Newly Elected Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter
I can almost hear Paula Abdul singing “two steps forward, one step back” as I read the news coming out of the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans today. A denomination which was founded around being pro-slavery prior to the Civil War has finally, in 2012, elected their first African-American President. No doubt this is the kind of step forward that must have their slave holding founders spinning in their graves. Kudos for the Southern Baptist Convention!
Wait… What’s that other little tidbit? Was this a ruse to detract from yet another bigoted stance by the Southern Baptists? It seems the Southern Baptist have decided to step outside the bounds of their personal religious beliefs and once again speak out in favor of denying human equality.
A day after electing their first African-American President, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution opposing the stance that “same-sex” marriage is a civil rights issue. Civil rights issues of course are a matter of public policy and not an issue to be decided upon by religious institutions; particularly religious institutions that, from their very founding, have consistently been on the wrong on human rights issues.
The resolution declares that marriage is “the exclusive union of one man and one woman” and that “all sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful.” Though I wholeheartedly disagree with them, I will steadfastly support the Southern Baptists right to believe these statements. After all, that is what freedom of religion, speech, and ideas is all about.
It is important for Southern Baptists to realize that the same freedom of religion and the separation of church and state that allow them to believe and preach such doctrine are also the same freedoms that ensure I don’t have to be subjected to those doctrines. So far as I am concerned, this story would not be an issue if the Southern Baptist Convention would have stopped at simply stating their beliefs.
When a church formalizes a stance that “same-sex” marriage is not a civil rights issue, they have stepped out of the realm of faith and into the realm of public policy. It goes without saying that most of us progressives don’t believe faith and public policy should mix. The folks on the religious right clearly don’t believe this is so which I find amusing. I find it amusing because these are some of the same people who have been pushing for state laws forbidding courts from considering Sharia law in their decisions; some actually believe liberals are trying to force Sharia into our laws.
If they would just open their ears and listen to us despicable liberals for once, they would learn that we do not want any religion, even our own, in public policy. This protects their right to believe slavery is OK, that the LBGT community is bad, and that interracial marriage should be forbidden. It also protects them from Sharia law which, ironically, is religious law that they fear. In the meantime, any two people who fall in love and wish to dedicate their lives to each other regardless of race, religion, or gender, should also be free to do so without fear of discrimination from self righteous bigots. Is it really so hard for all of us to respect each other’s dignity and cherish the principle of universal and equal freedom?