A federal appeals court threw out the 2013 settlement of a lawsuit challenging state funding of a Kentucky Baptist children’s ministry, saying a judge should decide if court-ordered monitoring of alleged violations of the separation of church and state by Sunrise Children’s Services is fair. A divided three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 6 that a lower court erred in allowing plaintiffs, including Baptist minister and former seminary professor Paul Simmons and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to settle a dispute dating back to the 1998 firing of a lesbian employee by the Kentucky Baptist Convention entity then known as Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children.
Baptist judge blocks Arkansas executions. An Arkansas judge who also is pastor of a Baptist church has halted the executions of eight death-row inmates, challenging a new law allowing the state to withhold information that could publicly identify the manufacturers and sellers of lethal-injection drugs. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order Oct. 9 barring the state from carrying out eight executions scheduled recently by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the first two set for Oct. 21. Griffen, pastor of New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Ark., said allowing the executions would cause “immediate and irreparable injury” to the inmates, who filed a lawsuit in June challenging both the Arkansas Act 1096 of 2015, the state’s new lethal-injection law, and the lethal-injection protocol adopted by the Arkansas Department of Corrections.