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Southern Religion

D.C. same-sex marriage all but done

Mayor Adrian Fenty has promised to sign the bill. Congress has rejected such action only three times in the last 25 years. So Tuesday’s 11-2 vote all but does the deal.

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , | Comments Off

Gay marriage passes first D.C. vote

The Washington CityPaper’s Mike DeBonis reported that on Tuesday:

The D.C. Council, in a long anticipated move, voted to legalize the performance of same-sex marriages in Washington. Only two members, Ward 7′s Yvette Alexander and Ward 8′s Marion Barry, voted against the measure, which continues now to a second and final vote next month.

ABC News reported:

The D.C. Council voted in favor of same-sex marriage on Tuesday, moving Washington, D.C., a big step closer to becoming the first jurisdiction below the Mason-Dixon Line to allow full civil equality for gays and lesbians.

. . .
To ensure that the D.C. Council — a unicameral body — does not act in haste, its full membership votes on all bills twice before any legislation becomes law.

As a result, the gay-marriage bill will come up for a second vote of the full Council on Dec. 15.

If, as expected, it is approved a second time, it will then go to Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, who supports the legislation, for his signature.

After Fenty signs the legislation, Congress will have 30 legislative days to enact a joint resolution of disapproval and see it signed by the president — a strategy which expected to fail. Absent such a joint resolution, the measure then becomes law.

Read the Washington Times version of the story here.

December 1, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Politics | , , , | Comments Off

Broadway Baptist skips BGCT for the ‘best interests’ of all

Broadway Baptist Church, foregoing conflict and asserting its Baptist autonomy, sent no messengers to the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting.

Baptism_logo_sm

Messengers are delegates, and had it sent any to the Nov. 16-17 meeting in Houston, the church’s approach to homosexual members would almost inevitably have resulted in debate over whether to seat its messengers. BGCT policy on homosexual behavior clearly calls it “sin” and “not normal or acceptable in God’s sight.” The BGCT has a history of enforcing that policy. In 1998 the BGCT disfellowshipped University Baptist Church of Austin for ordinaining a gay man deacon.

Broadway was found not in friendly cooperation (effectively expelled) by the Southern Baptist Convention in June, ending a 127-year relationship, because the SBC constitution prohibits any action “to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior.”

According to Ken Camp of the Associated Baptist Press, the church’s statement said:

We understand that there is a small group who plan to attempt to create discord within the BGCT by challenging the seating of Broadway’s messengers. While we have taken no action that would justify having our messengers not seated at the convention, we have decided that not sending messengers this year is in the best interests of both our church and the BGCT.
. . .
We believe it would be a terrible mistake for the BGCT to start down the path of investigating individual congregations and strongly assert the Baptist principle of the autonomy of the local church. We at Broadway are remaining focused, as always, on the worship of God, spiritual growth, showing hospitality to all in Jesus’ name and ministering to those in need.

The transition has been a painful one for members of the church, well-expressed in Lyn Robbins blog after the SBC decision.

The history of University Baptist Church suggests the path can be a complex one. In that regard, the church’s history says:

American_Baptist_Churches_LogoDuring the decade of the ’90s, UBC became affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the American Baptist Churches of the USA. In the fall of 1995, the Austin Baptist Association again expelled UBC, this time for ordaining a gay man as a deacon in 1994. In the fall of 1997 the church voted to disaffiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention because of ramifications of the fundamentalist takeover of that organization. UBC’s welcoming of homosexuals led, in February of 1998, to the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ action to stop receiving mission funds from UBC and to request that the church remove mention of its affiliation with the BGCT from its publicity. In 2001 the church disaffiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship after that organization had taken an official position not to expend funds for organizations or causes that condoned or affirmed homosexual practices. UBC’s acceptance of homosexuals in the worship, work, and fellowship of the church has cost additional members but has also attracted others to take a stand with the congregation by becoming members. The church’s primary denominational affiliation is now with the American Baptist Churches of the USA.

Broadway says clearly it has elected to continue the journey to which the congregation feels called. The decision about where that leads next with regard to BGCT has not been made:

We ended up with two choices, I think: agree to the compromise— which involved being studied by the BGCT Executive Board—or not send messengers. To not go stops a vote, doesn’t force us into this compromise, and gives us the time and freedom to decide where we go from here with the BGCT.


November 16, 2009 Posted by | Religion, SBC | , , , , , | Comments Off

‘Good the Mormons! Shame on [Catholics]‘

Eduardo Peñalver, Cornell Law School professor who teaches a course on Catholic social thought and the law, writes for dotCommweal:


The Mormon Church throws its support behind a Salt Lake City law prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in housing and employment (HT Andrew Sullivan)
. . .

Meanwhile, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. threatens to stop providing services for the homeless in response to a pending DC move to permit gay marriage, apparently (according to reports) because the law might prevent the Church from discriminating against homosexual couples in the provision of employee benefits.
. . .

Good for the Mormons! Shame on us.

His piece briefly dissects the Catholic church’s legal arguments on behalf of itself in D.C. and finds nothing of value.
Read it here.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Law | , , , | Comments Off

North Texas billboards arguing Biblical embrace of gay lifestyle

Metropolitan Community Churches sponsor the four billboards between Fort Worth and Grand Prairie. There is an attendant Web site:

They have of course provoked some support and more rebuttal [as you can see in the video].

November 8, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , | 1 Comment

Obama opens for Lady Gaga

Southern Baptists are well-known for their refusal to welcome “unrepentant” homosexual Christians into their midst. You may recall how the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina followed SBC precepts in acting to “disfellowship” Myers Park Baptist Church. Or this year when the SBC ended “the denomination’s relationship with Broadway Baptist Church, a Fort Worth, Texas, congregation that has been the source of controversy over its stance on homosexuality.”

Some Southern Baptists will not welcome President Barak Obama’s message at the Human Rights Campaign dinner Saturday night:

But some will applaud, if they have not yet joined the Jimmy Carter exodus from the SBC. The year before the Myers Park disfellowship and in response to one of a series of actions which included expelling the late W.W. Finlator’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church for the congregation’s “unqualified acceptance of homosexual Christians and their full participation in the life and work of the church,” one Southern Baptist college student was moved to write for her blog in the now-defunct North Carolina Biblical Recorder BRBlogs:

Donald Miller once opened a confessional booth on his campus, not to accept others confessions of previous sins, but apologize for our actions (current and historical) as Christians. He apologized for the crusades, for genocide, and bigotry all done in the name of Christ.

Right now, I know why he did it, I feel so ashamed.

From my own confessional booth I would like to say to all of you that this news from the Baptist convention is going to upset, anger, or turn off … I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we as Baptists feel the need to separate ourselves from the very ones we should love. I am so sorry that there was ever a division in the first place. I’m sorry that I am guilty of disconnecting myself with people and places that I am supposed to go and serve. I am sorry.

I am ashamed of this decision and that it is my very denomination making it but hear me, I am not and never will be ashamed of the God I serve. Ever.

Yeah, the church is messed up. But God isn’t. It is my hope and prayer that those of you who do know him are appalled by this…and that you continue to serve our amazing father. If you support the banning of homosexuals in the church…wow.

Reconsider.

Reconsider just because God loves us (as followers) beyond all our stuff that no one sees.

Again, from one of your own.

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Cultural, Religion | , | Comments Off

We won’t watch Haggard ‘Divorce Court’

We’ll miss Gayle & Ted Haggard’s appearance to discuss how their marriage survived the predatory homosexuality/drugs blowup.

They want people to know that divorce is not the answer. Although this is not volunteer missionary work:

The couple will be paid an undisclosed amount for the interview, the latest in a series of public appearances that started in January when Ted Haggard began promoting an HBO documentary about his time in exile. He also has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Larry King Live.”

We sense a comeback. For Gayle told the Denver Post she believes his struggles have deepened his Christian walk: “I think he is better equipped to minister to people than ever before.”

March 20, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Religion | , , , | Comments Off

The (British) Church and homosexuality

An Acceptable Sacrifice? is both a book about homosexuality and the church and the question answered by Anglican Church of South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu in its forward. He writes:

The answer is simple: No. It is not acceptable for us to discriminate against our brothers and sisters on the basis of sexual orientation, just as it was not acceptable for discrimination to exist on the basis of skin colour under Apartheid. We cannot pick and choose where justice is concerned.

The book is a collection of nine essays written by Cambridge University scholars. Not one of the nine seems likely to please pastors typically associated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

For example, London Times reviewer John Habgood (formerly the Church of England’s Archbishop of York) writes of homosexuality and the Bible:

The apparently decisive text, Leviticus 18:22, “You must not lie with a man as with a woman: that is an abomination”, is a prime example of how such failure, together with the assumption that actions always carry the same meaning, can lead unwary readers in the wrong direction. What in our day might seem to be an unequivocal reference to homosexuality, did not originally refer to a kind of sexuality at all. When Leviticus was written, the real offence in the idea of “a man lying with a man” was that it entailed a violation of male superiority. It was seen as shameful for a man to be treated as a substitute woman. In short, it was more about gender relationships than sexual orientation.

You may read the rest of the review here.

March 6, 2009 Posted by | Book Review, Churches | , , | Comments Off

How can the SBC single out homosexuality?

Lyn Robbins of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, blogs a careful assessment of the homosexuality issues for which his church has been brought to the brink of expulsion (disfellowship) from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). And offers a solution which would serve both his church and the SBC well.

Action was delayed last week and additional information sought by the SBC Executive Committee to which the matter was referred by the SBC annual meeting last June.

Speaking for himself, not in his role as the church’s attorney, Robbins argues that the SBC Executive Committee should find there is no compelling reason to expell Broadway Baptist from the denomination. The church’s acceptance of homosexuals as members, who serve on church committees, is not sufficient reason. He explains:

According to the most recent amendment to the Southern Baptist Convention constitution, a church is not in friendly cooperation with the SBC if it acts to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior. I do not believe Broadway has so acted. Such actions would include things like open statements of affirmation of homosexual behavior or publications of such statements. Such acts could include things like performance of a marriage or marriage-like ceremony between persons of the same gender. Such acts could arguably include ordination of homosexuals. Broadway has done none of those things.

His argument is careful and of necessity therefore complex.

Buried in its core like a diamond deep in a vein of lesser rock, however, is one clear, final argument: If the SBC boots out churches which allow homosexuals to become members and serve on committees, must it not do the same for with regard to other sins?

As he puts it:

How can church pick this one issue as the touchstone for withdrawing membership? Are we next going to excommunicate the gossips, the mean, the greedy, the abusive, the lazy, the gluttonous? I know many who do not believe that tithing is required; I know others who believe that failure to tithe is a sin. Is one side of that debate going to disfellowship the other?

There he may have found the path back up out of the inquisitorial pit which threatens to see the SBC booting out one church after another for welcoming into its midst people who are known to be (in SBC terms) sinners, not to lead the faithful, but to pursue the faith.

If you are seriously concerned about SBC issues, the entire argument deserves your attention here.

Update

Texas Blogger Ken Coffee, a retired Baptist minister, makes a similar point. At his blog “Strong Coffee” he writes:

If I had been a member at Broadway I would have told the SBC that we will dismiss all homosexuals from our church as soon as you dismiss all adulterers from yours.”

When you get rid of all the adulterers, you can start on getting rid of all liars. When the liars are all gone, start getting rid of the gossipers. And on and on.

Now, I sincerely believe homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, as is any lust of the flesh. But isn’t that what a church is for—to bring sinners under the gospel?

Christa Brown at “Stop Baptist Predators” asks:

If congregational autonomy doesn’t preclude the SBC from investigating a church with gay members, why does congregational autonomy preclude the SBC from investigating a church with a reported clergy child molester in the pulpit?

The author of “Deep in the heart …” agrees with Christa, asking:

If Broadway is under investigation, then why are these other churches, especially those where the abusers continue to serve, not under investigation also? All it would require, apparently, is a motion from the floor of a convention.

February 24, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Religion | , | 6 Comments

Broadway Baptist Church’s hope

Broadway Baptist Church’s views on homosexuality have brought it to be brink of expulsion from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Homosexuals have not been excluded, you see. Same-sex couples in the church directory. Yet homosexuality is not endorsed, Broadway argues.

Short shrift has not been made. Clarification has been asked by the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee to which the matter was referred by the SBC annual meeting last June. Action on the historic Fort Worth, Texas church’s case, delayed.

Hope is seen in this. Lyn Robbins, a Broadway member and the church’s general counsel, said after the vote:

We believe that we are in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention. Our purpose here today was to express that and also to share who Broadway is and what we are about.

The president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, who journeyed to Nasheville to stand with Broadway Baptist, wrote:

At the end of the day work still needs to be done before there will be resolution, but this was a good day in Baptist life. I believe we took some of the stones from the walls we have used to divide us to build bridges across which we can work together for the cause of the Great Commission and the Kingdom of God.

Will this be the beginning of the end of a key division, or further diminishment of the SBC through Cathist inflexibility?

Addendum

Christa Brown notes how the possibility that a church has acted in ways which “affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior” is seen here to merit SBC Executive Committee attention. Yet clergy sexual abuse is not given similar attention, because “Every Southern Baptist church is autonomous.”

The burden falls upon the Southern Baptist Convention messengers who at their annual meeting in June referred this debate over homosexual members at this one church to the executive committee.

Yet famously rejected the creation of a pedophilia database. And although abusers were found on an official church web site, took no other action to protect church members from sexually predatory clergy.

Brown’s comment is here.

February 18, 2009 Posted by | Religion, Science | , , , | 2 Comments

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