Southern Baptists Boot Church for Not Being Anti-Gay Enough
A Baptist church in Fort Worth, Texas has not been hard-line enough in its opposition to gays--or so says the Southern Baptist Convention, which has booted the church, Broadway Baptist, out of the fold.
A June 24 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that delegates to the SBC’s convention (convened this year in Louisville, Kentucky) voted to sever ties with the church on June 23 because, executive committee member Stephen Wilson said, "the church was, in effect, saying that it was okay to have members who are open homosexuals."
The church could be readmitted to the SBC if it "unambiguously demonstrates its friendly cooperation with the Convention under" the SBC’s Article III, which sets out membership requirements--among them the stipulation that, "Among churches not in cooperation with the convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior."
The SBC has stated its opposition to gays elsewhere, with its Web site setting out a number of position statements, including a dismissal of gays and lesbians as having made a choice to embrace an invalid "alternative lifestyle."
Reads the position statement on gays, "We affirm God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy-one man and one woman, for life."
The SBC historically has opposed social progress, including episodes in which it embraced white supremacy and defended slavery.
After the SBC was "taken over" by conservative elements in 1979, the Convention issued an apology for its history of racism.
But the fundamentalist takeover also generated controversy of its own. According to a Wikipedia article, the former president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Russell H. Dilday, denounced the takeover as "a self-destructive, contentious, one-sided feud that at times took on combative characteristics."
The action to expel Broadway Baptist Church was decried by the chair of the church’s board of deacons, Kathy Madeja, whom the Fort Worth Star-Telegram quoted as saying, "We do not believe Broadway has taken any action which would justify its being deemed not in friendly cooperation with the SBC."
Added Madeja, "It is unfortunate that the Southern Baptist Convention decided otherwise and severed its affiliation with Broadway Baptist Church."
That expulsion affects the church’s voice in the SBC, but does not mean that the church is no longer affiliated with the Southern Baptist faith, which allows its churches autonomy.
The church was the focus of controversy when its then-revered, Brett Younger, was embroiled in a debate over including photographs of same-sex families in the congregation’s directory.
Eventually, the decision was reached not to include picture of same-sex families but to include group portraits of congregants instead.
The article noted that Younger left the church last spring. The fallout over the photos was not yet done, however, and the church was targeted by North Carolina reverend Bob Sanderson, who proposed that Broadway should be censured for not being in "friendly cooperation" with the SBC.
A minister with Broadway, Jorene Taylor Swift, wrote to the SBC’s executive committee to state that Broadway did not "endorse, approve, or affirm homosexual behavior," though the letter also started that Broadway was "not a church where homosexuality is a defining issue."
The church also disclosed that two gay congregants served in positions of leadership; the executive committee told Broadway to toughen up against gays.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas’ president, David Lowrie, suggested that Broadway could have gone after gays in keeping with the SBC’s attitudes toward them--for example, by starting a ministry that was, indeed, defined by issues such as homosexuality, existing to minister to congregants living what Lowrie called "unhealthy lifestyles."