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Articles by Todd Starnes

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President Bush heralded Southern Baptists as champions of the faith and said that Baptists "believe as America's founders did: that religious faith is the moral anchor of American life." Bush delivered his remarks June 11 via satellite to messengers gathered at the America's Center for the 2002 annual meeting of the SBC in St. Louis.

The president's address contained references to his personal faith in God, his commitment to preserving the traditional family, and social issues important to evangelicals.

Bush, who garnered widespread support from evangelical Christians in the 2000 presidential elections, reminded Southern Baptists that he shares what he called common commitments with the SBC.

"We believe in fostering a culture of life, and that marriage and family are sacred institutions that should be preserved and strengthened," Bush told messengers as they interrupted his speech with applause. "We believe that a life is a cre...

Southern Baptist Convention President James Merritt called on Southern Baptists to be a Kingdom convention during his Feb. 18 address to the SBC Executive Committee in Nashville, Tenn.

"It's time we come to realize there is more to spirituality than the Southern Baptist Convention," Merritt said. "There is more to God's will for your life than the local church. There is this entity called the Kingdom of God."

Merritt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church, Snellville, is nearing the conclusion of his second, one-year term as president of the nation's largest evangelical denomination.

Preaching from Matthew 6:33, Merritt delivered a passionate plea for Southern Baptists to "seek first the Kingdom of God. Everything else comes in second, and it comes in a far second."

Merritt said the passage in Matthew presents a challenge for Southern Baptists.

First, he said, Southern Baptists need to see ...

Disaster relief workers from the Tennessee Baptist Convention earned high praise from American Red Cross officials working near the "ground zero" blast zone at the World Trade Center.

"Southern Baptists are taking care of us and we can't do it without them," said Maria Lavendeer, an instructor for the Red Cross. "I've always used the Southern Baptists as an example of well-oiled disaster relief teams, but I've never seen them in person."

Lavendeer watched as Tennessee Baptists set up cooking units and prepared food for workers digging through the ruins of the World Trade Center. The Tennessee unit was the closest such operation to the disaster site. After the food was prepared, it was then delivered by Red Cross workers to ground zero.

"This is simply unbelievable," Lavendeer said as the Baptist volunteers cooked, cleaned, and prepared beef stew, chicken and dumplings, and other hot meals for workers.

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A team of Southern Baptist chaplains from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma ministered to firefighters, police, and rescue crews searching for survivors at "ground zero," the site where two passenger jets slammed into the World Trade Center towers Sept. 11.

The chaplains, many of whom ministered at the site of the 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, arrived three days after the twin towers collapsed, killing more than 5,000 people.

"Only God could have pulled off getting us here to New York City," said Sam Porter, men's ministry and missions specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. "We consider it an honor to be asked to serve and minister to the men and women who are working so hard to dig through this rubble."

The Oklahoma chaplains were asked by New York officials to take charge of ministry at the site's temporary morgue, set up in the plaza of the World Financial Center, abo...

The faithfulness and generosity of Southern Baptists have resulted in an astounding increase in giving to the Cooperative Program during the months of June through August, according to Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee.

For the year to date, total CP and designated gifts are up an impressive 6.34 percent above the same period last year. At the end of August, a total of $323,022,987.57 had been received, compared to last year's mark of $303,767,494.38.

June receipts of the Cooperative Program, however, were up 32.41 percent and July receipts were up 11.2 percent compared to the same months a year ago, Chapman said, attributing the increase in part to the Partners in the Harvest campaign.

As a result of Southern Baptist cooperation, more than 94 percent of all national CP mission gifts go directly to sending and supporting missionaries and training ministry leaders.

The remaining 6 ...

When it comes to supporting the Southern Baptist Convention's Cooperative Program, Fairlawn Baptist Church prefers to live and give with a spiritual edge.

"We tell our people that we want to be on the cutting edge of trusting God with our gifts," said Don Yeager, pastor of the Parkersburg, W.Va., church. And that means giving 22 percent of the church budget to CP, associational missions and other outreach opportunities.

"The Lord has been good to us," Yeager said. "And the church has been responsive with their gifts. They understand how important mission work is to spreading the gospel of Christ."

Without missions and the Cooperative Program, Fairlawn Baptist Church wouldn't exist. The church was started more than thirty years ago as a mission extension of a sister church in the city.

"We are so grateful CP was there for us in the early days," said Yeager, the church's only full-time staff member. &qu...

Chuck Colson on the SBC's Controversial Positions

When thousands of Southern Baptists converge on Chicago and Phoenix this summer to share their personal faith in Jesus Christ, they will have a supporter in fellow Southern Baptist Charles Colson. "I have a very firm opinion on that matter," the noted evangelical author and founder of Prison Fellowship said. "I fully support the efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention as they pray for the conversion of Jews and Muslims."

"This is one of the fundamental commands of Jesus Christ to go into all the nations and preach the gospel and baptize," Colson added.

However, many religious and non-religious groups have accused Southern Baptists of intolerance and religious "bigotry." Schmuley Boteach, executive director of the Oxford L'Chaim Society, went so far as to categorize the Southern Baptist evangelism efforts as "spiritual racism."

Boteach unloaded that accusation during a heated discussion of SBC evangelism ef...

It happened when he was in fourth grade. Clay Crosse was at a friend's house hanging out after school. Crosse said he remembered the events of that afternoon like it was yesterday. "My friend's dad had these magazines and we looked at them. It was amazing to me. It was shocking. I was just a kid, and I knew that I wasn't supposed to be looking at this stuff, but I did," Crosse said.

That afternoon, visions of pornography were burned into his eyes, and more than twenty years later, the popular Christian musician discovered his ministry and his relationships were becoming clouded by a sin that he kept hidden from the world. Now, Crosse said it's time to share his struggle with pornography to the body of Christ.

"It's been heavy on my heart," Crosse said in an interview with Baptist Press. "I'm not the kind of guy who can be a public figure and put on a happy face when something is so pressing on my heart. So I just want to be...

More than 1,200 North Carolina churches have joined the Cooperative Program's Partners in the Harvest campaign, and state Baptist leaders said they are astounded by the unprecedented participation.

"We should have more churches participating, but this is quite remarkable," said Dan Euliss, team leader for stewardship education and offering promotion. "To be honest, we only thought we would have 500 churches participate."

For the record, Euliss said 1,250 North Carolina churches signed commitment cards and that posed a problem. "Since we were only expecting 500 churches to sign up, we only ordered 500 planning kits. Now, we're trying to find 750 more kits."

Euliss attributed the success of the commitments to a presentation made at North Carolina's state convention by Steve Scoggins, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Hendersonville.

"He gave a challenge to the pastors and told them to make gi...

When several members of a Georgia Baptist church were invited to attend a weekend of spiritual renewal, their pastor, Paul Mason, didn't give it a second thought. After all, "Tres Dias" (Spanish for three days) sounded like it was a normal weekend getaway sponsored by a mainline religious denomination.

But a few months after they returned from the retreat, Mason realized he had a problem on his hands. "When I asked them how the retreat went, they told me it was a secret. They couldn't talk about what happened during the weekend," he said.

Mason noticed that couples who had attended the Tres Dias retreat were secretly inviting other couples to attend the program. After the church's Sunday school superintendent went to the retreat, he abruptly resigned his church position without reason. And within six months, Mason said the couples who had initially attended Tres Dias completely ostracized themselves from the congregation. The result, Mason...