Freedom and equality go together -- the Bible affirms & we proclaim
by Ferrell Foster on August 2, 2017 in clc
A community in Quebec has done an interesting thing. The people of Saint-Apollinaire voted to not allow a Muslim cemetery in town.
They did so for a rather high-minded reason. As reported by Peter Stockland in The Globe & Mail, supporters of the ban are against burial on the basis of any faith tradition, period. No Catholic cemetery either.
“They want to stretch egalitarianism beyond the grave so that we are equally dead together,” Stockland writes.
Egalitarianism has a strong appeal to people in North America. It’s an important principle of Western Civilization. All people, we like to say, are created equal. Egalitarianism...
Nine-member Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Missouri playground case
by Guest Author on April 19, 2017 in public policy
By John Litzler
Today (April 19), the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is hearing oral arguments in one of the most important religious liberty cases of the last few decades. SCOTUS, which only had an eight-member court since Justice Antonin Scalia passed away last February, has a full bench for the first time in over a year. In January, President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. On April 7, Justice Gorsuch was confirmed just in time to begin hearing cases on April 17. This term will end in late June or early July when the Court recesses for the summer before its new term begins...
How does religious freedom affect starving children in Nigeria?
by Guest Author on November 22, 2016 in clc
By Randel Everett
The United Nations reports that an estimated 75,000 children could die from malnutrition within a year in Northern Nigeria unless food is made available. Members of our 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative staff have traveled to Nigeria twice this year, visiting camps where a million people displaced by Boko Haram and Fulani militants now live. We interviewed dozens of village leaders and victims of this violence, and we heard and saw for ourselves the reality behind the U.N. statistics.
What can we do to alleviate this suffering? One way is by giving money through reputable agencies that provide food for the...
After a season of harsh words, may we find new ones to heal
by Ferrell Foster on October 31, 2016 in ethical living blog
A few weeks ago I stopped posting on social media about the presidential campaign. I had not taken sides. I stopped posting because I didn’t trust myself. I was beginning to get angry and wanting to say mean things, to use unkind labels, to disrespect.
It’s been hard to not comment, but I’m glad I refrained. My anger and meanness would not have been of any help to my family, friends, or me.
Now we near the end, and I wonder how the vitriolic language of this campaign will affect us as a people going forward. (I'm not speaking of policy disagreements and discussion of facts; I'm speaking of the name-calling, fear-mongering, and...
Americans care less about personal immorality in politicians
by Ferrell Foster on October 27, 2016 in clc
Americans today are more likely to say elected officials can act ethically in office even if they have behaved immorally in their personal lives, according to a PRRI/Brookings survey Oct. 19. And white evangelical Protestants are even more likely to hold this view.
Sixty-one percent of Americans say “immoral personal behavior does not preclude public officials from carrying out their public or professional duties with honesty and integrity.” Only 29 percent disagree. This compares to a 2011 survey that recorded a 44 percent-44 percent split on the question.
The biggest change came among white evangelical Protestants (WEPs), with...
Vouchers pose a threat to religious liberty
by Kathryn Freeman on September 14, 2016 in public policy
During the time between legislative sessions, the Texas legislators have a series of committee meetings to review previously passed legislation and examine potential legislative issues for the upcoming session. On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Senate Committee on Education met to discuss various school choice proposals that would divert public funds from public schools to private educational institutions. Historically, the CLC has opposed vouchers over religious liberty and educational inequality concerns.
As Dr. Pinson noted in “Baptists Oppose the Constitution,” religious freedom is central to our identity as Baptists. Vouchers...
'Baptists Oppose Constitution' -- what might have been
by Guest Author on September 14, 2016 in clc
By William M. Pinson, Jr.
“BAPTISTS OPPOSE CONSTITUTION” could have been the headlines of a newspaper in 1787.
Why did Baptists strongly oppose the newly drafted Constitution of the United States of America? In brief, because the document failed to provide a guarantee for religious freedom, a belief cherished by Baptists.
From the earliest days of the settlement of America by Europeans, religious freedom was practically non-existent. Persecution for religious views contrary to those of government-supported churches was widespread and severe in most of the thirteen colonies. Although few in number, the Baptists in those...
Predatory lending is unjust because it traps borrowers
by Stephen Reeves on February 17, 2016 in money and work
(Stephen Reeves will lead a workshop titled "Predatory Lending and the Church: Morality, Missions and Advocacy" during the CLC's Micah 6:8 Conference March 31-April 1 at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio.)
Through the prophet Micah, God commands us to do justice. Doing justice is not extra credit; it is not bonus activity or tangential to the Gospel. The work of justice is at the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came proclaiming release to those held captive.
Millions of our neighbors are held captive by modern debt-slavery. Predatory lending, in the form of payday and auto title loans, ensnares many...
It's January, but March 1 is coming
by Ferrell Foster on January 5, 2016 in church state
Things are about to get crazy in Texas – or crazier. It is less than two months before the Republican and Democratic primary elections here (March 1), and early voting begins Feb. 16.
No party speaks for God. There will be committed Christians, as well as others, running in both parties. Some of them will actually use language that connects deeply with those of us who seek to follow Christ.
Language is a powerful tool for good or evil, right or wrong. As a result, we Christians need to listen with all the intelligence and wisdom we can muster through the help of the Holy Spirit. We listen with the ears of Texans and Americans, but we...
Religious liberty and openness at the core of U.S.
by Ferrell Foster on December 8, 2015 in church state
Presidential candidate Donald Trump said Monday we need a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
It is sad that a candidate for president would say something so contrary to the founding and sustaining principles of this great nation. Religious liberty stands at our nation's core, and openness to immigrants has filled our population with a diverse people unparalleled anywhere on earth. America is at its best when it allows people to pursue their religious beliefs and when it treats all people with respect and dignity.
These principles of...
Religious Liberty in Nepal
by Ferrell Foster on August 14, 2015 in church state
People of Nepal have been dealing for months with the aftermath of an earthquake disaster. Now, the Asian nation faces a possible religious liberty disaster that could impact people's lives for years.
The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission is part of an international Baptist effort to encourage the Nepal government to not include restrictions on religious liberty in its new constitution, as currently proposed.
Working with the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, the CLC staff is encouraging religious leaders to sign a letter to the Nepal government. This needs to happen quickly. To co-sign the letter, send an email with your...
CLC director expresses concern regarding Houston subpoenas
by Ferrell Foster on October 15, 2014 in church state
Gus Reyes, director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, has released the following statement regarding the City of Houston's subpoenas sent to five churches:
"We are glad Mayor Annise Parker now agrees with critics that the initial City of Houston subpoenas were overly broad.
"The U.S. Constitution protects religious freedom, and that includes the right of pastors and church members to speak on social and community issues without fear of intimidation by the government.
"We now wait to see what city officials do next. We hope they display a renewed commitment to religious liberty and recognize that efforts meant to...
Connecting religious liberty and evangelism
by Ferrell Foster on March 12, 2014 in church state
Evangelism and missions can be conducted openly and forthrightly only in an environment that fosters and protects religious liberty. The United States, with its constitutional protections, is a shining example of this reality, while nations with limits on religious expression are examples of the opposite.
Brent Walker, in the January Report from the Capital, develops the link between religious liberty and evangelism. Americans are "able to practice our religion as we see fit and free to go tell others about it," said Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty.
One person's freedom, however, can...