Southern Religion

The public opinion future belongs to same-sex marriage advocates

The Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Research found in “a wide-ranging August, 2009, survey” that:

Six in 10 American “Millennials” – those born between 1980 and 1991 – see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married.

That’s a slam/bang majority in a nation where for all age groups public opinion analyst Nate Silver has concluded that change toward approval is accelerating and the majority view is currently “too close to call.”

Silver mapped the data into an illustration which suggests, like the year-old SBC Lifeway results, that the future belongs to same-sex marriage advocates:

Same-sex marriage polls

Change in public opinion about same-sex marriage

September 4, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , , | Comments Off on The public opinion future belongs to same-sex marriage advocates

Resurgent acceptance of homosexuality

Homosexuals were not vilified before the 1870s because they had not been identified as “other,” Cody Sanders writes for the Associated Baptist Press. Specifically, he argues:

French historian Michel Foucault reveals that the advent of conceptualizing the “homosexual” as a particular type of person with a specific “lifestyle” didn’t occur until the 1870s in medical discourse (History of Sexuality, Vol. 1). What’s more, one of the earliest known uses of the word “homosexual” in American English showed up in a medical paper in 1892 (the term “heterosexual” made its debut around this same time). Certainly, same-sex sexual acts have been commonplace from time immemorial — but before the end of the 19th century, anyone could conceivably engage in same-sex sexual acts. It was only with the advent of “homosexuality” as a medical descriptor, that a specific type or kind of person was thought to engage in these sexual acts. What is significant about Everett’s anachronism is that, while in 1850 Texas Baptists may not have tolerated men having sex with men, they certainly didn’t deem “the homosexual lifestyle” abnormal or sinful. In 1850, same-sex sex acts may have been deemed “sinful” — but no church held what [Executive Director Randel Everett of the Baptist General Convention of Texas] views as an unwavering “theological position” on homosexuality.

Everett was referring to the case of Royal Lane Baptist Church, which precipitated a standard Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) homosexuality crisis when its diaconate voted to say on its Web site:

Royal Lane Baptist Church is an inclusive, multi-generational congregation joined in Christian community. We are a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds.

Will Wilkinson finds in his analysis of World Values Survey data that attitudes in the industrialized world are going Royal Lane’s way as people come to accept homosexuality as something people are, rather than a sinful decision they make.

Where Wilkinson’s data shows the U.S. shifting back toward treating homosexuality as wrong, the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll comes to an opposite conclusion.

Despite the Catholic/Mormon investment in Proposition 8, a majority of Californians now favor same-sex marriage:

Among all Californians, residents are more likely to favor (50%) than oppose (45%) same-sex marriage for the first time in the PPIC Statewide Surveys. Support among all adults has never surpassed 45 percent since the question was first asked in January 2000. There are clear partisan divisions: majorities of Democrats (64%) and independents (55%) are in favor, and most Republicans (67%) are opposed.

There is much more consensus on the issue of gays and lesbians in the military. In the wake of Obama’s announcement that he would like to repeal the federal “don’t ask, don’t’ tell” policy passed in 1993, 75 percent of Californians say that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.

Does the data imply a sort of Great Commission Resurgence for churches driven out of the SBC?

March 30, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , | 1 Comment

Conservative UK Anglicans call for ‘decisive’ break with TEC (US)

Fulcrum, a conservative British Anglican group, issued a leadership team statement Friday arguing that “the election of Mary Glasspool as bishop suffragan in the diocese of Los Angeles” is a bad-faith break by The Episcopal Church (USA) with the larger Anglican Communion.

They argued that Glasspool’s election violates the terms of The Windsor Report, which was written in response to the consecration of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay, noncelibate priest to be ordained as an Anglican bishop, in the Episcopal Church in the United States and the blessing of same-sex unions in the Diocese of New Westminster. The report recommended a moratorium on the election of additional homosexual bishops.

Fulcrum asserts that TEC promised to maintain that moratorium:

It is important that this is not simply a matter of disagreement about biblical interpretation and sexual ethics although these are central and important. It is now very clearly also a fundamental matter of truth-telling and trust. In September 2007, at the Primates’ request and after meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, TEC bishops confirmed they would “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion”. They made clear that “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons” were among such candidates.

As a result, Fulcrum further argues, in effect, that a break by the larger communion with TEC is required:

In fact, the situation is now such that it may be better for the Archbishop simply to state – as one of the Instruments and a focus and means of unity – that TEC as a body has rejected the Communion’s repeated appeals for restraint, made false promises, and confirmed its direction is away from Communion teaching and accountability. It has thereby rendered itself incapable of covenanting with other churches and made it unclear what it means when it claims to be in communion with the see of Canterbury and a constituent member of the Anglican Communion.

They conclude by calling for guidance from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, possibly declaring that TEC has made it clear that it has elected to ‘walk apart’ from the rest of the Anglican Communion. Or some other unstated “decisive action.”

March 27, 2010 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | Comments Off on Conservative UK Anglicans call for ‘decisive’ break with TEC (US)

Deja vu: BGCT takes a step back from Royal Lane Baptist Church

Officials of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) on Wednesday asked 500-member Royal Lane Baptist Church of North Dallas “to remove the partnership with the BGCT from any of its church’s publications” until questions regarding the church’s apparent tolerance for homosexual members are resolved. BGCT officials also said they would hold in escrow any funds received from the church while the issue is being resolved.

As of this writing, the church Web site does not link to BGCT as a ministry partner.

Their About Us section does still conclude:

Royal Lane is an ecumenical Baptist congregation affiliated with The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and The Baptist General Convention of Texas.


Royal Lane’s membership “includes BGCT employees and a BGCT executive board member. BGCT employees must belong to an affiliated church, so a split with Royal Lane could force some to choose between workplace and worship place,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

The issue was raised recently when the church’s diaconate voted to rewrite the About Us section of its Web site to include:

Royal Lane Baptist Church is an inclusive, multi-generational congregation joined in Christian community. We are a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds.

The church is considering its response.

University Baptist Church in Austin was disfellowshipped by the BGCT in 1994 “for ordaining a gay man as deacon and for failing to regard homosexuality as sinful.” The church was expelled by the Austin Baptist Association in 1943 for accepting black members, and later readmitted. In the 1970s, University was the first in the Southern Baptist Convention to ordain women as deacons, the church history shows. It left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1997 “because of ramifications of the fundamentalist takeover of that organization.”

Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas, postponed a similar confrontation last year when it chose not to send messengers to the BGCT annual convention. Broadway was nonetheless found not to be in friendly cooperation by the Southern Baptist Convention last year because it was deemed to “approve and endorse homosexual behavior” as a result of a confrontation provoked when it published photographs of same-sex couples in the church directory.

Broadway’s expulsion by the SBC was an assertion of the kind of Cathist inflexibility that independent demographic analysis predicts will frustrate achievement of expansive evangelism goals like those pursued by the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

March 18, 2010 Posted by | Religion, SBC | , , , | Comments Off on Deja vu: BGCT takes a step back from Royal Lane Baptist Church

Ugandan president to block gay genocide bill [Updates]

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told members of the National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) legislative caucus on Jan 13 that he was going to block the gay genocide bill. George Conger of Religious Intelligencer wrote:

“I [Museveni] told them that this bill was brought up by a private member and I have not even had time to discuss it with him. It is neither the government nor the NRM Party’s” bill, he told legislators, according to Ugandan press reports.

“This is a foreign policy issue and we have to discuss it in a manner that does not compromise our principles but also takes care of our foreign policy interests,” the president said.

Xan Rice of the Guardian reported today:

Uganda has indicated it will bow to international pressure and amend draconian anti-homosexual legislation that includes the death penalty for HIV-positive people convicted of having gay sex.

. . .

,p>The proposed law, which has been pushed by local evangelical preachers and vocally supported by senior government officials, also threatens life imprisonment for anyone convicted of gay sex.

While broadly supported domestically, the legislation has caused a storm of protest abroad and consternation from western donors who fund a large chunk of Uganda’s budget.


VOA says nothing has changed:

The Ugandan foreign minister denies the government is backing away from proposed anti-gay legislation because of foreign policy implications, saying the government is still discussing its position on the issue. Gay rights activists express caution over reports the president has backed away from the bill.

Jim Burroway foresees a move toward compromise legislation.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Crime, Law, Religion | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ugandan president to block gay genocide bill [Updates]

Ugandan gay death legislation dance continues

Mark Silk covers the Ugandan anti-homosexuality act.

We’re still looking for Richard Land on Uganda. ERLC has a link to the Baptist Press Warren story, but thus far, that’s all she wrote.

December 18, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where is Richard Land on Uganda?


Richard Land’s passion for foreign policy should not be confined to his current call for trade sanctions against Iran. Nothing should stop Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, from joining fellow Southern Baptist evangelical Rick Warren and a long list of other Christian leaders in opposing Uganda’s gay genocide legislation.

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Where is Richard Land on Uganda?

Anglical Church head Rowan Williams condemns Ugandan ‘gay genocide’ legislation

Dr. Rowan Williams

Buried in an interview with the London Telegraph is Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ first public declaration of opposition to the Ugandan gay genocide legislation. His wording implied that all members of the Anglican Communion, obviously including those in Uganda, should oppose the legislation. He stopped just short of calling out Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi.

The Telegraph’s George Pitcher wrote [emphasis ours]:

“Overall, the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades,” says Dr Williams. “Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible – it seeks to turn pastors into informers.” He adds that the Anglican Church in Uganda opposes the death penalty but, tellingly, he notes that its archbishop, Henry Orombi, who boycotted the Lambeth Conference last year, “has not taken a position on this bill”.

Williams’ hand was apparently forced by the dramatically announced opposition of similarly reluctant Saddleback Community Church pastor Rick Warren (Williams interview is dated Dec. 11, shortly after Warren’s statement), and a parade of other religious leader opposition, including the implicit opposition of the Vatican. Ekklesia reported that several British Christian organizations had also expressed opposition, “including Accepting Evangelicals, Changing Attitude, Courage, Ekklesia, Fulcrum and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.”

Williams became a focus of criticism when he remained silent on Uganda yet issued a sharp, immediate rebuke to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles for on Dec. 5 choosing as bishop the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, a lesbian who has been in a partnered relationship for two decades.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori took a stand against “the pending Ugandan legislation that would introduce the death penalty for people who violate portions of that country’s anti-homosexuality laws,” in effective contrast with Williams’ silence.

The effect of growing international pressure on the legislation is still unclear. It is part of an Africa-wide slide toward repression of homosexuals, the Guardian reported today (12/13) [emphasis ours]:

There is wide support for [Ndorwa West, Uganda, MP David] Bahati’s [anti-homosexuality] law which, while being an extreme piece of anti-gay legislation, is not unique. As far as gay rights are concerned, it would appear that much of Africa is going backwards. Nigeria has a similar bill waiting to reach its statute books and already allows the death penalty for homosexuality in northern states, as does Sudan. Burundi criminalised homosexuality in April this year, joining 37 other African nations where gay sex is already illegal. Egypt and Mali are creeping towards criminalization, using morality laws against same-sex couples.

. . .

He [Bahati] denied reports that international pressure might result in parts of the bill being toned down. “We are not going to yield to any international pressure – we cannot allow people to play with the future of our children and put aid into the game. We are not in the trade of values. We need mutual respect.”

That is a contradiction of the earlier Bloomberg News (12/9) report that both the death penalty and life imprisonment would be dropped from the legislation.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Law, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anglical Church head Rowan Williams condemns Ugandan ‘gay genocide’ legislation

Lesbian Episcopal bishop-elect speaks for herself [Addendum]

The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, elected the first openly lesbian bishop in the 70-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, told the Baltimore Sun in an interview published today that “I’m conscious of the symbolic nature of my election and hoped-for consecration, and it’s very humbling. … I’m not ignorant of some people who are fearful that this will mean a real change in our relationship in the Anglican Communion. I’m more hopeful than fearful.”

Guardian religion correspondent Riazat Butt irreverently summarizes the matter:

That the US Episcopal Church has elected a lesbian as a bishop should come as no more of a surprise than learning that the future of the Anglican Communion is once again in jeopardy. The trajectory of each has been clear to church watchers for almost a decade [detailed history here], so talk of schism and turmoil is not so much premature as it is tardy and, quite frankly, a statement of the bleeding obvious.

Or as Duke University’s David C. Steinmetz, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of the History of Christianity, Emeritus, told the Sun:

For the first time, it seems very possible to me that the Episcopal Church may lose its place in the Anglican Communion not against the wishes of the Archbishop of Canterbury but with his full consent. What is not clear to me is whether the effective governing majority of the Episcopal Church even cares.

The history of these divisions in the United States is briefly documented by ReligionLink and there are regular news reports suggesting ongoing schism. For example, this week the Anglican Church of Uganda “expressed dismay,” according to The Daily Monitor.

Glasspool’s focus in the Baltimore Sun interview was in the importance of her selection to others. She illustrated that by way of reference to “the hundreds of e-mail messages she has received since her election Saturday to be bishop suffragan in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

There was the missive from the gay teenager in Auckland, New Zealand, telling her how proud he was of their church. The congratulations from the married couple from the conservative Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. The appreciation from a lesbian Roman Catholic couple in England.

Similarly, in the Baltimore Sun video she focuses on the shared values of those who pursue the church’s mission in the world:

The process of selection is formally incomplete, as the Sun observes:

Pending the consent of the bishops and standing committees of the 108 other Episcopal dioceses in the United States — typically, a formality — she is to be consecrated in Los Angeles in May. That would make her only the second openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion and the first since the consecration of V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003 brought a decades-long divide over homosexuality in the church into the open.

Protest of Glasspool’s election from Uganda underlines the failure of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the broken church, to address pending gay genocide legislation there while quickly rebuking the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles for Glasspool’s election as a bishop.

Some who are marvels of bigotry may recall that decision with respect if the Ugandan law is enacted and executions begin.

Addendum re Mark Silk

Mark Silk gets it exactl right:

Has anyone ever tried to determine how many Episcopalians even care if their denomination is part of the Anglican Communion? Just as the Church of England split with the Church of Rome over a matter of state (Henry VIII marital inclinations), so the Episcopal Church created itself as an entity separate from the Church of England over that late unpleasantness involving tea and other disagreements resulting in the United States of America. Maybe it’s time for the Episcopalians to return to their revolutionary roots.


December 9, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , | Comments Off on Lesbian Episcopal bishop-elect speaks for herself [Addendum]

USCCB Study: Homosexuality play no role in priestly sexual predation

John Jay College of Criminal Justice researchers told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops they found “no evidence that gay priests are more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children.”

USA Today reported:

“What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse,” said Margaret Smith of John Jay College, in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now.”

[And] many experts on sex offenders reject any link between sexual orientation and committing abuse. Karen Terry, a John Jay researcher, said it was important to distinguish between sexual identity and behavior, and to look at who the offender had access to when seeking victims.

According to Tuesday’s interim report on the $2 million study, Catholic clerical sexual abuse peaked in the late 1960s and 1970s before declining in the 1980s, and researchers believe there has been no resurgence. That pattern, they argued, parallels to some degree changes in the society at large during those periods.

Dubbed The Causes and Context Study, it was funded by the USCCB, the National Institute of Justice and several foundations. A complete reported is scheduled for December of 2010.

November 18, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Crime, Health | , , , | Comments Off on USCCB Study: Homosexuality play no role in priestly sexual predation