National News Briefs

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Mars Hill Church Cancels Resurgence Conference

(WNS)–Seattle’s Mars Hill Church has canceled its annual Resurgence Conference, one of the megachurch’s flagship events, originally scheduled for Oct. 28-29.  The website for the conference, which until this week contained biographical sketches of speakers and registration information, now has only the cancellation notice.  The cancellation of the Resurgence Conference capped a tough week for Driscoll and Mars Hill Church.  Earlier in the week, Driscoll was dropped from four upcoming “Act Like Men” conferences. He was scheduled to speak in Phoenix this October, Dallas-Fort Worth in November, and Miami and Chicago in 2015.  He’s also been dropped from the Gateway Conference scheduled for Oct. 20-22 at Dallas’s Gateway Church.  On Monday, Lifeway and, the retail arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said it was pulling Driscoll’s books from its 180-plus retail stores.  Lifeway’s media relations manager Marty King said the retail chain made the decision to give Lifeway’s leadership time to “assess the developments regarding his ministry.”
Tennessee Judge Issues First Ruling in Favor of Traditional Marriage

(WNS)–A judge in eastern Tennessee has dropped an anchor amid the deluge of state and federal court rulings favoring same-sex marriage. In a decision in mid-August, Roane County Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr. said Tennessee, which defines marriage as only between a man and woman, need not recognize gay marriages performed in another state. “The court finds that Tennessee’s laws concerning same-sex marriage do not violate the equal protection clause or the U.S. Constitution,” Simmons wrote in his opinion, which U.S. Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston posted online.  The case involved two men, Frederick Michael Borman and Larry Kevin Pyles-Borman, who married in Iowa in 2010. They later moved to Tennessee, separated, and filed for divorce. But since Tennessee bans same-sex marriage in its constitution and does not recognize homosexual marriages made in other states, Tennessee officials would not grant divorce proceedings.


The Good News Gets the Cold Shoulder in Portland

(WNS)–Liberal groups in Portland, Ore., are taking an evangelical children’s camp to task for talking to the city’s youngest residents about Jesus. The camps, which operate like a traveling Vacation Bible School, have endured protests, negative advertisements in local newspapers, and accusations of being a fundamentalist sect. Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Camp Good News focuses for a week or two in different cities each year. During the school year, the group rents public school buildings to host weekly after-school activities. It recently won a Supreme Court case that allowed it equal access to public schools.  But CEF’s arrival in Portland sparked unexpected anger and protests. Protect Portland Children formed to protest the camps. It heavily promotes a book called The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. It claims CES is a fundamentalist sect, teaches shame to children, and harms them psychologically with a doctrine of sin.
Atheist Group Court Victory Could Prove Good for Churches

(WNS)–An atheist group reached a settlement earlier this month with the Internal Revenue Service over stronger enforcement of policies against “church politicking,” and at least one religious freedom group is thrilled, claiming the IRS investigation could be “a good thing” in the long run. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has been campaigning to overturn the portion of the tax code that prohibits nonprofit organizations from “intervening in political campaigns as a condition of their tax-exempt status.” To achieve that, it has organized the annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday since 2008, for which it encourages pastors to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech—including political speech—from the pulpit and send copies of their sermons to the IRS. Once the IRS attempts to take away a church’s tax-exempt status, ADF will represent the church free of charge and seek to declare the law unconstitutional, said Eric Stanley, senior counsel with ADF.


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