Clerk Kim Davis Jailed for Refusing to Compromise Her Faith

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Today is a sad day for the American judicial system and Kentucky state government. Today, a county clerk was incarcerated by a judge for refusing to place her name on the marriage licenses of same sex couples.

Kim Davis has stated that her religious convictions prevent her from giving her official signature of approval for gay marriage. She had requested that Gov. Steve Beshear accommodate her conscience by excusing her from that duty. Beshear refused and told her to do her job or resign. This is the same governor who allowed Kentucky’s attorney general, Jack Conway, to refuse to defend Kentucky’s constitutional definition of marriage. Beshear spent the commonwealth’s money on private counsel to protect Conway’s religious convictions on gay marriage but refuses to allow other elected officials to use the county’s ink pens in order to protect Davis’ religious convictions. Conway, by the way, is now a gubernatorial candidate in the state.

In light of Beshear’s unwillingness to accommodate Davis’ faith, U.S. District Judge David Bunning has chosen not to fine Davis or request that Gov. Beshear call on the state legislature to impeach her or that Rowan County voters organize a recall referendum on her election. Rather, Bunning has chosen to throw Davis into jail.

Should Jack Conway have been jailed? Of course not. He should have been ordered to do his duty as an elected official and, if he refused, a due process should have unfolded to allow citizens of the commonwealth to decide if should continue to hold office. Should Davis be jailed? Of course not.

Yet, in the midst of what is quickly becoming of the most heated cultural debates since slavery, Judge Bunning has created a martyr and, at the same time, wrought a great injustice upon a public servant and a wife and mother of two. With countless alternatives to be explored and exhausted, Bunning has used his gavel to swat the proverbial gnat with a sledge hammer.

Where does this end? I honestly don’t know. If Davis was my wife and the mother of my children, I would ask that she respond to this great injustice by resigning her position and coming home to her family. She has defended her beliefs and, from what I have observed, taken her stand with gracious and God-honoring speech. She has made her case. She has done all that she can do.

As for the failure of Gov. Beshear to protect her freedom of conscience, unfortunately, his name won’t be on the ballot in November. But, once again, the people of Kentucky are learning the hard lesson that elections really do matter. In fact, freedom hangs in the balance.

Posted in Culture, Gay Marriage, Government, Public Affairs, Religious Liberty | Leave a comment

Kentucky already seeing impact of Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage

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People of faith across the United States are wondering how the 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court to redefine marriage will impact them. In Kentucky, we didn’t have to wait long to find out.

All of a sudden, volunteer chaplains reportedly have been turned away by Kentucky’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) unless they sign off on a document indicating they would never refer to homosexuality as “sinful.” This apparently new requirement is being linked to a DJJ policy on “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” adopted in April of 2014. That four page policy states, at one point, “DJJ staff, volunteers, interns, and contractors shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful, or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

These types of policies have become commonplace in government and corporate settings. But to begin to require people of faith to sign off on statements that compromise our religious convictions is sad for those desiring to volunteer their time in programs designed to help fellow citizens who, for whatever reason, have found themselves caught in the justice system. Sadder still is the reality that those who are in this terribly broken system will no longer have a chaplain to listen to them, counsel them, and pray with them. As I understand it, a Baptist chaplain can’t serve a Baptist kid unless that Baptist chaplain promises not to address sexual sin as sexual sin. The same would be true for Catholic or Muslim kids who could not have access to a chaplain who shares their religious beliefs because those chaplains are no longer welcomed.

This news comes at a time when Kentucky’s government services are being revealed as woefully inefficient and horribly dysfunctional. For example, the Louisville Courier-Journal recently reported on the woeful state of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The opening line announced, “State social service officials in northern Kentucky lost track of nearly 100 cases of alleged child abuse or neglect – some not assigned to workers for investigation and others languishing for months after social workers responsible for them resigned.” It continued with a host of quotes from present and past employees revealing enormous caseloads, epidemic employee turnover, and workers’ debilitating stress levels. As for the Cabinet’s handling of the myriad of problems, one person observed, “The Titanic is sinking and the cabinet is rearranging the deck chairs.”

Rest assured, the current state of the DJJ is no better. Louisville’s WHAS-11 News reported on that topic earlier this year. In that report, Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin stated, “No matter how horrible the crime is or if it’s a misdemeanor to say it’s a waste of the law enforcements time I’m probably not too far off base and I don’t think you’d find any officers across this state that would argue that point with me.” He went on to call the system “a joke.”

A mother all too familiar with the system said, “My child has 16 charges as a juvenile and is still getting chance after chance. Who does that? And then when he turns 18, I’m quite sure he’s going to think he can break the law and then he’s going be sent away for life because he wasn’t corrected as a child.”

In the midst of this disaster, and with a budget that has been slashed, the DJJ has found a way to rid itself of free help from those who are there for no other reason than to help broken kids put their lives back together. The great irony? The very belief system that has motivated us to volunteer our time for the betterment of our state and society is the belief system our state and society most fears. Chief McCubbin is right, the system is a joke.

Posted in Family, Gay Marriage, Government, Public Affairs | Leave a comment

Kids leave Crossings with hunger to learn more about God’s word

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The scene was surreal. I’m sitting on my bed watching a 14-year-old Hispanic boy and an 8-year-old Chinese girl engaged in one of their fiercest competitions to date. These two enjoy rivalry and, when they find a contest that pits them as anywhere close to being equals, it’s game on.

What was the latest fight-to-the-death tournament? Why, Sword Drills, of course!

One would naturally think the older kid would have the edge, but not so. His little sister grew up in Bible drills at church. Up until he came to live with us, our foster son had not been to church. He was given his first Bible three months ago, and it had continued to sit right where he placed it when we gave it to him. But something had suddenly changed. He had just come home from Crossings camp.

While the staff of Crossings Ministries are recovering from giving their all to another record-breaking season, I am once again seeing the impact of this ministry of Kentucky Baptists up close and personal.

Our foster son was more than a little apprehensive about spending a week at a “church camp” for teens and didn’t even to bother to pack his new Bible, the one he had never opened after receiving it. Our 8-year-old adopted daughter was no more enthusiastic when it was her turn to go to Crossings Kids camp. But within minutes of putting their feet on the ground at Cedarmore, all that changed. Our son was texting, asking if I could bring his Bible, and our daughter was refusing to leave the GaGa Ball pit even to eat!

Needless to say, they had a blast! And they came home with a hunger to learn more about God’s word.

Knowing her brother was a Bible novice, Cai sensed his vulnerability and challenged him to Sword Drills. And the games began. Sure enough, she had finally found a game she could win.

And as I barked out, “Present your swords … Romans 10:9 … Start!” I felt like a winner myself. Here, in my home, I was watching the gospel go to panta ta ethne—the peoples of the world. And I was blessed to know that the Cooperative Program ministries of Kentucky Baptists, including Crossings and Sunrise Children’s Services, were helping to make it possible.

Posted in Camp Ministry, Cooperative Program, Crossings Ministries, Family, Foster care, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Sunrise Children's Services, Youth | Leave a comment

‘For the Least of These’

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I just returned from South Africa with a new perspective on the worldwide impact of Kentucky Baptists. My time in the country included days spent in and around Pietermaritzburg where I was able to trace the footprints of Kentucky WMU, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, KBC Collegiate Ministry, and numerous volunteer groups that have gone there to serve and share the love of Christ with orphans, AIDS victims, and countless lost and hurting people.

I was accompanied on the journey by my 18-year-old son, Daniel, and Chuck McAlister, our KBC Evangelism, Church Planting & Collegiate Ministry Team Leader, who also serves as the chairman of the board for Baptist Global Response, the humanitarian relief ministry of Southern Baptists. Since much of the work in Pietermaritzburg is funded by BGR and supported by Kentucky Baptists through a unique partnership between BGR and our disaster relief ministry, Chuck and I were eager to get a firsthand look. We were also looking forward to connecting with a team of our college students serving there through KBC’s Act 1:8 Leadership Experience.

What we saw left me in awe of what God is doing through the giving and going of Kentucky Baptists and also deeply grateful for the ministries supported by our churches. We visited Tabitha Ministries in Pietermaritzburg, home to 42 orphaned children now being cared for by missionaries and staff. Most of these children lost their parents to AIDS, and roughly one-third of the kids are HIV positive. They are the thrown away and forgotten. They are “the least of these” our Lord called us to serve and love. And Kentucky Baptists are answering His call.

In an outlying community called “Sweetwaters,” we were able to see a ministry center constructed, in large part, by Kentucky Baptists. That ministry center is now a beacon of hope in the midst of overwhelming hopelessness. Each week, 130 child-headed households come to the center for a package of food. There are no parents in these families, most of them having fallen victim to AIDS. The oldest child has assumed responsibility for his or her siblings and leads them in a struggle to survive. We distributed the food paid for by Southern Baptists and thanked God for the compassion of His people that would prevent the starvation of the least of these.

We also made several home visits with a Southern Baptist missionary doctor to check on hospice patients and deliver buckets packed with personal-care items. Those buckets were packed and provided by Kentucky Baptists. We had the joy of seeing some of those patients, and their caregivers, come to Christ. And, again, we thanked God for the love and generosity of our churches at home that haven’t forgotten the least of these.

Posted in Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Baptist Global Response, Collegiate Ministries, Cooperative Program, Kentucky Woman's Missionary Union, Missions | Leave a comment

When the power’s out, spiritual truths reveal themselves

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Tom-JamesBy Tom James, KBC president

Warren County, where I live, has been rocked by several storms over the past few weeks, producing three separate power outages in our neighborhood. One of the outages lasted 10 hours. God used this lengthy power outage to remind me of some spiritual truths.

  1. Sometimes it takes storms to make us aware of the reality of darkness; it is easy to take light for granted. Once we come to faith in Christ we become part of the “light of the world.” Over time, it is easy to forget that there are billions who are hurting and hopeless, blinded by the darkness, trying to find their way one day at a time. Whether it is carrying our light across the street to a neighbor or to an unreached, unengaged people group, we must let our light shine (Matthew 5:14).
  2. Darkness is uncomfortable. It was HOT when the power was out and our house was without air conditioning. Spiritual darkness is a very uncomfortable place to be. People are looking for meaning, for something to fill the void in their lives. Because they walk in darkness, they often try to bring joy to their lives with the wrong things that only compound their misery.
  3. Those in darkness look for those who have the light. After several hours of darkness, I was frustrated. I actually drove around trying to find those working on the power in hopes of knowing when I would have lights. Those in spiritual darkness are looking for someone — anyone really — who might tell them how to have light in their lives. They drive by our churches and walk past our cubicles at work desperate for hope, and we often are blind to their plight.
  4. Ten hours seemed like a lifetime. In my frustration, the Lord spoke to me and reminded me that a temporary power outage and walking in darkness for a few hours is nothing like walking in darkness for a lifetime, only to then spend eternity in the darkness of hell.
  5. There was joy when the lights finally come on. It was 1:30 a.m. but I still felt like throwing a party. I could finally rest as the house would be more comfortable. The joy I felt when the lights came on is nothing compared to the joy in heaven over a sinner who repents and is ushered from spiritual darkness into light (Luke 15:10).

Being lost is an uncomfortable place to be. For many like myself, we have been saved so long we forget the pain of being lost. We have the One who is the “light” (John 8:12), and we should daily take Him to those in darkness, extending to them the hope that is only found in Him. We have the Holy Spirit who gives power (Acts 1:8). It is He who uses us to help those walking in darkness to walk into the light. Let’s take the light while there is time, for night comes when no man will work (John 9:4).

Posted in Culture, Evangelism, Missions, Pastor | Leave a comment
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