Just one day after electing their first black president, the Southern Baptists Convention is making it clear that they do not consider gay rights to be the same as civil rights. The resolution was passed at the group’s annual meeting in New Orleans and states that marriage is “the exclusive union of one man and one woman” and that “all s****l behavior outside of marriage is sinful.”
The group also states that homosexuals have unique challenges but do not have the “distinguishing features of classes entitled to special protections.”
“We deny that the effort to legalize ‘same-s*x marriage’ qualifies as a civil rights issue since homosexuality does not qualify as a class meriting special protections, like race and gender,” according to the resolution.
David W. Key Sr., the director of the Baptist Studies program at Emory University, says that the group is seeking to respect the differences and rights of gays and lesbians while maintaining its core beliefs as an organization.
The group strictly forbids “any form or gay-bashing, whether disrespectful attitudes, hateful rhetoric, or hate-incited actions.”
The Southern Baptist Convention has been unique in being one of the only large religious organizations that has spoken clearly against gay marriage and civil rights for gays and lesbians. The group is 16 million strong, and has a reputation of harboring white conservatives.
Fred Luter Jr. was just elected as the organization’s first African American president. The move was applauded as a bold step toward the future for an organization that founded itself on the idea of maintaining slavery in the United States.
“If we stop appointing African Americans or Asians or Hispanics to leadership roles in this convention after my term is over, we failed. We absolutely failed,” Luter said. Luter says that, “This was a genuine, authentic move by this convention that says our doors are open, and the only way they can see that is not just putting up an African American president, but seeing other ethnic groups in other areas of this convention. Time will tell and I’ll be a cheerleader promoting that.”