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Religious Tolerance logo

The Baptist State Convention
of North Carolina
and homosexuality

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During the summer of 2005, the Committee on Nominations of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina rejected individuals who had been nominated to the board of trustees of the Convention's Mars Hill College. The reason was that nominees had been selected by churches who were affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists who, in turn, promote equal rights for gays and lesbians.

Jeff Long, committee chairman and pastor of Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia, NC said that they were following a 1992 state convention policy which decided that the convention would not accept donations from churches that "endorsed homosexuality." He said:

"That's the precedent we worked from -- that if we weren't going to receive funds from a church that publicly endorsed homosexuality, then how, therefore, could we allow a nominee from a church that publicly endorsed homosexuality?"

The Alliance of Baptists is a progressive Christian denomination consisting of over 120 congregations, most of which were once members of the Southern Baptist Convention. They left the Convention after fundamentalists won a bitter, decades-long conflict between mainline and fundamentalist believers.

In rejecting the nominees, the Convention violated two foundational Baptist principles: freedom of religion of the individuals and of congregations.

Bill Sanderson, pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, NC, and president of Conservative Carolina Baptists, is expected to propose a  motion to be debated at the Convention's annual meeting on 2005-NOV-14 to 16 in Winston-Salem, NC. It would amend the convention's articles of incorporation to expel congregations that either:

bulletApprove of equal rights for persons of all sexual orientations or
bulletAre affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists or other groups that approve homosexuality.

David Horton, President of the Convention and pastor of Gate City Baptist Church in Jamestown, NC said that the motion:

<"...would bring a great deal of clarity to the stance of the convention....The Alliance of Baptists has made statements that do endorse the homosexual lifestyle.... We just feel that is out of step with the Bible and certainly out of step with what North Carolina Baptists believe on that issue."

Bill Sanderson said his motion is not saying that "we don't love the homosexual....We do -- but we don't love the sin. And that's true of all of us."

His motion would amend the articles of incorporation to read:

"Among churches not in friendly cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior. Such actions include:

1) official public statements affirming, approving or endorsing homosexual behavior,
2) ordination of those whom the church knows have not repented of their homosexual behavior,
3) any pastor of the church performing or the church providing facilities for a marriage or other ceremony, blessing or union of persons of the same sex,
4) affiliating with, contributing money to or maintaining membership in a group which the church knows affirms, approves or endorses homosexual behavior, and
5) accepting as members those whom the church knows have refused to repent of sin, including homosexual behavior."

"The Board of Directors shall apply these provisions, subject to the right of a church to appeal to the next session of the Convention."

The committee unknowingly approved two nominees who are affiliated with congregations which are affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists. It was "too late in the process" to ban them. Their status has yet to be determined.


On 2006-NOV-14, 2600 messengers (delegates) to the state Baptist Convention met in Greensboro NC. They voted to intensify its fight against the culture's apparent gradual acceptance of homosexuality by establishing a system to expel any of its churches that "affirm," "approve," or "bless" same-sex relationships. The measure could exclude a congregation for merely adding openly gay members to their rolls. There are believed to be as many as 12 Baptist congregations in the state that actively welcome gays at worship.

Mark Harris, who headed of the committee that introduced the anti-gay measure, said that: "In our day and time, no other sin marches so defiantly across our national landscape."

Hundreds of messengers objected to the measure. Some were worried that individual congregations will now spy and report on each other. Others were concerned about the loss of local church autonomy -- a many centuries-old defining tradition within the Baptist movement. Others felt that the measure reflected an unfounded obsession with homosexuality.

Nathan Parrish, from Winston-Salem, NC, said:

"It seems so contrary, at least to me, to the picture and posture of Jesus in the gospels. Jesus' life and ministry were marked by radical hospitality, openness, vulnerability, humility. By contrast, the Baptist State Convention is recommending that we . . . magnify the message that certain types of people, as well as their friends and perhaps their fellow believers and family members, are neither welcome nor worthy of a place at the table of this community."

Andrew Wakefield, professor of biblical studies at Campbell University, in Buies Creek, NC said: "This issue has emerged as a litmus test." 2

Reference used:

  1. Michael Foust, "Churches endorsing homosexuality could be excluded in N.C.," Baptist Press, 2005-NOV-11, at: http://www.bpnews.net/
  2. Alan Cooperman & Peter Whoriskey, "3 Christian Groups Move To Condemn Gay Sex," 2006-NOV-15, Washinton Post, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/

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Home page > Conflict > Homosexuality Religious groups > here

Copyright © 2005 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2005-NOV-13
Latest update: 2007-APR-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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