Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


Uphold abortion rules, ERLC and SBTC urge U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (BP) – The U.S. Supreme Court's own decisions and the need for states to protect women's lives call for the justices to uphold a Texas law that regulates abortion doctors and clinics, according to two Southern Baptist entities and other religious organizations.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) joined the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) and four other groups in a friend-of-the-court brief filed Feb. 1 with the high court. The brief urges the justices to affirm a Texas measure that requires an abortion doctor to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in case a woman needs emergency admission. The law also mandates abortion clinics must meet the health and safety standards of other walk-in surgical centers.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 2 to decide if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was correct in upholding most of the Texas measure.

Click to read more ...



International Mission Board shutters communications office; 30 lose jobs

RICHMOND, Va. – Following an announcement that 30 communications positions are being eliminated, the International Mission Board (IMB) said no further missionaries will be required to leave the field as the 170-year-old missions entity enters its second and final chapter of getting back on financial track.

The IMB met with employees Jan. 13 to announce that it was shuttering its communications department April 29 – a move that affected 40 staff. Ten of the staff members will be reassigned to other positions. The other 30, who are losing their jobs, are receiving severance packages.

The firing of communications personnel gives breathing room to personnel around the world who were awaiting news of whether their positions would be eliminated.

In an effort to further reduce staff in the Richmond headquarters and on the field, IMB President David Platt told the two groups the agency is offering a second round of voluntary severance packages that must be finalized by Feb. 22.

IMB Executive Vice President Sebastian Traeger presented specific details of the reset and the Hand Raising Opportunity (HRO) plan in a town hall format with staff.

Click to read more ...


Planned Parenthood lawsuit called 'frivolous'

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (BP) – Planned Parenthood filed suit Jan. 14 in federal court against the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), accusing the group of conducting "a complex criminal enterprise conceived and executed by anti-abortion extremists."

The abortion giant claims CMP founder David Daleiden and his team broke laws in several states, as well as federal laws, by secretly taping private conversations and trespassing, using fake identities to gain access to Planned Parenthood facilities. Daleiden conducted a three-year, undercover operation, during which he posed as a fetal-tissue buyer and secretly taped Planned Parenthood executives and abortionists talking about the group's methods of and payments for procuring the bodies of aborted babies for scientific research. CMP began releasing videos from the operation in July.

Until now, Planned Parenthood has left legal action against CMP to others.

Click to read more ...



Atheist seeks removal of ‘God’ from United States currency – again

A California atheist who once argued against the Pledge of Allegiance before the Supreme Court has launched a federal legal challenge to the phrase “In God We Trust” on American currency, the Religious News Service (RNS) reported.

Michael Newdow, 62, a Sacramento-based emergency-room doctor, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to strip reference to God from paper money and coins in an Ohio court earlier this month. Newdow claims the motto is a violation of his religious freedom.

In placing the motto “In God We Trust“ on American currency, the U.S. government has “substantially burdened” atheists and others “to personally bear a religious message that is the antithesis of what they consider to be religious truth,” the lawsuit claims, the RNS report said.

Click to read more ...


Saeed Abedini released from Iranian prison

Saeed AbediniTEHRAN, Iran (BP) – American pastor Saeed Abedini and three other prisoners have been released from prison in Iran, according to news reports. Abedini was detained in 2012 for organizing house churches and later sentenced to eight years in prison.

The release reportedly comes as part of a prisoner swap coinciding with the Jan. 16 implementation of a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers brokered in July 2015. The U.S. has released seven Iranian-Americans charged with violating sanctions, according to an Iranian news agency.

Abedini’s wife Naghmeh rejoiced on her Facebook page shortly after news reports came in: “It is confirmed: Saeed is released!”

Click to read more ...