Digest

Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...

Thursday
Apr022015

New Obamacare tax law may affect churches

NASHVILLE (BP) – A new tax rule in conjunction with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may affect many churches that pay or reimburse individual health insurance premiums, and imposes daily fines beginning June 30 for those not in compliance.

GuideStone Financial Resources health plan participants should notice no impact as a result of the rule known as IRS Notice 2015-17, GuideStone said in a March 2 press release. Other churches whose employees do not participate in a group health plan could be affected.

"GuideStone health plan participants, and the organizations that employ them, can continue to pay for coverage as they have in the past and meet the guidelines under current law," said Harold R. Loftin Jr., GuideStone general counsel. "For churches and ministries that use other providers, it's important for them to review the IRS Notice, as well as work with their legal and accounting advisors to ensure they are compliant by the end of the grace period on June 30, 2015."

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Thursday
Apr022015

LifeWay pulls 'heaven visitation resources'

NASHVILLE (BP) – LifeWay Christian Resources has stopped selling all "experiential testimonies about heaven" following consideration of a 2014 Southern Baptist Convention resolution on "the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife."

LifeWay told Baptist Press about its decision to halt sales of heaven visitation resources March 24 in response to an inquiry about the book "90 Minutes in Heaven" by Don Piper, which is being made into a movie slated for release this fall. The book recounts Piper's supposed experience of heaven following a severe auto accident and has sold 6.5 million copies in 46 languages.

"Last summer, as we began developing LifeWay's new structure and direction – what we've now identified as One LifeWay – the role of heaven visitation resources was included in our considerations. We decided these experiential testimonies about heaven would not be a part of our new direction, so we stopped re-ordering them for our stores last summer," LifeWay spokesman Marty King told Baptist Press in written comments.

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Thursday
Apr022015

Evangelizing this Easter – Mark Snowden

SnowdenJEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) – Many baseball fans at this time of the year look forward to opening day. Should we look forward any less to the Greatest Story Ever Told?

Is Easter an annual event that we look forward to with joy? What is it about Easter that stirs your soul? Sunrise services? The Easter Story? And does that excitement lead to transforming lives around you with the gospel?

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Tuesday
Mar312015

The public square: Christian setbacks and victories


Rebecca Wolford

SBCLIFE

NASHVILLE (BP) – The freedom to live according to one's religious beliefs has been a fundamental right in America since its founding. As the culture changes and those opposed to biblical values become more vocal, it is becoming increasingly difficult to express religious beliefs without being socially ostracized or legally penalized.

The following compilation by SBCLIFE, the journal of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, lists many of the political and cultural junctures that have had an effect on religious liberty and biblical faith in America in recent years.

The first section recaps various setbacks; the second section, various victories.

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Friday
Mar202015

Marijuana dangers can't be ignored, critics say

Editor's Note: Sunday, March 22, is Substance Abuse Prevention Sunday.

WASHINGTON (BP) – The growing support for legalizing marijuana among Americans and their lawmakers remains unwise but not unexpected, Southern Baptist ethicists say.

Marijuana's inroads have been demonstrated already in March by a new public opinion poll that shows for the first time a majority in the United States favors legalization of the drug. In addition, Democratic and Republican senators introduced this month for the first time a bill to lift the federal ban on medicinal use of marijuana.

These developments follow the accelerating legalization of marijuana during the last two decades. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, beginning with California in 1996. D.C. and four of those states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – also have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Fifteen states – 10 with legalized medical marijuana and five without – have eliminated jail time for possessing small amounts of the drug, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

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