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NEWS BRIEFS: Boehner: House will defend DOMA; ‘Grace Card’ has ‘Giant’ opening

Updated: Movie gross numbers for ‘The Grace Card’ updated with actuals.

WASHINGTON (BP)–Speaker of the House John Boehner says Congress likely will defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court and that a decision might take place by the “end of the week.”

Boehner made his comments to CBN’s David Brody Feb. 27, four days after the Department of Justice announced that President Obama had ordered it not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

“[I]f the president won’t lead, if the president won’t defend DOMA, then you’ll see the House of Representatives defend our actions in passing a bill that frankly passed overwhelmingly,” Boehner said. “… We’ll be talking to the members in the next few days about that and I expect we’ll have a decision by the end of the week.”

The current lawsuits in federal court are aimed only at DOMA Section 3, which defines marriage in federal law. However, Obama has said he opposes the entire act, including the portion that gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s “gay marriages.” If DOMA is reversed, then all 50 states likely would be forced to recognize “gay marriage.”

GRACE CARD HAS SOLID OPENING — The church-made movie “The Grace Card” had a solid opening on its first weekend in theaters, finishing in the Top 10 on a per-theater average with a gross similar to that of the 2006 hit “Facing the Giants.”

Made largely by volunteers from Calvary Church, a Nazarene congregation in Memphis, and directed by church member David Evans, the film finished No. 8 on a per-theater basis with an average gross of $2,870. By comparison, Facing the Giants grossed an average of $3,046 its first weekend.

Although Hollywood often spotlights a movie’s total gross, Provident Films — which released The Grace Card — pays more attention to average gross because it opened in only 352 theaters, compared to the normal 2,000-3,000 or so theaters in which a typical Hollywood film opens.

Evans, who directs the church’s passion play, was inspired to make the movie after watching the 2008 film “Fireproof,” made by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. Sherwood also made Facing the Giants.

The Grace Card has received positive reviews from Baptist Press, PluggedInOnline.com and Christianity Today, and even from some secular media. Variety said the movie was “blessed with fine performances, credible dialogue and slick production values” and “ranks among the better religious-themed indies released in recent years.”

BELMONT RECOGNIZES GAY STUDENT GROUP — Nashville-based Belmont University, a former Tennessee Baptist school, gave official recognition Feb. 25 to Bridge Builders, a student homosexual group. The move came barely a month after Belmont’s trustees added “sexual orientation” to the school’s nondiscrimination policy. Belmont Provost Thomas Burns and Bridge Builders president Robbie Maris issued a joint statement, saying, in part, “We are pleased that our ongoing campus dialog about Christian faith and human sexuality has helped us to establish Bridge Builders as an official student organization at Belmont University.” The Tennessean published the statement.

Both moves, though, have grieved longtime Belmont supporters who affirm historical Christianity. Belmont had ties to the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC) for more than 50 years until the university’s board, in 2005, voted to move away from a TBC-elected board to a self-perpetuating board. Two years later, the two sides reached a settlement in which Belmont would pay the TBC $11 million over 40 years.

After the trustee vote in January, Randy Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, told Baptist Press, “Many of us never dreamed that the school would walk away so rapidly from their Christian heritage and roots.”

“My heart is broken for all of the Tennessee Baptists that have loved and invested themselves in Belmont over the years,” Davis said. “Many of our strongest leaders today are Belmont graduates, and the sentiment that I am hearing from them is one of outrage.”

Davis added that the school logically cannot claim to be biblically grouned while affirming unbiblical values.

“If you hold to a high Christian moral standard, and yet you embrace a lifestyle that the Scripture condemns, there is a conflict,” Davis said. “In this postmodern era, there is a strong temptation for believers to become more tolerant of sin because they are afraid of being labeled. I think this issue [homosexuality] is a flagpole kind of issue that many Christians are silent on. But compassion toward people and a biblical conviction can coexist.”
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.

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