During their annual meeting in Baltimore, Md., Southern Baptists will honor the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby for refusing to pay for employee insurance coverage for birth control methods as required by Obamacare and an Iranian-American pastor imprisoned in Iran. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, will present the 2014 John Leland Religious Liberty Award during his report to the SBC June 11 to Steve and Jackie Green. The Greens, who attend Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Okla., will be honored for demonstrating a commitment to religious freedom “against a federal government demanding that they, along with countless other for-profit businesses, provide insurance for services that violate their core religious convictions,” Moore said. Lawyers for Hobby Lobby argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in March against a portion of the Affordable Care Act that allows women free access to 20 forms of birth control approved by the FDA. The Greens, well-known for arranging their business around religious values including not opening stores on Sunday, contend some of those methods, such as IUDs and “morning-after” birth-control pills, are not truly contraceptives but cause an early abortion by preventing a fertilized ovum from attaching to the womb. Another ERLC Award, the Richard Land Distinguished Service Award, will go to Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor from Idaho imprisoned in Iran for compromising national security through the establishment of so-called “underground” churches. Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, is scheduled to receive the award on his behalf.
Hearing set for Glorieta lawsuit. A judge in New Mexico has scheduled a hearing on pending motions regarding the suit filed by an Arkansas couple who claim LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention lacked legal authority to sell Glorieta Conference Center. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Hayes Scott set the 9 a.m. June 19 hearing. The court will consider a motion from the plaintiffs, Kirk and Susie Tompkins of Little Rock, Ark., for an emergency hearing to grant a temporary retraining order blocking all construction by Glorieta 2.0 at the conference center. The court also will consider multiple motions to dismiss filed by defendants named in the suit, who assert lack of jurisdiction and standing, failure to state a claim and improper service of process. The Tompkins family seeks $400,000 for loss of their vacation home built on property leased from Glorieta. They want an additional $12 million to be divided among about 65 homeowners who built or purchased homes on Glorieta property secured by what the couple says were understood to be perpetually recurring leases.
North Korea sends missionary to labor camp. North Korea sentenced a South Korean Baptist missionary to a labor camp for life for allegedly spying and for trying to build underground churches in the country. Kim Jong-uk—whose name also has been transliterated as Kim Jung Wook—is said to be about 50 and has been held in the North since October. His sentence is more severe than punishment given to other missionaries who have been detained by North Korea in recent years. Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after he was caught in the North in late 2012. But John Short, a 75-year-old Australian missionary, was released earlier this year after being arrested for alleged Christian work.
Alliance of Baptists joins challenge to gay-marriage ban. The Alliance of Baptists and a Jewish organization have joined the United Church of Christ and a number of individual ministers and church members in the first faith-based challenge to same-sex marriage bans in the United States. The Alliance, a 123-church network that split from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1987, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in the country, are joining a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage. The Alliance of Baptists board of directors decided May 27 to become a party in the litigation, adding a collective voice to individual Alliance members already involved in the case and the UCC. Individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., and Nancy Ellett Allison, a longtime Baptist who graduated from Baylor University and earned a doctorate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Employed as pastor of Covenant United Church of Christ in Charlotte, N.C., since 2004, Allison is a former missionary and chaplain ordained by Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas in 1981.