The Baptist Church and Homosexuality in the U.S.: Timeline

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1972: (American Baptist Churches USA) American Baptists Concerned, a pro-gay Baptist group, forms at the national American Baptist convention in Denver, Colorado out of efforts of gay and lesbian Baptists to be recognized. [1]

1974: December Two Baptist ministers in New Milford, Connecticut threaten court action and the “wrath of God” over the local school board’s policy of requiring sixth-grade boys to study home economics, claiming that the practice leads to “homosexuality” and “moral decay.” [NYT 12/05/1974 p58]

1976: June (Southern Baptist Convention) The first official resolution on homosexuality is released, upholding that homosexuality is a sin and urging local churches not to “afford the practice of homosexuality any degree of approval.” Stricken from the resolution is a final paragraph that would have urged “Christian compassion for all persons whatever their lifestyle.” [2] [NYT 06/18/1976 p11]

1977: June (Southern Baptist Convention) A second resolution on homosexuality is released to reinforce the one from 1976. In this second resolution, the SBC praises Anita Bryant’s “courageous” antigay efforts. [3] [NYT 06/17/1977 pA12]

1978: June (Southern Baptist Convention) Anita Bryant addresses the Southern Baptist Convention and is up for bid as the first vice president of the organization. She loses the election. [WP 06/12/1978 pA2 and 06/14/1978 pA3; NYT 06/14/1978 pB8]

1980: June (Southern Baptist Convention) A “Resolution on Homosexuality” is passed that “deplore[s] the proliferation of homosexual practices, unnatural relations of any character, and sexual perversion” as well as the “concerted effort by ‘Gay Activists’ and liberal humanistic politicians to pass ordinances…under the deceptive guise of human rights” which make homosexuality “equally acceptable to the biblical heterosexual family life style.” [4]

1985: June (Southern Baptist Convention) Another resolution is passed that “deplores the proliferation of all homosexual practices” and opposes the “identification of homosexuality as a minority with attendant benefits or advantages.” [5]

September The Rev. Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority is ordered to pay $5,000 by a Sacramento court to Jerry Sloan, a former pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church, after Falwell made an offer to pay Sloan the $5,000 if Sloan could produce a recording to back up claims that Falwell had condemned the MCC. Sloan produced a tape “almost immediately” in which Falwell refers to the gay church as “brute beasts, part of a vile and satanic system.” [NYT 09/25/1985 pA21]

1987 April (Southern Baptist Convention) A conflict between fundamentalists and moderates within the Southern Baptist Convention seems to be leading toward a split. The fundamentalists, according to Rev. Jerry Falwell, have taken up a “sociopolitical agenda designed to get America back to God” that includes “opposition to communism, the ERA, abortion on demand, busing, legalization of homosexuality, and pornography, and secular humanism” as well as “support for prayer and the teaching of creation science in public schools, and a massive national defense.” [WP 04/04/1987 pC13]

1988 June (Southern Baptist Convention) A resolution is passed questioning the “moral sanity” of “modern society,” as well as claiming that “the deviant behavior [of homosexuals] has wrought havoc in the lives of millions…[and] is the primary cause of the introduction and spread of AIDS in the United States which has not only affected those of the homosexual community, but also many innocent victims.” [6] [NYT 06/17/1988 pB6; Chicago Trib 06/17/1988 p10]

September (Southern Baptist Convention) An agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Christian Life Commission, decides to stop the distribution of the Surgeon General’s report on AIDS because it does not reflect the group’s convention that “only heterosexual relations within marriage are moral.” Instead, the commission believes that it should only “sponsor material that strongly insists on abstinence…outside of marriage.” [NYT 09/23/1988, pB3]

December (Southern Baptist Convention) A Maryland SBC minister who founded the Gay-Lesbian Christian Fellowship in Charles County has his ordination revoked by his congregation because of concern that he might be homosexual. [NYT 12/18/1988 pA22]

1991 June (Southern Baptist Convention) A resolution is passed in order to “register outrage” at the Centers for Disease Control’s grant to the 13th National Lesbian and Gay Health Conference, which it believes to be “an example of the improper and inexcusable misuse of the public treasury and the public trust.” The resolution “call[s] upon the President…to ensure that such grants are prohibited in the future by means of an Executive Order requiring all federal policies to affirm the family and refuse…programs which encourage sexual immorality in any form.” [7]

1992 March (Southern Baptist Convention) A North Carolina Southern Baptist Church votes, with nearly two-thirds majority, in favor of blessing the union of two homosexual men in violation of its parent church’s stance. The church is later dismissed from the Convention along with another NC Baptist church that awarded a divinity license to an openly gay student. [Chicago Trib. 03/03/1992 p4; Chicago Trib 06/26/1992 p8]

June (American Baptist Churches) The General Board of the American Baptist Churches fails to pass a resolution that condemns homosexual practice as outside the Christian lifestyle and as “a violation of God’s plan for sexual union in monogamous, lifelong marriage,” by two votes. [Chicago Trib. 06/26/1992 p8]

June (Southern Baptist Convention) A resolution is passed in support of the Boy Scouts of America’s policy of not allowing homosexual scout leaders, calling the “attack” on the Boy Scouts “part of a larger assault on all organizations which refuse to accommodate the demands of homosexual activists or atheists.” [8]

1993 June (Southern Baptist Convention) The Convention adopts a resolution to “separate” the church from “President Clinton’s policies on abortion and homosexual rights and urge him to ‘affirm biblical morality’ in public office.” Delegates, however, reject an amendment calling for the president to “repent.” [Chicago Trib. 06/18/1993 p8]

June (Southern Baptist Convention) A resolution is passed that “oppose[s] all effort to provide government endorsement, sanction, recognition, acceptance, or civil rights advantage on the basis of homosexuality.” The resolution also supports legislation prohibiting homosexuals from participation in the military, and “deplore[s] acts of hatred or violence committed by homosexuals against those who take a stand for traditional morality as well as acts of hatred or violence committed against homosexuals.” [9]

1996 June (Southern Baptist Convention) The Convention threatens to boycott Walt Disney Co., claiming that the company promotes homosexuality over “traditional family values,” by hosting gay and lesbian-themed events at the company’s theme parks and offering health benefits to the “companions” gay and lesbian employees. [Chicago Trib. 06/13/1996 p6]

June (Southern Baptist Convention) An extensive resolution is passed following the Hawaiian Supreme Court’s ruling regarding same-sex marriages, in which the church “steadfastly oppose[s] the legislation of homosexual marriage by the state of Hawaii, or by any other state, or by the United States of America” and claims that the passage of any such legislation “is an abominable sin calling for God’s swift judgment upon any such society.” [10]

1997 June (Southern Baptist Convention) A resolution is passed opposing domestic partner benefits by any company, stating that “the category called ‘domestic partner’ is a strategy to promote acceptance of the idea that homosexual relationships are morally equivalent to heterosexual relationships involving a man and a woman bound together by the institution of marriage.” The resolution also asserts that the offering of domestic partner benefits “trivializes the meaning and sanctity of marriage” and “prayerfully affirm[s]” those that “work to reverse policies that erase fundamental and moral critical distinctions between homosexual relationships and heterosexual marriages.” [11]

1998 June (Southern Baptist Convention) The Convention passes a resolution calling upon Congress to “nullify…through legislation” President Clinton’s Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal workforce. [12]

1999 June (Southern Baptist Convention) A resolution is passed in response to President Clinton’s declaration of June 1999 as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. The resolution claims that “the President’s proclamation calls upon citizens of every corner of our nation to violate historic religious beliefs and their own consciences, in order to embrace and extol that which the Bible condemns.” The Convention states that the proclamation “compels us to rebuke” President Clinton and “deplore his most public endorsement of that which is contrary to the Word of God.” Additionally, the resolution calls for the President to “rescind his appointment of an openly professed homosexual as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.” [13]