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NEWS BRIEFS: Ind. marriage amend. advances; ERLC warns of EPA ‘power grab’

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Indiana’s Senate approved a constitutional amendment March 29 protecting the traditional definition of marriage, moving the state one step closer to having the issue on the 2014 ballot.

The Senate’s 40-10 vote came more than a month after the House OK’d it, 70-26. Each chamber must pass it once more after the next election for it to appear on the ballot in three years. Indiana’s amending process is lengthier than states such as California, where citizens can collect signatures and place an amendment on the ballot without legislative approval.

The proposed Indiana amendment would define marriage as between one man and one woman, thus prohibiting “gay marriage.” It also would ban same-sex civil unions, which have been used in other states as a stepping stone to “gay marriage.”

A majority of states — 29 — define marriage in their constitutions. The amendments prevent state courts from overturning a state’s marriage laws.

“The basic unit of society is the family, and the cornerstone of the family is marriage. Marriage is, and should be, the union of one man and one woman,” state Rep. Eric Turner, an amendment sponsor, said in February.

ERLC SENDS OUT ACTION ALERT ON EPA PROPOSAL — The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission sent out an e-mail action alert to constituents March 29 urging them to pressure their legislators in D.C. to support a proposal that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. The Senate could vote on such an amendment sponsored by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., Wednesday. The amendment would amend a small business bill. McConnell and other critics call the EPA’s proposed action an “end-run around Congress.”

“The actual effects of the EPA power grab would be disastrous: massive energy taxes, the destruction of countless jobs, and little, if any, environmental benefit,” ERLC President Richard Land said in the alert. “… Such EPA regulations would put the brakes on our already slowed economy, forcing industries and businesses to slash jobs and to pass their taxes onto individuals and families in the form of price increases on commodities and energy. This would make it even more difficult for America to climb out of its current economic troubles. The poor would be hit especially hard. Making this worse, the whole basis for the policy — catastrophic, human-induced global warming — is not even settled among scientists, who are growing increasingly skeptical of such human impact.”

The text of the full alert can be read online at http://erlc.com/article/tell-congress-to-stop-epa-power-grab.

OPINIONS DIFFER ON NATURAL DISASTERS — Evangelical Christians differ sharply from mainline Protestants, Catholics and the general public over whether natural disasters are a sign or punishment from God, according to a new survey.

Only 38 percent of Americans believe natural disasters are a sign from God, and 29 percent believe God sometimes punishes nations for the sins of some citizens, the Public Religion Research Institute reported March 24. Among evangelicals, 59 percent believe natural disasters are a sign from God, and 53 percent believe God judges nations for the sins of some citizens.

By contrast, only about 20 percent of mainline Protestants or Catholics believe God punishes nations for the sins of some, according to the study. While 44 percent of Americans say the severity of recent natural disasters is evidence of the “end times,” 58 percent said recent severe disasters are evidence of “global climate change.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, and Mark Kelly, BP assistant editor.

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