SBC bans chaplains from “giving the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle”
September 6th, 2013
We haven’t heard much from the Southern Baptist Convention lately. Onetime players in the Culture Wars, over the past year or so the SBC has pulled back from a political response to the changes in social acceptance of homosexuality and has refocused on its religious response. They decided to treat gay couples much like they would treat heterosexuals who are not living in agreement with the Convention’s sexual teachings.
This is both a pragmatic response to a shifting culture and a theologically sound position. It places the emphasis back where the Epistles held it, within the body, and reminds Southern Baptists that Scripture talks about one’s own failings, not that of one’s neighbor. (And as anyone who has lived in the Bible Belt can attest, Southern Baptists need all the reminding they can get).
But that is not to suggest that the denomination has changed its position. And new guidelines issued to SBC chaplains by the SBC’s North American Mission Board illustrate the extent to which Baptists still continue to theologically oppose homosexuality and gay marriage. (As an aside, I sincerely hope that NAMB does not have branch offices in Louisiana or Los Angeles).
In addition to direction on pastoral care in pluralistic setting, the NAMB placed some pretty severe restrictions on its chaplains, which make up about 15% of Military chaplains. (Baptist Press)
Restrictions — The guidelines state that “NAMB-endorsed chaplains will not conduct or attend a wedding ceremony for any same-sex couple, bless such a union or perform counseling in support of such a union, assist or support paid contractors or volunteers leading same-sex relational events, nor offer any kind of relationship training or retreat, on or off of a military installation, that would give the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle or sexual wrongdoing. This biblical prohibition remains in effect irrespective of any civil law authorizing same-sex marriage or benefits to the contrary.” Chaplains also are prohibited from participating in jointly-led worship services “with a chaplain, contractor or volunteer who personally practices a homosexual lifestyle or affirms a homosexual lifestyle or such conduct.”
No doubt the mission board thinks that these are reasonable restrictions, but in practice I think this will be hard to live by and increasingly so in upcoming months. I suspect that chaplains in the field will either come to ignore these rules or perhaps find other affiliation.
What this says, in effect, is that a chaplain is restricted from offering any relationship counseling to men and women whom they know and work with, and whom they respect and care about. It says that they cannot affirm monogamy, advise consideration for the other partner’s concerns, or present tips and tools for successful negotiation of a relationship. Further, it says that they cannot personally attend the celebrations of a chaplain’s friends.
These are personal restrictions that, while cumbersome, may be understood to be a sacrifice for their stance. However, there are also professional restrictions that may prove to be disastrous to a chaplain’s career, relationships with fellow chaplains, or even ability to perform their duties.
The new restrictions disallow a chaplain to conduct marriage retreats that include same-sex couples. As any such retreats sponsored by the US Military will not allow discrimination, these rules remove an SBC chaplain from conducting or participating in all group relationship training or retreats other than strictly sectarian retreats sponsored by outside groups.
And, though I suspect they did not intend it, the most difficult rule to observe will likely be the restriction on jointly-led worship services. Far far more chaplains – and denominations – “affirm a homosexual lifestyle” than the SBC may consider. If not at this exact moment, then quite soon the vast majority of United Methodist chaplains, United Church of Christ chaplains, Episcopal chaplains, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America chaplains, Presbyterian Church (USA) chaplains, as well as many others will encourage the establishment and maintenance of committed same-sex relationships. They will celebrate, or at least counsel, same-sex marriages. And the restrictions state that SBC chaplains cannot jointly lead worship with them.
This is probably more consequential than many readers realize. To refuse joint worship is to not “be in fellowship” with fellow believers. It is to say that this doctrinal difference is so severe that it severs the body of Christ. It’s a very big deal.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. A demand that SBC chaplains snub their fellow ministers may prove to be a fatal flaw in that denomination’s missionary effort.
New SBC Leader Lumps Gay People With Racists and Child Molesters
June 19th, 2012
The Southern Baptist Convention elected its first African-American president this week, marking an especially historic milestone for a religious denomination which owes its very existence to the nineteenth century split from its northern brethren over the Southern Baptists support for slavery. But when Rev. Fred Luter from New Orleans spoke following his election, his remarks remind us that Southern Baptists have merely exchanged one form of prejudice for another:
“Only the Word of God can change the heart of a racist; only the Word of God can change the desire of a child molester,” he preached. “The Word of God can change a lifestyle of a homosexual. The Word of God is the only hope for America today.”
SBC Leader denounces death camp pastor
May 24th, 2012
From the website of Dr. Warren Throckmorton:
I asked Bob Stith, National Strategist for Gender Issues at the Southern Baptist Convention, for his reaction and he said Worley’s words were “a vile outburst” and said,
I think it is important to say in the strongest terms how disgusting and unchristian his comments are.
He added that the church is not in the Southern Baptist Convention.
I want to commend Stith on his response. I wish it were heard more broadly.
SBC has some bad news for itself
May 15th, 2012
For many years, conservative Christians have played a word game with themselves and the public. When it came to discussions about sin and love, there was a careful distinction between the person and the behavior. They could joyously love the sinner (but not his sin) so much that they longed for his soul to know God (and give up all that sin). But when it came to individual rights and civil liberties, that distinction evaporated. When talking about whether someone should have job security or the right to rent an apartment, suddenly the Bible declared “it’s a sin”.
This allowed conservatives the comfort of convincing themselves that the American public still agreed with them, still deferred to them on matters of religious conscience. Should Connecticut allow marriage or should Lincoln choose to ban anti-gay employment discrimination, well at least they know that they are accommodating immorality.
But now they are losing the sin debate. After decades of seeking intentional civilly enforced discrimination against gay people because “the Biiiiible says it’s a siiiiiiiin!!”, the public isn’t buying it.
Gallup, for the third straight year, has found that Americans find “gay and lesbian relations” to be “morally acceptable”.
But that’s the liberal secular press, you know, so not all that impressive to conservative Christians. And besides what is “gay and lesbian relations”? We are talking about homosexual behavior, not relations!
But now LifeWay Research (a project of the Southern Baptist Convention) has conducted a poll about American attitudes about homosexuality. And it is most decidedly not good news. Or, at least, not for those who have convinced themselves that real Americans know in their heart of hearts that sin is sin and Baptists can be trusted to tell you what it is.
They didn’t ask about “gays” or “relations” or “morally acceptable”. They asked about sin. Homosexual behavior and sin. And they discovered that a majority of Americans no longer believe that homosexuality is sin.
Do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?
44% – Yes
43% – No
13% – Not sure
And the news went downhill from there. Not only are Americans split on the sinfulness of homosexual behavior, it turns out that being anti-gay is a hindrance to church growth.
If you were considering visiting or joining a church, would knowing that the church taught that homosexual behavior was sinful impact your decision positively or negatively or have no impact?
Who cares? I mean, really, do that many people really decide their church based on it’s views on homosexuality? Really?
Yep. A whopping 58% said that it would impact their decision and the split didn’t go to the anti-gays. While a third of respondents wouldn’t consider a church’s views on homosexuality when making their selection, 36% said such teachings would negatively impact their decision while only 26% considered it a positive.
And as for evangelizing, it turns out that the non-churched really do care about Teh Ghey and they don’t want to hear you preach against it. Only 3% said they’d prefer a church that is anti-gay, while 72% of Americans who never attend a place of worship would rather not sit through Sodomy Sunday, thank you very much.
And even the good ol’ fashioned literalist believers aren’t as committed as they used to be. Just over half of them would consider a ‘homosexual behavior is sin’ stance to be a positive factor in their church selection.
And, of course, there are the discouraging facts that younger people and urban people are increasingly less tolerant of anti-gay theology, along with city dwellers and the educated. The future looks grim for the anti-gay moralists.
But we’ll have to see how this report impacts the Southern Baptist Convention. They are not exactly known to be theological trend setters. And many Baptists possess an ability to choose what they wish to believe, irrespective of, oh, polls or studies or reports or nonsense like facts and are quite convinced that they speak for real Americans.
For example, the good Baptist folk in Jacksonville, Florida, are fighting a proposal to ban employment discrimination.
The measure will “further infringe on the religious freedoms of Christians, and the majority of mainstream Americans who do not accept such alternative lifestyles as normal.”
Of course, the Baptists in Jacksonville also believe that there is no “protection under the ordinance for followers of Jesus Christ”, that it would impact “clubs, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts” and that firing gay people is a “Christian belief”, so it may just be that Jacksonville Baptists are a whole separate brand of stupid. (To be fair, two Jacksonville Baptist churches are endorsing the measure.)
Ultimately, I’m guessing that there will be a lot of talk about “doing what’s right, not what’s popular” while quietly toning down the rhetoric. And in, oh a few decades or so, the SBC will apologize for “failing to affirm the civil rights of the homosexual person”.
Meanwhile, in other news, wackadoodle extraordinairre Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association had this advice for presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
Pink Bibles and six degrees of absurdity
December 15th, 2011
I hate the Culture War. It wastes time, harms my communities, and makes enemies out of people who would otherwise be friends. And sometimes the consequences of prioritizing this nonsensical War results in decisions that are truly deeply wrong.
Take the latest action by the Southern Baptist Convention. In order to make sure that “evil” is punished, they are denying funds to breast cancer screening. Let me explain:
Evangelicals have an emotional attachment to the King James Version of the Bible. But as that translation was conducted between 1604 and 1609, it isn’t easy to read or understand. Yet, many conservative evangelicals have been suspicious that newer translations include changes to the meaning of scripture. And though these changes are often the result of the discovery of additional text sources or intensive research, they been seen by some as a tool for those who seek to corrupt or twist the meaning of scripture.
So as to prepare a more readable Bible, but one which could be trusted to be scripturally inerrant, the Southern Baptist Convention funded a new translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible. The goal of the inter-denomination team was “to convey a sense of the original text with as much clarity as possible”. The new Bible began rolling off the presses last year.
As part of a promotion, LifeWay Christian Resources (a seller of Bibles and other Christian books and paraphernalia) marketed a copy of the Holman Christian Standard Bible bound in pink. And for every pink Bible sold, Lifeway contributed a dollar to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to be used for breast cancer screening and awareness.
That’s kinda cool. If you’re going to buy a Bible, why not help fight breast cancer at the same time?
But then the Culture War stepped in and the surrealism began. Because:
* The Southern Baptist Convention owns Lifeway Christian Resources
* Lifeway gave a dollar of each pink Bible sold to the Susan G. Komen Foundation
* Komen used the funds to screen women for breast cancer
* The screening was facilitated through local chapters
* Some of the local chapters contribute funds to Planned Parenthood specifically to be used for breast screening
* Planned Parenthood also performs abortions
Well, there you have it. As Susan Tyrrell of the Bound4Life blog put it, “The sign might as well read, ‘Buy a Bible and support abortion!’ ”
Whatever one might think about abortion, surely Planned Parenthood and the Southern Baptists can agree that breast cancer is a bad thing? No. They can’t. Because the Southern Baptist Convention is in a Culture War and right now they hate Planned Parenthood more than they hate breast cancer.
So LifeWay is canceling the program and “recalling” the Bibles. (Tennessean)
“Though we have assurances that Komen’s funds are used only for breast cancer screening and awareness, it is not in keeping with LifeWay’s core values to have even an indirect relationship with Planned Parenthood,” Rainer said in a statement.
And although Komen’s funding of specific Planned Parenthood programs paid for 139,000 breast exams and about 5,000 mammograms, detecting 177 cases of cancer in the past five years, the lives of those 177 women are immaterial. They are just collateral damage in a Culture War.
Petition Calls On Southern Baptists To Apologize
June 13th, 2011
A large group of Southern Baptists will gather in Phoenix this week for their annual convention. As leading proponents of ex-gay ministries, they have been front and center of a larger anti-gay political movement. Several LGBT advocacy groups plan to greet the convention with a gathering of their own. Faith in America, Soulforce, Truth Wins Out, Get Equal, and the Association of Affirming and Welcoming Baptists will join a local group of Phoenix-area clergy known as Believe Out Loud for a demonstration calling on the Southern Baptist Convention to apologize for the harm its teachings have caused the LGBT community, particularly to the youth. There is an online petition which will be hand-delivered following a protest outside the SBC’s annual meeting in Phoenix on Wednesday, a day that marks the religious group’s historic apology to African Americans for supporting slavery and Jim Crow laws.
So far, more than 5,000 people have signed the petition calling on the SBC to apologize. You can add your name to the petition here.
Mohler concedes inevitability of social acceptance of same-sex couples
February 26th, 2011
Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is now admitting that their arguments are not going to win over society, or even all of those who sit in pews listening to their anti-gay sermonizing (Christian Post):
“I think it’s clear that something like same-sex marriage is going to become normalized, legalized and recognized in the culture. It’s time for Christians to start thinking about how we’re going to deal with that,” he said Friday on the Focus on the Family radio program.
The Southern Baptist made it clear that he was not saying that they are giving up. Marriage is still an institution Christians need to save, particularly in their own community. But Christians also need to start learning how to deal with the shifting culture and even face the fact that they may lose a few from their flock.
“I think we’re going to be surprised and heartbroken over how many people are going to capitulate to the spirit of the age,” he noted. “We’re going to find now that there may not be as many of us as we thought.”
Southern Baptist concession: churches can also belong to groups which include gay-supportive churches
February 25th, 2011
Southern Baptist Convention churches cannot “affirm, approve, endorse, promote, support or bless homosexual behavior”.
A Southern Baptist church cannot have a single gay member.
A Southern Baptist church cannot refuse to take a position on homosexuality. They must actively exclude gay people from the life of the church or they will be kicked out.
A Southern Baptist organization cannot include a single church that fails to actively oppose homosexuality and exclude gay-supportive members. Failure to expel that church will get them evicted from an SBC school campus even if every other member church is ragingly homophobic.
But there is finally, finally, a limit to their anti-gay positioning. You can be a Southern Baptist church that belongs to an organization that is not ragingly homophobic, provided that you are sufficiently anti-gay. (Christian Post)
The Alliance of Baptists affirms gay marriage and permits members of any sexuality.
But the Executive Committee members decided against banning all churches that are members of the Alliance from also being members of the SBC, according to the Associated Baptist Press. Instead, it decided that each church’s qualification should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Of course, that wildly liberal position might not make it past a vote of the convention. It sounds an awful lot like compromise with sin, you see.
There’s still no word as to whether Southern Baptists are allowed to speak to their gay postman, accept change back from their gay grocery clerk, or avoid kicking the dog of their gay neighbors. But I am pretty sure that their gay kids are not to be welcomed at Thanksgiving.
Dispute in Baptistland
January 25th, 2011
Earlier this month we reported that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary had booted the Tarrant Baptist Association from their space on campus due to the Association fellowshipping with Broadway Baptist Church, a congregation that does not reject gay worshipers. Now it seems that the Seminary didn’t exactly have that right; the Association holds deed to the property on which they reside. (Baptist Standard)
In 1982, the seminary provided Tarrant Baptist Association land and the funds to build its office building, granting a 99-year lease on the property, Meredith explained. At that time, the seminary and association entered into an affiliation agreement stipulating the property would not be used for commercial activity, and the association and seminary would commit to remaining in theological harmony, he said.
In 1997, the property agreement was renegotiated, and Tarrant Baptist Association received the deed to the property, he said. “The affiliation agreement remained intact,” Meredith added.
Further, it seems that the affiliation agreement has provisions for resolving dispute and the Seminary does not have unilateral determination. A three person panel is supposed to be assembled to mediate a resolution.
But, apparently believing that “but, but, but Teh Ghey!!” trumps all, the Seminary is insisting that the Association give them back the property and go away with their heads hung low in shame. The Association is taking a different position.
Tarrant Baptist Association’s executive board subsequently met a few days later and unanimously approved a motion asking the seminary either to purchase the property from the association at fair market value or submit the matter to a three-person arbitration panel.
It will be interesting to see how this is resolved.
Southern Baptists kick out group that tolerates Broadway Baptist
January 15th, 2011
Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, takes a bit of a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to its gay members. The church avoids taking theological positions on homosexuality – saying that they neither condemn nor condone it – and gay members are fairly open.
But the Southern Baptist Convention has no room for anyone who does not actively condemn gay people and seek to make their lives miserable. To be a Southern Baptist Church in good standing, it is not adequate to delegate such matters to individual conscience. Rather, opposition to homosexuality must take on the importance given to matters of faith such as the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, and redemption from sin.
So in 2009 Broadway Baptist Church was booted from the General Baptist Convention of Texas,
the a statewide affiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention. Baptist organization.
But it seems that the SBC is a lot like a sixth-grade girl who is seeking to control who is popular and who is not. Not only have they banished Broadway Baptist from the ‘cool kids’ clique, but they will kick out anyone who dares be their friend.
And the Tarrant Baptist Association, the Tarrant County group of Southern Baptists, dared to be friendly with Broadway Baptist. In fact, they allowed them to be part of the 395 churches that worked together in the county to provide support, outreach, and growth. How dare they?
So the Tarrant Baptist Association, in turn, was kicked off the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’m not kidding. The official county association of Southern Baptist Churches was booted from their office in the Southern Baptist seminary because they didn’t ostracize one church who wasn’t adequately anti-gay. (Christian Post)
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has asked an association of churches to leave its Fort Worth, Texas, campus because the seminary says the group has a member church or churches that tolerate homosexuality.
A 1997 affiliation agreement between Tarrant Baptist Association and the seminary for use of an office building on the campus requires that the two organizations remain in “theological harmony.”
The seminary, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, contends that the association has violated the agreement for retaining fellowship with a church or churches that don’t adhere to the denomination’s position that homosexuality is a sin.
From time to time some prominent Southern Baptist leader will rhetorically ponder, “Why do the homosexuals think we hate them? We don’t hate them, we love them and want them to live according to God’s Plan for their lives.”
Here is why we think you hate us. Because if one congregation is willing to let gay people even sit in the congregation, you kick them out of fellowship. Because if one collective of churches dares let such a congregation participate in ministry, you kick them out of fellowship.
We think you hate us because if you demonstrate rejection to a group whose only crime is to allow a member church whose only crime is allowing gay individuals to worship, then we KNOW that your animus, your contempt, your derision, and your rejection of gay individuals is of a level that if it is not truly hate then it is impossible to distinguish from it.
SC Baptists confirmed their opposition to your immoral behavior and deviant lifestyle
November 18th, 2010
Just in case you were wondering, the Southern Baptists in South Carolina want to make it perfectly clear that they ain’t like those homo-lovin’ Lutherans. In their state convention they voted on a resolution to remind us – in case we forgot or were confused – that they don’t like Teh Ghey so much. (Greenville online)
The resolution on “homosexuality and religious liberty” noted the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religious expression, “including speech pertaining to social and religious values.” It said Christians “must also use our freedoms to defend traditional marriage, protect the sanctity of human life, and combat the propagation of immoral behavior and deviant lifestyles.”
And they aren’t in confusion about what message they are sending.
“Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians have been portrayed by the media as intolerant or dangerous because of our commitment to Christ and our belief in biblical precepts,” it said.
Yep. I’d say that pretty much covers it. Intolerant and actively endangering the lives of children who grow up hearing them spew their bile.
Southern Baptists support discrimination in the military
June 17th, 2010
In a move which shocked absolutely no one, the Southern Baptist Church took yet another vote to make sure that everyone is absolutely clear that they don’t like gay people. They don’t like them in the church, they don’t like them getting married, and they don’t like them serving in the military.
In a long-winded declaration which decried “Normalizing the open presence of homosexuals in the armed forces” repeatedly, over and over, ad nauseum, the Southern Baptist Church declared:
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 15-16, 2010, affirm the Bible’s declaration that homosexual behavior is intrinsically disordered and sinful, and we also affirm the Bible’s promise of forgiveness, change, and eternal life to all sinners (including those engaged in homosexual sin) who repent of sin and trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we oppose changing current law to normalize the open presence of homosexuals in the armed forces, and insist on keeping the finding of Congress that sustains current law, which states that even “the presence in the armed forces” of persons demonstrating “a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” creates “an unacceptable risk to . . . the essence of military capability”;
Praise Jesus, feel the love. We can be “forgiven”, but not “normalized”. And all that normalization would “destroy the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”
Of course this is all out of love. And the Southern Baptists, they don’t hate us, nosiree.
Well I have a question for Dr. Land and his merry band of Baptists: if you love us so much, if your policy positions are not based on hate, then why is it that there is not one single, solitary, stand alone, sitting out there, mild little instance – not one – in which you haven’t taken the position which is most harmful to the lives, liberties, freedoms, and happiness of gay people?
The stupidest statistic ever
June 11th, 2010
Bob Stith, the Southern Baptists’ National Strategist for Gender Issues, is all giddy about getting a handful of ex-gays to come and bless the SBC’s campaign against the lives, liberty, freedom, and rights of gay men and women and transgenders. I’ll give Bob credit for trying to make the church more “loving”, but Stith on his good day is more hostile than the least tolerant United Church of Christ pastor on their worst day.
Anyway, I digress.
I was amused by a paragraph in Stith’s latest announcement:
A LifeWay Research study reports that while 100 percent of Southern Baptist pastors believe homosexual conduct is sin, 49 percent of Americans do not.
One hundred percent! Wow! That must mean it’s right.
Except… duh. They only have 100% agreement because they kick out anyone who doesn’t agree.
To Exodus’ VP, compassion is not for real gay people
May 12th, 2010
Mike Goeke is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Exodus International. He is also a counseling pastor at Stonegate Fellowship, a Southern Baptist church in Midland, TX.
He and some of his fellow parishioners prepared a video patting themselves on the back for their out-reach to same-sex attracted people. But as you listen to this amateurish (and creepy) advertisement, a theme emerges.
Seven times they mention “people with same-sex attractions”, five times they talk about those who “struggle” and another three times about those “impacted” by homosexuality (which is, itself, mentioned six times). There was even one self-congratulatory outburst of compassion for “people with same-sex attraction who are struggling with homosexuality.”
And there was talk about “wounded people” and “the problem” and even unwanted attractions. There was comparison to alcoholism and heterosexual adultery. Indeed, they had a ministry to those who are “hurting”. And they offer “hope” and even once wonder at those who “overcome same-sex attractions in their own marriage”.
But you? Real gay people? Those who don’t “struggle” or “hurt” or who are not “impacted”? You who aren’t trying to keep together a heterosexual marriage, or who aren’t feeling rejected by your condemnatory brow-beating church?
You don’t exist.
Oh, there was one use of the word “gay” by a fellow who was judgmental of his gay friends as a youth. But don’t worry, he soon learned to them of them like a woman caught in adultery.
This is not accidental. Exodus – and much of the rest of conservative evangelical Christianity – are quite aware that they don’t use words like “gay” or “sexual orientation”. And they never ever acknowledge that there are happy, healthy, joyful, vibrant, gay men and women who have full rich lives, loving spouses, doting families, and especially peace or spiritual fulfillment.
If they did that, how could they pat themselves on the back for fighting against your civil equality and freedom?
Matt Barber adds names to Hate Group list
March 24th, 2010
As we told you, Peter Labarbera’s amusingly misnamed website, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, has been named a hate website by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And while I see this as a reasonable classification for a man whose “religious objection to homosexuality” always seems to be expressed in the vilest terms of contempt for gay individuals, fellow anti-gay activist Matt Barber (who sits on AFTAH’s board) has leapt to the Peter’s defense.
Writing in third person, he declares that this addition to the hate list entirely discredits the SPLC. And besides, AFTAH is no different from a number of other groups.
“It’s a ‘hate group,’ mudslinging good time!” joked Barber. ” Let’s try it on for size. In exercise of the SPLC’s trademark ‘I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I’ criteria for determining ‘hate group’ status, I hereby declare the Southern Pov Law Center an officeal ‘anti-Christian, anti-conservative hate group.’ Try it, it’s fun.
“But seriously,” continued Barber, “If AFTAH is a ‘hate group,’ then so is Liberty Counsel, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, American Family Association, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church.”
Well now, Matt, those are interesting nominations. You’ve given us something to think about.
Southern Baptists oppose health insurance for gays
November 30th, 2009
In an article in the Baptist Press about legislation to provide equal benefits to gay federal employees, prominent Southern Baptist Richard Land declares his opposition and that of his fellow Baptists.
The bill, H.R. 2517, would bestow on homosexual partners of federal employees such benefits as health insurance, retirement and disability benefits, group life insurance, and family and medical leave.
Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land criticized the proposal both before and after the committee’s vote.
“Most Southern Baptists believe that the only relationship that should be defined by its sexual nature and should have special benefits accrued to it is heterosexual marriage,” said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Nov. 25.
Land makes much of his pretense that such a bill would “discriminate” against heterosexuals who are allowed to marry but decide that they don’t wish to do so. Such appeals to irrationality reveal Land’s insincerity and smugness.
Land seems quite happy that straight employees receive greater compensation packages than gay employees. After all, these employment benefits are “special benefits” that are reserved as a reward for being heterosexual, you see.
And naturally, Land expresses absolutely no concern whatsoever about how same-sex spouses or domestic partners are to get health insurance or care during a medical emergency. Frankly, it seems that Land couldn’t care less if they suffer without any medical care at all.
As a religious ethicist (a fascinating misnomer), I’m certain that Richard Land has read the last parable of Matthew 25. I wonder what sort of mental gymnastics he has to play in order to see this as anything other than a direct condemnation of him by Christ.
Southern Baptists: You MUST Be Anti-Gay
June 29th, 2009
The interim pastor of Broadway Baptist Church has provided additional detail to the reason that the Southern Baptist Convention has ousted them from communion. It wan’t because they were too pro-gay; it was because they weren’t adequately anti-gay.
More conservative voices on the Executive Committee wanted Broadway to do something clearly not required by the SBC Constitution: take formal congregational action to condemn homosexual behavior. This extraordinary measure has not been required of any other SBC church. It would be unprecedented and unauthorized.
The breakdown came when those advocating the more rigorous constitutional test won the day. It became clear several weeks ago from the Executive Committee that Broadway would have to implement measures to identify, isolate, and distinguish our gay and lesbian members from the rest of the congregation in order to be found in friendly cooperation. Of course, conscience, congregational autonomy, and common decency prohibit us from doing so.
Now, it appears that the constitutional language as presently stated in Article III is not sufficient. It is not enough for cooperating Southern Baptist churches simply to take no action to affirm homosexual behavior. They must now take formal action explicitly to disapprove such behavior.
Undoubtedly some well intentioned Southern Baptist will soon stop by to tell us that they “love the sinner” and only hate “the sin.” They will tell us that they believe that God loves everyone, that all sinners are equal in God’s sight, that everyone is welcome at an SBC church, that they really and truly are not haters; honestly.
It’s only fair to let them know in advance that as time goes on I find it harder and harder to believe them.
When Actions Speak Louder Than Words
June 25th, 2009
The Southern Baptist Convention has ousted Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas over the church’s acceptance of gays. Even though that church had sent their own gay-tolerant pastor packing over a controversy surrounding photos of same-sex couples in the church directory, it appears that what remained still wasn’t anti-gay enough to appease the powers that be.
Meanwhile, another Southern Baptist preacher, Rev. Wiley Drake of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, California, has been practicing “imprecatory prayer” for President Barack Obama’s death. Drake and his church remain in good standing.
Newsweek reports that for the fourth year in a row, Southern Baptist Churches baptized fewer people than they did in each prior year. This is taken as a key indicator of church growth — or decline, as the case may be. Two years ago, then-SBC president Frank Page blamed the decline on the perception that Baptists are “mean-spirited, hurtful and angry people.” This year’s theme for the Southern Baptist Convention is “Love Loud: Actions Speak Louder Than Words.” I have no further comment beyond that.
Richard Land’s Ignorance-Based Argument
April 14th, 2009
It is embarrassing to write an opinion piece only to find out that you’ve gotten a fact wrong. If you’re lucky it’s only an incidental point and not the thesis of your argument; to discover that your entire opinion is premised on an inaccuracy is mortifying.
So Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, is probably not going to be very proud of his article in the Baptist Press entitled The poster child for marriage amends. In it he argues that every state needs to enact an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, in large part because:
With no residency requirements, the court’s opinion means at the end of April when the order goes into effect, same-sex couples will be free to travel from other states to exchange “vows” in the Iowa heartland.
This ruling turns Iowa into a destination for “same-sex marriages.” No doubt, there are weekend travel packages already being planned. Iowa will soon be the Las Vegas of “same-sex marriage” for America. And you know those folks won’t be resettling in the Hawkeye state, but will be heading back home — perhaps to your state to sue for recognition there.
Oh my, that’s certain to startle some who fear that now, starting on April 27, same-sex couples will be able go get married somewhere else and import that marriage right back to your own state. After April 27, the world will be a very different place.
The problem is, of course, that this is nonsense.
First, same-sex couples can already marry elsewhere and return back home.
Connecticut has no residency requirements and in July of last year Massachusetts repealed the law that restricted same-sex marriage to residents. After September 1, Vermont also will happily accommodate out-of-state marriages.
So with all due respect to Iowans, it is extremely unlikely that Iowa will soon be the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage for America.
Second, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) currently exempts states from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. And here is where Land’s argument falls completely apart.
Your state is protected by federal law from recognizing a same-sex marriage in Iowa. Any attempt to force them to do so would be by means of a federal lawsuit, not a state lawsuit. And should the Supreme Court of the United States determine either that gay people cannot be restricted from the rights and privileges grated to heterosexuals, OR that the US Constitution’s ‘full faith and credit clause’ invalidates DOMA, it doesn’t matter how many anti-gay amendments you have cluttering up your state constitution.
Conversely, if a gay couple sues in your state for marriage rights, it will do so under your own state’s constitution. Whether they went to be married in Iowa or Canada or just to their local United Church of Christ minister, the legal argument is the same.
The only states that could even begin to be impacted by Iowa’s decision are New York, Rhode Island and perhaps Wyoming, states in which there is some legal opinion that out-of-state marriage is recognized. And the only impact is that Iowa is now added to the list of marriage venue choices.
Richard Land wants his readers to be frightened that the decision in Iowa has changed the marriage landscape because now same-sex marriages will be exported to your state.
But when it comes to the facts about the current status of same-sex marriage, Richard Land is startlingly misinformed. Or he hopes that you are.