Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal wedding holds lessons about church-state separation, experts say

NOTE: This article was originally published on April 27, 2011, on the Associated Baptist Press Web site (

by Bob Allen
Senior Writer, Associated Baptist Press

WASHINGTON (ABP) – Two American church-state experts say Friday’s British royal wedding holds lessons about why the marriage of church and state is a bad one.

Anticipating nuptials for Prince William and Kate Middleton at London's Westminster Abbey, the Washington Post’s On Faith blog posed a question April 26 about why, even in secular societies like the United Kingdom, people still turn to places of worship for rituals like coronations, weddings and funerals.

Brent Walker

Panelist Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said for him a more interesting question is how a country like England with deep Christian roots can become so secular in the first place.

Walker surmised that one reason is privilege afforded to an established religion – in this case the Church of England – “sows the seeds of its own attenuation.”

“State support for religion tends to rob religion of its vitality and, for some, turns it into a mere ceremonial exercise,” said Walker, an ordained Baptist minister. “This is one reason why I object so strongly to efforts in the United States to use tax dollars to support . . .”

Click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

BJC: latest Supreme Court decision has 'pinched view' of congressional intent

NOTE: This article was originally published on April 20, 2011, on the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty Web site (

WASHINGTON – In a 6-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prisoners cannot seek damages against the state under a federal law when their right to the free exercise of religion is violated. The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty says today’s decision in the case of Sossamon v. Texas leaves prisoners with an incomplete remedy for vindicating their religious rights.

The case involved the claim of a prisoner, Harvey Leroy Sossamon, who was denied participation in worship services and access to a room with symbols and furnishings that have a special significance to his Christian religion.

Sossamon challenged the prison’s restrictions under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000. That federal law was designed to protect the religious freedom of prisoners and other persons in government custody . . .

Click here to read the entire article.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Baptist Briefs videos on hiatus until April 18

I've spent part of this week in San Antonio for meetings with several Baptist leaders, and next week I'll be in Abilene for the annual T. B. Maston Lectures in Christian Ethics.

Baptist Briefs will resume on Monday, April 18. The next 10 days will be a good time for you to "catch up" on any of the following series you might have missed: (or you can watch all 68 Baptist Briefs videos to-date on our TBC YouTube channel at

Baptist Beginnings: England & Amsterdam in the 17th Century
Baptists Fight for Religious Liberty in the New United States
Bold Mission Thrust
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
First Baptists in America: 17th Century
Founding of the Southern Baptist Convention
Fundamentalist Takeover of the SBC
Missionary Movement
Seventy-Five Million Campaign, The
Soul Competency/Soul Freedom
Texas Baptists Committed
Texas Baptists Who Made a Difference
Triennial Convention
Youth Revival Movement, The