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Southwestern

Gregory Tomlin

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1975: Vietnam orphans’ ‘miracle’ journey

GARLAND, Texas (BP) -- Pastor Nguyen Xuan Ha relayed the message to the children and workers of the Cam Ranh City Orphanage that the South Vietnamese army could not stop the communist juggernaut. The last Americans had been evacuated from Saigon, and North Vietnamese tanks had crashed the gates of the presidential palace. The iron curtain had descended over Vietnam. It was April 30, 1975.

Christians in Iraq ‘facing extinction’ at Islamists’ hands

WASHINGTON (BP) -- Islamic militants have eradicated virtually every trace of Christianity from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, said July 23. [QUOTE@left@180="What is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide."
-- Rep. Frank Wolf]"There are no Christians left in Mosul," Shea told CBN News. "They have all been driven out. They have been told to convert to Islam or die, or to leave." Mosul has been the center of Iraq's Christian community for two millennia, but it is also a site with a significant place in biblical history. Ancient Mesopotamia was the location of both the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, as well as the ancestral homeland of Abraham. The city of Mosul is located on the site of the ancient city of Nineveh, the capital of the brutal Assyrian empire and the location of Jonah's preaching in the biblical account. Nineveh, according to the Bible, was established by Noah's grandson Nimrod. Mosul became a familiar location to Southern Baptists in 2004 when four Christian aid workers, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, were ambushed there. Larry and Jean Elliot, David McDonnall and Karen Watson died in the attack. Only Carrie McDonnall, David's wife, survived, though she was seriously wounded. Shea, who formerly served as vice chair for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) marked the property of Christians in Mosul with the Arabic word "Nasrani," or "Nazarene" -- a clear reference to Christianity. Christian property owners were then driven out. Last month militants offered Christians in Mosul the opportunity to enter into a dhimma, an agreement which would have allowed them to practice the Christian faith behind closed doors after they paid a hefty tax and agreed not to proselytize. However, multiple sources in the region said that offer was later withdrawn and all Christians were told to leave or face execution. Members of Assyrian Christian and Chaldean Catholic groups streamed out of Mosul when the final ultimatum was delivered this week by ISIS militants, Shea said, and they left empty handed. Militants confiscated all of their possessions, including homes, cars, clothes "and even their wedding rings, sometimes with the finger attached if it would not come off," she said. Shea also said she saw reports of ISIS militants destroying or defacing ancient Christian sites, such as the supposed tomb of the prophet Jonah, fourth century monasteries and churches. She added that militants tore down crosses in the city and burned ancient Christian manuscripts. "There is zero tolerance for the religious other on the part of this group," Shea said. "They are rabidly bigoted against Christians. They hate Christians. ...

ANALYSIS: No ‘war on women’ – examining Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Hobby Lobby dissent

[QUOTE@right@180=According to Justice Ginsburg, religious liberty ends where a third party enters the equation, or where people are gathered for a purpose other than public worship.]WASHINGTON (BP) -- Within hours of the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, politicians and media outlets were accusing conservative justices of fueling the "Republican war on women." The critics predicted a tidal wave of new cases caused by conflicts between workers and employers who hold "religiously grounded objections" to blood transfusions, antidepressants and medicinal products made from pigs.

2nd VIEW: After Hobby Lobby ruling, leaders rally around RFRA

WASHINGTON (BP) -- A diverse coalition of church and synagogue leaders has penned a letter to congressional leaders asking them to renew support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

2nd VIEW: Supreme Court finds in favor of Hobby Lobby; Baptists rejoice

WASHINGTON (BP) -- The Supreme Court on Monday (June 30) struck down a key mandate of the Affordable Care Act, ruling for the first time "closely held" companies may exercise their religious opinions and conscientiously object to providing abortion-inducing contraceptives to employees through their health insurance plans.

After Hobby Lobby ruling, leaders rally around RFRA

WASHINGTON (BP) -- A diverse coalition of church and synagogue leaders has penned a letter to congressional leaders asking them to renew support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. [QUOTE@left@180="Congress has never passed legislation with the specific purpose of reducing Americans' religious freedom."--Christian, Jewish leaders tell congressional leaders]Citing the Supreme Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and other leaders from around the country expressed concern that the 1993 law guaranteeing religious rights from overt government intrusion may soon come under attack because of its role in the June 30 landmark case. In the letter addressed to Speaker of the House John Boehner, R.-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D.-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D.-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., the signatories asked congressional leaders to stand firm against efforts to "amend or repeal RFRA, one of our nation's most vital legal protections for the religious freedom and rights of conscience of every person of every faith." "Changing RFRA because some disagree with one particular application of the law would set a dark precedent by undermining the fundamental principle of religious freedom for all, even for those whose religious beliefs may be unpopular at the moment. Congress has never passed legislation with the specific purpose of reducing Americans' religious freedom. It should not consider doing so now," the letter reads. The Supreme Court, in its ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, Mardel and Conestoga Wood Specialties, held that RFRA allows "closely-held" or family owned companies to establish administrative policies and business practices in line with their religious convictions. In this case, those beliefs caused the Green and Hahn families, owners of the three businesses, to resist federal mandates in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide abortion-inducing contraceptives in their health insurance plans. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the opinion for the majority, noted this is precisely the scenario for which RFRA was designed.

Supreme Court finds in favor of Hobby Lobby; Baptists rejoice

WASHINGTON (BP) -- The Supreme Court on Monday (June 30) struck down a key mandate of the Affordable Care Act, ruling for the first time "closely held" companies may exercise their religious opinions and conscientiously object to providing abortion-inducing contraceptives to employees through their health insurance plans. Writing for the majority in Burwell (Sebelius) v. Hobby Lobby, Justice Samuel Alito claimed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) provides individually or family-owned businesses, such as Hobby Lobby, with protections against government mandates that violate religious conscience. "Our responsibility is to enforce the RFRA as written, and under the standard the RFRA prescribes, the HHS contraceptive mandate is unlawful," Alito wrote. In finding in favor of Hobby Lobby, the Court affirmed the ruling of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and reversed the verdict of the Third Circuit. Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, shared his thoughts on the ruling. "We are indeed thankful for the recent ruling from the Supreme Court," he said. "It is an absolute victory for the proponents of religious liberty. I am thankful that both common sense and conscience have seen a victory in a day where such victories are rare. For those who are strongly pro-life, I think this is a great day!" Ronnie Floyd, newly elected president of the SBC, added, "I am thrilled at the ruling because it affirms that religious liberty is a core value of our great nation. The American people won a great victory today against governmental overreach. It serves as a strong reminder to each of us, that the First Amendment extends to individuals and business owners, not just to churches and other houses of worship." Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), said the ruling was an "exhilarating victory for religious freedom," due in large part to the fact Hobby Lobby owners David and Barbara Green, along with their children, had "refused to render to Caesar that which did not belong to him." "As a Baptist, I am encouraged that our ancestors' struggle for the First Amendment has been vindicated. This is as close as a Southern Baptist gets to dancing in the streets with joy," Moore said. Hobby Lobby filed suit in federal court after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. Under the law, the company was required to provide insurance coverage for nearly 20 forms of contraception, including four that resulted in abortions. One of those was the "morning after pill," which causes the spontaneous abortion of an implanted, fertilized egg. Since the company's owners believe life begins at conception, they objected on religious grounds and were threatened with massive fines for non-compliance with the ACA. Mardel Christian Bookstores, founded by Mart Green, joined the case with Hobby Lobby, and in a separate case, Norman and Sam Hahn, owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, also challenged the ACA's contraceptive mandate in court. Both Conestoga and Hobby Lobby lost their pleas for injunction in district court, and the Third Circuit upheld the denial of the injunctions. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, reversed the decision, setting the cases on a path to the U.S. Supreme Court.

2nd VIEW: Abortion protest buffer zone struck down

NASHVILLE (BP) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday (June 26) unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law which prohibited anti-abortion protests on public sidewalks within 35 feet of an abortion clinic or hospital.

Abortion protest buffer zone struck down

NASHVILLE (BP) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday (June 26) unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law which prohibited anti-abortion protests on public sidewalks within 35 feet of an abortion clinic or hospital.

2nd VIEW: Christians flee as violence spreads to northern Iraqi cities

MOSUL, Iraq (BP) -- Iraqi Christians came under fire again as the bloody campaign of Islamic militants spilled over from Syria into Iraq's northern cities last week.