Appeals court hears GuideStone preliminary injunction arguments
DENVER (BP) — The legal battle to protect the sanctity of life in GuideStone Financial Resources’ health plans continues in federal court, most recently in a hearing before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
At issue: a preliminary injunction granted to GuideStone prohibiting the government from enforcing penalties in its controversial contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
In December 2013, federal district Judge Timothy DeGiusti of Oklahoma issued a preliminary injunction against the federal government’s mandate that required ministries that are not churches to provide abortion-causing drugs and devices.
The government appealed the order to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver earlier this year. The three-judge panel heard arguments in the case Dec. 8.
“We appreciate the opportunity to continue advocating on behalf of our participants in standing up for their religious freedom,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “Our plans reflect the convictions of Southern Baptists and other evangelicals and do not cover drugs and devices that are intended to cause abortions.”
Although the timing of the ruling is unknown, employers in GuideStone’s health plans continue to be protected by the 2013 injunction. GuideStone’s litigation, launched with Truett-McConnell College, a Georgia Baptist Convention-affiliated college, and Reaching Souls International, an Oklahoma-based missions organization, is among nearly 90 lawsuits against the abortion-drug mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act.
Among entities filing friend-of-the-court briefs for GuideStone, Truett-McConnell and Reaching Souls are the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; International Mission Board; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Christian Legal Society; National Association of Evangelicals; Prison Fellowship; Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; Christian Medical Association; American Center for Law and Justice; Concerned Women for America; and Americans United for Life.
The HHS regulation, which is part of the implementation of the 2010 health care law, requires coverage of federally approved contraceptives, including the intrauterine device (IUD) and such drugs as Plan B, the “morning-after” pill. Both the IUD and “morning-after” pill possess post-fertilization mechanisms that potentially can cause abortions by preventing implantation of tiny embryos. The rule also covers “ella,” which — in a fashion similar to the abortion drug RU 486 — can even act after implantation to end the life of the child.
HHS provided an exemption to the rule, which was first proposed in August 2011, for churches and their auxiliaries but did not extend it to non-church-related, nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies that object. The Obama administration also offered an accommodation for non-church-related religious organizations, but critics said it was inadequate because it still forces such groups to provide access to the drugs through third parties.
SBTC DR director Jim Richardson retires
GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) — Jim Richardson, who arrived in Texas in 2006 in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita to become the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention disaster relief director, has announced his retirement, effective Dec. 31.
Richardson, who earlier served as disaster relief director for the Georgia Baptist Convention, expressed appreciation to state convention leaders and the DR volunteers with whom he served, calling the latter the “true heroes.”
In a letter announcing his retirement, Richardson expressed appreciation to DR task force directors, unit directors, team leaders and “yellow shirts” (DR volunteers) for their sacrificial service.
During Richardson’s tenure as SBTC DR director, the ministry grew significantly.
“Our first order of business was to develop leadership, put units together and train volunteers,” Richardson recounted to the Southern Baptist TEXAN newsjournal. “Now we have close to 3,000 volunteers, 40 units and a very active leadership task force.”
In 2006, SBTC DR efforts focused primarily on cleanup, recovery and feeding. Under Richardson’s leadership, the ministry expanded to include childcare, communications, water purification, shower/laundry, operations, assessments and chaplaincy. SBTC DR training sessions increased to six per year by 2014.
Richardson, whose wife Frances died in October after battling brain cancer, plans to relocate to Central Florida to be closer to family.
Ben Carson to speak at Univ. of Mobile
MOBILE, Ala. (BP) — Benjamin S. Carson Sr., emeritus professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and conservative motivational speaker, will be the featured speaker for the 10th annual University of Mobile Leadership Banquet on April 30 of next year.
Carson is an emeritus professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins, where he directed pediatric neurosurgery at its Children’s Center for 29 years.
Previous speakers at the banquet, which raises support for student scholarships, have included former President George W. Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, retired Col. Oliver North, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, former Georgia Gov. and retired U.S. Sen. Zell Miller and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008 by President George W. Bush, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and has spoken twice during the President’s National Prayer Breakfast, in 1997 and 2013.
Carson sits on the board of directors of numerous organizations, including Kellogg Company and Costco Wholesale Corporation. He is co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for academic and humanitarian accomplishments. The fund is currently operating in 50 states and the District of Columbia, having awarded more than $6.2 million dollars to more than 6,200 scholars. The program also establishes Carson Reading Rooms to encourage young students and their families to discover the pleasure to be found in books and to recognize the true power of learning.
Caron was appointed in 2004 by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics. Some career highlights include the first and only successful separation of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987 and the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa.
In February 2009, the movie titled “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” starring Cuban Gooding Jr. as Carson, premiered on TNT and is based on his memoir.
Carson is the author of seven books, including “One Vote: Make Your Voice Heard” and “One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future,” both released earlier this year. Among his other releases: “Gifted Hands” and “America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made this Nation Great.”
For more information about the University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.edu.
Newt Gingrich to speak at Mississippi College
CLINTON, Miss. (BP) — Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will serve as the keynote speaker at Mississippi College’s 2015 scholarship dinner.
A CNN contributor and author of 24 books, Gingrich will address the April 7 program at the 5,000-student campus in Clinton.
Prior to his evening address, Gingrich is expected to speak to Mississippi College students, sign books and meet with reporters at a news conference.
First elected to Congress in 1978, Gingrich represented his north Georgia district for two decades. TIME magazine’s Man of the Year in 1995, the Georgian was elected Speaker of the House that year after leading the GOP takeover of Congress for the first time since the early 1950s.
Previous speakers for Mississippi College’s scholarship dinner have included neurosurgeon Ben Carson in 2014; Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2013; and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, now a Stanford University professor, in 2012. The events have generated more than $2 million for MC student scholarships since former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole kicked off the series in 2008.
Mississippi College leaders believe Gingrich will provide his audience with a good deal of political food for thought with the nation’s 2016 presidential elections fast approaching.
In 2011-12, Gingrich made an unsuccessful run for the White House, with the GOP leader winning primary battles in South Carolina and Georgia as he plugged his $2.50 per gallon energy policies.
Gingrich has had numerous titles on best-seller lists and is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. He and his wife Callista live in McLean, Va.
For more details the college’s scholarship dinner, contact Amy Rowan of the MC advancement office at 601-925-3257 or [email protected].
Mom & daughter release 3 children’s books
GREENVILLE, S.C. (BP) — Tammy Batson and her daughter, Tara Batson Davis, have released their first three children’s books through Courier Publishing, an affiliate of the Baptist Courier state paper in Columbia, S.C.
The series called “Mom & Me” — subtitled “Family Reunion,” “At the Beach” and “Storms” — are the realization of an idea that Tammy Batson and her late sister, Suzanne J. Williams, first imagined more than 17 years ago. They both loved children’s books and thought it would be fun to write and illustrate them together.
Williams quickly wrote nine stories and Batson set about working on the illustrations. Tragically, before they could finish their project, Williams died of a severe asthma attack while on vacation.
Now, 16 years later, Batson and her daughter have revived the family project, illustrating the stories that Williams wrote. The main character in the books is Olivia, a blonde pig-tailed little girl who learns life lessons from her family experiences and from the Bible lessons her mom shares with her.
Each “Mom & Me” book is $10, which includes free shipping. To purchase, email [email protected], call 864-380-8991 or visit Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mom-and-Me/1382712018686590.