Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


Netanyahu: Iran's threats parallel Old Testament Esther story

WASHINGTON (BP) – A genocidal chapter in the ancient relationship between Israel and Iran could be the result of a nuclear agreement the United States may sign with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a joint meeting of Congress March 3.

Threats by the modern Persian state of Iran to annihilate Jews, Netanyahu said, are frighteningly reminiscent of the murderous Old Testament plot hatched by the Persian viceroy Haman – whose plan to kill all Jews was foiled by the Persian queen Esther, a Jew, and recounted in the biblical book bearing her name.

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ERLC's Russell Moore: Pray for ISIS' defeat, salvation 

MooreNASHVILLE (BP) -- Prayers for both the defeat of and the salvation of Islamic State terrorists are not contradictory, Southern Baptists' lead ethicist says.

Christians should "pray for the Gospel to go forward, and that there might be a new Saul of Tarsus turned away from murdering to Gospel witness," wrote Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in a Wednesday (Feb. 18) blog post. "At the same time, we ought to pray, with the martyrs in heaven, for justice against those who do such wickedness."

Prayers for both the defeat of such enemies and their conversion to Christ "are not contradictory prayers because salvation doesn't mean turning an eye away from justice," he said. "We can pray for Gospel rootedness in the Middle East, and we can pray to light up their world like the Fourth of July, at the same time."

Moore's comments came three days after the release of a video showing the apparent beheadings of 21 Egyptians -- all, or nearly all, Coptic Christians -- in Libya by members of the Islamic State. Many news reports said all were Coptic Christians, while National Public Radio reported one of the victims was not. Text that accompanied the video is addressed to "The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church," according to news reports.

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Lawsuit alleges Atlanta Fire chief terminated because of Christian faith

Dismissed fire chief Kelvin Cochran appeared at a press conference immediately after a civil rights lawsuit was filed on his behalf against the city of Atlanta. Cochran said that during his 34-year career he had a personal mission "to treat everyone in the communities in which I've served and the members of the departments in which I have served with dignity, with respect, and with equity." Photo from The Christian Index

ATLANTA (BP) – "Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear (of) being fired because of their beliefs and their thoughts," said David Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), explaining the lawsuit ADF filed on behalf of dismissed Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran.

"... In America a religious test cannot be used to fire a public servant," Cortman said yesterday (Feb. 18) in a press conference moments after the lawsuit was filed at the state capitol.

The federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and Mayor Kasim Reed is necessary "in order to protect not only (Cochran's) Constitutional rights, but everyone else's Constitutional rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion," Cortman said.

Cochran was suspended in late November and ordered to undergo sensitivity training after a section of the book he self-published, "Who Told You That You Were Naked?", was found offensive for including sections from the Bible that described marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Obamacare prompts church to close Baptist day care in Longview, Texas


LONGVIEW, Texas (BP) – A church is closing the day care center it has operated for more than 30 years in response to requirements imposed by the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare").

Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, Texas, said in a statement on its website, Feb. 12, that closing the day care "comes with much sorrow" and follows months of Mobberly staff "praying, researching and discussing the issue."

Under the health care law, employers that meet a certain employee count threshold must provide full-time workers with comprehensive health insurance. Although the number of full-time Mobberly Child Development Center workers falls below the threshold, the day care is part of the church and the federal government includes church staff and day care workers when accounting for the total number of employees.

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Eureka Springs rushes to pass ordinance protecting homosexuals

EUREKA SPRINGS – Eureka Springs Aldermen passed an ordinance Feb. 9   making it illegal to discriminate against homosexuals in matters concerning employment, housing, business and public accommodations.

The city rushed to pass Ordinance 2223 during Monday's meeting so that it would become city law before a bill in the state Legislature passes making such ordinances illegal. Senate Bill 202 passed on the Arkansas Senate floor the same day, in route to the state House of Representatives.

"We passed the first domestic-partnership law in the state, married the first same-sex couples in the state. Yet as a community, we don't have laws to protect those people," Council member James DeVito told the council. "So I think it is imperative that we pass this in three readings."

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