Baptist Briefs: Carter believes Jesus OK with gay marriage

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks at a New Baptist Covenant meeting in 2008. (BP Photo)

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In a Huffington Post interview promoting his new memoir, Jimmy Carter said he thinks Jesus would approve of same-sex marriage. “I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief,” the 90-year-old former president said in an interview webcast. “I think Jesus would encourage any kind of love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriages damage anyone else.” Carter, who on Sundays when he is in town teaches Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga., says he doesn’t “have any verse in Scripture” to back up his opinion, but as a born-again Christian, he has no problem with gay marriage. “I think everybody should have a right to get married, regardless of their sex,” Carter said. “The only thing I would draw a line on, I wouldn’t be in favor of the government being able to force a local church congregation to perform gay marriages if they didn’t want to. But those two partners should be able to go a local courthouse or to a different church and get married.”

Pastor emphasizes God over government. Pastor Rit Varriale wants to see churches fly the Christian flag above the American flag as a biblical statement, reversing flag etiquette that calls for the American flag to be flown in the prominent position. rit varriale130Rit VarrialeVarriale, senior pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby, N.C., said the church installed its first-ever flagpole in order to raise the two flags in a special ceremony after morning worship July 5, in which the Christian flag was raised in the higher position. “If you stop and think about it, (flag etiquette) is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches us,” said Varriale, a U.S. Army veteran who served as a Ranger and officer with the 82nd Airborne Division. “We are first and foremost Christians who are called to serve the living God. … Before our accountability to government is our accountability to God.” He called for flying the Christian flag above the American flag as a demonstration Christians will respect and obey the federal government up to the point the government asks something inconsistent with what God has called his people to do.

Pastor’s killer ruled not guilty due to insanity. An Illinois man who six years ago shot and killed a Southern Baptist minister in a Sunday morning worship service has been found not guilty by reason of insanity and likely will spend the rest of his life in a mental institution. Terry Sedlacek, 33, faced charges of first-degree murder and aggravated battery for killing Fred Winters, pastor of First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., and past president of the Illinois Baptist State Association, on March 8, 2009. The key legal issue in the case from the beginning has been Sedlacek’s fitness to stand trial. It was finally resolved July 2, when Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli issued a court order finding Sedlacek was insane on the day of the shooting and stabbings and therefore not guilty by reason of insanity. Sedlacek, who has been receiving psychiatric treatment since age 17, tried during an early court appearance to plead guilty, but the public defender entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on his behalf. He was not present for the July 2 hearing. Sedlacek will remain at the Alton Mental Health Center near St. Louis, where he can be held for a maximum 85 years. Any future attempt for his release, even if temporary, will require approval from a judge with input from prosecutors and the victim’s family.


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