23. BG
Top Baptist Story of 2004 (December 17) -- Baptist journalists selected the Southern Baptist Convention's snubbing of the Baptist World Alliance as the top Baptist news story for 2004.  BG
Top Religion Stories of the Year (December 16) -- Religion made an impact on American politics and entertainment in 2004, according to the Religion News Service.  Mel Gibson's Passion and the Re-Election of George W. Bush tied for the honor of Top Religion News Stories of 2004.  BG
Florida May Fund Religion with State Money (December 16) -- An 1885 constitutional ban prohibits the state of Florida from spending state funds for religious purposes.  Some Florida state Republicans are ready to overturn that ban BG
Is Certainty a Plague? (December 13) -- Read R. Kirby Godsey's address that suggests the church today lives under such a plagueWBS
Going Hungry in America: At Christmas? (December 13) -- Politicians talk about "poverty in America," but do they get specific about hunger in America? And do white Baptist churches talk about either, other than at Christmas? Read on and find outWBS
Is Charity at Christmas Enough? (December 8) -- Sean Gonsalves says that "Charity in Not Enough" in an article posted on AlterNet.  WBS
Mercer's President Godsey to Retire (December 3) -- The longest-serving president of Mercer University has announced he will step down in 2006.  His replacement will have big shoes to fill.  Read about it in the Macon TelegraphWBS
A Christian-Republican Alliance? (December 3) -- Read about it by Stephen Haynes, one of
the nations' experts on the First Amendment
.  This is a wonderful site that Baptists ought visit regularly.
The Difference in Tribes and Tribalism (December 3) -- Read insightful Daniel Vestal. Daniel's a denominational man who is more than a denominational man!  WBS
The Greatest Australian Baptist Preacher? (December 3) -- Many would vote for F.W. Boreham, author of 53 books, many booklets, and over 2000 newspaper and Christian journal articles during his ministries in New Zealand and Australia. He is probably the only collectible religious author Australia has produced. His writings are timeless, and his books increasing in value.  WBS
Forgiveness and Reconciliation (December 2) -- We really do need in this land and in the American churches some reconciliation and forgiveness between liberals and fundamentalists and evangelicals, between Republicans and Democrats, between almost all of us. Read a moving account of reconciliation between Bill Bright and Jim Wallis in the December 1 issue of SOJOMAIL, sponsored by Sojourners.  WBS
The Newest Thing in Church (December 2) -- Have you heard of it yet? It is "The Emergent Church." Three recent articles will tell you all about it. See the November issue of Christianity Today, pp. 36-41, the November 30 issue of The Christian Century, pp. 20-31, and the best brief introduction is by Tony Campolo in the December 1 issue of "PrismEpistle," the bi-weekly ezine of PRISM Magazine and Evangelicals for Social Action.  You can also read first hand accounts of the Emergent Church in the United States and in the United KingdomWBS
The Greatest Canadian, A Baptist Minister (December 1) -- Tommy Douglas, Baptist minister, social gospel activist, concerned politician, has been voted by the Canadian people as "The Greatest Canadian." Douglas fathered much of the progressive social programs in Canada. He died of cancer in 1986. Ever heard of him?  WBS
Baptist Core Values (November 30) -- Quickly, name five! Now read the core values of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and compare their first, second, and third core values with that of your church. We like it! WBS
Vision Statement (November 30) -- Does your church or denomination have one? Want to see what the American Baptists are proposing? Cheers for a good group of Baptists! WBS
Molly Marshall Breaks Down the Wall (November 19) -- Professor of theology and author Molly Marshall has become Baptists' first woman seminary President. Congratulations to the trustees of Central Seminary of Kansas City and to Professor Marshall! WBS
The Church on Its Knees Again (November 19) -- This time the church is begging for and getting federal support. The House of Representatives passed the California Missions Preservation Act (H.R. 1446), providing $10 million to "restore and repair" 21 mission churches, 19 of which are active Roman Catholic congregations. Taxpayers, religious and non-religious, pay for these services. Backus and Leland arise! WBS
New, Yet Old, Bible Translation (November 19) -- Biblical scholar Robert Alter has taken the Bible back to its roots.  The Five Books of Moses is a new English translation of the Torah which returns to the "original Hebrew meanings and majestic repetitions."  Anyone who appreciates Scripture would do well to take a look at this new translation.  BG
Registered Yet? (November 18) -- Early registrations for the Centenary Congress of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), July 27-31, 2005, Birmingham, England, are booming. 1,014 individuals from 36 countries have already registered. The Center for Baptist Studies urges Baptists to attend this historic meeting.  WBS
Ouch on Vouchers! (November 18) -- This week the full 1st District Court of Appeals ruled that Florida’s school-voucher law violates the state constitution because it allows tax dollars to be spent on religious
schools. TWO thumbs up for the FIRST District Court. By the way, this is a great site! WBS
Florida Convention and Creedalism (November 17) -- Last week the Florida Baptist Convention tightened bylaws to enforce the 2000 "Baptist Faith and Message" or "any other declaration of faith which parallels the tenants of our historic Baptist faith" on both local churches and associations.  This is simply another step on the way to THE Southern Baptist Church.  Churches and associations should refuse to sign on principle. WBS
Tennessee Convention and Creationism (November17) -- Based upon the allegations of a student, the Tennessee Baptists voted to investigate "the biblical views" at its three Baptist colleges.  The charge? Professors teach contrary to "conservative views about the Bible, such as creationism." Whew!  WBS
Catholic Decline in the U.S.? (November 16) -- Our kinds of Baptists take no delight in the decline of any Christian group in America, but could this be so about our Catholic friends? If so, what are the implications for religion in America?  WBS
Talking About Homosexuality (November 15) -- The Christian Century offers a helpful study guide on homosexualityCan We Talk? Homosexuality and the Christian Faith is designed for Sunday Schools and other church groups.  WBS
News from Baptist State Conventions (November 12) -- Two Baptist state conventions voted this week to refuse to relate with churches which hold moderate sentiments.  Read the ABP stories about the actions of the Florida and Missouri Baptist state conventions.  Will pastors who don't vote Republican be next?  BG
"Liars Unaware" by Mel Deason, Mainstream Alabama Baptists (November 12) -- We at the Center for Baptist Studies know the Internet is an excellent communication medium if used judiciously and with integrity.  But Mel Deason reminds us that many Christians put their faith in lies perpetuated online BG

Contact Bruce Gourley