June 11th, 2014
The Southern Baptist Convention has elected a new leader. (Christianity Today)
Rev. Ronnie Floyd of Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) on June 10.
The megachurch pastor received 1,834 votes, or 51.62 percent, and replaces New Orleans pastor Fred Luter, Jr.
Rev. Floyd was nominated by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., who called him a “gifted and visionary pastor,” as well as a “unifier and a denominational statesman”.
The SBC exists in a nation that is increasingly finding that the moral demands of Southern Baptist Churches are not consistent with a good and decent society. Nor are Americans finding that the Golden Rule, as espoused by Jesus (and other religious figures), can be much found in the SBC teachings on homosexuality.
And such conflict and disagreement is not safely outside the walls of the church. Increasingly, SBC pastors are having to counsel members and deal with family and friends who are gay and are finding that the ol’ time religion assumptions do not hold up well in the face of honesty and personal reality.
Yet in this time of cultural challenge, the SBC decided to double down and turn to leadership from a culture warrior. Specifically, an anti-gay pastor with a history of histrionics and fear-mongering about The Gay Agenda. Here is what he had to say in a 2003 sermon.
Satan has taken his tool of homosexuality, a gross and evil sin, and done a con job on the American culture, making it seem like all is okay when you are gay. I hope you are aware that what was once subtle has now turned into the rage of a lion as brazen and threatening as anything in our culture. I must sound the trumpet loud and clear, praying that we do not run in retreat, but march in the truth of God valiantly. This is not a skirmish or a conflict or a disagreement, but it is a war. The war they have declared against our culture has an agenda and we need to be aware of it.
Rev. Floyd not only has preached about how doing unto gay people as you would like done to you would destroy the country, he’s written a book. In his 2011 The Gay Agenda he rails on against the evils he imagines and warns against gay villians worthy of a 1950’s comic book. (Arkansas Times)
The Gay Agenda is not just any agenda. For Ronnie Floyd and his flock, the Gay Agenda – you know it’s serious because of the capital letters – is set to destroy American culture as we know it.
The Gay Agenda opens on a bizarre note – Ronnie Floyd is watching an episode of The West Wing that he says “astounded” him. In the episode in question, the President of the United States, played by Martin Sheen, confronts a radio talk show host obviously patterned after “Dr. Laura.” As Floyd recounts the incident, he writes, “My eyes widened as his anger rose.”
After confirming that the Bible (Leviticus 18:22) does, indeed, refer to homosexuality as an “abomination,” the Sheen character then recounts a few other warnings from the Bible, such as working on the Sabbath, or touching the skin of a dead pig (specifically, footballs).
Floyd leaps from describing the scene on his TV screen to discussing his take on the Gay Agenda, charging that “proponents” of homosexuality have declared war on American culture. He also writes that, “It seems that everything you see these days, everything you read, and everything you hear, is about the gay lifestyle.”
It is possible that Rev. Floyd has mellowed in the past couple of years. And this vote does follow on the footsteps of a conference in which voices within the church have called for less divisive and insulting language, a small but important step.
But from where I sit, it looks to me as though the Southern Baptist Church has chosen a path that will not only exclude gay congregants but the growing band of Baptists who no longer wish to live in hatred and war against their gay children, family, coworkers, and friends. And unless the SBC changes course, it’s hard to envision a future in which they remain relevant.
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