Month: May 2013

Disaster relief continues fruitful ministry in Oklahoma

MOORE, Okla.—SBTC disaster relief workers continued efforts in Oklahoma over the Memorial Day weekend with SBTC skid steer teams helping ease debris removal in Moore, where an EF-5 tornado destroyed hundreds of homes along a wide swath and claimed 24 lives.

The SBTC volunteers have worked in the area since May 23 and have reported dozens of professions of faith resulting from the ministry there.

Also, an SBTC chainsaw team assisted in clean up in Shawnee, Okla., about 40 minutes east of Oklahoma City, where tornadoes caused damage.

Recalling last week’s work in Moore, Jim Howard, an SBTC DR volunteer and pastor of Westside Baptist of Atlanta, Texas, described overwhelming damage.

“We saw roofs gone, windows blown out, insulation and wood pieces everywhere, even metal wrapped around stuff,” said Howard of the neighborhood deemed “Zone 8,” an area “just outside the main wind force.”

There was still much work to do, even in a neighborhood on the edge of disaster, Howard said.

“We spent the day with a man and his son. We put a tarp on his roof and talked to him, shared with him and seemed to encourage him a lot,” Howard relayed. “He had a lot of hope, as do most of the people up here. We prayed with him and his son. They were ready to pray.”

The view from the top of the man’s roof afforded Howard an encouraging sight as he watched a group of young families gather to remove debris from a neighborhood children’s playground.

“They got out there and got busy cleaning it up and replacing the sawdust. It was healthy for them to do that,” said Howard, who noted other instances of a close-knit community banding together yet grateful for the outside help. “Everyone is so appreciative,” Howard added. “These [DR] men who come up here and do this for nothing, who drive so far and work so hard, will remind folks that there is a God and that they are loved.”

Howard, typical of DR workers, volunteers his time. “This is how I spend my vacation. I don’t hunt. I don’t fish. I do disaster relief.”

SBTC DR workers were staying at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Howard himself expected to be in Oklahoma for two weeks.

Doug Scott, DR skid steer team leader and a member of Jim Howard’s church in Atlanta, described helping Moore resident Jim McBride remove debris from his ruined garage on May 24. McBride is an Oklahoma DR volunteer with whom Scott and others had worked previously at other disasters.

“His house was destroyed. Part of it is still standing, but they will have to bring in a bulldozer to raze it,” Scott said. It was a blessing to be able to help him, he said.

Skid steers, with grappling buckets attached, enable operators to carry “a pretty good load,” Scott explained.

On Saturday, the efforts of one skid steer team at a home SW 11th Street in Moore yielded news of a miraculous story, said DR volunteer Monte Furrh.

“We were cleaning up with a bobcat [skid steer] at a two-story house that had fallen on three people—an elderly couple and their son,” Furrh recalled. “The people were there talking to us [during debris removal]. It had taken rescuers three hours to dig them all out [after the tornado].”

The family had been inside the home when the storm struck.

“They said they heard the warning and tried to get to the outside tornado shelter. They didn’t even get to the door of their home when the tornado hit,” Furrh explained.

The woman, 81, recalled tapping on something metallic to try to signal rescuers. It may have been the home’s washer and dryer that apparently prevented debris from crushing her, Furrh said. 

The son said a metal chair was what saved him as a staircase and other debris fell, Furrh added.

“The home was a two story to start with. It was demolished. There was a pickup truck sitting upside down in it [the debris]. The truck was blown down the street about a block and a half. We found a lawnmower; we found a tire, a wheel, a hub from the pickup which had come off in flight,” Furrh noted. 

The family’s home was just down the street from the Plaza Towers Elementary School where seven students died when the tornado hit, said SBTC DR volunteer Mary Sapp of Mabank. Seven people from SW 11th Street also died, Sapp said.

“It is like a war zone over there. It is real bad. It is kind of hard to wrap your mind around it. You see it on TV, but till you are right there … it tears your heart out,” Furrh observed.

The elderly couple said they were believers. “They said they did a lot of praying while they were buried in the house,” Furrh said.

DR workers were able to find the couple’s safe, intact, with all their insurance papers in it. They also found a coat with a checkbook in it that the man hoped to recover. “The safe was underneath the rubble.  We cleared about 20 feet of rubble. We even found his wife’s glasses,” Furrh said.

A group from Joplin, Mo., including a retired teacher who had taught at Plaza Towers Elementary, brought equipment needed to fix flat tires, a constant problem for DR and other vehicles, given the debris, said Sapp, who made use of the free tire repair services.

Many volunteers in the first wave of SBTC help left an advanced DR training session at Garrison to deploy directly to Oklahoma, said Gordon Knight, SBTC DR chaplain director.

Chaplains have been deployed with all teams, Knight said.

People have slowly started returning to the most severely damaged areas of Moore. “[This DR] is a little different,” said Bob Sapp, SBTC DR chaplain deployed to Moore. “All the homes were destroyed. They had no reason to be back out there. They came to salvage whatever we could uncover.”

“We prayed with everybody,” Bob Sapp said. “If we could get to them, we prayed with them.”

Sapp knew of at least one couple that had been led to the Lord by SBTC chaplains. As of Tuesday, DR teams had led five people to Christ during the second week of ministry there, said Richardson, the SBTC DR director.

The words of a police officer to Mary Sapp described the attitude of many Moore residents: “We are a faith-based community, not a government-based community.”

Buckets of Love hospice kits focus at BGR booth

HOUSTON—”Buckets of Love” hospice kits will be a key focus at the Baptist Global Response booth in the exhibit hall at the Southern Baptist Convention.

Southern Baptists all over Texas have for several months been collecting supplies and
packing the buckets, a compilation of medical and hygiene supplies designed to help people suffering with terminal illnesses.

A call for churches to bring their packed buckets to the BGR booth in Houston has been issued by Franklin and Paula Kilpatrick, retired Southern Baptist missionaries who are coordinating The Bucket Project campaign in Texas. In addition, several national SBC leaders will be packing buckets themselves at the booth, including Russell Moore, newly elected president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Wanda Lee, executive director/treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union, SBC; and Frank Page, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee; and Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board.

For information on that schedule, check at the BGR booth, located behind the Cooperative Program stage. For more information about The Bucket Project, visit or email

Boy Scouts overturn ban on gay members

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) — Delegates to the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Thursday (May 23) approved new membership guidelines which open the ranks of the organization to homosexual members. Young men who openly claim to be homosexual may now participate as Scouts.

The decision, the BSA leadership said in a statement, was based on “growing input from within the Scouting family.” That input led to a national review of policy, or a “comprehensive listening exercise,” resulting in a resolution to remove the restriction “denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.”

Some 1,400 delegates to the National Council approved the change in membership standards by a margin of 61-39 percent, but changes to the adult leadership policy of the organization, which forbids homosexual Scout leaders, was not up for vote and remains in place. Rules on sexual misconduct, heterosexual and homosexual, also remain in place for Scouts and Scout leaders.

John Stemberger, who has waged a national campaign to keep the ban on homosexual Scouts in place through the website, said the “most influential youth organization in America had turned a sad corner.”

“The Boy Scouts of America have demonstrated that values are not timeless,” Stemberger said in a statement after the vote. “The Boy Scouts are now teaching kids that when your values are no longer popular, change them.”

Stemberger added that BSA leaders had succumbed to the pressure of special interest groups by making the change to the membership policy. “The leaders of the Boy Scouts of America,” he said, “make decisions like politicians placing their fingers in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.”

Stemberger add that Thursday was the last day he would wear a Boy Scouts of American uniform. He said he plans to call a coalition together to discuss creating a new youth organization centered on biblical values, a call echoed by many religious leaders.

“We had hoped to keep sex and politics out of Scouting,” Stemberger said. “We grieve today not because we are leaving the Boy Scouts of America, but because the Boy Scouts left us.” He believes the BSA can expect to lose no fewer than 200,000 members and $30 million in funding.

Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page, who had met with Scouting leaders and had urged them to maintain the current policy, said he was “deeply saddened” that the BSA overturned its “constitutionally protected expressive message that homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

“We know that the pressures exerted against the voting members of the 1,400 chartered organizations by homosexual activist groups have been unrelenting,” Page said. “We are grateful for each voting member who voted in the minority; but our sadness for the Scouting organization as a whole cannot be overstated.”

Page said the vote “ushers in a sea-change in the credibility of the Boy Scouts of America as a viable boys’ organization for millions of Americans who believe strongly in the principles of biblical morality. To claim that the Boys Scouts is the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training suddenly rings hollow.”

“We continue to pray for our country. We believe we are in desperate need of a genuine spiritual awakening that will transform lives through the power of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Page said.

Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land predicted a mass exodus of religious groups from the organization.

“Frankly, I can’t imagine a Southern Baptist pastor who would continue to allow his church to sponsor a Boy Scout troop under these new rules,” said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “I predict there will be a mass exodus of Southern Baptists and other conservative Christians from the Boy Scouts.”

The “supposed compromise” satisfies no one and signals the BSA will only become more inclusive of gays, Land said.

“The supposed compromise takes away their best defense. In the year 2000, the Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts did not have to have homosexual Scout masters because the homosexual lifestyle was contrary to the core values of Scouts. If you’re going to allow opening gay Scouts to participate in Scouting, then it’s no longer a core value,” Land said. “And so what we’re going to see now is a flood of litigation by pro-homosexual groups arguing that the continuing ban on gay Scout Masters is … prejudice and they will win. They will win, because the Boy Scouts have stripped themselves of their defense the Supreme Court used.”

Land advised Southern Baptist churches to withdraw their support of Scout troops and support the Royal Ambassadors ministry to boys.

The statement from the BSA leadership said the new membership policy is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the organization enough time to implement the policy and communicate it to its 116,000 units. The statement also said the organization would not be distracted from its mission by a “single, divisive and unresolved societal issue.” Leaders said there are no plans to review the issue further.

Russell Moore, president-elect of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the decision lands the “sexual revolution’s onward march” square in the middle of Scouting.

“Few, if any, are suggesting the Boy Scouts kick out boys based on their particular temptations. We don’t, and shouldn’t do that in our churches, much less in the Scouts,” Moore told Baptist Press. “But this change is more than this. It doesn’t speak in terms of temptations but in terms of the claiming of a sexually politicized identity as morally neutral.”

Local Scouting troops sponsored by evangelical, Roman Catholic or Latter-day Saints congregations, Moore said, “will be pressured to mute a definition of ‘morally straight’ that includes a sexuality intended only for the lifelong one-flesh union of a man and a woman in marriage.”

“Depending on how radically the BSA applies this new policy to local troops, I suspect many will be seeking an alternative to the Boy Scouts to train up boys toward a life of virtue,” Moore said.

The revision of the membership policy “highlights how important it is for churches to speak clearly of both our love for all people, including our gay and lesbian neighbors, and the importance of God’s design for human sexuality for human flourishing,” Moore said. “The Gospel doesn’t define us, as the culture does, in terms of our wants and desires. The Gospel addresses us, all of us, as sinners and calls us to a life of freedom and cross-bearing sacrifice.”

The culture is confused, Moore said, as it always is in a fallen world.

“Our voluntary associations, even the most venerable of them, are increasingly ambiguous about what it means to live a good life rooted in the permanent things,” Moore said. “Our churches cannot, and will not, share that ambiguity.”

The BSA statement ended by acknowledging the different opinions held on the matter of homosexuality, but said children were “better off when they are in Scouting.”

To view the Boy Scouts of America statement in full, go to:

SBTC DR focused on Cleburne after May 16 tornado

Even as a massive tornado ravaged Moore, Okla., on May 20, efforts to clean up the damage caused by the EF-3 and EF-4 tornadoes that ripped through the towns of Granbury, Cleburne and Ennis on May 15 were continuing this week.

SBTC disaster relief workers and chaplains were deployed to the area 30 miles southwest of Fort Worth on May 16. At Granbury, SBTC disaster relief director Jim Richardson and Texas Baptist Men (TBM) officials agreed that the SBTC would focus relief efforts in Cleburne while the TBM would handle Granbury.

SBTC DR set up headquarters in Stonelake Baptist Church. Relief efforts had been coordinated with the city of Cleburne, which set up its command center at the local elementary school.

While Cleburne suffered no fatalities, at least 600 homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm, Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said in a May 16 news conference.

One of the homes damaged belonged to Brian McClure, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Cleburne, where SBTC DR workers were being housed.

McClure, his wife Carleigh, and their five children, ages seven months to nine years, were home during the storm. McClure recalled hearing tornado sirens going off twice. “We gathered into the interior closet and stayed there,” McClure said. “You could hear the hail and the debris: shingles, wood particles. There was a whole lot of noise.”

The McClures live in a neighborhood in the southwestern part of Cleburne, the area hardest hit by the tornadoes.

McClure, experienced in roofing, covered his home’s roof with a tarp. Shingles were gone and the wood decking visible. “But four homes down, the tornado ripped off shingles, tar paper and decking. You could see clear into the rooms,” said McClure, who accompanied SBTC chaplains and DR workers to damaged areas over the weekend.

One of the homes severely damaged belonged to Friendship Baptist Church member Inez Kerby, who was out of town at the time of the storm. SBTC workers cleared debris from Kerby’s yard and porch; chainsaw teams cut up and removed a tree which had fallen between Kerby’s home and that of a neighbor.

Kerby’s neighbor was thankful for the assistance, said McClure, who added, “We had a chance to pray with her and minister to her.” The neighbor’s home had lost its roof.  “You could look up through the ceiling into the sky, were it not for the blue tarp that covered everything,” McClure said.

SBTC Disaster Relief deployed more than 20 trained volunteers, including shower unit operators, operations assessment teams, roofing teams, chainsaw teams and chaplains to the Cleburne area, said Jim Richardson, SBTC DR director. The chaplains and chainsaw teams had seen the most action.

“In Cleburne, most of the damage was done to trees and roofs. Much of the work we’ve been doing is chainsaw work,” said Darryl Cason, SBTC “white hat” or incident commander. “Just about every home I came across was livable except they had no electricity,” Cason said.

Electricity was restored to the McClure home May 17.

SBTC DR chaplain Leo Furrh of Denison was among the first to arrive in Cleburne. “When we first got here, there was a lot of confusion. All of a sudden, people find they have a tree sticking out their back door or back window. We have seen a lot of damage.”

Chainsaws make welcome noise, evidently.

“We are missionaries like any others,” said Furrh of the SBTC DR chaplains and volunteers. “Some have been brought to the Lord; others have been encouraged in the Lord. This experience has strengthened their faith,” said Furrh of the contacts made by SBTC chaplains and workers.

“Most contacts have been made in the neighborhoods,” Furrh added. “We pray with people and do whatever we can to assist them.”

Sometimes encounters yield unexpected opportunities.

Furrh recalled one such offer of assistance to a woman whose home had been damaged. “She started filling out our forms [SBTC DR work orders] and then stopped. She said, ‘Wait a minute. Y’all might not want to do this for me.’”

“Why not?” Furrh asked.

“I’m not a Baptist,” the woman replied.

“That doesn’t make any difference,” he said.

“I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,” said the woman.

“OK, you talk, I’ll talk,” replied Furrh. “We will put the tarp on your roof and get the broken limbs out of your trees. We will take them out to the curb. Then we can sit down, and for every minute you get to talk, I get to talk. We did just that,” said Furrh, who noted that he is retired and that his” full time occupation is SBTC disaster relief.”

SBTC DR workers were expected to remain in the Cleburne area through May 23 , said Julian Moreno, an SBTC blue hat.

“The DR folks come in and do basically what we also get to see neighbors do,” McClure said. “They come in and say, ‘Hey, is there something I can help you with?’ And then they do it. It’s the heart of DR, and it’s part and parcel of Cleburne, too.”

Silence will be interpreted as disapproval

According to the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, a recent email from the U.S. Department of Justice is pretty aggressive in directing DOJ employees to affirm homosexual behavior. All employees reportedly received an email that included a brochure called “LGBT Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers.” The 7 Habits include “Use Inclusive Language” (significant other or spouse rather than husband or wife), “Acknowledge and Engage with LGBT Employees” the same way you do with “non-LGBT employees,” “Come Out,” by attending LGBT events at the DOJ, “Ensure that Advancement, Development & Mentoring Opportunities are Fair and Effective,” by encouraging the employee to participate in LGBT-focused professional development opportunities, and “Know How to Respond if an Employee Comes Out to You,” by asking respectful questions and thanking the employee for trusting you. “Silence,” it goes on to say, “will be interpreted as disapproval.”

The brochure was prepared by the “Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Employees of the U.S. Department of Justice and their Allies.” Liberty Counsel called the email a “directive” and I can understand how an all-employees email would carry a bit of authority to it. A wise employee might consider the brochure as describing a standard by which promotions and retention could be granted to managers within the Department of Justice. It certainly goes beyond “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and well beyond tolerance all the way to encouragement. Is it possible for a biblical Christian—one who can kindly grant others personal liberty—to be a manager in the DOJ? If in fact managers are required to affirm self-destructive behavior in the employees they supervise or promote men who “self-identify” as female without considering this behavior aberrant, the answer seems to be “no.” If you can’t honestly say “hurrah” and you can’t by policy say “oh dear” or even nothing at all when an employee feels compelled to tell you of his sexual desires, you can’t be a supervisor.

I understand that elections have consequences, and we have that driven home daily. But a political election cannot overturn ex cathedra social and scientific realities. Neither a president, nor an attorney general can mandate that there is no substantial difference between male and female, but they might be able to force those who wish to continue in their employ to mouth just that absurd lie. To do so is not about justice, science, or even kindness. This directive, if used as we expect, is nothing short of state-established religious dogma.

Supporters of “morally straight” Scouts make last-minute appeal

Coordinators of 11th-hour rallies supporting the Boy Scouts of America’s existing membership standard hope their public demonstrations will influence those casting ballots this week on whether or not to allow openly homosexual youth into Boy Scout ranks. In the last month BSA councils from across the nation have weighed the issue on the local level and will cast their vote on the resolution on Thursday during the annual National Council in Grapevine.

Some supporters of the status quo plan to greet the 1,400 delegates with a “friendly, courteous, and kind” rally as they arrive May 22 at the Gaylord Texan Resort. Texas Values, a conservative, non-profit organization affiliated with the Plano-based Liberty Institute, organized the event. Days earlier the founder of, John Stemberger, asked local BSA councils across the nation to host “Rally for Scouting” events May 17 demonstrating their opposition to the proposed resolution. Forty councils participated in the rallies, according to the website.

Critics of the proposed change warn the poorly worded resolution would invite lawsuits and inevitably force the BSA to drop its ban on membership of adult homosexuals and alter the culture of an organization that for 103 years has exemplified for many what it means to be a “morally straight” young man.

Since it was introduced on April 18, legal and moral arguments against the resolution have focused on the problematic bifurcation of the measure. The new policy, if approved, would allow openly homosexual youth but not homosexual adults.

 That is a lawsuit magnet, Stemberger, a Florida attorney and Eagle Scout, argued. According to the proposed policy, a Scout who is one day shy of 18 and an avowed homosexual can be a member in good standing but not the following day when he turns 18.

“What’s a Scout Master to do?” asked Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council. She and Stemberger were among four participants on a panel discussion of the issue hosted by The Heritage Foundation May 14. The panelists, including Matthew Spalding, Heritage vice president of American studies, and Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, argued the proposed change in the membership policy would have far-reaching ramifications of which the BSA seems to have given little consideration.

“This cuts the heart out of Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale,” said Whelan, referring to the 2000 Supreme Court decision affirming the Scouts right to refuse membership to avowed homosexuals. The BSA argued at the time that homosexuality was incompatible with BSA values and membership policy should reflect those standards. In a 5-4 vote, the justices agreed.

Stemberger, a former Scout Master, said if the organization changes its membership standards—essentially approving homosexuality among its youth—it will no longer be under the protection of that SCOTUS decision and open itself to litigation from those arguing for equal access for adult homosexuals.

If the membership policy is changed, Stemberger predicted the BSA would be awash in lawsuits within two years. The organization cannot state via its membership policy, that homosexuality is acceptable among its youth but not adults. Openly homosexual Scouts ousted from their troops upon turning 18 and homosexual adults calling for equal access will demand the BSA open its membership to them or face litigation, he said.

“You are voting for open homosexuality amongst adults and youth. It’s only a matter of time,” Stemberger said .

The BSA undoubtedly has among its 2.65 million members youth who identify as homosexual or are struggling with their sexual identity. But because they are not public about the matter their sexual preference is not an issue and their membership is not in jeopardy. So the mantra that the Boy Scouts of America has a “ban” on homosexual membership is a disingenuous statement, Stemberger said.

Critics of the resolution said pressure from some rank-and-file BSA members and powerful executive board members has kept the issue alive despite the Scouts’ own polling indicating 70 percent of their members want the membership policy to remain the same. An attempt by the National Executive Board in January to change membership policy was swiftly denounced, forcing the board to retreat and put the matter to a vote before the National Council this week.

In February the BSA conducted another poll with little change in the results—the majority of members want the status quo. Regardless of those results, critics contend, the executive board acted in “bad faith” by drafting the current resolution based on their own summation of the polling.

The board stated, “While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community, and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting.”

The addition of openly homosexual youth, and possibly adult members, raises concerns Stemberger believes the BSA has not adequately addressed. The inclusion of youth and men with same-sex attraction into the organization’s tight-knit environs raises moral and legal questions. The attorney said the BSA child protection guidelines are some of the best in the country but the addition of openly homosexual youth into the ranks brings to fore the potential for “youth on youth” sexual activity or assault. The possibility of such incidents, Stemberger warned, is not out of the realm of possibility. He charged the BSA Executive Committee did not fully vet the issue before going forth with the proposed membership change, he charged.

During the Heritage Foundation panel discussion, Matthew Spalding read from his son’s Scout handbook and pointed out the moral dichotomy between the established BSA standards and its pending approval of homosexuality. Reading from the manual, Spalding said the BSA does not have an agenda on the matter of sexual orientation and resolving “this complex issue” is not the role of the organization. Nor may any member of the organization promote or advance any social or political agenda.

Passage of the membership resolution would “sow moral confusion,” Spalding said. He asked how Scout Masters would guide boys through the handbook topics of: fatherhood; personal responsibility and consequences in their own lives and the lives of others; waiting until marriage to have sex; true maturity; acting ethically; and understanding a young man’s responsibility toward women.

Changing the membership standards resonates deeper than the superficial question of who can wear the Boy Scouts of America uniform, he argued.

“Does that not—played out logically—undermine their ability to uphold basic things that go to the ethical core of their purpose?” Spalding asked.

The proposed policy goes beyond tacit approval of homosexuality and leaves BSA no option but to admit anyone whose sexual identity is non-heterosexual. The policy reads, No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” 

“Sexual preference” is an open-ended term, Cathy Ruse said. Girls who “identify” as boys could apply for membership and the Scouts would not have a legal leg to stand on in refusing admittance. The Girl Scouts of America adopted a policy similar to what BSA is considering and the consequences are troubling, Ruse said.

In Colorado, the mother of a 7-year-old boy fought to have her son accepted as a member of the local Girl Scout troop. The mother said her son identifies as a girl and should be allowed to join the all-girl organization. The initial refusal by the troop leader was overruled by higher authorities and the boy was admitted.

Stemberger said the executive committee has ignored its own internal polling, history and tradition and, instead, used public polling to direct the decision-making process regarding membership policy. Questions about who sleeps, showers or teams-up with the homosexual youth or adult during campouts has not been addressed he said. Discussion of sexuality, and the political and social debate surrounding homosexuality, is an issue for parental discussion and has no place in a Boy Scout troop, he said.

“The BSA is completely ignoring what is best for the boys,” Stemberger said. “They are not brave enough. They are undergoing the test of moral relativism.”

Another Gosnell? Texas doctor under scrutiny

WASHINGTON (BP)—Evidence provided by former workers at a Texas abortion clinic may support what pro-life advocates have been asserting—Kermit Gosnell is not alone.

Douglas Karpen, a Houston abortion doctor, has regularly killed babies after their late-term deliveries at his clinic, according to eyewitness testimony from three of his former employees. Their descriptions on video of some of those killings outside the womb are at least as gruesome as those of the slayings by Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor who was convicted May 13 of first-degree murder in the post-delivery deaths of three infants.

In the video released May 14, the former workers describe deaths of born-alive babies that involved the doctor twisting babies’ heads off their necks, stabbing instruments into their stomachs or the soft spots of their heads, inserting his finger through babies’ throats and severing their spinal cords.

“It’s just corroboration of what pro-lifers, activists in particular, have always maintained; we’ve known. This is not anything new to us. It might be new to the American people, but it’s not a surprise at all to us.”
—popular pro-life blogger Jill Stanek

Gosnell, who has been sentenced to three life sentences without parole, killed hundreds of children at least six months into gestation after induced delivery by a technique he called “snipping,” according to a grand jury report. “Snipping” involved jabbing scissors into the back of a living baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord.

The new report on Karpen helps buttress the contention by pro-lifers that Gosnell is not an aberration. While abortion-rights advocates have asserted Gosnell is an anomaly, pro-life leaders have said he is among an uncertain number of abortion doctors in the United States who are killing born-alive infants or allowing them to die without medical care.

In addition, they also have asserted Gosnell is one of an unknown number of doctors who are performing illegal, late-term abortions of healthy, unborn babies for healthy mothers, sometimes under unsanitary, unsafe conditions for the women.

“It’s just corroboration of what pro-lifers, activists in particular, have always maintained; we’ve known,” popular pro-life blogger Jill Stanek told Baptist Press May 17. “This is not anything new to us. It might be new to the American people, but it’s not a surprise at all to us.”

The late-term method—known sometimes as live-birth or induced-labor abortion—used by Karpen and Gosnell is the same Stanek observed at a suburban Chicago hospital where she was a nurse, she said. The goal of the procedure at Christ Hospital was to cause a woman’s cervix to expel a premature baby who would die in the process or shortly after departure from the womb. When babies survived the procedure, they were left to die.

Stanek blew the whistle on the practice, and her testimony to Congress helped bring about enactment of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act in 2002 to protect children who survive abortion.

“In that case, from what I observed at my hospital, about 25 percent of the babies lived,” she told BP. “So I’ve been saying for a long time that I think this is going on everywhere, that when you’re involved in late-term abortions [in which] you use the induced-labor abortion technique … that this has to be common.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said Gosnell’s deplorable practice and clinic “woke up many Americans to the inhumanity of the late-term abortion industry. Here is, arguably, more disturbing evidence.”

“Congress must take immediate action to address the brutality and lawlessness of the late-term abortion industry and protect women and babies suffering across the country,” she said in a written statement.

Life Dynamics, a pro-life organization in Denton, Texas, released the video of the former Karpen employees — Deborah Edge, Gigi Aguilar and Krystal Rodriguez — without naming the doctor or the state in which he practiced. Operation Rescue, which is based in Wichita, Kan., identified Karpen May 15, the day after the video’s release. The three ex-employees acted as whistleblowers beginning in 2011 with Operation Rescue.

On the video, Edge says the delivery of live babies was not uncommon at the Aaron Women’s Clinic in Houston.

“I think every morning I saw several, on several occasions,” she says. “If we had 20-something patients, of course, maybe 10 or 12 or 15 patients would be large procedures, and out of those large procedures, I’m pretty sure I was seeing at least three or four fetuses that were completely delivered in some way or another.”

With Aguilar and Rodriguez on either side during the interview, Edge says, “When he did an abortion, especially an over-20-week abortion, most of the time the fetus would come completely out before he either cut the spinal cord or he introduced one of the instruments into the soft spot of the fetus in order to kill the fetus.

“I thought, well, it’s an abortion, you know, that’s what he does, but I wasn’t aware that it was illegal.”

When Karpen wasn’t stabbing a baby to kill him, he sometimes was “actually twisting the head off the neck kind of with his own bare hands,” she says.

Edge says Karpen would do abortions “way over 24 weeks,” the legal limit in Texas.

“[H]e does a lot of huge abortions. A lot of the times we would bring the big fetus that [was] over-age and we would reopen the bag and just look at it and be like, ‘Oh my … it’s so big.’ You know, we would be amazed how big it was,” she says.

The informants provided cell phone photos of the bodies of two large babies, at least one whose neck appears to be slit, and videos from inside Karpen’s clinic. The photos are on Operation Rescue’s website, while the nearly 14-minute video interview is on Life Dynamics’ site.

Edge cited the following among other abuses she witnessed, according to Operation Rescue: Falsifying ultrasound results; using unqualified workers to administer drugs; employing nurses through a temp agency when inspections were scheduled; practicing fraudulent billing; and reusing disposable instruments.

Operation Rescue filed a complaint against Karpen with the Texas Medical Board and amended it later, but the board dismissed its investigation in February, the pro-life organization reported.

The Texas Department of State Health Services and the Harris County district attorney’s office are investigating the allegations, the Houston Chronicle reported May 15.

In light of testimony in the Gosnell trial and other reports, Republicans in Congress are calling for investigations of abortion clinics and cooperation from states to prevent the kind of murderous and horrific practices described by former Gosnell employees and other witnesses.

GOP members of both the Senate and House of Representatives have called for Congress to investigate and remedy “abusive, unsanitary, and illegal abortion practices.” Leaders of two House committees, meanwhile, have written attorneys general and health department officials seeking information on the regulation of abortion clinics in all 50 states.

The pro-life organization Live Action, which has become famous in recent years for its undercover investigations of Planned Parenthood and other abortion centers, has released since April 28 four hidden-camera videos that show clinic personnel providing guidance on late-term abortions. Some of the videos show doctors confirming they will not provide life-saving care for children who survive an abortion. One video shows a clinic staffer explaining how to dispose of a baby born alive.

Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

IMB trustees call on Executive Committee to propose “substantive changes” to facilitate recruiting, funding and supporting future missionaries

ROGERS, Ark.—International Mission Board President Tom Elliff succeeded in rallying the enthusiastic support of trustees to send a resolution to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, desiring an “aggressive, proactive and prompt” response to the challenges of missionary mobilization and support. The call for “substantive changes” asks for an EC-developed plan to be presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the SBC in Baltimore enabling the SBC to “operate at maximum effectiveness in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.”

Texas trustees present at the meeting May 14-15 supported Elliff’s call to pray for revival that will produce laborers and sacrificial giving necessary to support them, as he pled for all Southern Baptists “to give of both our tithes and our offerings, faithfully, sacrificially, regularly, and intelligently.”

While giving is supposed to be done with joy, Elliff said, “Your treasurer and heart generally are found in the same place” and encouraged Southern Baptists to “ensure our giving has maximum Great Commission impact here” as well as “sufficient strength to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.”

Elliff stuck with the same theme he offered when elected at a board meeting in Grapevine two years ago—finding a means of “going to the ends of the earth now.” Weaving an exposition of his text from Acts 20:25-27 with the background of God’s challenge to the prophet Ezekiel, Elliff said he seeks to be “innocent of the blood of all men.”

“In both instances it is clear that the Lord does hold us personally accountable for our individual response and corporate responsibility to the Great Commission,” he said, reminding that believers will be asked what they did with all with which they were entrusted.

Living at a time of the greatest lostness when fewer than half of the world’s residents will have only the slightest connection with evangelical Christianity, when access to others has never been easier, when the pool of available candidates has grown, and when giving to the offering plates of Southern Baptist churches exceeds $12.2 billion, demonstrating the availability of resources, Elliff said Southern Baptists may not be prepared to fulfill “our part in the Great Commission equation.”

Decreasing support of the Cooperative Program has resulted in fewer missionary personnel—the number now is at about 4,850, signaling impending retrenchment, a condition Elliff said he found unacceptable.

While Oklahoma trustee Cheryl Wright sought to delay consideration of the resolution, finding the support of three other board members, her effort was refused and the original statement offered by Elliff passed without opposition.

Wright expressed her frustration when proposals introduced one day are voted on the next day, preferring a longer time for consideration of the ramifications. “Let’s pray more and let’s give more, but I believe there’s much more to this than just those two cheerleading things,” she said.

Elliff assured her a longer time for consideration would always occur regarding structural changes, but he said he regarded the resolution as “sending a message” asking the Executive Committee to join with the IMB in solving the challenge. His appeal asked for substantive changes to:

—“continue to effectively demolish every racial, ethnic, and generational barrier that constrains us;”

—“make both mission giving and giving more personal by fostering fresh, innovative and effective channels for sending and support, while operating “within the proven and effective cooperative framework” of the SBC;

—“honor, support and utilize the essential nature of the education, training and the advocacy provided” by all SBC entities;

—“open the door to greater sacrifice, building trust through proven transparency at every level” of SBC life;

—“leave to the next generation a Southern Baptist Convention that is doctrinally, structurally, spiritually and passionately prepared to finish the task of global evangelization” should the Lord delay his return, with reference to 2 Corinthians 8:7-11.

Texas trustee Jimmy Pritchard, a former board chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, urged passage, stating, “I think this resolution speaks to the very heart of our existence and if the time is now, let’s defeat the amendment [to delay] and take it as far and as fast as we can.”

Trustee Nathan Lorick of Fort Worth called for a vote, ending discussion on the effort to delay.

Trustee Mike Gonzales of Irving told the TEXAN he supported the motion because “This resolution will enable the IMB and the Executive Committee of the SBC to get together and dialogue about future funding for international missions and implementing new strategies in reaching lostness in the world.”

Gonzales was honored for having completed two terms of service on the board.

The resolution does not ask the Executive Committee to do anything they aren’t already assigned, Elliff said. “That’s their job,” he insisted, noting that the EC’s ministry and finance plan determines the structure of the IMB. “We need fresh innovative thinking here,” he added.

Concerned that Southern Baptists often respond to such appeals with “window dressing,” Elliff said, “I’m not talking about something that’s decorative . . . that is trying to placate certain interest groups.” In response to another trustee’s question as to the changes required, Elliff said he did not know the answer, but was simply asking the Executive Committee to start the process of review of “structural changes that could be made in our ministry plan that would enable us to more rapidly carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.”

Elliff added, “It may be funding, it may be recruiting, when and how we speak to issues. The goal is for the Executive Committee to put their thinking caps on, look at some documents designed years ago and think about how we position ourselves for coming years.”

Calling the Cooperative Program a funding mechanism that “does and will continue to serve us well,” Elliff said it was developed when “people were separated by many miles and rarely saw each other. We rarely, if ever, saw missionaries and didn’t know what happened around the world. We don’t live in that world anymore.”

He expressed hope that any suggestions would “vastly improve our ability to recruit, send and support—as I said very carefully—within the framework of our cooperative structure of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Speaking in favor of the motion, trustee Gene Williams of Georgia said, “I’m not saying this resolution is complete, but I can’t find one thing in it I can’t agree with so I’m going to vote for it.”

IMB Chairman David Uth of Florida confirmed that a trustee task force had been working on solving some of the issues related to budget restraints. “This will help us move forward,” he said.

In addition to business, 58 missionaries, including 14 Texans, were approved for appointment in a commissioning service that was to be held the evening of May 15 at Cross Church of Pinnacle Hills.