As part of an umbrella organization called Faith in America, Dr. Jack McKinney had announced earlier that his group would hold a "teach-in," followed by the presentation of a petition (with some 10,000 signatures) to SBC leaders. He said they would be seeking an apology for harm caused by Southern Baptists to the lesbian, gay, bi and transgender community. Mr. McKinney (who is not gay) said in a press release:
''We call on the Southern Baptist Convention to stop misusing the Bible to promote religion-based bigotry and start recognizing the enormous pain and suffering caused by its mistreatment of LGBT people, particularly vulnerable youth.... History has not been kind to the Southern Baptist Convention's record on minorities and it is making the same awful mistake today by perpetuating abuse against gay people.''
SBC president Bryant Wright invited the group and the press to a half-hour meeting.
Baptist Press reports that McKinney did ask Wright for the apology, which he likened to a different apology put forth by SBC 16 years ago to African Americans for its historical support of slavery and racist Jim Crow laws. SBC's Wright replied that the two issues could not be compared. He insisted that SBC's disdain for homosexuality was based on its beliefs about "sexual purity" -- that sex outside of marriage for heterosexuals and homosexuals is "sinful" (Baptist Press):
''Just as we have people attending our local church that are engaging in homosexual activity, we have people attending our church who are engaging in adultery. I don't hate those people when I speak about adultery. I am just, hopefully, loving them enough to speak the truth about what God desires for the best for that person.''
Skipping over the obvious fact that gay people are not legally allowed to be married in most parts of the USA because of religious bigotry, Wright continued with his views of the Christian Bible. He mixed his own interpretation of scripture -- that homosexuality is sinful -- with the name of Jesus Christ (who most agree never mentioned same-sex activity or relationships in his sermons). BP's report has Wright quoted this way:
'''Jesus Christ came to die for all of our sins, whether it's heterosexual sin or whether it's homosexual sin.... For a society to come along at this stage in history and all of a sudden say that one of the ... areas that Christ has no power' over is 'homosexual behavior is really elevating the importance of that behavior above the power of Christ.'''
Wright asked the nine for respect for his views, and again invoked Jesus' name after saying "...we're not going to be able to come to common ground."
Other protestors (besides Faith in America's Jack McKinney) who attended the meeting were: Ben Alley, Wayne Besen, Brent Childers, Mitchell Gold, Jimmie Gruender, Robin Lunn, Anthony Spearman, Brad Wishon.
Wayne Besen later called the meeting historic, and wrote on his Truth Wins Out site:
''This was a rare opportunity to give a first-hand account of the harm the Southern Baptist Convention’s teachings have caused LGBT people, particularity youth. I was also able to look Bryant Wright directly in the eyes and tell him that his ‘ex-gay’ ministries don’t work and are shattering lives.''
Robin Lunn Tweeted:
''The President of the SBC told us that casting your child out for being gay is wrong! That we met at all is historic!''
Despite the members' seemingly upbeat review of the meeting, other reports from SBC show there is still a very long way to go.
Terry Fox (described as a leading preacher from Wichita, Kan.) said Faith in America was looking in the wrong place (OneNewsNow):
''I think they're the ones that owe America an apology.... Their whole platform, that whole organization... is nothing but perversion, and it damages families, it damages children. Ultimately, it damages our own society.''
Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary delivered another mixed-up message. According to a brief AP report, he said homosexuality is a sin in the Bible, but it's "wrong to say it's just a choice," then added:
''Only the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives a homosexual person any hope of release from homosexuality.''
And, perhaps worst of all, the entire Convention voted overwhelmingly to adopt a resolution supporting the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, and called for an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning marriage for gay and lesbian couples (Baptist Press Blog):
Protecting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
WHEREAS, The current administration, under the leadership of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, has refused to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to defend the Defense of Marriage Act against legal challenges currently before numerous federal courts ...
... WHEREAS, Redefining the concept and legality of marriage to mean anything other than the union between one man and one woman would fundamentally undermine the historic and biblical foundation of a healthy society (Genesis 1:28, 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6); and
WHEREAS, Equating same-sex relationships with heterosexual marriage would create a host of religious liberty and freedom of conscience conflicts; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention ... call on President Obama to direct the United States Department of Justice to follow through on its constitutional responsibility to defend vigorously the Defense of Marriage Act ...
RESOLVED, That we commend the United States House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker John Boehner, for ensuring the rule of law by accepting the duty rejected by the United States Department of Justice to defend the Defense of Marriage Act ...
RESOLVED, That we once again call on the United States Congress to pass and the states to ratify a constitutional amendment defining marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman ...
... RESOLVED, that we encourage pastors to speak strongly, prophetically, and redemptively concerning the sinful nature of homosexual behavior, the urgent need to protect biblical marriage, and the certainty that the blood of Christ can atone for any sin.
Finally, if you disagree with the Southern Baptists' preaching and politics, then you may be comforted to know that an SBC-affiliated research report shows that membership is steadily declining, with new baptisms down to levels not seens since 1948.
Mohler's stated solution: indoctrinate "young people" who are not part of Baptist families. Perhaps this is the motivation behind other news that SBC's members voted to welcome more "ethnics" and to be more supportive of paths to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.