Website Designer’s Free Speech, Nigeria Excluded from CPC List & Care for SA Survivors
The U.S. Supreme Court debated with lawyers at length Monday (Dec. 5) whether a state has the right to compel speech in the latest case involving the intersection of religious freedom and same-sex marriage. The U.S. State Department added two countries to its annual designation of the world’s worst persecutors but failed to return Nigeria to the list despite requests from a Southern Baptist entity and other advocates for international religious freedom. And, as Southern Baptists continue to reckon with sexual abuse and take measures to prevent it and to care for survivors, many state Baptist conventions took historic actions at their annual meetings this fall.
The U.S. Supreme Court debated with lawyers at length Monday (Dec. 5) whether a state has the right to compel speech in the latest case involving the intersection of religious freedom and same-sex marriage.
The justices heard oral arguments for more than two hours in a designer’s challenge of a Colorado policy that requires her to create custom websites for same-sex weddings in violation of her religious beliefs. After two lower courts ruled in favor of the state, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the government can use a public-accommodation law – in this case, the Colorado Anti-discrimination Act (CADA) – to compel an artist to speak or remain silent without violating the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
The high court is expected to issue an opinion before it adjourns next summer in what is so far the most significant case of its term involving the rights of religious adherents.
The U.S. State Department added two countries to its annual designation of the world’s worst persecutors but failed to return Nigeria to the list despite requests from a Southern Baptist entity and other advocates for international religious freedom.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday (Dec. 2) his designation of the latest “countries of particular concern” (CPCs), a category reserved for the world’s most severe violators of freedom and belief. His list added Cuba and Nicaragua and maintained the 10 countries designated in 2021 as CPCs – Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) had joined a coalition of more than 30 other organizations, as well as 35 individuals, in a September letter that asked Blinken to classify Nigeria as a CPC. The bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also had recommended CPC status for Nigeria.
Blinken’s failure last year to re-designate the west African country as a CPC stunned religious freedom defenders. Mike Pompeo, the previous secretary of State, had placed Nigeria on the list for the first time in 2020, and the ERLC was among organizations that urged Blinken last year to keep it as a CPC.
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As Southern Baptists continue to reckon with sexual abuse and take measures to prevent it and to care for survivors, many state Baptist conventions took historic actions at their annual meetings this fall.
According to historic Southern Baptist polity, the Southern Baptist Convention has no authority over state Baptist conventions or their entities. Any policies and procedures established by the national Convention govern neither state Baptist conventions nor local Baptist associations.
The majority of state conventions responded in some way to sexual abuse within their conventions of churches. Those responses varied, including receiving the reports of state convention-commissioned task forces, bylaw adjustments, updating sexual-abuse-related policies and the production and distribution of prevention resources.
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