U.S. Constitution allows government to favor religion, says Supreme Court Justice Scalia 

Antonin ScaliaNEW ORLEANS – Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is never shy about voicing his strong, and strongly conservative, opinions about the role of religion in American society, and he has once again made headlines with what he called a “sermon” in which he said the U.S. Constitution can favor religion over “nonreligion,” according to a report by the Religious News Service (RNS).

RNS reported that Scalia told a gathering at a Catholic high school near New Orleans on Jan. 2, “one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.”

“Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name, we do him honor. In presidential addresses, in Thanksgiving proclamations and in many other ways,” he said in a brief talk at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metarie, according to media reports.

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Holiday storms draw disaster relief volunteers to eight states

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – Deadly storm systems slashed across the nation over the holidays killing scores and bringing rapid response from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers. In Texas alone, eight people were killed and more than 800 dwellings were damaged or destroyed by tornadoes that struck the day after Christmas in Dallas. The rain accompanying the storm systems has the Mississippi River and its tributaries at flood stage.

Mickey Caison, North American Mission Board SBDR interim executive director, described the response as all too reminiscent of historic flooding that hit the St. Louis area in 1993. As of Monday, Jan. 4, 11 states had volunteers serving at ministry sites in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Also on Monday, Jan. 4, NAMB dispatched equipment to assist flood survivors in Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri.

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Catholic school ordered to hire homosexual employees

MILTON, Mass. (BP) – A Massachusetts state court ruled in mid-December that a Catholic school may not deny employment to a homosexual, a decision activists hail as the first of its kind in the country.

Fontbonne Academy, an all-girls college preparatory school in Milton, offered Matthew Barrett a job as a food service director in the summer of 2013. But when Barrett filled out a new employee form and listed his "husband" as an emergency contact, school administrators rescinded the offer, citing Catholic belief that marriage is between a man and woman.

They said they required employees to model Catholic values.

On Dec. 30, Superior Court Associate Justice Douglas H. Wilkins ruled the school discriminated against Barrett in violation of Massachusetts law, which prohibits denying employment on the basis of "sexual orientation."

In a 21-page ruling, the judge wrote the facts of the case made it clear Barrett had "suffered denial of employment, that the reason for denial was his sexual orientation, and that he suffered harm as a result."

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Federal judge temporarily halts Arkansas abortion pill law

A federal judge on Thursday, Dec. 31, temporarily halted parts of a law set to go into effect today that limits how the abortion pill can be administered, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The 14-day restraining order keeps prosecutors around the state from enforcing certain sections of the new law until a lawsuit filed Monday by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland can be resolved, the Democrat-Gazette reported.

However, Judd Deere, spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said in an emailed statement that U.S. Judge Kristine Baker's ruling applies solely to the Planned Parenthood of the Heartland -- not to the only other abortion-providing health care center in the state, the Little Rock Family Planning Services.

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January prayer focus: 'In All Things Pray' 

NASHVILLE (BP) – January is a distinctive month of prayer across the Southern Baptist Convention.

It is a time when a readiness to pray can gain new traction in churches, large or small, urban or rural.

Listed as the "Call to Prayer" on the SBC Calendar, it gained momentum from the 2010 Great Commission Task Force report adopted by messengers to the SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., and was placed on the SBC calendar as an annual focus during the convention's 2011 meeting in Phoenix.

This year's theme is "In All Things Pray," drawn from the familiar 2 Chronicles 7:14 passage, the journal SBC LIFE of the Executive Committee noted in its Winter 2015 issue.

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