Southern Religion

Georgia megachurch pastor ‘comes out’ to save lives

Georgia megachurch Pastor Jim Swilley said the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, 18, who jumped off a bridge after a secretly-taped sexual encounter between him and another man was posted on the internet, prompted him to come out.

Swilley is founder of Church in the Now in Conyers, Ga. NPR reported:

“There are two things in my life that are an absolute,” the megachurch pastor told his flock. “I did not ask for either one of them, both of them were imposed upon me, I had no control over either of them. One was the call of God on my life… and the other thing … was my sexual orientation.”

Jim Swilley — a twice-married father of four, a man who comes from a long line of evangelical preachers — revealed a secret he’d been holding onto most of his life:

He’s gay.

November 15, 2010 Posted by | Churches, Health | , | Comments Off on Georgia megachurch pastor ‘comes out’ to save lives

From Oral Roberts’ gay grandson: It gets better

Randy Roberts Potts, grandson of Oral Roberts, a letter to his gay Uncle Ronnie, who killed himself in June of 1982.

November 5, 2010 Posted by | Churches, Religion | , , | Comments Off on From Oral Roberts’ gay grandson: It gets better

Manhattan Declaration online petition pitch: Fail

Not quite two months after the Manhattan Declaration was unveiled they have less than half the 1 million signatures they wanted by Dec. 1. Thus having failed, they emailed all of the signers this week, pitching efforts to date as a success. And calling for a push on to the million.

The pitch dwells on rumors of success, and outlines a special effort by four Catholic archbishops:

Just ten days ago, Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia, Archbishop Wuerl of Washington, DC, Archbishop Dolan of New York and Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville reached out to all of their brother Catholic bishops asking them to spread this document throughout their dioceses and encourage their clergy and faithful to study it and join as signatories.

That signature shortfall they’ve failed to confess is unexpected. After all, the signatures are unverified.

If the petition gatherer does not somehow verify that there is one, unique, living human being who has associated himself or herself with each signature (and not the same human being behind more than one signature), the petition is open to padding.

The Manhattan Declaration‘s signature-collection process does filter for robots. But apparently does no other identity verification. Not even a verification email to the address signers give them.

Our testing suggests that it just bumps the counter each time someone fills the form out properly and “signs.”.

Which means people can sign several times under bogus names, and that a suitably unethical person can sign for you. Most anti-spam software sidetracks their email appeals. So you might never know.

Yes. That million-signature petition, assuming they eventually get their million signatures — it’s_a_joke.

January 16, 2010 Posted by | Politics, WWW | , , , , , | Comments Off on Manhattan Declaration online petition pitch: Fail

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 on D.C. same-sex marriage all but done

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 on Gay marriage passes first D.C. vote

‘Dangerous’ Declaration, says the LA Times

It is a dangerous declaration full of fake facts and supported by a worthless petition. The Manhattan Declaration is irresponsible, argues the Los Angeles Times:

This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don’t like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men — even holy men.

Read the entire piece here.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The much-signed (?) Manhattan Declaration

Just a week after the Manhattan Declaration was unveiled it has some large number of unverified signatures, Lillian Kwon of the Christian Post reports.

Without mentioning signature verification.

If the petition gatherer cannot somehow verify that there is one, unique, real human being standing behind each signature (and not the same human being behind several signatures), such petitions are meaningless.

The Manhattan Declaration‘s signature-collection process filters for robots.

But apparently does no other identity verification. Not even a verification email to the address you give them.

Just bumps the counter.

Which means people can sign several times under bogus names, and that a suitably unethical person can sign for you.


November 28, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | Comments Off on The much-signed (?) Manhattan Declaration

Manhattan Misdeclaration

Robert Parham of blisters the Manhattan Declaration signers for misrepresentation and misappropriation of historic themes:

Talk about historical revisionism and theological misdirection. Many of these signatories are the spiritual heirs of the Christian slaveholders. They come from the faith tradition that opposed the civil rights movement, abandoned public schools for private Christian schools, demonized government funding for the poor and disadvantaged. Their theological soul-mates are the ones who said AIDS was a gay disease and refused to address the issue for 20 years. As for the rights and equality of women, for heaven’s sake, the Southern Baptist signatories believe women should be homemakers, helpmates to their husbands who are the breadwinners. Southern Baptist fundamentalists believe women are unworthy of ordination.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christian Right call for civil disobedience [Update]

The Manhattan Declaration

Some 150 Christian leaders, mostly Religious Right protestants and conservative Roman Catholics, issued today a 4,700-word restatement of their opposition to abortion and gay marriage and support for religious freedoms and call for civil disobedience. They call their statement the Manhattan Declaration.

The group concludes with a reference to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and calling for civil disobedience in response to their causes:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

Just as this morning’s sunrise is unique to today, it is an “unprecedented coalition,” as the Catholic News Agency asserts. CNS also says:

The Manhattan Declaration is the result of several months of dialogue among Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders culminating in a gathering of approximately 100 leaders in New York City on September 28, 2009.

Attendees considered an early draft of the “Manhattan Declaration, A Call of Christian Conscience,” but the document was entrusted to a drafting committee that included Dr. Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, Dr. Robert P. George of Princeton University, and renowned Evangelical leader Charles Colson.

The signatories explained that they speak now because in order “to defend principles of justice and the common good that are now under assault.”

Anyone who has closely followed the political battles over health care, gay marriage and abortion will recognize the themes and arguments of the document, all reflected in the associated Web site.

Signatories predictably include 15 Roman Catholic bishops, among them New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl; Focus on the Family founder James Dobson; National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson; Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; various other seminary leaders, professors and pastors.

More about this Manhattan Declaration later.


With hyperventilating certainty about the future Chuck Colson declares the Manhattan Declaration “one of the most important documents produced by the American church, at least in my lifetime.”

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.


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