Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders 07.13

Newsworthy

Raising Arizona. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to decide next term whether her state must offer spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees. In 2009, Arizona passed a law banning such benefits. Gay activists sued, saying that because they cannot marry in Arizona, the new law discriminates against them. A federal district court judge and a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state must offer benefits to domestic partners of gay state employees. The high court will decide whether to take the case when it reconvenes this fall.

Too little, too late. The Episcopal Church (TEC) on Tuesday became the largest American denomination to put its stamp of approval on same-sex unions, as delegates at its triennial convention adopted a provisional liturgy for such occasions. Twelve Episcopal Church bishops released a statement dissenting from the action. The statement read, "We believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that God's vision for sexual intimacy is that it be exercised only within the context of marriage between a man and a woman." The dissenting bishops name the new liturgy as "for all practical purposes same-sex marriage." I applaud these bishops for finally finding their courage, but I can't help but ask where they were when The Episcopal Church started ordaining homosexuals in the 1980s, or when openly gay Gene Robinson was made a bishop in the 2004? The sad reality is that it is too little, too late for The Episcopal Church. It has become a thoroughly polluted well, and those who drink from it, no matter how well intentioned, will inevitably get sick. The alternative is the Anglican Church in North America, which is in the process of gathering biblically orthodox Anglicans together. My advice to the 12 dissenting bishops would be not to waste time talking to TEC, which has steadfastly, stubbornly rejected biblical counsel for decades. It is well past time to shake the dust off your sandals and move on.

Strong words. Day Gardner was Miss Delaware in 1976 and made history as the first African-American contestant to place as a top 10 semi-finalist at the Miss America pageant. Since then she has become a pro-life activist, currently serving as president of the National Black Pro-Life Union. One more thing you should know about Gardner: She does not mince words. Consider this statement on Essence Magazine's decision to accept Planned Parenthood as a sponsor for its Essence Music Festival: "I cannot believe that the Essence Music Festival, which was recently held in New Orleans, allowed Planned Parenthood to be their sponsor. Planned Parenthood is very vocal about their role in killing babies-especially African-American babies. Abortion is the number one killer of African Americans-killing more black people than, cancer, strokes, heart disease, violent crime and all other deaths combined." She went on to say, "Many blacks are oblivious to the fact that Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, affiliated herself with the Ku Klux Klan and had ties to Hitler's regime. With that in mind-beautiful, black Essence, I've got an idea for you. Next year, why not ask the KKK to sponsor your music festival? The 3,500 black deaths linked to the Klan pale in comparison to Planned Parenthood's 15 million plus black deaths."

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SBC membership decline. Membership numbers for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the nation's largest Protestant denomination, reflect disturbing trends. The SBC, which just completed its annual conference in Louisville, Ky., saw slight increases in baptisms and the number of congregations in 2011, but its overall membership dropped for the fifth straight year to just under 16 million. Duke Divinity School professor Curtis Freeman said all major denominations are seeing membership declines, so the declines at the SBC are not surprising. He said the SBC's traditional commitment to evangelism has, in fact, forestalled the numerical freefall experienced by mainline denominations. His bottom line: Growth in any church is simply becoming more difficult. "The tide is going a different way," Freeman said. "[America is] increasingly becoming a secular culture, not a Christian culture."

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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