The Southern Baptists, America’s second-largest religious group, on Tuesday elected their first African-American president, Rev. Fred Luter Jr. after a long history of racism and historical support of slavery. On Wednesday, the Southern Baptists found a new target: gay people. Voting overwhelmingly to declare, perhaps ironically, that same-sex marriage is not a civil right, the Southern Baptists, America’s largest Protestant denomination, declared that LGBT people do not have the “distinguishing features of classes entitled to special protections.”
The Mercury News reports:
Thousands of delegates at the denomination’s annual meeting in New Orleans on Wednesday were nearly unanimous in their support for the resolution that affirms their belief that marriage is “the exclusive union of one man and one woman” and that “all sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful.”
“It is regrettable that homosexual rights activists and those who are promoting the recognition of ‘same-sex marriage’ have misappropriated the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement,” the resolution states.
Another resolution passed on Wednesday is intended to protect religious liberty. It includes a call for the U.S. Justice Department to cease efforts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and for the Obama administration to ensure that military personnel and chaplains can freely express their religious convictions about homosexuality.
The Rev. Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, was one of the authors of the gay marriage resolution.
“It’s important to sound the alarm again, because the culture is changing,” he said in an interview after the vote.
McKissic, who is black, said it was “an unfair comparison” for gays to equate same-sex marriage with civil rights because there is not incontrovertible scientific evidence that homosexuality is an innate characteristic, like skin color.
“They’re equating their sin with my skin,” he said.
Of course, the Southern Baptists disdain for the LGBT community is not new. It goes back centuries.
But in 2004, McKissic told a Fort Worth, Texas audience:
“When homosexuals have spent over 200 years in slavery, when homosexuals have been legally defined as three-fifths human, when homosexuals have been denied the right to vote and own property because they are homosexuals, then we can begin a discussion of parallels [between the civil rights and gay rights movements].”
Meanwhile, yesterday, writing before the Southern Baptists’ anti-gay vote was announced, Rev. Irene Monroe at Pam’s House Blend mused:
With right wing organizations like National Organization for Marriage (NOM) courting black churches for their strategic 2012 election game plan to drive a wedge between LGBTQ voters and African American voters, the question is will Luter fall into their hands—either as the SBC’s titular head or simply as a misguided Christian homophobe?
Either reason Luter would wield enormous influence in pushing a right wing agenda.
While we don’t know what Luter will do in his post, there is enough data to predict with certainty how African Americans will vote in this 2012 election as it was predicted in 2008- irrespective of the President’s views on marriage equality or right wing anti-gay agendas.
We know now. Rev. Monroe has plenty more to say, and offers some intriguing insight.
June 12 marked the 45th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, which found any restrictions on marriage based on race to be unconstitutional.
A final note. Homophobia and hatred are not tied to race. And it’s important to note that the Southern Baptists are hardly comprised of just African-Americans. Wikipedia, which offers an interesting history on the Southern Baptists, notes:
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world’s largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members as of 2010. It is also the second largest Christian body in the United States, after the Catholic Church
We applaud the Southern Baptists’ election of an African-American president. We hope that one day, just like America’s first African-American president, the Southern Baptists’ first African-American president will also evolve, and support equal rights for all people.
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