August 1, 2014
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More than a dozen states have considered religious freedom bills, including Mississippi, where Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill April 3.
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Concern that anti-discrimination laws infringe on religious liberty is among factors that have prompted more than a dozen states to consider religious freedom bills to protect Christians' right to speak against homosexuality.

Marriage between a man and woman "must not be treated as an irrational prejudice to be purged from the culture."
-- Commentators Ryan Anderson and Leslie Ford
Currently, 18 states have passed versions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill signed by President Clinton in 1993 that prohibits government infringement of religious liberty unless the state shows a compelling interest and uses the least restrictive means available. Another 11 states have religious liberty safeguards that courts have interpreted as providing a comparable level of protection, the Heritage Foundation reported.

At the federal level, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act -- with 100 cosponsors in the House and 17 in the Senate -- would bar the government from taking adverse action against nonprofit and for-profit groups that regard marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The bill awaits action by both the House and Senate.

"We must work to make sure that marriage law does not marginalize those who believe what virtually every human society has believed about marriage: that it is the union of a man and a woman ordered to procreation and family life," commentators Ryan Anderson and Leslie Ford wrote in the National Review.

"Such belief must not be treated as an irrational prejudice to be purged from the culture," Anderson and Ford stated.

Many state bills are aimed at curbing religious liberty violations like the case of New Mexico photographers who were cited by the state's Human Rights Commission for refusing to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the photographers' appeal April 7.

Similarly, Oregonís Bureau of Labor and Industries found that a bakery violated a state anti-discrimination law when it refused to bake a cake for a same-sex commitment ceremony. In Colorado, a judge ruled that a baker violated his state's law by refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding reception.

Religious freedom protections are necessary because "sexual orientation and gender laws have serious flaws" and "fail to protect the civil liberties of Americans, especially our religious liberty," Anderson and Ford noted. Read More
WEDNESDAY SBC BLOG
BALTIMORE (BP) -- Baptist Press is live blogging the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore. Updates can be read here, at our Twitter account (Twitter.com/BaptistPress), or our Facebook account (Facebook.com/BaptistPress). Want more updates? Follow our SBC annual meeting feed at Twitter.com/SBCMeeting. A schedule of the Wednesday meeting can be found at http://www.sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc14/program/default.asp. Watch the SBC annual meeting live here. Read More
'Holy desperation' in Ukraine, Gott says
KIEV, Ukraine (BP) -- The Ukrainian crisis has kindled an interdenominational prayer movement in the nation, said a Southern Baptist evangelist who ministers there and has accepted an invitation from Ukrainian Baptists to preach on a national day of mourning in Kiev. Read More
Ukraine still on for Arkansas Master'Singers
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP) -- A group of 83 Arkansas Master'Singers originally scheduled to minister in eastern Ukraine April 21-May 2 have changed their itinerary to western Ukraine because of political unrest in the country. Travel dates remain the same. Read More
FLAVORS: Mother shares Gospel via cooking
SOUTH ASIA (BP) -- At her dining room table, Emily McFarland* follows the pattern in a booklet for drawing henna, a tattoo-like art of storytelling. Read More
First Person
Richard Land
FIRST-PERSON: The Civil Rights Act: 50 years on
On the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, columnist Richard Land urges Americans to reflect on how far they have progressed toward racial equality in order to draw inspiration for finishing the journey.

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The Persecuted Church
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