Signs and Wonders
The Rev. Fred Luter Jr. points upward after being re-elected as the Southern Baptist Convention's president.
Associated Press/Photo by Johnny Hanson/Houston Chronicle
The Rev. Fred Luter Jr. points upward after being re-elected as the Southern Baptist Convention's president.

Signs and Wonders: SBC president calls for more black missionaries

Newsworthy

Southern Baptists begin. The nation’s largest protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), is meeting this week in Houston. Among the issues its members will take up: the SBC’s first black president, Fred Luter, is pushing for more black missionaries. Also on the agenda: the Boy Scouts. Several large Southern Baptist churches have announced they plan to pull out of the Scouts, and the delegates to the convention plan to take up several resolutions that, whether they pass or not (and most expect them to pass), should motivate many more churches to leave the Boy Scouts and look for alternative programs for their youth.

Tony Awards not toney. Awards shows are too often indulgent and self-congratulatory. And coverage of them is most often fawning or merely a record of the winners and any outrageous, unscripted moments or wardrobe malfunctions. But awards shows—especially the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Tonys—can provide a cultural barometer or time capsule: What matters in America in the Year of our Lord 2013? At this week’s Tony Awards, which supposedly honor the best of the best on Broadway, we learned that the kinky Kinky Boots and a revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (not quite as profane, but with an added strain of nihilism) beat out more family-friendly fare such as Matilda, which some critics considered a favorite to bring home an armload of awards. America’s favorite homosexual, Neal Patrick Harris, once again tried to show America that being gay is FABULOUS and gay guys are just like the rest of us, only more so.

Obrigado. A rally that attracted more than 40,000 people last week to stand against homosexuality and abortion highlights the growing presence of evangelicals in Brazil, South America’s largest country. According to Reuters, “There are 44 million mainly Pentecostal evangelicals in Brazil.” Also, “In the last national election in 2010, evangelicals increased their presence in Congress by 50 percent and now have 68 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and three in the Senate. Though belonging to a dozen different parties, evangelicals have begun to act as a caucus in Brazil's fragmented legislature where only the farm lobby tends to speak with one voice.” 

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That’s ironic. The Russian legislature, by unanimous vote of 436-0, passed a law that will impose hefty fines for providing information about the homosexual community to minors or holding gay pride rallies. Individuals will be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($156), 1 million rubles ($31,000) for a company, including media organizations. Foreign citizens arrested under the new law can be deported or jailed for up to 15 days and then deported. A couple of aspects of this story struck me: How does this law—or any law—pass 436-0 without some sort of coercion taking place? Secondly, some Christian commentators are pointing out that what Ronald Reagan called the “Evil Empire” is telling a truth about homosexuality that the “Christian West” has become unable or unwilling to tell. (Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to say that Putin’s Russia has become friendly to the Christian worldview, but you’ve got to admit that this development is a bit ironic.)

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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