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BP News Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - 2:57pm

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Online hotel registration opens Friday (Oct. 1) for the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 14-15 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Online registration will be available at beginning at 8 a.m. Central Daylight Time, with the discounted convention rate available until May 16.

California Southern Baptists showcase diversity, with 12 languages and 51 nationalities counted among the 147 churches in the Orange County Southern Baptist Association, according to Director of Missions Mike Proud. Statewide, Hispanics are now the largest ethnic group, the 2020 U.S. Census notes.

“The annual meeting will be an amazing opportunity for Southern Baptists to encourage and join the work of God that is happening in California,” SBC President Ed Litton has said. “It also excites me for Southern Baptists to see the vast mission field of our most populous and diverse state.

“For better or worse, California sets trends for our nation, and we need to seize on the tremendous potential in planting churches that will impact the spread of the Gospel across our land.”

“Jesus: The Center of It All” is the 2022 annual meeting theme, anchored in Colossians 1:15, which describes Jesus as the image of the invisible God and the firstborn over all creation, with all things in heaven and earth created by and for Him.

Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg has encouraged Southern Baptists to visit the seminary in the days surrounding the meeting, at its Ontario campus, which is within 30 miles of Anaheim.

“The most unique thing happening at Gateway this year is we’re capitalizing on all of you coming to visit us and specific strategies to make sure that we take advantage of training our people and exposing so many Gateway folk to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Iorg said a week ago, “and then hopefully giving you a new vision, a new image, a new impression of what God is doing through Southern Baptists across California and the West.”

Rooms are available at 20 hotels, many of them within walking distance of the meeting site. Both the Anaheim Marriott, the official convention hotel, and the Hilton Anaheim are adjacent.

Online registration is encouraged, but reservations may be made by phone at 864-580-4468 with wait times anticipated. Reservations canceled on or after May 16, 2022, may result in a penalty of one night’s room and tax.

BP News Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - 12:31pm

AUSTIN, Texas (BP) – In another move to protect unborn life in the state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill earlier this month that narrows the window of time doctors can prescribe medicine to induce a chemical abortion from 10 weeks into pregnancy to seven weeks. The rule, which also disallows the pills from being delivered by mail, takes effect in December, The Associated Press reported.

In a ceremonial bill signing at Great Hills Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Austin, Abbott called the moment “a celebration,” the Texas Tribune reported. He was at the church for the annual Texas Faith, Family & Freedom Forum, hosted by policy group Texas Values.

“I think it’s clear that the most important freedom of all, obviously, is the right to life,” he said. “And even as we can all understand the imperative of the right to life, there are still millions of children who lose their lives to abortion, every single year. We in Texas will not accept that.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research institute that supports abortion, medication has become the most common way to obtain an abortion, the Texas Tribune reported.

“All pro-life Christians should be encouraged by this move by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature,” said Chelsea Sobolik, director of public policy for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments for Baptist Press.

“But, while this is certainly a step in the right direction, there’s still much work to be done to make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary in our society. The government should do all it can to protect innocent preborn babies.”

The bill, Senate Bill 8, is the latest of a string of pro-life developments in Texas. Abbott also signed the Texas Heartbeat Act in May of this year, which outlaws abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency request to block that law Sept. 1, thus allowing it to take effect.

Mifepristone – often known as RU 486 and authorized by the FDA under President Clinton in 2000 – is part of a two-step process in what is referred to as a medical or chemical abortion. Mifepristone, sold under the brand name Mifeprex, causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child, resulting in his or her death. Misoprostol, a second drug taken later, causes the uterus to contract, expelling the body.

Pro-life advocates have long opposed the legalization of mifepristone not only because of its lethal effect on unborn children but its risk to women who are not under a doctor’s direct care when they take the pill.

In April, the Biden Administration allowed the drugs to be sent in the mail – a rule that has gone back and forth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Biden administration temporarily lifted restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs, allowing them to be delivered by the mail during the pandemic,” the Texas Tribune quoted Abbot at the signing. “There was an effort to make that permanent. We will not allow that in the Lone Star State.”

With reporting by Baptist Press Washington Bureau Chief Tom Strode.

BP News Monday, September 27, 2021 - 5:45pm

Editor’s note: Sunday (Oct. 3) is Personal Evangelism Commitment Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – Tim Beougher considers himself blessed that he already understood evangelism to be a natural part of the Christian life before he realized that for many Christians, it isn’t.

Shortly after his conversion, Beougher was invited to attend a weekend retreat by the Baptist Student Union at Kansas State University. The topic that weekend was evangelism.

“As a young believer, I just sort of thought [evangelism] was what you do,” he said. “After that conference I started sharing my faith in the dorm and the last two years was a resident assistant in my dorm. I told the Lord that with His help I wanted to share the Gospel with all 70 guys on my floor, and I was able to do that two years in a row alongside many classmates.”

Beougher serves as associate dean at the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry and Billy Graham professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary..

There is a simple reason Christians are to make personal evangelism a part of their life, he said.

“We’ve been commanded to,” said Beougher, who released the book Invitation to Evangelism: Sharing the Gospel with Compassion and Conviction last month. “There’s an old saying in church life that ‘God said it. I believe it, and that settles it.’ We need to leave that middle part out. If God said it, that settles it.”

Other motivations, of course, exist for participating in evangelism, he added. For one, it glorifies God as people begin to worship Him. It also meets the needs of others, especially in eternal matters.

The reality of an earthly death reminded everyone at Southern Seminary today (Sept. 27) of the need to share the Gospel, Beougher said, referencing the unexpected loss of fellow professor Gregory Brewton.

“One that we know has passed into eternity, but thousands do so every day,” he said. “And so, heaven and hell are real. The Gospel is people’s only hope, and we need to be about the business of sharing it.”

Although studies show a willingness from the unchurched to hear about the Gospel, Christians continue to exhibit a hesitancy to share it. Fear, Beougher said, remains the chief reason to avoid evangelism even though it benefits both the hearer and speaker.

“When we come to Christ, the Gospel isn’t something we leave in our rearview mirror,” he said. “It’s the fuel for our sanctification as well. We get the privilege of seeing God use us in someone else’s life. That happened to me as a young Christian and I never got over it.

“A lifestyle of witnessing opens up to spiritual growth. The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea both have fresh water flowing in, but the Sea of Galilee has output as well. If there’s not output, the fresh water flowing in sits there and it soaks and sours.”

When more members of a church get that desire for evangelism, it can change a culture, he said.

“You begin to get a sense of anticipation and you’re not surprised when someone comes to faith,” Beougher said. “I’m convinced there are two types of Christians – those who think we can’t reach anyone anymore, and those who say things have changed but the Gospel hasn’t and can still reach people.

“The point is both groups are right. If you don’t think you can reach people, you won’t. But those who think they can, will.”

BP News Monday, September 27, 2021 - 5:40pm

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (BP) – Local media is reporting that a deacon at First Baptist Church Port-au-Prince was killed and his wife kidnapped as they prepared to enter Sunday morning worship Sept. 26.

Sylner Lafaille died later at a hospital from wounds he suffered in the attack that injured several others and was carried out by “a group of heavily armed men,” according to various reports. Lafaille’s injuries came after he tried unsuccessfully to prevent the kidnapping of his wife, Marie.

The Baptist World Alliance, which founded the church in 1836, asked for prayers in a Facebook post about the news yesterday.

The attack comes a little more than two months since the assassination of Haiti’s president and a descent into near-anarchy exacerbated by an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale and a direct hit from Tropical Storm Grace, both in August. Although gangs have at times offered to provide aid, events such as yesterday point to an ongoing issue with those same gangs and a general lawlessness in the country.

John Voltaire, Haitian Church Catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention, said the killings and kidnappings are indicative of the instability in Haiti.

“It’s basically for ransom,” he told Baptist Press. “It’s not that [gangs] have something against the church personally, it’s just general insecurity. It’s general violence. Everyone who does business has to pay a ransom to gangs to remain in business without harassment.”

The violence at First Baptist Port-au-Prince isn’t the only recent kidnapping at a church, as earlier this year several members of an Adventist congregation were kidnapped during the live stream of a worship service.

“If you’re a merchant, if you’re selling eggs, if you’re selling bananas, if you’re selling a goat – there is a percentage that you have to pay to the gang,” Voltaire said. “And if you’re a church, if you want to meet on Sunday, there is an amount you have to pay to the gangs for them to allow you to meet. And this is what Haiti is right now.”

Ernie Rice, a Baptist General Convention of Texas missionary to Haiti, told the Baptist Standard that “kidnapping is almost a daily occurrence” in Port-au-Prince.

“As the gangs get bolder it causes commercial activity and transportation to slow down, causing an imposed famine,” he said. “This causes marginally moral people to turn to violence in desperation.”

Additional reporting by Diana Chandler, senior writer for Baptist Press.

BP News Monday, September 27, 2021 - 5:35pm

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (BP) — Southern Baptist Haitian American pastors in Florida are mobilizing across state and denominational lines to help resettle Haitian migrants who drew widespread attention while stuck in Del Rio, Texas, last week trying to enter the U.S.

Bruno Molina, language & interfaith evangelism associate for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (seventh from left) helped Haitian American Southern Baptist pastors and others as they met with border patrol agents in response to the Haitian migrant crisis at the U.S. border in Del Rio, Texas. Photo from John Voltaire

Keny Félix, senior pastor of Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, hosted a community rally Sunday to mobilize local congregations to help with housing and other needs and to call for an end to Haitian deportations. Félix was among members of the Florida Haitian Baptist Fellowship who met with border patrol agents and Southern Baptists in Del Rio last week.

“The images that had been coming across our television screens and our telephones were quite disturbing,” Félix said. “And to see the plight of our brothers and sisters, we felt compelled to go to visit Del Rio and … meet with our brothers and sisters there. Part of the trip was also to determine what needs are essential and how the church can definitely respond to the crisis, in addition to just advocating for the stop of deportations.

“We can do better as a nation under God,” Félix said.

John Voltaire, who serves about 350 congregations as a Florida Baptist Convention (FBC) Haitian church catalyst, is helping spearhead the effort. Bruno Molina, language & interfaith evangelism associate for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and members of First Baptist Church of Del Rio provided logistical support to the pastors during their trip to Del Rio Thursday (Sept. 23), when pastors distributed Bible tracts in Creole and French and donated other resources.

Images of border patrol mounted on horseback and grabbing migrants drew outrage from some, with President Joe Biden declaring that mounted patrol would no longer be used in the effort.

About 5,000 migrants are being processed by the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether they will be expelled or allowed to remain in the U.S., Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday. About 2,000 have been expelled and another 8,000 “voluntarily” returned to Mexico, their point of entry to the U.S., Mayorkas said.

Voltaire said migrants being processed by Homeland Security are apparently being sent to hubs in Houston and San Antonio.

“The challenge is now, once they have been released from these hubs, they need people to receive them,” Voltaire said. “This is where housing becomes an issue, other than mental health counseling for them, other needs that they will have and people to help them to go back to their appointments with immigration, but also they need housing. And I think housing will be one of the biggest challenges.”

John Voltaire, Haitian church catalyst with the Florida Baptist Convention, prays at the Sept. 26th community rally at Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church in Miami Garden, Fla., to help Haitian migrants attempting to resettle in the U.S. Photo from John Voltraine

Haitian American churches and families offering to house migrants are already at capacity or overwhelmed, Voltaire said. He is encouraging churches with mission homes and other facilities to open their doors and to let the Biden administration know the temporary housing is available. The availability of housing can determine where migrants are sent.

“Apparently if credible organizations with homes were to reach out to the administration,” Voltaire said, “that would probably facilitate housing some of these people … to find their destination.”

Voltaire serves the area with the largest number of Haitians in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau that counts about 300,000 people of Haitian ancestry in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Félix described the migrant situation as a crisis, with many of those being returned to their country of origin, Haiti, not having lived there for as long as 15 years. Many have lived in South America, he said.

“We definitely as ministers and community leaders feel that to send migrants who are seeking asylum, who are seeking safety and security, to Haiti at this time — when there is a humanitarian crisis, when there is political upheaval, when there is violence that has plagued the streets throughout the country, even making humanitarian relief difficult at this time – it’s inhumane,” Felix said.

Others who traveled to Del Rio included Samuel Louis-Jean, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Jacksonville; Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action; and Patrick Chery, Miami-Dade organizer for Faith in Florida.

Churches in the tri-county Miami area, Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez, Houston Haitians United, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, Haitian-American elected officials and others have responded to the pastor’s call.

“The aim is to collaborate and help these families while advocating on their behalf for a change in U.S. policy,” Félix said. “The deportation has to stop. The resignation of Daniel Foote, the U.S. Special Envoy for Haiti, citing the administration’s ‘inhumane’ treatment of these migrants gives further weight to our call to action.”

In addition to sending international missionaries, Southern Baptists must also show hospitality when those in need come to our front door, Félix said.

“As a people of faith, we need to be welcoming, we need to be engaged,” he said. “When the people come to our doors, how do we respond? We can’t respond with horses. … No, we have to understand these are a group of people in crisis, and whether they were of Latino descent, whether they were of Asian descent, it’s people and you have to respect the inherent dignity of the individual before God.

“The church needs to stand and do what the church is called to do, which is to be the hands and feet of Christ, particularly to those who are in desperate need at this time.”

BP News Monday, September 27, 2021 - 5:04pm

Do you compare yourself to other pastors or leaders? If so, who is the object of your comparison? The person who comes to mind may reveal whether your battle with comparison is a struggle with pride or insecurity.

Prideful people tend to compare themselves to others they view as lesser than themselves while insecure leaders tend to obsess over people perceived by them to be better than themselves.

The problem is that neither practice is helpful, and both can be debilitating. Why is self-comparison a mental war that must be overcome?

1. Because of the unfairness of comparison: Every God-called leader is a mixed bag of strengths to utilize and weaknesses to overcome. Only Jesus has it all together in perfect proportion. The rest of us are lacking in many significant ways. Comparing yourself to someone who has a much higher IQ than you, or a more charming personality, or who is blessed with good looks is not fair to you. Judging yourself as better than someone who doesn’t have your gifts or opportunities is unfair to them.

2. Because of the failure of comparison: You were made by God for the glory of God, and He made you in a unique way. He also is shaping you through your own unique experiences. There really is only one of you. Paul exhorts believers in Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.”

Comparing yourself to another pastor or leader fails to honor what God is doing in your life and in the life of the object of your comparison. When you look at other leaders and judge yourself as more or less valuable than they are, you are denying the planned design of the Creator who made you in a unique manner and for a noble purpose. You will not be judged by God as to whether you were like so-and-so, but instead by whether you were faithful with the gifts and assignments He entrusted to you.

3. Because of the fruit of comparison: If you compare yourself with another pastor or Christian leader and you determine you are better than they, then you will bear the fruit of haughtiness and will be unable to learn from those you believe to be lesser than yourself. If you compare yourself to ministry superstars and decide you have little value, then you will avoid being around others from whom you have much to learn.

Comparing yourself to other leaders, more or less gifted and successful than yourself, is a waste of time.

Try this instead.

  • Celebrate other leaders instead of comparing yourself to them.
  • Learn from other leaders instead of evaluating them.
  • Thank God for other leaders instead of being jealous or overly critical of them.

Give it a shot this week. Find someone you perceive to be better, or worse, than yourself and schedule a time to meet with them. Buy them lunch or coffee, bring a notebook (or phone) along with a list of good questions. Take great notes and see what you can learn from another pastor or leader made in the image of God. Both of you will leave that meeting encouraged and better off for the ministry ahead.

Todd Gray is the executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

BP News Monday, September 27, 2021 - 3:04pm

NASHVILLE (BP) – Members of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee are scheduled to meet for a special-called virtual meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 28) at 2:00 pm CDT. SBC EC Chairman Rolland Slade notified trustees of the meeting early Sunday afternoon.

The meeting is the follow-up to a motion passed at the Sept. 21 SBC EC meeting in Nashville. The motion allocated up to $1.6 million for Guidepost Solutions to conduct an independent, third-party review of the EC related to its handling of sexual abuse claims. It also gave trustees until Sept. 28 to negotiate a final agreement with GuidePost and the Sexual Abuse Task Force, appointed by SBC President Ed Litton.

Executive Committee officers have been meeting with members of the task force, representatives from Guidepost and attorneys during the seven-day period.

At the SBC Annual Meeting in June, SBC messengers voted for the formation of the task force to oversee an investigation of the EC by a third party.

Details concerning a possible online stream of the Sept. 28 meeting are still being developed. This story will be updated.

BP News Monday, September 27, 2021 - 1:56pm

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary community is mourning the loss of professor Gregory B. Brewton, who died early Monday morning (Sept. 27) after a sudden illness. He was 65.

Brewton had served as the Carolyn King Ragan Professor of Church Music and Worship since 2002 and was head of the Department of Biblical Worship. He taught students at Boyce College and Southern Seminary for almost 20 years.

Southern Seminary president Albert Mohler said that Brewton was “one of the most faithful, kind, committed, and gifted teachers of his generation and he shaped hundreds of worship leaders and musicians in the service of the church.”

Mohler also reflected on Brewton’s arrival at Southern Seminary.

“We were looking for a gifted musician and worship leader who shared our theological convictions and would add strength to our church worship program. We found all that and more in Greg Brewton,” he said. “He was always ready to help and to lead. He was loved far beyond Southern Seminary through his leadership of Doxology.”

Doxology is a vocal ensemble that often sings in chapel services and campus events, and is known through choral tours and recordings of beloved Christian hymns.

“Greg Brewton will be greatly missed,” Mohler said. “We are heartbroken by our loss, but for Greg, who dearly loved Christ his Savior, death is all gain. We love the entire Brewton family, and grieve with them. Our love and prayers are with Holly, his dear wife, and with Justin and Allison and their families. To know Greg was to love him. His legacy at Southern Seminary is secure.”

Brewton labored faithfully in music ministry for more than 40 years, having served local churches in Georgia, Florida and Kentucky. He is survived by his wife, Holly, and two grown children, Allison and Justin, along with one grandchild. Brewton was an active member of Ninth and O Baptist Church and wrote the 2018 book A Guide to Worship Ministry.

SBTS Provost Matt Hall said the joy Brewton exhibited in his teaching and the love he possessed for students rang clear within the Southern Seminary community.

“Few professors have demonstrated greater dedication to their students than Greg Brewton,” Hall said. “He held his students to the highest of standards, expecting the very best of them. But those standards were undergirded by the irrepressible joy he took in teaching and the consistent love and care he showed for the lives of students and alumni. His ministry among us was one of God’s kindest blessings.”

Paul Akin, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry, said Brewton will be sorely missed by colleagues, students, and alumni alike.

“For nearly 20 years, Greg Brewton was an anchor for the training of music and worship students at Boyce College and Southern Seminary,” Akin said. “As the department chair, he was a cherished colleague and a committed professor. We are all going to miss him and his joyful presence in our midst.”


BP News Monday, September 27, 2021 - 10:26am

WASHINGTON (BP) – The U.S. Senate stands in the way of a sweeping abortion rights bill becoming law, and Southern Baptist and other pro-life advocates have reasons to be optimistic that body will prevent its enactment.

The House of Representatives approved the Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 3755) Sept. 24 in a nearly party-line vote, 218-211. While all Republican members opposed the measure, every Democrat except Rep. Henry Cueller of Texas voted for it. President Biden, meanwhile, strongly endorsed the proposal in a Sept. 20 statement from his administration.

The legislation appears likely to hit a roadblock in the Senate, however. That 100-member chamber is divided equally by party, and 60 votes would be needed to send the bill to the White House apart from an effort to nullify the filibuster. If eradicating the filibuster were successful, the move would result in only a majority being required for passage of the measure. That procedural step, however, does not have the support even of all Democratic senators, and no GOP member has expressed support for the abortion-rights proposal.

The Women’s Health Protection Act would go beyond the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion by prohibiting federal and state regulations of the procedure that are now permitted by the justices, pro-life advocates point out.

Southern Baptist public policy specialist Chelsea Sobolik urged the Senate “to ignore this inhumane piece of legislation.”

“This bill looks as if Planned Parenthood authored it, and it ought to shock and grieve our consciences,” said Sobolik, director of public policy for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “This legislation is so extreme it eliminates all pro-life protections, removes any restrictions on abortion and allows for a preborn life to be wiped out up to the moment of birth.

“The role of government should be to protect these vulnerable children, but this bill proposes instead to empower the predatory abortion industry,” she said in written comments.

Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, said the legislation “would effectively ban all lifesaving, state protections” for women and “our youngest pre-born children,” including those upheld by the Supreme Court. It would “invalidate hundreds of constitutionally sound state laws” that protect unborn babies, she said in a written release.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., however, sought to assure pro-life Americans regarding the chances of Senate passage of what he called “the most aggressive pro-abortion bill ever.” After the House vote, Sasse said in a written statement, “These scorched-earth tactics are dead on arrival in the Senate.”

The congressional effort to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act follows actions by the Supreme Court that have heightened concerns among abortion-rights advocates.

The justices permitted a Texas law that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected to go into effect Sept. 1. The high court already had agreed to rule in its next term on a Mississippi law that prohibits the abortion of an unborn child whose gestational age is more than 15 weeks. Mississippi, the ERLC and other pro-life organizations have filed briefs urging the Supreme Court to reverse Roe and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling in the case, which will be argued Dec. 1. In Casey, the high court affirmed Roe but permitted some state regulation of abortion.

The bill’s language would annul, according to the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), pro-life laws in the states that have such requirements as:

  • A waiting period for a woman before an abortion;

  • Information for a woman considering abortion regarding her unborn child and alternatives to the procedure;

  • A ban on sex-selection abortion;

  • A prohibition on abortion after 20 weeks based on evidence the child feels pain by that point.

The legislation also would rescind most federal restrictions on abortion, as well as conscience protections for health-care workers and most, or maybe all, bans on government funding of the procedure, NRLC reported.

Abortion-rights organizations applauded the House’s approval of the expansive proposal.

Alexis McGill Johnson – president of the country’s No. 1 abortion provider, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America – called the vote “an important step in protecting the right to access an abortion in the U.S, and halting the wave of harmful and deeply unpopular abortion restrictions across the country.”

The Senate version of the bill has 48 sponsors, all Democrats. Sens. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are the lone Democrats to refuse to sponsor the measure. Republican pro-choice Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told the Los Angeles Times she will not vote for the proposal because it goes “way beyond” protecting abortion rights in federal law.

Senate rules require 60 votes to invoke cloture, as the procedural move is known, and thereby cut off a filibuster so a vote on a bill can occur. Among the 50 Senate Democrats, Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have expressed their opposition to eliminating the filibuster.

BP News Friday, September 24, 2021 - 1:15pm

NEW YORK (AP) – Amid the Boy Scouts of America’s complex bankruptcy case, there is worsening friction between the BSA and the major religious groups that help it run thousands of scout units. At issue: the churches’ fears that an eventual settlement – while protecting the BSA from future sex-abuse lawsuits – could leave many churches unprotected.

The Boy Scouts sought bankruptcy protection in February 2020 in an effort to halt individual lawsuits and create a huge compensation fund for thousands of men who say they were molested as youngsters by scoutmasters or other leaders. At the time, the national organization estimated it might face 5,000 cases; it now faces 82,500.

In October, Baptist Press reported on the BSA proposing an $850 million deal that would bar further lawsuits against it and its local councils. The deal did not cover the more than 40,000 organizations that have charters with the BSA to sponsor scout units, including many churches from major religious denominations that are now questioning their future involvement in scouting.

The United Methodist Church – which says up to 5,000 of its U.S. congregations could be affected by future lawsuits – recently advised those churches not to extend their charters with the BSA beyond the end of this year. The UMC said these congregations were “disappointed and very concerned” that they weren’t included in the July deal.

Everett Cygal, a lawyer for Catholic churches monitoring the case, said it is unfair that parishes now face liability “solely as a result of misconduct by Boy Scout troop leaders who frequently had no connection to the parish.”

“Scouting can only be delivered with help of their chartered organizations,” Cygal told The Associated Press. “It’s shortsighted not to be protecting the people they absolutely need to ensure that scouting is viable in the future.”

Officials of several other denominations – including the Southern Baptist Convention, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – have advised their churches to hire their own legal counsel if they fear possible sex-abuse litigation.

The Presbyterian Church said its national leadership can’t act on behalf of member churches because they are separate corporations. The leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran church also said its congregations were on their own, legally speaking, and must decide for themselves whether to continue any relationship with the BSA.

“As a result of the bankruptcy, the congregation cannot confidently rely on the BSA, the local council, or their insurers to defend it,” the Lutheran church warned. “The congregation needs to make sure that it has sufficient insurance and that its own insurance will cover them.”

The Boy Scouts, in a statement provided to the AP, said its partnership with chartered organizations, including churches, “has been critical to delivering the Scouting program to millions of youth in our country for generations.” It said negotiations with those organizations are continuing, and it hopes to conclude the bankruptcy proceedings around the end of this year.

Negotiators face a challenging situation.

According to lawyers representing different parties in the bankruptcy case, the Boy Scouts have suggested chartered organizations have some protection from liability for abuse cases that occurred after 1975, due to an insurance arrangement that took effect in 1976. The BSA has said there’s little or no protection, however, for the many pre-1976 cases, and the best way for organizations to gain protection for that era would be to make a substantial financial contribution to a settlement fund.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took such a step last week, agreeing to contribute $250 million to a compensation fund in exchange for a release from further liability. The denomination, widely known as the Mormon church, pulled its units out of the BSA on Jan. 1, 2020, after decades as the biggest sponsor.

One key distinction: The Latter-day Saints have a centralized governing structure, making possible a contribution covering its vast former network of scout units. The remaining faith-based charter organizations are more decentralized, complicating the question of how contributions to the compensation fund would be mandated and organized.

Jeremy Ryan, a lawyer representing United Methodist churches, said his clients believe there is some pre-1976 insurance available to them under policies the BSA and its local councils held at the time.

Cygal, the lawyer representing Catholic churches, made a similar argument but said some chartered organizations eventually may have to make an appropriate financial contribution “to put an end to this dispute once and for all.”

Another complication in the negotiations: differing views on how much blame lies with the churches.

Some of the churches argue that they merely provided a venue for a local scout unit to meet, while scout leaders were responsible for hiring decisions that might have led to sexual abuse. Some lawyers for the plaintiffs disagree, saying church leaders were often actively involved in those decisions.

“The Scouts had plenty of fault due to their negligence, but the local institutions had plenty of fault also,” said Christopher Hurley, whose Chicago law firm says it represents about 4,000 men who filed claims in the bankruptcy.

“It’s just not OK to pass the buck on this,” Hurley added. “Everybody’s got to suck it up and make a fair contribution to get justice for these guys.”

Stephen Crew, whose Oregon-based law firm represents about 400 plaintiffs, said he sympathizes with faith-based chartered organizations who “worry about being hung out to dry.”

“But survivors also have a lot of anxiety,” Crew said. “And the problem now is that the insurance companies are balking at everybody.”

A third lawyer for plaintiffs, California-based Paul Mones, blamed the churches’ predicament on the BSA, saying its initial bankruptcy strategy failed to properly anticipate the impact on chartered organizations.

“For decades, the religious organizations have been the backbone of the BSA,” Mones said. “They did not sign up thinking they’d have any kind of liability … and all of a sudden they’re being told, ‘You’re going to get sued.’ It’s a hot mess.”

Some church leaders, such as United Methodist Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., have been blunt in their dismay over the bankruptcy fallout.

“This is a very sad and tragic matter that has occurred within our nation and the Church,” Saenz said in a recent letter to the clergy he oversees in Kansas and Nebraska. He said there might be 110 abuse claims in the bankruptcy case potentially connected to UMC churches in his region.

Saenz said the BSA might struggle to move forward post-bankruptcy without participation of the UMC, the biggest active sponsor of Scout units.

But due to BSA positions in the case that are detrimental to the UMC, Saenz wrote, “We simply cannot currently commit to the relationship with the BSA as we have in the past.”

From The Associated Press. May not be republished. AP religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

BP News Friday, September 24, 2021 - 12:12pm

FORT WORTH, Texas. (BP) – MinistrySafe, a non-profit organization focused on offering training to churches to prevent sexual abuse, is helping develop training on how the abuse prevention landscape has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The non-profit offers churches and other organizations that work with children a five-step safety program designed to protect children from abuse and create a safe environment for ministry.

Gregory Love, co-founder of MinistrySafe, said the pandemic brought about a lot of change for churches.

“Changes in our culture as a result of the pandemic have forced us to adapt,” Love said. “It has changed some of the fundamentals of how we do ministry, where we do ministry and what technology we are using to do ministry or education.”

MinistrySafe’s training is used by many Southern Baptist churches. A number of churches and state Baptist conventions are planning events in partnership with the organization to address general abuse prevention as well as changes in prevention methods brought about by COVID-19.

The Village Church in Texas will be hosting abuse prevention training events over the next few weeks with the help of MinistrySafe at both its Flower Mound campus (Sept. 30) and their Denton campus (Oct. 10).

The Georgia Baptist Mission Board will partner with MinistrySafe to hold a child protection workshop in Duluth, Ga., on Oct. 13, and the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions is hosting an online webinar related specifically to the COVID-related changes in the abuse prevention landscape on Oct. 5.

A link to register for the Alabama Baptist Mission Board’s webinar can be found here.

Love will be speaking at the Alabama webinar, and said he is grateful for the state’s continued partnership.

During the training he will address two specific areas of concern that the pandemic brought about. Many of the current risks regarding sexual abuse have resulted from children spending more time at home and more time using technology, he said.

It’s important for ministries to know the pros and cons that come with specific technology and the use of certain apps, such as Snapchat, online gaming and other social media apps, Love said.

Many of these apps are great for communicating with students remotely, but Love highlighted the danger than can come with certain apps and games as they can give predators the opportunity to private message students or communicate in ways that are not out in the open.

In light of kids spending more time at home, Love said “most children are victimized in their core world,” that is, by a relative or someone they know.

Because a lot of schooling and church ministry has taken place online over the past 18 months, Love said children have not been able to spend time around other adults outside of their homes, who are often the ones to notice the first signs abuse is taking place.

These new problems are areas Love said churches must be aware of to know how to respond appropriately.

“The problem (of sexual abuse) is ongoing but now has new challenges, and one of those challenges relates to how predators have adapted to the changes faster than we’ve adapted in prevention,” Love said. “We just can’t believe that safety is important until there’s a pandemic, we need to understand that we modify things given our circumstances.

“If we’re going to modify our programs, then we need to know how to address the risks that now exist with those programs. Find out which of these applications you are using and then find out what are the weaknesses of these applications, and if the risks outweigh the benefits of the communication offered.”

Love said MinistrySafe’s purpose is working with different churches and organizations to explain how these new abuse challenges should affect their prevention training, their insurance information and how to provide an overall safe environment for children. The non-profit is also working on updating its video training to include topics related to changes resulting from COVID-19.

He expressed gratitude for churches trying to stay informed and prepared.

“We’ll break down these concepts and then put it right in front of them to let them know exactly what that means to you and what you do about it,” Love said. “Relationship is the foundation of discipleship, and the church is supposed to be the safest place on the planet, but we’re never going to accidentally get this (abuse prevention) right.

“I appreciate the Alabama Baptist Convention and many other groups that they would trust us to be able to unpack this information and I’m glad they’ve made it a priority.”

BP News Friday, September 24, 2021 - 11:30am

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) – In efforts to promote a “movement of generosity among those who support the International Mission Board,” the IMB has developed unique ways to facilitate giving, said Chris Kennedy, IMB’s chief advancement officer.

“We want to provide avenues for young and old, gifts small and large. We simply want everybody to have the opportunity to exercise the grace God has entrusted them generously,” Kennedy said.

The new giving avenues are in direct support of one IMB’s 2025 Targets: “Increase giving to the IMB by 6 percent annually.” Seeing this final target become a reality makes reaching all of the other targets possible.

Kennedy explained that the 6 percent increase isn’t simply a goal to hit one year and maintain the next. Ideally, for ministry to continue to the ends of the earth, the 6 percent increase in giving would need to happen annually. This is a challenge to individuals and to churches to intentionally increase their giving every year.

“Here is what each of us longs to see: the world transformed by the Gospel, by the name of Jesus being proclaimed in every corner of the earth,” IMB President Paul Chitwood said in his report to messengers at the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting. “Let us be united for the sake of this cause.”

He continued: “Will Southern Baptists be Great Commission Baptists? That depends on you and me. We can bring help and hope to a hurting world but only if we are willing to do it together.”

Echoing Chitwood, Kennedy said, “There’s a need for churches to reconnect their members with an understanding of giving as an extension of their worship. There’s no greater end than that of every person in the world having access to this same worship.

“Church members have a responsibility to steward the grace that they’ve been entrusted on behalf of the multitudes without the Gospel.”

Several global realities make increased giving necessary – inflation as well urbanization and the high cost of living in cities.

7:9 community

One new way the IMB has built to facilitate giving is through the 7:9 Community. This community works like similar subscription services. Each month, contributors commit to give to the IMB. In return, they receive first access to event registration, discounts to the IMB’s online store, and other exclusive communication from the IMB.

Monthly gifts can be in any amount. Every penny of the gifts to the 7:9 Community goes directly to support IMB missionaries overseas.

“The 7:9 Community is for those making a statement that missions, for them, is a 365-day endeavor and something they’re doing with a community of others,” Kennedy said.

Chitwood said to those who choose to be a part of the 7:9 Community, “Your monthly commitment helps transform lives around the world 365 days a year. 100% of every dollar you give directly supports ministry overseas, and every gift, of any amount, gives help and hope to those who need it most.”

Creative ways to give

While traditional giving through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is the highest priority, other giving platforms are being developed, in addition to the 7:9 Community.

One of the newest methods is the donation of business interests. When individuals sell a vested interest in a business, they can now structure it in a way that they can make a charitable gift to the IMB and reduce their income tax.

Additionally, the IMB can now receive any tangible good. This means that old jewelry, fur coats, and even cars can be turned into missions dollars for the work of reaching the vision in Revelation 7:9.

Crowdfunding is another way individuals can “inspire others toward generosity,” Kennedy said.

This crowdfunding can take the form of “Little Lulu’s Lemonade Stand” for missions, where people can give credit card donations directly to the IMB. Memorial pages for deceased loved ones are another avenue of giving to support the advancement of the Great Commission.

Profile pages for churches are another giving avenue. An individual can make a gift and name his or her church as part of the gift. Their church will receive notice of anonymous gifts that are being given directly toward IMB, so the church can count that toward its offering.

Even IMB missionaries who are already “making sacrifices at the ends of the earth” are giving sacrificially, Kennedy said.

“Generosity is woven into the fabric of who we are as an organization,” he said. “Right now, we are seeing over a million dollars a month being committed by our current and former field personnel as a part of their estate gifts.

“That’s an incredible statement of generosity. They’re choosing to make a statement with the financial resources they’ve been entrusted for how important this work is.”

To find out more about how individuals and churches can be involved in seeing the Gospel reach the ends of the earth, visit Campaigns for specific giving funds are available through this link as well.

BP News Friday, September 24, 2021 - 11:30am

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday (Sept. 23) to provide $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system as Democrats moved to quash criticism from Republicans that their party is wavering in support of Israel.

Democrats initially sought to put the Iron Dome funding in legislation this week to fund the government past Sept. 30, but removed it after some members of the caucus objected. Leadership moved quickly to instead provide the aid in a separate, stand-alone bill. It passed by a vote of 420-9.

“This bill demonstrates Congress’s commitment to our friend and ally Israel is bipartisan and ironclad,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Democrats overwhelmingly supported the measure, but the need for the parliamentary maneuvering underscored a friction point in Congress over Israel, where a few progressive Democrats have challenged the scope of U.S. assistance to the long-time ally.

The U.S. began financially supporting Israel’s development of the Iron Dome system about a decade ago and has provided about $1.6 billion for its production and maintenance, according to the Congressional Research Service. The system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets fired into Israel.

“Thank you to the members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike, for the sweeping support for Israel and commitment to its security,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement. “Those who try to challenge this support received a timeless answer.”

DeLauro said the U.S. committed in a 2016 memorandum of understanding with Israel to replenish the Iron Dome and that the money provided by the U.S. is “limited to a system that is entirely defensive.”

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had accused Democrats when stripping out the $1 billion from the earlier bill of sending a message around the world that they “no longer stand with the people of Israel in their mission to defend themselves from terrorist attacks.”

Democrats pushed back forcefully on the GOP’s attempts to portray them as anti-Israel. “There are some few that won’t support this, but the overwhelming majority of this Congress — not in a partisan way but in an American way — will support defending the Democratic state of Israel,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., a daughter of Palestinian immigrant parents, was the lone lawmaker to speak against the funding, saying that Congress should also be talking about the Palestinian need for security from Israeli attacks. She said the money represented an “absurd and unjustifiable” increase in funding for the Iron Dome.

She also called Israel “an apartheid regime,” provoking strong condemnation from Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. He rejected that description and said the characterization was “consistent with those who advocate for the dismantling of the one Jewish state in the world.”

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., said of Democrats: “They have a vocal minority in the majority party that is anti-Israel, that is anti-Semitic and as Americans we can never stand for that.”

The bill would need to be approved by the Senate before it can be signed into law.

From The Associated Press. May not be republished.

BP News Friday, September 24, 2021 - 11:08am

SALISBURY, Md. (BP) – The importance of time carries a particular weight for Richard Pope, pastor of Canvas Church. It’s not something to be taken lightly, and not something he has a whole lot of.

For him, it also places a particular weight on numbers. There’s 3, as in the third cancer diagnosis he received earlier this year, the one doctors told him was terminal. There’s 2 – the number of weeks he received that diagnosis prior to launching Canvas Church. And there’s 1, pointing to a singular hope in Christ he has preached with an elevated velocity since then.

“The news changed the way I did ministry. We all know that our time here is limited and the Gospel should be the most important thing, but often we don’t live like it, myself included,” he said. “Now I see time a little bit differently. It’s made the Gospel more of a priority.”

His doctors estimate he has three to five years left to live because of a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Pope, 24, said he wishes he could say he took the news well, but he didn’t.

At left Jacob Day, mayor of Salisbury, Md., helps carry the cross on the last day of the Hope100. Day also serves as a Major in the Maryland National Guard. Photo courtesy of Richard Pope

A North American Mission Board SEND Network church, Canvas was supposed to launch two times before a little thing called COVID got in the way and delayed it until Easter of this year. He would love to have a long pastorate on this earth, planting other churches along the way. He wants his wife, Payton, not to be a widow before she’s 30. And although he loves their two dogs, he desires to have kids.

To be clear, Pope trusts that God is more than capable of providing all those things. He works within the parameters given, though, and with that mindset a different set of numbers has made Canvas one of the rarest of five-month-old churches. This year the congregation has seen 30 people come to faith, baptized 14 and is about to add a second service.

Consider this as well: although its launch was delayed, the church’s core group continued to witness and minister – 10,000 hours’ worth, by Pope’s estimation – throughout the community. It led to Pope’s accepting the 2020 Jefferson Award, which recognizes local community leaders.

People heard the Gospel and were saved over that time. When Easter 2021 and the official launch arrived, 15 new believers had joined the group.

The most recent example of Canvas’ community work came last month, when Pope led a 100-mile walk that ended at the church to raise awareness for suicide prevention and share the Gospel, as shown by the cross he and others carried throughout the walk. Each day for five days, Pope, his wife, and church members Desiree Sampson and Debra Reynolds covered at least 20 miles.

Others joined the Hope100 Walk at various times. Salisbury mayor Jacob Day, a major in the Maryland National Guard, went 15 miles in his combat fatigues and a rucksack. On the last day, around 25 members of Canvas Church walked alongside Pope. Just as many came from other churches and the community.

The Hope100 (technically, it went 101 miles) brought media attention for its address of mental health and was done in honor of Salisbury police officer Aaron “Bull” Hudson, local resident Joseph Fabber, and Pople’s cousin Michael Smith. All three lost their lives to suicide.

At right Rob Stockman, who was recently baptized alongside his father and daughter at Canvas Church, helps Pastor Richard Pope after Pope’s hip dislocated about a mile from the finish line. Photo courtesy of Richard Pope

Pope was 15 when Smith died. Not long after, the future pastor attempted to take his own life. Struggles with depression and mental health since then led to his decision to lead the Walk100.

The walk itself provided its own metaphors for overcoming battles and hardships. Day 2 brought high temperatures in the 90s and put the group beside a marshy area with horseflies the size of your thumb. Day 3 flipped to pouring rain. Sampson, one of those with Pope the entire way, pushed along on a scooter due to five neck and back surgeries.

“But every time we thought we couldn’t do it anymore people would show up to encourage or help us,” Pope said. “If we needed Chick-fil-A delivered to us on the road, they brought it. They prayed with us. People saw us with the cross and asked us to pray for them. It was incredible.”

The first consideration was to sleep by the road each night. But Pope’s health – particularly the effects of chemo treatments – led to the decision to cover the miles, return home, then start from that point the next morning. Thursday – Day 4 – was the toughest, he said, with the end getting closer.

The overwhelming support from others carried him emotionally and spiritually on the last day. But Pope also needed help physically. As the end drew near, he stepped down awkwardly and popped out his hip. Daryl McCready, lead pastor of SonRise Church in Berlin, Md., and Canvas’ sponsor church, jumped in alongside Rob Stockman, who was baptized at Canvas in June alongside his father and daughter, to help Pope make it the rest of the way.

People stopped to watch the crowd walking down the town’s main highway. Police stopped traffic as they crossed streets. Thanks to TV and newspaper coverage, many knew the story and paused to clap, cheer and honk their horn in support.

“The last hour-and-a-half it felt like the whole city stopped to recognize us,” Pope said. “Two people came to our church that Sunday, one of them getting saved. We estimate around 100,000 people heard about what we did through media coverage, not counting social media.”

Now that Pope has walked 100 miles, will he walk 100 more? If he’s to be the man to walk those miles again to a church door, there will be some changes.

“We’re going to actually increase the distance and bring in more churches to be part of it,” he said. “We want to benefit different causes and reach different communities, all with the Gospel being a part of it. We want to show that Christians care about these things. We want to show that there’s hope in what we’re carrying, the cross.”

BP News Thursday, September 23, 2021 - 5:38pm

NASHVILLE (BP) – Google’s ban of ads by a pro-life organization reflects the frequent bias in the abortion debate and the deepening divisions in the culture, a Southern Baptist specialist in technology ethics said.

The California-based technology company blocked all ads on its platform by Live Action, the pro-life organization announced Sept. 14. Google restored some of the organization’s ads, including one for the video “Baby Olivia,” which depicts the development of a child in the womb from conception. It has continued, however, to bar Live Action’s ads for an abortion pill reversal (APR) hotline. The APR ads had been active for four months before Google’s action.

“[I]t is ironic that they do not allow ads that promote ‘harmful health claims’ as they allow the promotion of the abortion pill, which is not only potentially dangerous to the health of women but also lethal to the child she is carrying,” said Jason Thacker, chair of research in technology ethics for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), of Google. “The culture of death ushered in by the abortion industry will stop at nothing to present one side of these contentious and life-altering debates.

“Content moderation in our polarized society is extremely difficult work, but the continued pattern of content and advertising bans like this coming from across the technology industry only exacerbates the divides we face today,” Thacker said in written comments. “Christians need to be actively engaged in these technology policy discussions advocating for policies that reflect free expression, religious freedom, as well as a scientific-based understanding of the devastating effects of abortion on women, children and our communities.”

Medical abortions, also known as chemical abortions, are increasing in their frequency in contrast to surgical abortions. The drug mifepristone is used as the first part in a two-step process in such abortions. It causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child, resulting in his or her death. A second drug, misoprostol, is taken two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the dead child.

In APR, progesterone is taken – optimally within 24 hours of taking mifepristone – to offset the effect of the abortion drug. Many reversals have been reported, however, by women who start the treatment within 72 hours of taking mifepristone, according to the APR website.

In a statement provided to Baptist Press, a Google spokesperson said the tech company does “not permit ads with unproven medical claims. Medical experts have raised serious concerns about abortion reversal pills.”

Google cited a statement from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that contends abortion pill reversal methods are “unproven and unethical.” In its statement of policy, ACOG considers abortion “an essential component of women’s health care.”

The Google spokesperson also said, “Beyond protecting users from medical harm, our policies do not distinguish between promoting pro-choice and pro-life messages. Advertisers are allowed to offer either abortion or abortion-alternative services. When doing so, both must prominently disclose which type of service they offer so that users have full transparency and can make their own decisions.”

Live Action is still “eligible to promote [its] perspectives and services as long as the ads do not violate Google’s policies,” the spokesperson said.

Live Action and other pro-life advocates denied APR’s effectiveness is unproven.

Natural progesterone has been used safely by in vitro fertilization doctors for more than 40 years to maintain a pregnancy after an embryo is moved to a woman’s womb, according to the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG). The drug increases a baby’s likelihood of surviving from 25 percent to 68 percent when used as part of APR, AAPLOG reported.

“For women who change their mind after starting a chemical abortion, the administration of progesterone can give her a real hope of saving her unborn child,” according to AAPLOG.

Live Action President Lila Rose said the technology giant is no longer hiding its bias.

“By restricting scientific information related to abortion pill reversal and other life-saving options, while accepting paid ads promoting life-ending abortions, Google has chosen to operate by an outrageously dishonest and blatant double standard,” Rose said in a Sept. 14 release.

Some Republican members of the U.S. Senate have protested Google’s action. In a Sept. 16 letter led by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, 11 senators urged Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive officer, to reverse the action. They said his company’s decision “reflects an unacceptable bias against pro-life views.”

“Google’s double standard on abortion is disingenuous and an egregious abuse of its enormous market power to protect the billion-dollar abortion industry,” the senators said. “The practical consequence of Google’s abortion distortion is that pregnant mothers in crisis will only have the option to be marketed abortion drugs through Google’s ad platforms, while life-affirming alternatives are suppressed.”

Thacker leads the ERLC’s recently launched Digital Public Square, a project that is designed to produce resources to assist churches and leaders on navigating the technological age with biblical wisdom.