In preparation for Southern Baptist Church Convention in Indianapolis this week, many churches are responding to their declining baptism rates by considering dropping the name "Southern Baptist" and distancing themselves from the Church's fundamentalist image. The Washington Post reports that numbers have fallen for the third straight year in a row and for the last seven out of eight years. Rev. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Church warned that by 2030 half of the denominationís churches could be closed.
The Southern Baptist Convention holds fundamentalist conservative beliefs, for example, that the bible is the literal word of God, that homosexuality and premarital sex are sins, and that abortion should be illegal, according to the official statement of the Southern Baptist Convention. At its convention in 1988 the Southern Baptist Church turned even more ideologically conservative and passed a radically extreme addition to its already conservative beliefs: that wives should "submit graciously to their husbands." According to the Dallas Morning News the first membership downturn occurred shortly thereafter, and many have blamed this shift towards extreme conservatism for the decline in membership.
Many Southern Baptist Churches blame the decline in membership on their shift towards a fundamentalist viewpoint, according to the Washington Post. The Washington Post reports that some more progressive Southern Baptist Churches have changed their names to exclude the words "Southern Baptist" so as to distance themselves from the right-wing "culture warriors," who they claim have "hijacked" the Baptist name. Other Southern Baptist Churches, such as the Sandals Church in Riverside (CA), not only remove the word "Baptist" but have begun using unconventional outreach methods, such as holding meetings in night clubs, and recruiting young people who have tattoos and Mohawks, according to the Press Enterprise.
Southern Baptist churches have full autonomy in running individual congregations, many not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. This explains the historically broad spectrum of adherents, from Jerry Falwell and Fred Phelps to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jimmy Carter.
Media Resources: Washington Post 6/8/2008, Washington Post 6/8/2008, Dallas Morning News 5/19/2008, Press Enterprise 5/31/2008, Public Research Associates 5/1995
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .