Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


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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Huckabee speaks on power of Scripture, new book at The Church at Rock Creek

LITTLE ROCK – Former Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke at The Church at Rock Creek, Little Rock, during a special evening service Feb. 8. Instead of discussing his potential presidential campaign,, he preached on the power of Scripture and promoted his new book "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy."

Sunday was the last stop on a book tour that has taken Huckabee to nearly 50 cities in 15 states since Jan. 17. People gathered in at least 60 churches across the country to watch the event, titled "America: From Ordinary to Extraordinary." Huckabee said the program was being webcast to 1,600 locations, including homes.

HuckabeeHuckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor and president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, emphasized that faith in God is more powerful than politics.

"Ultimately, the hope for this country is not in the politicians; it's in the pews of our churches," Huckabee said.

Before preaching, Huckabee assured reporters that his visit was not politically motivated.

"It's not a political rally. It's not a political event. It is really a spiritual night of encouragement and inspiration," he said, adding that viewers would have "a great opportunity to celebrate America and celebrate their faith."

In response to questions regarding his possible presidential bid, Huckabee said: "I've been very candid. I think people know that when I left the Fox News show in early January, I wasn't doing that just to spend Saturdays at home. So clearly things are headed in that direction, but that announcement isn't ready to be made until a little later in the spring."

Repeating themes in his latest book, Huckabee argued that Washington, D.C., New York City and Hollywood are out of touch with Americans in Arkansas and the rest of "flyover country."

He argued that Christians are despised, not only by the Islamic State, but by some Americans, who accuse them of "hate speech" if they speak out for traditional Christian teachings.

"It's a compliment to you when you're hated because of your hope and when you're hated because your faith leads you," Huckabee told hundreds of supporters at The Church at Rock Creek. "It's all right to be who you are, to believe what you believe. ... A hundred years from now, you will be glad you stood for that which is righteous."

The event drew hundreds of supporters, several Huckabee political advisers and a popular country music artist, Larry Gatlin. Gatlin played a number of songs, including "All the Gold in California," "When the Roll is Called up Yonder" and "I'm an American with a Remington." Huckabee played bass on one of the songs.

Several of those in the audience said they're hoping for a Huckabee candidacy. "My heart says he will (run)," said Lester M. Sitzes III, a dentist from Hope who has known Huckabee for decades. "If he runs, I'll be there for him any way he needs. There'll be a lot of people there for him."

Story compiled from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.


Disaster relief leaders fellowship, plan in Oregon

Tobin Perry
North American Mission Board

GRESHAM, Ore. – New York homeowner Frank Primiano didn’t know what to think about a team of Southern Baptist college students who came into his home following Hurricane Sandy and removed wet insulation, did other dirty jobs and then thanked him for letting them do so. Thanks in part to that act of kindness, Primiano later came to faith in Christ. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers connected him with a local church, he later joined and was baptized. Primiano then helped start a cancer ministry at his new church.

SBDR team member Randy Corn shared Primiano's story at the 2015 SBDR Round Table held Jan. 29-30 at Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Ore. He recounted Primiano’s journey to illustrate the need for improved “Survivor Care.” Corn laid out a developing plan to help SBDR better disciple new believers who come to faith during a disaster response.

“We need to be willing to walk with these folks down the road of life, let them see our lives, share with them, invite them to church and have meals with them and develop them and disciple them,” said Corn in a presentation at the round table about the Survivor Care plan he is developing. “That’s a question we need to ask – would you be willing to do that? If we want to reach people for Christ, we have to be radical. We have to be willing to do ‘whatever it takes.’”

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