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Christian denominations and LGBT topics

The Alliance of Baptists and LGBT topics

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LGBT is an acronym referring to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals

History of the Alliance of Baptists:

A painful conflict raged within the Southern Baptist Convention for decades between moderates and fundamentalists. In the late 1980s, the fundamentalist faction was able to effectively gain control of the denomination by electing a succession of presidents to head the SBC who were theologically very conservative. They moved quickly moved to consolidate their position. One technique was to require loyalty oaths from all of its employees including teaching staff at its educational institutions.

Dozens of congregations representing more progressive Baptist beliefs left the Southern Baptist Convention in early 1987 and formed a new denomination: the "Southern Baptist Alliance." 1 Their original covenant specified both traditional Baptist religious freedom and liberal methods of biblical interpretation by affirming:

"the freedom of the individual, led by God's Spirit within the family of faith, to read and interpret the Scriptures, relying on the historical understanding by the church and on the best methods of modern biblical study." 2

They support both individual and congregational freedom by affirming:

"...the freedom and accountability of every individual in matters of faith; the freedom of each congregation under the authority of Jesus Christ to determine its own ministry and mission; and religious freedom for all in relationship to the state." 3

Initially, they considered themselves as "members of the Southern Baptist family." They used this phrase in their 1990 "Statement of Racism and Repentance" in which they noted that"

....there is a significant sin in our own heritage for which we have never publicly repented. One of the precipitating factors in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention was the protection of the institution of slavery and of slave owners in the South. The sins of slavery and of condoning slavery committed by Southern Baptists are a spiritual blight upon the relationships between African-Americans and whites in the south which has lasted unto this generation. The time is long overdue for Southern Baptists to repent of these sins....we call upon our fellow Southern Baptists meeting in convention in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 11-13, to help cleanse our denomination of the blight of racism by adopting a similar statement of confession and repentance." 4

Since then, they appear to have looked upon themselves more as progressive Baptists than as part of the Southern Baptist family. In 1992, they changed their name to "The Alliance of Baptists."

The Alliance joined the National Council of the Churches of Christ (NCC) in the year 2000. The NCC is an umbrella group of mainline and liberal Christian denominations.

The Alliance formed a partnership with the United Church of Christ (UCC) in 2002. The UCC is often considered the most liberal of the major Protestant denominations.

Current status and recent activity:

The Alliance of Baptists is a Christian denomination currently consisting of over 120 congregations. Their head office is in Washington DC. 5 Some of their recent growth has been caused by decisions of individual congregations of the American Baptist Churches in the USA (ABC/USA) to affiliate with the Alliance. Some regional units of the ABC/USA have been excluding congregations which belong to the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB) -- a gay-positive organization. 5

Decisions at their annual meetings concerning sexual orientation:

bullet1995: The Alliance accepted a report of a special task group on human sexuality and "...essentially declared ourselves a welcoming and affirming group as to sexual orientation." 6
 
bullet2004: At their annual meeting on 2004-APR in Dayton OH, the Alliance adopted a "Statement on Same Sex Marriage" which:
bulletSupported equality in marriage for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples throughout the U.S.
bulletOpposed the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment which would restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Their statement says, in full:

"Affirming that our federal and state constitutions exist to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority and in the context of the current debate over same-sex marriage, we of the Alliance of Baptists decry the politicization of same-sex marriage in the current presidential contest and other races for public office. We specifically reject the proposed amendments to the constitution of the United States and state constitutions that would enshrine discrimination against sexual minorities and define marriage in such a way as to deny same-sex couples a legal framework in which to provide for one another and those entrusted to their care.

As Christians and as Baptists, we particularly lament the denigration of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers in this debate by those who claim to speak for God. We affirm that the Alliance of Baptists supports the rights of all citizens to full marriage equality, and we affirm anew that the Alliance will 'create places of refuge and renewal for those who are ignored by the church'." 7

bullet2005: At their 2005-APR convocation at Furman University in Greenville, SC:
bulletTheir Executive Director, Stan Hastey, delivered a "State of the Alliance Address." He paraphrased Galatians 3:28:

"In the Jesus movement, 'there is no longer Jew or Greek ... slave or free ... male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus...Some day, some blessed day, the same will be said of gay and straight. We are on the right side of history.....My personal observation is that when churches make progress toward inclusiveness of those of same-sex orientation it nearly always happens in a congregational context, that is to say, when the well-being of fellow church members is the issue. As Baptists we surely can understand this and respect it...." 6

bulletApril Baker, an lesbian minister and co-pastor of Glendale Baptist Church in Nashville, TN preached at the convocation. Her sermon was based on Acts 1:6-14 and dealt with a partner church in Cuba. 6

bullet 2010: They jointed with dozens of Christian, Jewish, Sikh and other faith groups, and with dozens of faith-based advocacy organizations to send a letter to Congress asking that the the U.S. military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy be repealed. It was a law passed by Congress in 1993 that allowed LGBT service members to stay in the military as long as they did not reveal their sexuality.

The other signers of the letter were: More Light Presbyterians; American Conference of Cantors; American Friends Service Committee; Central Conference of American Rabbis; DignityUSA; Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ); The Episcopal Church, USA; Equal Partners in Faith; The Fellowship; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Interfaith Alliance; Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Lutherans Concerned/North America; Metropolitan Community Churches; More Light Presbyterians; National Black Justice Coalition; National Council of Jewish Women; Other Sheep: Multicultural Ministries with Sexual Minorities; Rabbinical Assembly; Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International. The Sikh Coalition. Union for Reform Judaism. Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations; United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; United Church of Christ, Wider Church Ministries; United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society; United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Unity Fellowship Church Movement; and Women of Reform Judaism.

bullet

The letter stated:

"On behalf of our organizations, representing a diverse group of faith traditions and religious beliefs, we urge you to pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009 (MREA) this year. This long-overdue law will repeal the unjust and unwise Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) law, which prohibits lesbian and gay Americans from serving openly in the military.

We write because we strongly believe this policy of government-sanctioned discrimination is morally wrong and entirely contrary to the teachings and values of our faith communities. Since DADT was adopted, more than 13,500 lesbian and gay service members have been discharged because of their sexual orientation. Their selfless service has been rewarded with humiliation, and their discharges fray the fabric of our communities. An estimated 66,000 lesbians and gays now serve in our armed forces, and are compelled to live dishonestly and in fear of termination for reasons unrelated to their performance. As faith leaders, we deal routinely with the damage such discrimination and fear imposes on our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers and their families. We believe the laws of our country should reflect the highest regard for integrity and care for our neighbors as we care for ourselves.

Repeal of DADT will finally allow all service members to contribute their talents and skills to our country openly and honestly.

We urge you to recognize in law what the majority of Americans -– Republicans, Democrats and Independents of many faiths –- have recognized in their hearts: this discriminatory law is unjust and wrong and must end this year" 8

References used:

  1. Michael Foust, "Churches endorsing homosexuality could be excluded in N.C.," Baptist Press, 2005-NOV-11, at: http://www.bpnews.net/
  2. R. Albert Mohler Jr., "FIRST-PERSON: Alliance of Baptists affirms same-sex 'marriage'," 2004-APR-30, at:  http://gay_blog.blogspot.com/
  3. "What we believe," Alliance of Baptists, undated, at: http://www.allianceofbaptists.org/
  4. "A Call to Repentance: A Statement on Racism and Repentance," Southern Baptist Alliance, 1990-MAR-10, at: http://www.allianceofbaptists.org/
  5. Postal address: Alliance of Baptists, 3939 LaVista Road, Suite E-122, Atlanta, GA 30084. Phone: 866.745.7609
  6. Stan Hasley, "The State of the Alliance. An Annual Report Presented to the Alliance of Baptists," 2005-APR-02. Download at: http://www.allianceofbaptists.org/
  7. "Statement on Same Sex Marriage," The Alliance of Baptists, 2004-APR-17, at: http://www.allianceofbaptists.org/.

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Copyright © 2005 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2005-NOV-13
Latest update: 2011-SEP-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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