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I'm a Baptist.  I'm a Southern Baptist.  I'm an ordained Southern Baptist deacon.  I've taught Sunday school, I've sung in choirs, I've directed choirs, I've taught Vacation Bible School.  I've spoken from the pulpit.  I've led prayer meetings and Bible studies.  I've attended Promise Keepers events.  I've sent my kids to missions camps.  I support marriage equality.

Wait, what?

How can this be?  I mean, if one reads most DailyKos diaries that mention Southern Baptists--and especially if one reads most of the comments on those diaries--one would naturally assume that I've just admitted membership in a monolithic and hate-driven entity that wants nothing more than to see the LGBT community either sequestered in some latter-day Warsaw ghetto, shunned and ostracized, or shepherded into some sort of "pray the gay away" 'ministry.'  How can a lifelong Southern Baptist POSSIBLY support marriage equality?  Isn't that proposition ludicrous, even when presented in the rhetorical sense?

Both to relieve the cognitive dissonance I've forced upon you AND to learn of a conversational approach that just might work a wee bit better than does attack or insult when dealing with "people like me," join me below the fold...

Ah, I whetted your curiosity.  Good.  Incidentally, did you like how I worked the word 'sequestered' into the introduction, just to snare those folks who searched for diaries about the budget, the debt or the deficit?  I'm sneaky that way...

I'm not a preachy type of person (another contradiction to the general stereotype applied to Southern Baptists), so instead of going for some ridiculously detailed, 200-links-to-sources diary, I'm just going to step you through the thought process that led me to support marriage equality.  Incidentally, that also means that you won't see a single Biblical reference in this diary (there's another stereotype going down in flames!).  I hope that, as you read through this, you'll find at least one piece of logic, or one human factor, that will help you as you discuss this topic with others.  For reasons that will become apparent, however, it should be noted that is defniitely a "your mileage may vary" approach and may not "work" in every discussion; we Baptists are a rather individualistic lot.

Let's get started, shall we?

1. Baptists believe in something called "the priesthood of the believer."
Simply put, this means that, as a Baptist, I serve as my own priest.  I don't need a pastor, preacher, or priest to whom I can confess my sins, from whom I can secure God's blessing, or against whom I am to be measured.  God made me, and my soul is competent (in and of itself) to engage in a relationship with Him. This is REALLY important to any serious Baptist; in fact, it's one of the key "distinctives" that defines Baptist faith. There is no hierarchy of power, and there is no higher human authority telling me what to believe or what to do.  Folks like Al Mohler or Richard Land are not authoritative where my faith is concerned; in a very real sense, it begins and ends with me.
2. Neither general faith nor individual articles of faith can be compelled.
I can't make you believe as I do, nor can you compel me to change my beliefs; any forced belief is highly unlikely to be, or become, genuine belief.  That's OK, even in this context, because neither of those must be attempted in this case.  Next slide, please?
3. Baptists believe in the separation of church and state.
I know that some among you are snickering and/or preparing your comment snark at this point, but hold off for just a moment.  The doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention (hint: do NOT call it a creed; serious Baptists know the difference) is The Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M).  That document, most recently revised in 2000, explicitly states:
Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. [...] The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. [...] A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power."
Yes, I know that the BF&M includes language that names homosexuality a sin and defines marriage as 'one man and one woman', but that is beside the point and need not be addressed, as I hope to demonstrate.  Moving on...

Now, we step from religious doctrine to secular authority.  In the United States, the Constitution is the 'supreme law of the land,' and its First Amendment states, in part, that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; [...]
This dovetails perfectly with the Southern Baptist statement that "a free church in a free state is the Christian ideal."  Furthermore, it explicitly supports the BF&M''s assertion that "all men" have "the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power."  In addition to these explicit statements, we have a long history of legal precedent stating that government can't limit the statement or implementation of these religious opinions in the absence of a 'compelling state interest.'

We'll come back to that last thought, but first I'll make a historical assertion:

5. Marriage belonged first to the individuals involved; churches formalized it later, and governments recognized that religious formalization still later.
We have ample evidence, from both objective human history and subjective religious interpretation of Scripture, that marriage customs and rites predated the foundation of either man's churches or man's government.  Even today, we find cultures which practice customs identical to what we call 'marriage' in every way save religious ceremony and/or government recognition.

This fits precisely and squarely into both Baptist belief and American government.  Baptists believe in the individual human conscience (the BF&M refers to it as "the sacredness of human personality"), the competence of every person to stand before God without the intercession or governance of a pastor/preacher/priest, AND the independence of religious opinion from government influence.  At this point, it should be clear that Baptists claim ALL of these to justify their very existence - one distinct from other religious denominations and government edict alike.  Government, for its part, treats marriage as a religiously neutral institution; it explicitly provides and recognizes civil marriage for those who wish to make such a commitment outside the authority of any established religion. That stems directly from the facts that marriage predates the church (in terms of 'common law'), AND that citizens enjoy the individual, if penumbral, rights both to marry and to choose whom they wish to marry, thanks to the Ninth Amendment.

This, we arrive at several inescapable (to me) conclusions, which stem from sources both religious and political:

a. We must accept that religious belief is not universal.
b. We must accept that each person decides these questions for themselves.
c. We must accept that, as a consequence of points (a) and (b), America enjoys a rich diversity of religious thought, as described in and supported by the Baptist Faith & Message.
d. Through the First Amendment, our government explicitly supports this religious diversity AND is limited in the scope of any actions which might serve to 'establish' one school of religious thought over the others.
Thus, if any religious group wants to claim the First Amendment right to decide for themselves whether to perform or recognize same-sex marriage, all of us MUST respect their right to do so; however, that group MUST ALSO accept that every other religious group enjoys that same secular right, and that the government CANNOT interfere by "choosing" one result over another.

It's clear that organized religion is not of one mind on the question of same-sex marriage.  It's equally obvious that the civil government provides for marriage outside the context of organized religion.  Thus, the only answer to this question for anyone who claims both religious belief AND protection of that belief under the First Amendment is that the government must, in the absence of a 'compelling state interest', recognize both marriages performed by other religious groups AND those provided by the government to those who claim no religious belief.  As an aside, this also argues that the government must provide same-sex marriage to those who desire it outside the authority of any particular church or denomination, so as not to effectively compel belief in those churches from individuals desiring a same-sex marriage.

Now, let's take note of what I DIDN'T say:

* I didn't say that anyone was "wrong" or "right."
* I didn't say that anything was or wasn't "godly."
* I didn't say that anyone needs to change their view of God, or His Word, or His will, at all.
* I didn't say a word about what God "wants" or "doesn't want."
* I didn't say that either side was "un-American."
* I didn't say that the government's choices would change anyone's beliefs.
At this point, all questions of "religious freedom" have been rendered moot; the only discussion remaining (because--and remember this as you discuss the matter--this ISN'T a religious discussion, right?) is what 'compelling state interest' may exist to justify government's interference in the matter.  That is a completely secular discussion, and one which can be conducted in a far more civil manner - should it prove necessary.  

This also defeats any mention of the government "defending marriage;" the BF&M specifically states that

The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends.
So, if the gospel is to use only spiritual means to pursue its goals, how can we ask the government to do it for us?

The astute reader will note that I didn't even state whether I personally "approve of" same-sex marriage.  Well, that's because I haven't really decided yet how that notion fits within my personal religious beliefs.  Even at an individual level, however, it's clear that if I want to claim the liberty to decide that question for myself--and, it must be said, the liberty for churches to decide that question for themselves--then I MUST support that same liberty for everyone else; my personal opinion (whatever it turns out to be) simply does not affect the conclusion I must draw.

Will I join in a same-sex marriage?  Let's just go ahead and call that unlikely; I'm a straight guy who's been in his first marriage for more than a quarter-century.  Would I join a church that performs or recognizes same-sex marriage?  As I said, I haven't figured that out just yet.  I can, however, claim both my Baptist faith AND my American citizenship in supporting marriage equality, and I don't have to compromise either identity in so doing.

Originally posted to wesmorgan1 on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 11:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Anglican Kossacks, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good thoughts (12+ / 0-)

    thanks for sharing.  And check your K-mail

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 11:39:21 AM PDT

  •  I don't have a problem with any church... (41+ / 0-)

    defiining marriage within that church.  It is when entire states (cough, cough, North Carolina) votes to restrict civil marriages for the sake of how a couple is viewed by the state, that I have a real problem with.  A person can switch churches--there on four on every block--but being viewed as sub-human by an entire state is not so easy to escape.

    If Jesus had a gun, he'd be alive today. Homer Simpson, 2013

    by quiet in NC on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 11:45:26 AM PDT

    •  I agree completely... (18+ / 0-)

      ...but you'll never convince entire denominations to change their view of God, His Word, or his will just on your say-so.

      The best possible response for which one can reasonably hope is to convince people that it isn't a condemnation or corruption of THEIR beliefs just because someone else believes differently.

      •  Unlike Roman Catholics, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brown Thrasher

        who find it very difficult to replicate their spiritual practice outside of the institutional church, & also cut themselves off from the sacraments, you can switch to a more compatible non-SBC Baptist church  with nothing more serious to cope with than a bit of social readjustment. Why do you remain in an SBC congregation?

        "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

        by DJ Rix on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:08:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A fair question, to be sure... (13+ / 0-)

          The simple answer is that, as is the case with most folks, my local church/congregation is far more important to me than are the prounouncements of denominational leaders.

          I've been part of several remarkable SBC congregations.  Over the years, those churches have done things like:

          * Joined with the local Catholic church to run a joint Vacation Bible School
          * Joined in a counter-protest when Fred Phelps came to town (he showed up to protest when a Catholic church baptized the children of a gay couple...)
          * Told the SBC that it rejected the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message and would continue to adhere to the 1963 edition
          * Never tried to tell me how to vote on any matter
          * Engaged in 'dual affiliation' with the SBC and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (a moderate group) and allowed members to direct their contributions as they saw fit
          * Ordained women to the deaconate
          * Emphasized that it was up to me to read Sciprture and decide what I believed
          * Supported a pastor through a divorce
          * Moved their contributions away from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
          * Directly sponsored the establishment and continued funding of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky (as an alternative to Southern Baptist seminaries)
          * Spent more time/effort/money on local missions and community service than they gave to the SBC
          * Spent months of Sunday school in comparative religion studies, inviting clergy of other faiths to come in and help us learn
          * Called women to both ministry and leadership positions
          * Never commented on the amount of money I gave (or didn't give) to the church
          * Practiced the separation of church and state on a daily basis
          There are quite a few things on that list that would have caused Exploding Head Syndrome in more conservative SBC churches, but that's kind of my whole point about not throwing us all in the same bucket...did I mention that I live in a solidly red state?
      •  Really? (6+ / 0-)
        3. Baptists believe in the separation of church and state.
        Apparently, those Baptists voting Republican didn't get the memo because the RNC has ignored that "belief" to win elections.

        "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

        by MartyM on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 06:00:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're absolutely right... (4+ / 0-)

          Many, if not most, of the Southern Baptists I have known were members of SBC churches for years (sometimes decades) before they ever read The Baptist Faith and Message.  I suspect that this is another consequence of the 'autonomy of the local church' and the lack of denominational authority; there is no standard catechism or "new member training."

          That's why I so admired those pastors who said, "Hey, we're going to sit down and go through this thing together and talk about what we claim to believe, and why."

      •  Well said. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Excellent diary.

        Being the single intellectual in a village of 1,100 souls ain't much fun, especially when 1,099 of those don't think you're all that smart.--Lucy Marsden

        by Miniaussiefan on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 06:33:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Do religious beliefs trump the secular law? (0+ / 0-)

        In other words, if the secular law says that you can't discriminate based on the factors laid out in civil code, do you believe that you can ignore the law if you believe it contradicts  your, or any other religion's, teachings?
        Do you believe Biblical Law is the supreme law on the United States?

        I traded it in for a whole 'nother world...a pirate flag and an island girl.

        by glb3 on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 10:10:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If you're serious about protecting (11+ / 0-)

      the sanctity of marriage, first you need to recognize that the place for that is within your church-- not in civil law. The state has no business ruling on the "sanctity" of anything.

      Second, sanctifying marriage doesn't mean denying the right of marriage to those who believe they love their partners and earnestly seek to marry. Sanctifying marriage is something you do for you and your own partner: you marry when you're ready, not in haste; you honor your marriage vows; you treat your partner and children with respect rather than as property.

      Isn't it curious that teen marriage, spouse abuse, and divorce rates are highest in southern states where Christian fundamentalists are in the majority?

  •  You make an excellent argument for (24+ / 0-)

    sensible people.

    Sadly, there don't seem to be many sensible people around these days.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 11:47:51 AM PDT

    •  With all due respect - have you looked? (18+ / 0-)

      Here on Daily Kos, almost every mention of Southern Baptists seems to throw all 16 million of us (and all 45,000 of our churches across 41 states) into one big "oh, they hate us" bucket.

      Having spent my life in Southern Baptist churches, I can tell you that for every Al Mohler, Richard Land or Franklin Graham, there are more than a few Baptists like me. who pay far more attention to their personal faith and personal relationship with God than they do to anything those three folks might say.

      Will my argument appeal to all Southern Baptists?  Of course not.  By the same token, however, the stereotypes applied to us here at Daily Kos would not be tolerated if applied against any other group...would they?

      •  Realistically LDS and SBC are at the very bottom (14+ / 0-)

        of the list for supporting civil marriage equality, along with other predominantly white evangelical Protestants.    And while I agree with your arguments about the separation of church and state, the SBC members I know don't agree.  

        I think you're in a very small minority of older SBC members who support marriage equality or who truly understand what the Establishment clause requires and how it benefits everyone.    It's a shame because Baptists in general were the motivation for many of the early religious freedom cases - going back all the way to Roger Williams (before the SBC even existed).

        •  Absolutely! (16+ / 0-)

          I can tell you that my first steps on this path were taken when astute and knowledgeable leaders (pastors, Sunday school teachers, et al.) began teaching distinctives - those beliefs that distinguish among the various religions and denominations.  In fact, one particuarly gifted pastor taught a lengthy series (2+ months' worth of sermons) on "what makes Christians Christian," "what makes Protestants Protestant" and, finally, "what makes Baptists Baptist."

          There's no question that one's choice of denomination--and, indeed, one's choice to believe at all--is often one of defaults.  Various surveys indicate that children tend to follow their parents' choices in belief/unbelief, choice of denomination, and the like.  Sometimes, the default choice is geographical in nature; if the only church nearby is part of denomination [X}, a lot of folks find themselves claiming that denomination.

          As you note, this state of "I call myself [X], but don't really know what [X] means or how [X] came to be" is particularly frustrating when issues of this sort come to the fore.  There are many aspects of today's religious landscape that, to be honest, offend anyone with a historical sense of "why Baptists are Baptist," but there's no way to address them unless/until we teach those distinctives anew.

          The way I see it, the question of marriage equality brings us a golden opportunity to discuss these distinctives, and I (for one) suspect that doing so will spark a significant change among more than a few individual believers.

          •  A bit off-topic, but as an SBC deacon can you give (5+ / 0-)

            any insight into the SBC's decision to make the 1995 apology for racism a voluntary accord?

            It almost sends the wrong message because it's voluntary.   I understand your point that "individual articles of faith can't be compelled", but that one seems to be a biggie.   I can understand the political motivations for doing that since the SBC didn't want to lose a lot of member churches, but otherwise it makes no sense.

            •  A minor correction, then I'll tell you what I know (9+ / 0-)

              I was ordained by an SBC church, but that doesn't mean I was ordained by the SBC.  (This falls under the "autonomy of the local church" distinctive I mentioned in the diary.)  There is no automatic reciprocity, of the sort we enjoy with drivers' licenses and whatnot; other SBC churches are free to recognize my ordination 'as is', but they're also free to choose not to recognize it, or to "examine me" themselves (as directed in Scripture) before choosing to recognize it.  I don't "speak for" the church that originally ordained me OR for those churches I have served since ordination, and (as I'm sure you've guessed by now) I CERTAINLY don't speak for the SBC.

              Now, on the question of the 'voluntary' nature of the 1995 resolution apologizing for the SBC's racist past...if you look, you'll see that ALL resolutions passed at the annual Southern Baptist Conventions (yes, SBC is both the organization's name AND the name of its yearly meeting) are non-binding in nature.  The simple fact is that participating in the yearly Convention (known as "sending messengers") is NOT a requirement of membership, and most SBC churches don't participate.  In 2012, only 7,868 messengers particpated; in 2011, attendance hit a 60-year low when only 4,852 messengers participated.  Given that each church can send multiple messengers, those numbers don't even reflect a one-to-one relationship between messengers and churches.  It's obvious that the vast majority of the SBC's 45,000 churches simply don't see a need to participate.

              So, they don't even pretend that Convention resolutions speak for the entirety of SBC congregations.  That's why the resolutions always refer to "messengers present" instead of "the members of the Southern Baptist Convention"...

          •  You've made an important point in this comment (6+ / 0-)

            as well as in your diary of course, which I find very...I'm not sure how to describe it as "illuminating" doesn't quite cut it.

            ...this state of "I call myself [X], but don't really know what [X] means or how [X] came to be" is particularly frustrating when issues of this sort come to the fore.
            I would suggest that the most people, and those who are least open-minded regarding "social issues" in general, claim to embrace a particular religious denomination without really comprehending what its core doctrine is. They can regurgitate words from sermons but the reality is that they often don't know or care what those words really mean, whether the person who spoke them actually knows what he or she is claiming in the name of his or her faith and, most particularly whether, if they actually gave some consideration to their actual beliefs regarding the meaning of scripture and/or doctrine relative to any specific issue, would even really agree with the views propounded in the words of those sermons. Many people (and this is true regardless of overall political outlook) really don't like to devote a great deal of energy to serious thought on serious issues. One way or another they will go for a combination of conformity and clever-sounding catchphrases.
        •  Roger Williams was Northern Baptist (8+ / 0-)

          My ancestor Pardon Tillinghast (1623-1718) was pastor of the First Baptist Church in America (Providence RI) from 1688 to 1718. This was the church founded by Roger Williams. My ancestor came to RI from England in 1645.
          Earlier Roger Williams had been run out of Massachusetts for being too liberal and had founded Rhode Island.

          Censorship is rogue government.

          by scott5js on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 04:57:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And the younger ones who do (8+ / 0-)

          generally end up leaving.

          I left. It wasn't over marriage inequality, it was over the entire 2000 BFM issue and other things, but the SBC youth who are GLBT-friendly (or GLBT and not self-deriding) tend to disagree on other things as well.

          And the convention thinks better SBC education within the churches on Sundays will fix it. Sorry guys, we didn't 'drift away' because we didn't understand why the SBC official belief structure ('We Swear It's Not A Creed, Honest') is what it is, we left because the logic was faulty, a specific Bible interpretation usurped Jesus' place as Lord, and we couldn't stand the lies, deception, and falsehoods any longer.

          They were still decrying saying any creeds even as the missionaries had to affirm they agreed with the entire 2000 BFM or be recalled ASAP and some churches were even having mass signings of said document. So that's perfectly fine in the official SBC view, but me repeating the Nicene Creed when in a church service of a denomination that does so is a great and horrible failing. Um, no. And until they change that, it doesn't matter what the standard SBC views migrate to, I'm not going back.

          Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

          by Cassandra Waites on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:24:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Jimmy Carter left for similar reasons, primarily (11+ / 0-)

            over the SBC's misogyny.

            •  2000 Baptist Faith and Message. (0+ / 0-)

              The creed that they will swear up and down is not one.

              The BFM started in the long ago, but well after the SBC was formed, as a short list of things generally agreed on as common Southern Baptist beliefs. It wasn't long, and the beliefs were a bit more detailed than the Nicene Creed with Baptist distinctives like priesthood of the believer and adult baptism added in.

              In 1963, not long before the earliest parts of the takeover, it was revised into a longer, more detailed document. Some points were added and others were modified. It was still a fairly simple document.

              2000 is the most recent revision. The language against women in any leadership role that had been in a separate resolution a few years before was added in. The additions and revisions were more extensive, with sometimes a single word or two added in to an existing clause or list - if I recall correctly, 2000 was when specific language against homosexuality was added for the first time, mainly because no one in the denominational leadership even in 1963 had thought it needed saying.

              There's a handy link someone else posted in comments here comparing the three versions, and I'm fairly sure that's the same site I discovered just after I found out all this had been going on. Looking at the changes is rather enlightening.

              Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

              by Cassandra Waites on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 07:30:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Wes, this is principally why... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        you and others like you need to publish these thoughts and out-populate the icky Southern Baptist stereotypical expressions of their sky god.

        Now, I don't think you have a sky god. I don't know what you have, but your "spirit" needs to bear fruit.


        "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

        by unclebucky on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:02:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  When talking to anyone religious on that subject (10+ / 0-)

    I also think it helps if people stop labeling someone a "bigot" because of his or her religious beliefs.  

    It's much better to say, I respect your right to your religious beliefs, but I disagree, and government shouldn't validate the religious beliefs (or even the lack of religious beliefs) of either one of us.  Government should respect the rights of all people to act in accordance with their own religious beliefs, not enforce one religious belief over others.  You will go a long way to getting the cooperation of the reasonable religious people when they are assured that their beliefs will be respected, and that no one is attacking their religious beliefs, but that you are simply saying that government should not take one religious position over others, and so people with different beliefs have to have the same governmental rights as they do.  

    But when people refer to people who hold these long-standing religious beliefs as "bigots" (as happens almost any time the topic comes up around here) that tells them that you AREN'T willing to let them have those religious beliefs as long as the government doesn't validate them.  That's a statement that their religious beliefs are unacceptable and need to be eradicated.  And you aren't going to get the cooperation of very many people when you start by labeling their long-held religious beliefs as something unacceptable that need to be eliminated.  

    •  When someone thinks they deserve special rights (12+ / 0-)

      and privileges which they want denied to another class of citizens, they pretty much define what it means to be a greedy bigot.   That they justify that bigotry through their religion is irrelevant.

      A good example would be the SBC's traditional opposition to mixed-race marriage being permitted under secular law.   Would you claim that such people aren't bigots?

      •  Yeah, that's the way to win people over. (6+ / 0-)

        When they hold to religious beliefs that have been around for centuries, call them "greedy bigots."  That tells them that you think their religious practice of limiting their religious marriage ceremonies to heterosexual couples is unacceptable and wrong and should not be tolerated in our society.  That's the message that kind of language conveys.  That is YOU intruding on THEIR religious beliefs.

        Here's the question that raises:  would you make it illegal to give a license to perform weddings to someone who refuses to perform weddings for same-sex couples?  or would you respect the right of people to believe what their religion has told them for centuries about marriage as long as the government doesn't impose that belief on you through the civil laws?  

        You are far, far better off with the attitude that no one is saying that THEY can't believe what THEY want about marriage, but that they don't have the right to force that belief on others through secular law.  You don't have to insult their religious beliefs, just take the position that just as their religious beliefs are entitled to respect (after all, that's their constitutional right), your beliefs are entitled to equal respect.    

        As for the SBC opposition to interracial marriage, I am not aware of any biblical teaching that supports racism. If there were, however, if the Bible had some passage expressly mandating racism, then the answer would be the same -- you, as a matter of religious practice, can believe interracial marriage is wrong, and nobody is going to force you to abandon that religious belief.  However, the government cannot condone your religious belief by imposing it on others through the civil law.  

        •  Wrong. You're free to have your religious beliefs (10+ / 0-)

          and refuse to perform religious weddings for gays, blacks, Jews, divorced persons, etc, and no one will give a crap.

          Where it becomes a problem is when you want your religious beliefs used to violate someone else's secular legal rights.    That's not just bigotry but Christofascism.

          As for the SBC opposition to interracial marriage, I am not aware of any biblical teaching that supports racism.
          Your theological dispute is with the Mormons and Southern Baptists, not with me.    The SBC in particular founded their religion to support slavery and white supremacy.    Racism is literally why the SBC exists as a denomination.    And racism was a central part of Mormon theology from 1847-1978.
          •  So, it's impossible to atone for past sins? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cobbler, cspivey, VClib

            There's no doubt that the SBC originated from the pro-slavery camp; in fact, the issue that led most directly to the SBC's foundation was that the national Baptist organizations of the time refused to appoint slaveowners as missionaries and also considered monies derived from slavery to be unsuitable for funding missionary work.

            Now, the SBC has--to its credit--faced its past in a very public fashion; it issued a formal apology in the mid-1990s--better late than never--and has steadily increased its (for lack of a better term) non-white membership. Today, over one million Southern Baptists are black, 20% of Southern Baptist congregations are majority-minority, and the SBC just elected its first African-American president.

            You might find this report of the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention (Yes, there is a yearly Convention - it isn't just a name) interesting.

            •  Atonement and apology are great things, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Calamity Jean, ssgbryan

              but my question (asked upthread) is why the SBC's apology was a voluntary accord.   That makes no sense at all to me.

              In fact just last year an SBC-affiliated church refused to perform a religious wedding for a mixed-race couple.    While I realize it's just a handful of churches out of many which are still so overtly racist, it just serves to remind everyone of the SBC's profoundly racist (and very recent) past.

              •  As a genetic baptist... (6+ / 0-)

                ...who hasn't been to church since the last baptist grandma's funeral, my hope is that the idea behind it being voluntary was to allow those congregations who hadn't sufficiently come forward in their thinking to come to their own epiphany. To give them a chance to realize their own views- and to change them thoughtfully and in full recognition of the need to accept the weight of their own actions, and inaction. Think about that racist head basher who recently passed, but only after seeking forgiveness and reconciliation from John Lewis. People can evolve a remarkable distance in their thinking in the course of their lives.

                Besides, it's been my own experience that having doctrine forced upon a SBC congregation is the quickest way to make those churches splinter off into more regressive and independent denominations. Letting them go off and be hardheaded and intolerant on their own, without the example of other, more progressive church members, doesn't affect positive change.

                Of course, I was a very bad baptist. Only when the grandma's were around and usually just for dinners on the ground and backup egg hunt duty.

                "I'm not a humanitarian. I'm a hell-raiser." Mother Jones

                by histopresto on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 05:05:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I explained 'voluntary' in another comment... (0+ / 0-)
            •  Note too that SBC president Fred Luter (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JerryNA, unclebucky

              is one of the more profoundly ignorant homophobes in action today.

              Seriously, Luter thinks that what's going on in North Korea is the result of marriage equality in the US, and a "sin" comparable to abortion, gun violence and racism.

              Luter represents what's wrong with the SBC, not what's good about it.

            •  So where's the atonement? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              •  Answering that can get tricky... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, skrekk, Brown Thrasher

                All I can do to answer your question is offer a few observations, namely:

                * Since that apology was issued in 1995, the SBC has gained over 1 million African-American members.

                * 50% of the new SBC churches started between 2000 and 2010 were predominantly African-American, Asian or Hispanic in membership.

                * Today, more than 20% of SBC churches are majority-minority in membership

                * The SBC elected its first African-American president in 2012.

                * At the local level, my SBC churches have long engaged with majority-minority churches in joint worship and community service.

                * At the local level, my SBC churches have ordained minority members as deacons and youth ministers.

                * At the local level, my SBC churches have welcomed minority speakers and teachers to our pulpits for years, and were doing so even before 1995.

                Here's the tricky part: I can't say whether the things I just listed constitute "atonement," because someone else has to make that judgment.  I think that everything I just mentioned is significant, but I have no idea which of them might be important to to you.  Some folks will discount all of those things and set their own conditions; for instance, one prominent black SBC pastor maintains that the Convention "won't be serious about it" until a minority member leads a seminary or missions board.  

                I think we must also acknowledge that there will be some folks who will NEVER forgive and/or grant atonement.

                In short, atonement isn't my call to make; I can only try to demonstrate change, right?

            •  It IS possible to atone for past sins... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              to one's community and to the community at large.

              But we have to be sure there is no sleight of hand in that atonment.

              Who said, "trust, but with verification" ? ;o)


              "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

              by unclebucky on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:13:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hmmm...slightly different terms? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                It requires an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, a penitent heart (sorrow/regret), and demonstrated change or attempt to change - and all three must be consistent and visible to others.

                I say "change or attempt to change" because, let's face it - change is hard, and most folks can't just flip a switch and make it so.  A more difficult or (no pun intended) fundamental change is more likely to involve a "false start" or two before someone gets it right...after all, we're imperfect creatures.

                Fair enough?

                •  I think the SBC overall has done a remarkably (0+ / 0-)

                  good job addressing the racism issue over the past 20 or 30 years, but they haven't learned the broader lesson and still seem to think some people should be second-class citizens (and not just within the confines of the SBC).

                •  Fair. We are imperfect, all of us. (0+ / 0-)

                  But do keep in mind the difference between "imperfect" and "equivocal", ya know?

                  That is, people try for the best, but they are still venial. We have to be gracious with them.

                  BUT there are also people who try for the worst, or are dedicated to dissembling or worse. We have to be honest with them as well as firm.

                  Like Scott Joplin says through Treemonisha, we have to give them a stern warning, and then some of other characters realize that idealistic notions won't work.

                  Meh. Dissemblers.

                  Ugh. --UB.

                  "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

                  by unclebucky on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 05:21:13 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Yay. Atta-person! :) n/t (0+ / 0-)

            "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

            by unclebucky on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:10:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Frankly (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skrekk, wader, AdamSelene, Thorby Baslim

          I have no desire or ability to win Southern Baptists over.

          We are winning, and will eventually completely win.

          They have lost. That's the end of it.

          If the diarist wants to start an intrafaith dialogue in an attempt to not make them look like complete jerks, the diarist is welcome to do so. I frankly don't care and have little interest in either converting them to the cause or not hurting their feelings.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 04:24:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not a matter of winning over the denomination (0+ / 0-)

            ...since said denomination — even as it has tried so hard not to be — is a "herd of cats" with an ingnore-able convention rather than a "leadership" in any case.

            It's more a matter of encouraging people to marginalize any bigots that may be in their midst.

            Time once again to fight cyber-spying! Defeat CISPA!

            by Brown Thrasher on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:28:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  oddly enough, I recall hearing plenty, back in the (5+ / 0-)
          I am not aware of any biblical teaching that supports racism
          60's when all the white fundamentalist churches were fighting for the segregation that God wanted us to have.

          As for your talk of "winning them over", some people will never be won over because they're simply not on the same side as you.  My desire isn't to win them over---it's to crush them as an effective political force. (shrug)

        •  Beliefs do not deserve respect.... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skrekk, wader, Kimbeaux, Thorby Baslim

          just take the position that just as their religious beliefs are entitled to respect (after all, that's their constitutional right), your beliefs are entitled to equal respect.

          I couldnt disagree more, beliefs do not automatically gain respect and they are not by any stretch constitutionally protected.

          Speech is protected yes, but the beliefs behind them are not. Do you respect the beliefs of islamist terrorists? the KKK? I doubt very much you respect the positions they take.
          You may respect their right to hold those beliefs and speak about them, as repugnant as they are, but the underlying belief does not deserve respect. Respecting their right to maintain a belief is not the same as respecting the belief itself.

          Respect; a verb when used with an object means "esteem, regard or consideration for (object)" be it a person, a quality of that person or even their beliefs.

          I maintain no esteem for a belief that witholds equality under the law from others. I will defend the right to hold that belief but the belief gains no respect from me.

          •  I wouldn't ask you to do that... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brown Thrasher

            The entire thrust of this diary is to discuss an approach by which we might all acknowledge that the government can't withhold equality under the law for reasons grounded in religion.

            At no point did I say that anyone had to approve of my religious beliefs, nor did I say that I had to approve of anyone else's beliefs. I wouldn't touch THAT proposition with the proverbial 10-foot pole...

            •  I'm glad to hear it... (0+ / 0-)
              At no point did I say that anyone had to approve of my religious beliefs, nor did I say that I had to approve of anyone else's beliefs. I wouldn't touch THAT proposition with the proverbial 10-foot pole...
              Truely I'm glad to hear you say that, though I dont believe I made any such claim.

              You did say "just take the position that just as their religious beliefs are entitled to respect (after all, that's their constitutional right), your beliefs are entitled to equal respect".

              I may have misconstrued what you were getting at here, but I cannot help but interpret that as a statement that (in the context of this diary) religious beliefs should be respected, as is their constitutional right. That is the limit of my disagreement. I fully accept that the right to hold whatever beliefs is protected under the constitution. There is no constitutional right to respect for beliefs.

              The entire thrust of this diary is to discuss an approach by which we might all acknowledge that the government can't withhold equality under the law for reasons grounded in religion
              Full unreserved agreement here,  - cheers
      •  I have family members (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, coffeetalk, Cobbler

        Who don't support marriage equality, and they are certainly not bigots. They support gay rights, they have gay friends, they  even vote for democrats. But they don't believe in same sex marriage. And they very well might not ever. But that doesn't mean they have an ounce of hate in them.

        I know there's plenty of real bigots out there, but I'm not sure we are building bridges when we blanket whole groups with that word.

        And I'm not sure it's a fair comparison between mixed race and same sex marriage. Only a racist would oppose mixed race marriage, while opposition to same-sex marriage can be totally separate from hate.

        I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

        by heybuddy on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 01:07:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right.....they're not bigots, they merely think (8+ / 0-)

          that they deserve special rights and privileges which should be denied to the people they want treated as 2nd-class citizens.

          Totally not bigotry.

          •  Was Obama a bigot two years ago? (0+ / 0-)

            I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

            by heybuddy on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 01:18:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Obama first came out in full support of marriage (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Thorby Baslim

              equality in 1996, and very carefully parsed his words since running for national office to draw a distinction between his religious views about marriage and his support for full legal equality.   That's essentially the same position as the diarist.

              And regarding your "totally not-bigoted" relatives, the people who thought mixed-race marriage should be illegal also were convinced that they weren't bigots.

              •  So Obama is allowed to have a "distinction (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Wee Mama, coffeetalk

                between his religious views about marriage and his support for full legal equality," but my relatives are not?

                Some people oppose gay marriage because they hate gays.

                Others oppose gay marriage because they sincerely believe that marriage is defined by God as a man and a woman. These same people, some of whom are my relatives, are completely supportive of me, gay rights, and everything else.

                So if Obama wasn't a bigot when he said he respected the church's teachings, then neither are my relatives and a bunch of other folks who we are alienating by calling them names.

                All I'm saying is maybe we could dial back the calling of everyone a bigot. I did it for a little while, but then I realized I was burning bridges.

                I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

                by heybuddy on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 02:39:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The difference is that Obama always supported full (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  legal equality for gays......unlike what your "relatives" advocate.   He always said that his religious views about marriage aren't the same as his public policy views for full legal equality.   And he now admits that civil unions are inherently unequal.

                  Moreover, the reality is that he was just manipulating the dumb bigots for strategic reasons.   He made his real views rather clear in 1996 and never wavered from his support of equal rights.   You'd have to be very gullible not to understand where Obama was coming from.

                  Where I disagree with Obama is whether it should be an issue left to the states - I'd like to ask him whether his parent's mixed-race marriage should have been an issue left to the states.

                •  "dial back the calling of everyone a bigot" (5+ / 0-)

                  On that point I completely disagree.   If your "relatives" think a class of lawful Americans should be treated as 2nd class citizens and denied the exact same legal rights your "relatives" enjoy, bigot is the only correct description.

                •  The difference is your relatives (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Eyesbright, skrekk

                  want to deny others their rights based on their personal beliefs.

                  They do it at the polling booth and all over the internet.

                  They elect some of the most moronic politicians in American history based on three things, guns, gays, and god.

                  I'm sorry, I have no respect for their beliefs because they are harmful to our society.

                  "Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom. " - Death (Terry Pratchett character)

                  by Thorby Baslim on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 03:07:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Chess. That's all one can say... n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

              by unclebucky on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:17:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Obama was a politician two years ago (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              skrekk, wader

              and he is one today.

              It's not that the man has no principles and if you think the above suggests that, you are mistaken.

              The fact is that the first time Obama was asked about his views regarding marriage equality, in 1996, he answered that he supported marriage equality. And then he ran for President. While I find it very distasteful that he'd distance himself from his own views for political gain, that's what happened.

              We'd like to believe our leaders are saints. They are not.

            •  I'd say that depends (0+ / 0-)

              ...on how tight his connections were to the "ex-gay movement" (as was discussed here during the 2008 "primary wars").

              (At any rate, they have definitely written him off, whether or not he decides to curry favor with them again.)

              Time once again to fight cyber-spying! Defeat CISPA!

              by Brown Thrasher on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:47:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Hmm...if I may... (12+ / 0-)

            There's a difference between:

            "My church doesn't believe in [X], and I don't want my church to be forced to do or recognize [X]"
            "My church doesn't believe in [X}, and NO ONE should be allowed to do or recognize [X]"
            As I see it, the former is a completely acceptable and defensible notion within the umbrella of religious liberty (whether or not I agree with it), while the latter goes well outside the arena of religious liberty, is certainly unacceptable in my book and could be compared to bigotry.

            Now, I'm assuming that you've never met heybuddy's family, so I must ask - how do you know which of those cases applies to them?

            •  I'm assuming that heybuddy knows the difference (6+ / 0-)

              between the legal contract of marriage and the religious rite of "holy matrimony", so when we're talking about his relatives opposition to marriage equality the only thing we're talking about is legal marriage.

              No one cares if their church doesn't recognize same-sex marriage or perform religious weddings for gays, and the state definitely doesn't give a crap.

              •  I don't give a crap about holy matrimony... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                skrekk, Thorby Baslim

                but equal marriage is fine with me.


                "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

                by unclebucky on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:20:26 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, the state DOES 'give a crap'... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Brown Thrasher, Thorby Baslim

       that, under DOMA and the various state-level statutes, it doesn't recognize same-sex marriages performed by licensed clergy.  Thus, the same recognized clergy can perform two marriages, both wholly in keeping with the precepts of their faith, only to see the government refuse recognition of one.

                I'd say that constitutes "giving a crap."

                •  The point is that the state doesn't recognize (4+ / 0-)

                  "holy matrimony", "baptism" or any other religious ritual.    All it recognizes is a legal marriage - including those officiated by clergy functioning as proxies for the state.

                  A better example than the SBC is the Catholic view of divorce, which forces Catholics to understand the difference between the  legal contract of marriage and the religious rite of "holy matrimony".     There are lots of divorced and remarried Catholics in the pews who can't get their divorces or their second marriages blessed or recognized by their church.....and yet somehow they still managed to get divorced and remarried.

                  Not only doesn't the state give a crap that your church doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, it also doesn't give a crap that your church doesn't recognize divorce or remarriage.

                  The way we could eliminate the confusion is to do what France does and prohibit marriage from being formalized in a church, and require everyone to go to a government office to get married.

      •  Unless you have a specific reference... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brown Thrasher, Kimbeaux

        ...I think you're exaggerating just a bit.

        On the question of interracial marriage, I have no idea where you're getting your information.  Yes, you'll find instances of individual churches still espousing that kind of racism, but it's important to:

        * remember what I said about the lack of a hierarchy (no one tells individual SBC churches what to do), and
        * look at the reactions of other Southern Baptists to such things.

        In a 2011 Pew study, only 16% of self-identified "white evangelicals" agreed that interracial marriage was "bad for society."  Statistically, that was in the same general range as were white mainline Protestants (13%) and Catholics (10%).  You can quibble about the category in which to consider Southern Baptists (theyr'e the largest Protestant deonomination in the US, which suggests to me that they're in the "mainline" group), but either way, an overwhelming majority of those surveyed (more than 80%) fell into the "doesn't make much difference" or "good thing" groups.  That hardly supports your suggestion of an institutionalized opposition on the part of the SBC.  

        •'re doubting that a religion founded (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          unclebucky, ssgbryan

          on slavery and white supremacy, a religion which didn't repudiate that racism until 1995, which didn't even allow blacks in SBC leadership positions until 1988(?), which vehemently lobbied against mixed-race marriage, and which is still predominantly white and southern, doesn't still have a disproportionate number of racists in its midst today compared to other predominantly white evangelical Protestant denominations which don't have that long history of racism?

          My point is that you don't hear about any other major denomination today having issues with blacks or with mixed-race marriage, but with the SBC you hear about it every year or two.   Not even the Mormons do that quite so overtly today.

          That there are as many black SBC members as there are today is the true miracle, and a sign that the 1995 apology did some real good.    But lest we forget, this is where many SBC churches were still at in 1996:

          On Monday night, three days after the burial of Whitney Elaine Johnson, who died 19 hours after birth, a deacon of the Barnetts Creek Baptist Church in Thomasville, Ga., apparently told the infant's family that church leaders wanted the tiny coffin moved to another cemetary.

          "He said they don't allow half-breeds in their cemetery," Sylvia K. Leverett, the baby's maternal grandmother, said she was told by a deacon of her church, Logan Lewis. "He said, 'That's a 100 percent white cemetery.' "

          •  So, can we really extrapolate to that degree? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brown Thrasher

            I'm talking about 16 million Southern Baptists in 45,000 churches across 42 states in 2013, but you're citing examples of individual churches from 15 years ago.  In fact, I don't think you've shown a single example involving a local Baptist association, a state Baptist convention, or the national SBC organization on this point.

            To be clear - you're taking examples involving less than 0.001% of the Southern Baptist population and suggesting that those examples prove an institutional problem.  Do you do that with other groups as well - the ACLU, ACT UP, the UCC or the UUs?

            Furthermore,  you aren't telling the whole story.  For instance, the NYTimes article you linked opened with this:

            Southern Baptist officials today denounced efforts by leaders of a small south Georgia church to disinter the body of a mixed-race baby who was buried last week in the church's all-white cemetery.
            and also stated:
            In reaction to the Barnetts Creek incident, the Georgia Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention issued statements today referring to the resolution's call for Baptists to "eradicate racism in all its forms" from Southern Baptist life and ministry. Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Christian Life Commission, issued a statement calling the incident "reprehensible and an embarrassment to the gospel of Christ."
            Don't you think it's cherry-picking to ignore those aspects of the event?

            (I'll also point out the article references to the Baptist distinctive of 'autonomy of the local chuch.'  That cuts both ways; it's good that no state or national organziation tells an SBC church what to do, but that also means that there's no consistent procedure for church discipline when 'local idiots' do something like this.)

            •  I wasn't trying to generalize. My point was that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              you simply don't hear about that sort of racism in any other mainstream denomination (apart from the LDS church), and haven't heard that kind of stuff for a very long time.    Today when you do hear about it's always an SBC affiliate.

              The SBC was the very last to the table on this issue but I didn't bring up the issue of race to slam your faith on that point, but rather to illustrate the direct parallel between race and homosexuality regarding the SBC opposition to civil marriage equality.

              •  Not always SBC (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                skrekk, Cassandra Waites
                you simply don't hear about that sort of racism in any other mainstream denomination... Today when you do hear about it's always an SBC affiliate.
                As I recall some of the loudest bigots (of whichever brand) who choose to claim the Baptist mantle consider themselves "Hard Shell", AKA "Primitive Baptist".

                However, those groups tend to be in the extreme minority & proud of that (as well as, for you theology students, much more "Calvinist" than the mainstream).

                Time once again to fight cyber-spying! Defeat CISPA!

                by Brown Thrasher on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 01:04:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Ought religious bigots not be called out on... (7+ / 0-)

      ...their bigotry just like we call out atheists on our bigotry?

      I mean, what gives religious folks a special exemption on being called out?

    •  Bigot - as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinion and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.

      Whether a person or persons gets their beliefs handed to them from a burning bush, a steaming rock, a set of gold plates, or a purple hippopotamus in a polka dot bikini, a bigot is a bigot is a bigot and I, or anyone else, shouldn't have to take into consideration how long their bigotry has been institutionalized to call them on it. Your argument is ridiculous. Religious beliefs aren't any more sacrosanct than any other set of beliefs. If people disagree with them, they should feel free to say so and call a spade a spade.

      "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.8., -6.6

      by helpImdrowning on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 06:58:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My comment was in reply to coffeetalk's (0+ / 0-)

        comment above. It was not meant to disparage the diarist in any way. I do appreciate wesmorgan1's thoughtful and well written diary outlining his own religious belief system and thought process.

        "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.8., -6.6

        by helpImdrowning on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 07:03:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wow! (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks very much for this thoughtful, level-headed, pragmatic and non-judgemental approach. I don't see how anyone could argue with you on this.

  •  Want to have your mind blown even more? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, skrekk, wader

    At one point in college, I was part of an S.B. student group and went to a conference during election season. 20% of the group, including me I might add, voted for Clinton over whatever Republican he was opposing (I'm guessing Poppy Bush).

    There are members of very conservative (officially) churches who are not politically conservative at all.

    And no, I'm not a Christian any more, but I was then, and a political liberal, too.

  •  I was raised a southern Baptist. My ancestors (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gfv6800, Cassandra Waites

    going back four generations were southern Baptists. I have 100% attendance certificates in Sunday school from my childhood. I graduated from Baylor University. I had six roommates who became southern Baptist preachers and I have some lifelong friends who are staunch southern Baptists. I live in a part of Texas where, as the old joke goes, there are more Baptists than people.

    Your diary does not destroy the stereotype of southern Baptists, it only shows that you are not a true southern Baptist. Jimmy Carter was raised a southern Baptist and he resigned from the religion in 2000. Maybe you should, too. it is clear that you are not one of them.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 12:13:02 PM PDT

    •  I think the diarist is capable of choosing (7+ / 0-)

      He clearly identifies with his faith. Let us hope he can make the exact same arguments to others within his faith. It all boils down to "who gets to make the decisions for a persons own actions."

      The question is, will others agree with him?

      The Democrats create jobs. The Republicans create recessions.

      by Tuba Les on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:48:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Indeed. This diary is dishonest and silly and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hestal, ssgbryan, Thorby Baslim

      treats its readers as if they were imbeciles who can't conceive of exceptions to norms (not stereotypes). The diarist has the typical self-centeredness of the religious, failing to able distinguish himself from others.

      Hint to diarist: You are not at all a typical SB, and your diary offers nothing relevant to talking to SB's who happen not to be you.

      •  You haven't met enough SBs, perhaps... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brown Thrasher

        Not enough liberals to suit my tastes, not by a long shot, but a great range of diversity, persnicketiness, and even plenty of downright anti-authoritarianism, mixed in to be sure with the unquestioning, narrow-minded, judgmental SBs with (to paraphrase Molly Ivins) mouths that pucker smaller than a chicken's asshole.

        It's a strangely big tent.


        by raincrow on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 02:24:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree the diarist isn't a typical SBC member (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kimbeaux, ssgbryan

        but what he's doing is making a religious and historical argument for separation of church and state, as well as for not imposing his religious faith on other people.

        It's a good and correct argument, but I rather doubt conservative SBC members will find it convincing.

    •  Hmmm....a little bit of apples-and-oranges there. (10+ / 0-)

      Carter left the SBC because he could not support the SBC's institutionalized discrimination against women, and published an opinion piece explaining his decision.  It should be noted that some criticized Carter for not extending his remarks to include the LGBT community.

      Actually, Carter's very public (and well-publicized) decision is illustrative of several observations I made in the diary:

      * I pointed out the Baptist distinctive of the "priesthood of the believer."  Carter's action was a specific example of his individual priesthood, in that he went against the institutionalized statements of his (former) denomination.

      * I mentioned the autonomy of the local church, in that "no one tells an SBC church what to do."  Even after Carter's public break with the SBC, his local SBC church continued to accept him  as both a deacon and a Sunday school teacher.  As far as I know, there were no public criticisms of Marantha Baptist Church for doing so, nor were there calls for that church to be separated from its local associations or the Convention.

      One of the points I've tried to make in comments here over the years is that there is no enforced lockstep in belief among Southern Baptists; each individual and each local church determines its own priorities, its own efforts and its own spending.  Now, if Carter wasn't a "true Southern Baptist" on the question of the roles of women, and I'm not a "true Southern Baptist" on the question of same-sex marriage, isn't it worth the time and thought to consider just how many--or how few--"true Southern Baptists" there may be?

      It took more than a century for the SBC to acknowledge the racism and bigotry inherent to its founding; that didn't happen until enough individual members said "this is wrong and needs to be addressed."  Carter's public separation from the SBC was the first case in which a prominent public figure put the SBC's stance toward women into a broader discussion, and little has changed in the decade since his original decision was made public. (He publicly left the SBC in 2000, but didn't leave his local SBC church until 2009.)  I can tell you that there are MANY Southern Baptists who do not agree with the subordination of women, but simply haven't pushed the issue.  There may not be as many who share my perspective on the question of same-sex marriage, but we DO exist.  It would be foolish to dismiss either of these latter groups by simply tossing us all into the same "bigot bucket."

      •  If one disagrees with the subordination of women, (7+ / 0-)

        as one certainly should, then why the hell wouldn't one "push the issue?"

        What the hell is the matter with you people?

        I am not going to take the time to point out to you how you are wrong about Carter, but you are.

        Instead of trying to explain away Carter as you are trying to do why don't you take a look at the statements made by his opponents in the SBC? For example, R. Albert Mohler, then and still the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, went ballistic. Read what he and the other righteous leaders of the SBC thought about Carter. He called Carter everything but being the devil incarnate. Mosler said:

        What is going on here? Carter cited several reasons for leaving the SBC. All are related to one central fact. The former president is solidly identified with the liberal wing of the SBC and has opposed the conservative leadership elected by the convention for the past two decades. On an entire spectrum of theological and moral issues, Carter has been estranged from the SBC. On issues ranging from homosexuality and abortion to the nature of the Gospel and the authority of Scripture, the former president is out of step with the majority of Southern Baptists. The breaking point in Carter's relationship to the SBC came with the denomination's adoption of a revised statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message. Approved overwhelmingly by messengers to the convention, the statement clarified the SBC's convictions on theological issues such as the total truthfulness of the Bible and the sinfulness of abortion and homosexuality.
        Carter was rightly upset about the SBC's revision to the Baptist Faith and Message. Carter said:
        Of preeminent concern to many Baptists was the deletion of the previously stated premise that, ‘the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ, whose will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures.’ In effect, this change meant substitution of Southern Baptist leaders for Jesus as the interpreters of biblical Scripture.  
        No matter how you cut it—that is one hell of a change. No longer at the center of the faith, Jesus is now just one more prophet among many. I sometimes wonder if the SBC leaders who demoted Jesus prayed on it before they did it, and I wonder what chapter and verse of the inerrant Christian Bible gave them scriptural authority for putting Jesus on the bench to be called on only in special situations. I wonder how Jesus feels about it. This change demonstrates that even today’s tyranno-Christians implicitly recognize that their church was not founded by Jesus, but by human beings who lived after he was gone, sometimes centuries after. In fact, this change demonstrates that the modern Southern Baptist Convention is a religion of men, not of God.

        Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

        by hestal on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:24:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep. A religion of men & their sky god. good. n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Thorby Baslim, Eyesbright

          "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

          by unclebucky on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:26:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  What one guy called Fmr Pres Carter (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites

          ...doesn't amount to a hill of beans. Baptists have no Pope — & likewise no "papal infallibility" — so this dude's rants aren't binding on anyone else.

          Time once again to fight cyber-spying! Defeat CISPA!

          by Brown Thrasher on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 01:21:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Southern Baptist Convention is run by a small (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Eyesbright, Cassandra Waites, skrekk

            group of men. The convention simply rubber stamps the decisions of these men. And this is the way the Catholics operate as well. The Pope does not make important theological decisions without careful consultation with his internal experts. So, the structure of the Baptists is very much like that of the Catholics where theological dogma is concerned. Plus, the seminaries do train their students to act and think in certain ways about all sorts of theological matters. So there is definitely a "group" think involved with the Baptists.

            Finally, when I was a student at Baylor JFK was running for president and W. A. Criswell, the pastor at the First Baptist church in Dallas, acted as Pope for the Baptists while he spewed hatred for the Catholic Pope. It was medieval. Baptists who were training to become Baptist ministers would come regularly to one of the large rooms in my suite of rooms in the dorm and they would report to each other what their leaders were saying all across the United States, and this was well before the Internet.

            So, the dictates from the top of the two religion have profound effects on the lower level leaders. The Catholics and the Baptists don't differ very much in the way they try to control the minds of their clergy and congregants. It is an old, old story.

            Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

            by hestal on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 01:32:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Sounds to me like the diarist is old-form SBC. (11+ / 0-)

      I was too, before I left.

      It's what happens when you read works from before the take-over, believe the cover stories told now about still recognizing priesthood of the believer and soul freedom (nope, most of the SBC doesn't if you're in any sort of position of the church, and those congregations that do are smaller ones the takeover passed by), and simply become what a standard Southern Baptist might have been by now had the conservatives not taken over during the inerrancy debates.

      For a long time, I considered myself a rightful Southern Baptist in exile, because I was the one who ought to have been welcome and the people who did the things that steered me to the door are the ones who should have been unwelcome in any Baptist-tradition denomination.

      Sometimes, it can take the old-form SBC folks a while to realize that the things they really believe are just rote statements to the people they're sharing a pew with. Certainly took me a while.

      Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

      by Cassandra Waites on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:33:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh come on. (5+ / 0-)

      "No True Scotsman" fallacy?  Seriously?

      "Not representative of the majority of X" does not translate to "not a real X".

  •  I am a former Southern Baptist, once "licensed" as (18+ / 0-)

    a minister, and a Baylor grad.  My observation over the past decades has been that the denomination's leadership are studiously dismantling the "priesthood of the believer."  It became most  obvious when the seminaries began imposing theological loyalty oaths on their faculty.  I'm sure there are many like you who hold their own beliefs,  but the leadership doesn't support that independence.

    •  You're absolutely right. (6+ / 0-)

      There's no doubt in my mind that the conservative leadership of the SBC would like nothing better than to minimize the effects of, if not outright ignore, several of the historic Baptist distinctives.

      There were more than a few SBC churches that took issue with the most recent changes to the Baptist Faith & Message.  Some complained about the diminished importance of soul competency and priesthood of the believer, and some left the SBC outright over the formalized subordination of women. (It should be noted that the first set of recommended changes virtually deleted references to both soul competency and the priesthood of the believer; what small mention was restored to the document came only after a VERY loud outcry from rank-and-file SBC churches/members.)

      The SBC church I was attending at the time of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message handled the matter in what I considered "traditional Baptist" fashion.  We spent a series of meetings (over two months) going through the 2000 document, comparing it to its 1963 predecessor, and getting down to brass tacks about what we actually believed as a local congregation.  In the end, we sent formal notice to our local Baptist association, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and the SBC that we rejected the changes made in the 2000 BF&M, and that while we would continue to work cooperatively with all three organizations, we would be guided by our interpretation of the 1963 BF&M.

      How was this received?  We received no condemnation or sanction, our messengers continued to participate in local, state, and Convention-wide meetings, and we simply "picked and chose" the areas in which we concentrated our efforts and funding.

      That experience made me wonder just how many SBC churches were in complete agreement with the leadership, how many never considered the question, and how many would use traditional Baptist autonomy to simply 'go their own way' while remaining SBC in name only.  That question persists in my mind to this day, but I suspect that, when it comes to individual issues, there are more "dissenter" and "in name only" SBC churches than anyone suspects.

  •  This is a secular country and I like it that way. (13+ / 0-)

    When I tried belonging to a Southern Baptist style church up here in the north, people didn't like it when I said that if they expected to be able to hold hands and pray on the state house steps, they'd better be prepared to leave the Wiccans alone if they happen to have some sort of public celebration too.
       And they especially didn't like it when I suggested that they really ought to thank Larry Flynt for protecting their "Freedoms".

  •  That principled autonomy of conscience is (6+ / 0-)

    something that would be very good to see renewed among Southern Baptists. I was surprised and charmed by a Souther Baptist pastor from Tennessee who told me his congregation decided it wanted more formal services, tried a variety of approaches, and ended up by buying and using the Book of Common Prayer!

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 02:47:39 PM PDT

  •  I should imagine (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, skrekk, ssgbryan

    you're viewed as something of a crackpot in the SBC.  

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 02:54:00 PM PDT

    •  Indeed, which is why this diary is irrelevant (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, Thorby Baslim

      and does not offer what it claims to offer. It's also written in an extremely condescending style that treats its readers like imbeciles who can't imagine an exception to the norm.

    •  Yes, you would be imagining. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, Brown Thrasher

      It's a big world, there are a lot of Southern Baptists in it, and the diarist very accurately portrays a significant slice of SB-dom, even if you are unfamiliar with that slice.


      by raincrow on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 02:27:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Depends on who you ask. (3+ / 0-)

      Obviously, the SBC churches that asked me to serve in leadership roles (and either ordained me or accepted my ordination) didn't consider me a "crackpot."

      On the other hand, I'm fairly certain that folks like Al Mohler would put me on their "heretic" or "misguided" lists in nothing flat.  I guess it's a good thing that they don't speak for me, that I don't speak for them, and that none of us hold denominational authority over the others.

      It's instructive to note that one Baptist historian famously referred to the concept of Baptist unity as a "rope of sand."

  •  Wow, too bad more of your compatriots (5+ / 0-)

    didn't also believe in point #2 - the not compelling thing.

    And - amongst other things, stop compelling me as a taxpayer to subsidize your (and other!) religions.

    I can dream, can't I?

  •  Don't treat your readers as if they were stupid. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, Thorby Baslim
    If one reads most of the comments on those diaries--one would naturally assume that I've just admitted membership in a monolithic and hate-driven entity that wants nothing more than to see the LGBT community either sequestered in some latter-day Warsaw ghetto, shunned and ostracized, or shepherded into some sort of "pray the gay away" 'ministry.'  
    False, and not worth bothering to read further.
  •  If you need government to enforce your faith... (10+ / 0-) don't have much of a faith to begin with.

    Glad you see that. Wish your colleagues did.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:46:52 PM PDT

  •  It is refreshing to see a Baptist (8+ / 0-)

    ...out of the Southern Baptist tradition that has not bought the politicization of the coup of 1978.

    Thank you for your clear explanation and doctrinal argument.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:48:21 PM PDT

  •  I applaud you Wes (10+ / 0-)

    on your personal evolution on the subject of secular marriage equality. Alas, I fear you represent the tiniest percent of your denomination. I hope I am wrong, but I sincerely doubt your arguments will hold sway with many in these churches.
    Witness what seems to be missing here. I carefully read the part about Southern Baptists believing in separation of church and state. What I read was that they believe the government should not meddle in their affairs. That I agree with. But nowhere did I see any mention of the inverse, that Southern Baptists should not seek to impose their religious doctrine into civil law. If the church is protected from the state, then the state should also be protected from the church. It seems you are there, but perhaps the SBC is not there at all.

    •  Actually, they SHOULD be there... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      From the Baptist Faith & Message's section on "Religious Liberty":

      The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends.
      I quoted the latter sentence in the diary.

      That's yet another contradiction in the BF&M, as far as I'm concerned, because the section entitled "The Christian and the Social Order" includes this:

      Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly  love.
      I have yet to hear a coherent explanation of how one can honor both of those statements.
    •  Religious freedom is, indeed, a 2-way street (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, skrekk

      ...& many Southern Baptists broke from the SBC — in one way or another — over that & related issues right around the time of the "2000 Creed" (while others like the CBF came to similar decisions in the 1980s).

      Time once again to fight cyber-spying! Defeat CISPA!

      by Brown Thrasher on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 01:57:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, I just read (7+ / 0-)

    most of the comments here, and feel like I'm getting whiplash :) It has been a very long time since I've thought about this.

    As the granddaughter of a Southern Baptist preacher, I can attest to the strong belief in the separation of church and state. Until I was an adult, and no longer religious at all, I thought it was a noble belief, but maybe it wasn't.

    We lived in a small OK town, and at the time, blacks worked, but did not live there. I remember asking why when I was about 3-4, and not getting a satisfactory answer. But I didn't pursue it; maybe I was too young. I pursued it later.

    I really don't know what my grandfather would think of gay marriage. I suspect he'd love homosexuals as God's children, and pray for them. I know he wouldn't cast them out, but he probably wouldn't accept them as true equals, either.

    This is just a personal note, of course.

    Thank you for the diary.

    •  Grandma was a sweet lady (5+ / 0-)

      She mothered every person who came near her and had more brag pictures on her wall than anybody I've ever seen. She would give her last dollar to a stranger who looked hungry, offered food to anybody who walked down her country road. She literally lived next door to her church so she could walk over anytime. She had been a baptist most of her life, but ended up at a "fellowship" for the last couple of decades. All the intolerance, but more of the hugging.

      She was also a racist, pro-life, intolerant anti-feminist. Years ago, she told me that she had gone to the state capital for an abortion protest. Then they all went to Ponderosa and had pie. I just smiled and told her I had just gone to a protest in Washington- of course mine was the 1986 March for Women's Lives.

      But the thing that blew my mind one day was when the railroad crew came to fix all the local tracks and crossings. They were living in a crew car across the road from the church and (horrors!) there was a black man with that crew. My grandmother had me drive all the way to town to buy a pie for that man (and the rest of the crew). I had to stroll down the tracks with a cherry pie and knock on that door as the local welcome wagon. I don't know who was more embarrassed- me or the confused guys hiding their budweisers between their knees.

      Grandma didn't want that man and the rest of the crew to think they weren't welcome to stay there in sight of her church. She told the whole congregation how happy she was that crew was working to keep them all safer from the coal trains and encouraged them to take turns feeding the guys. Church lady hospitality (and her desire to have quiet rails) won out over a lifetime of racism. She was able to tolerate and welcome the single person in front of her, but I really think deep down that she was so worried that something bad would happen to that crew, she decided to head it off with a pie.

      "I'm not a humanitarian. I'm a hell-raiser." Mother Jones

      by histopresto on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 05:27:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You speak from one point of view, alas (6+ / 0-)

    I'm not a Southern Baptist. I am, however, surrounded, quite literally, by Southern Baptists, professionally. While the people around me are genuine individuals, their official publications have cover stories on Paul Broun as a model politician and run headline stories on "creeping secularism" in Christian education in Baptist Educator.

    The Calvinist/non-Calvinist war continues inside the SBC, and the year 2000 Faith and Message was made at the high point of the Calvinist sweep. It quacks like a creed, and it caused a generational split in the SBC, when older believers were scratching their heads and wondering just when their convention had begun telling everyone what they had to believe.

    It seems that the SBC is swinging back toward the center, that the non-Calvinists are coming to the fore and that the traditional aloofness toward the state is coming back. I hope it is. I'm wary of each congregation its own papacy, but I'm more wary of such explicitly reactionary statements as the year 2000 doctrine. It took multiple incompatible steps and had language that was internally contradictory, and yet it was passed by zeal and anger.

    I certainly hope that your perspective rises. I hope that Baptists can put a premium on free will, or grace, if needs be, to understand that God will not ask us who we prevented or who we stopped, but whether or not we loved and served.

    Everyone is innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 05:43:06 PM PDT

  •  Ah, this explains how my brother in GA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cobbler, Larin, Brown Thrasher

    could go from being raised a Catholic, briefly be a Buddhist (for a few years), marry a Methodist, and end up as a Southern Baptist :)

    I always wondered. He is by far the most intelligent of my parents' three children: he went to Bronx Science and joined Mensa when very young. Although wildly curious, I never wanted to ask him about his new religion, though. So, thank you for the insight.

    "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

    by BadKitties on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 05:58:26 PM PDT

  •  Interesting treatment... (9+ / 0-)

    ...and this helps flesh out something I heard in a Baptist church.

    By way of background, I'm an Episcopalian, and a member of a liberal Episcopal parish that has the local chapter of Dignity (the Roman Catholic LGBT and families community) with a cuurch sanctuary in our basement.  Our chapel, located near the church entrance proved to be structurally-unsound, and we had to close our main entrance for five weeks.  During that time, we worshiped in the sanctuary of a nearby American Baptist church (the Northern Baptists mentioned in other comments).  The pastor is actually a member of our parish, and we broke all sorts of baptist traditions, like having a Eucharistic service every week, and using real wine for Communion.

    During the middle of this time, an article appeared in the local paper stating "Baptists will leave the Boy Scouts if the BSA lets gays in".  The article quoted Southern Baptist leaders.  As a Boy Scout leader with some inside information on our local council, I reacted angrily, since the SBC doesn't actually support ANY troops locally.

    The Southern Baptist pastor announced during the service that the paper was wrong to say that 'the Baptists" could have any stand on any social issue, since there were 52 different varieties of Baptist in the United States, that no Baptist could speak for another Baptist and that the SBC didn't speak for his church.

    That said, this particular Baptist church is not regarded as "really Baptist" by other Baptist churches, especially because they welcomed us heathen Episcopalians, and drank real wine during communion.

    The Scout Law (trustworthy, loyal, helpful...) is a GREAT liberal manifesto.

    by DaytonMike on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:02:34 PM PDT

  •  I have always made a point to respect (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cpqemp, jfromga, ssgbryan

    The sincerely held beliefs of others, even those I don't share. I was raised Catholic, became agnostic, graduated to atheism and now I am thoroughly anti theist. Through it all, I've clung to scrupulously respecting the right of others to believe whatever they wished.

     Until some started using it as a weapon against me. Now, all bets are off. Though I still respect the right of people to believe whatever they wish, no matter how absurd I find it, I no longer have any respect for those who use their beliefs as a cudgel against me and others in order to hold themselves up as more worthy to participate in society, more capable of making moral judgments, etc. I have about the same amount of respect for people who refuse to publicly refute or criticize those in their faith for being bigoted assholes. People like you, whether or not you believe and support your fellows' hyperbole and hatred, tacitly support and legitimize it by silence and by continuing to support an institution whose official position is founded on intolerance of others.

    It's all well and good that you are now supportive of marriage equality, (and I would hope all other civil rights for LGBT persons), but until you renounce the leadership of your faith, until you go to the pulpit and publicly deplore the vile hate and venom that regularly comes out of the mouths of your fellow clergy, until you disassociate yourself with the evil they represent, until you are ready and eager to join that church that performs all weddings, regardless of the genders of the couples involved, you're complicit. You go on about how Southern Baptists aren't monolithic but then make several statements that would indicate the opposite. Writing diaries on a liberal website is one thing but I look forward to the youtube video of you lambasting your congregation for treating people as subhuman, not deserving of full representation and participation in society. Until then, spare me the piety.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:35:08 PM PDT

    •  With no formal "leadership" hierarchy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites might as well ask (as some corporate media-types did) for an "official dialogue" with the "leaders" of Occupy.

      If you're hoping for some sort of Baptist "Papal Bull" to come down & change hearts & minds, don't hold your breath — no such thing exists. We're talking about a "herd of cats", & so any kind of paradigm shift is going to be a matter of individual persuasion.

      Time once again to fight cyber-spying! Defeat CISPA!

      by Brown Thrasher on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 02:30:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I can say it... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimbeaux, Eyesbright

    It (religion) IS false. It is a horrible hoax. You must know deep down it can't be true?

    And before anyone questions my comment, consider that evidence needs a place at the table.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:34:31 PM PDT

    •  Well, look... (0+ / 0-)

      Politically, we can say that anyone can have whatever religion they want, so long as it is not used to degrade the rights and happiness of others.

      Most "religion" that has broken this promise falls under the banner of hoax, cult and lie.

      We can't judge a religion badly that has upheld the promise that it will not degrade the rights and happiness of others. But we stand ready for any religion that lets fall the first shoe.

      Lucretius? :)

      Meh. sky. gods.

      Ugh. --UB.

      "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

      by unclebucky on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:45:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is territory you cannot explore or speak (0+ / 0-)

      about with any authority because you aren't wired for it.

      You might as well be a man trying to tell a woman what is "true" and "false" about her experience of pregnancy and childbirth.



      by raincrow on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 02:38:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Neither belief nor unbelief matter in this context (3+ / 0-)

      What matters for our common society is that we agree on the boundaries between religion and government.

      Consider that the persons who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights espoused a range of beliefs, from atheist to agnostic to Deist to Christian - yet they agreed on the importance of enacting explicit limits on the intersection of government and religion.  We have, over the intervening years, forgotten both the political/religious battles that brought them to this country AND the importance of the prohibitions they enacted as "lessons learned" from that experience.

      That's why I'm trying to "get back to" with this diary.  

      As far as 'real or hoax' is concerned, the only thing you'll ever hear me say is, "Hey, this works for me, but your mileage may vary."  As I mentioned in another diary, I like the way Max Ehrmann put it in Desiderata:

      Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
      As I read them, Ehrmann's words include the notion that some will "conceive Him to be" nonexistent.  I'm OK with that.
  •  You need to spread that meme.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Batya the Toon

    far and wide, my friend...


    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

    by unclebucky on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:57:45 PM PDT

  •  I go to a Southern Baptist Church... (5+ / 0-)

    In West Va., and there are a few members of it that think that church time is a time to spew politics, not try to learn about the word of God.  Thank God I formed my political views before my religious views, and  know how to keep them seperate!

  •  BRAVO. Extremely well said. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher


    by raincrow on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 02:13:22 AM PDT

  •  I'm an ex-Southern Baptist born and raised in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk, ssgbryan

    North Carolina. I left the church about 13 years ago over its deep involvement in secular politics and near insistence that God is a Republican. At least in my mind that's what many pastors were pushing. I wish the SBC would get back to their stated doctrine on church and state and force pastors to stop preaching politics from the pulpit. I doubt it will happen. After being unchurched for awhile, I looked to my English roots and became an Anglican. Very little politics at church which makes me happy, and I love the ceremony of the Mass.

    I agree with your diary on its premise. It is well written and well supported and it is utterly rational. However, if the Southern Baptists I know are any indication it will take years, if ever, to move them. I am not optimistic. That said, thanks for your diary and wonderful insight. Tipped and Recced!

    Guns are never the principle in the commission of a crime, but they are usually an accomplice

    by MadGeorgiaDem on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 06:15:21 AM PDT

  •  get baack to me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan, Prinny Squad, Eyesbright

    when you finally decide:

    Would I join a church that performs or recognizes same-sex marriage?  As I said, I haven't figured that out just yet.
    While beliefs are personal, belong to you, your fellow congregation members, etc.,  you can't claim that you are some independent thinking bunch of non-haters, if you continue to believe your God forbids a significant number of human beings from being themselves for inherent born in traits.   Would you believe your God if "he" said red heads couldn't marry?
    •  You have every right to call me out on that point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites

      All I can say is that, just as my local church/congregation is more important to me than are the pronouncements of SBC leaders, there are issues of faith that I haven't even considered yet because--and here's where I'm probably weaker in my faith than I should be--they simply aren't on my 'local stage' yet.

      The question of same-sex marriage first arose, in that 'local stage' context, when Kentucky's "marriage amendment" hit the ballot in 2004; much of the thinking I outlined in the diary happened at that time.  I was among the 25% of voters who opposed the amendment in 2004, but I did so for (what now seems) the wrong reason; I thought that civil unions should be permitted as an 'alternative.'   In recent months, the Prop 8 case and the approval of marriage equality in other states has sparked some local discussion of repealing Kentucky's Amendment 1; that put the question back on my 'local stage' and sparked the thinking that led me to publish this diary.

      I know that this smacks of "not a problem for ME" avoidance, and that some will deem it cowardly.  All I can do is say "hey, I'm trying here" and promise that I'll never claim to have all the answers.

      •  while you are thinking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        think about separating what you would allow civil society to do as a whole from what you think about in your religion.

        To me, your biggest failure to confront the reality of the situation, is that in 2004, and to some extent now, you still can't see that allowing the beliefs of one religious group or several to dictate the law for everyone is unconstitutional, and unconscienable if you actually believe in American values, laws and religious freedom.  And that while you talk about personal beliefs triumphing over doctrines of your church, I don't at all get the feeling you are ready to stand up at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and demand that the church practise its faith as its members see fit internally and leave the law alone, no lobbying, no attempts to elect homophobic politicians, no campaigns against marriage equality, etc.   As you continue to defend and justify a church that  tries to take my rights away as a human being to not be a southern baptist, you are not ever going to convince me that your group is enlightened and not part of the problem.

        As for convincing Southern Baptists,  I know lots of them,  they are not at all open minded until it does affect them personally.  Just like a senator or vice president who adopts equality for their child, not because it was the right thing inthe first place.   There are outright racist churches in this town, homophobic, hate is a common feature as they supposedly celebrate the all encompassing love of Jesus Christ.  How do you deal with that kind of hypocrisy and blind thoughtless bigotry?  I really didn't see one suggestion in this diary that would change the vast majority of Southern Baptists.

        •  Um...what? (0+ / 0-)
          To me, your biggest failure to confront the reality of the situation, is that in 2004, and to some extent now, you still can't see that allowing the beliefs of one religious group or several to dictate the law for everyone is unconstitutional, and unconscienable if you actually believe in American values, laws and religious freedom.
          You must missed the part where I listed what I consider inescapable conclusions:
          a. We must accept that religious belief is not universal.
          b. We must accept that each person decides these questions for themselves.
          c. We must accept that, as a consequence of points (a) and (b), America enjoys a rich diversity of religious thought, as described in and supported by the Baptist Faith & Message.
          d. Through the First Amendment, our government explicitly supports this religious diversity AND is limited in the scope of any actions which might serve to 'establish' one school of religious thought over the others.
          I draw your particular attention to point (d).
        •  How's that again? (0+ / 0-)

          You wrote:

          As you continue to defend and justify a church that  tries to take my rights away as a human being to not be a southern baptist, you are not ever going to convince me that your group is enlightened and not part of the problem.
          The whole point of the diary was to point out that the SBC's political opposition to marriage equality is just plain wrong, based on both historic Baptist principles claimed by the SBC itself AND the US Constitution.  How does that 'defend and justify' anything?

          If you're expecting me to snap my fingers and have 16 million SBC churches suddenly 'see the light' as you perceive it, well, that's pretty much an impossibility.  What I CAN do is work, piece by piece and person by person, to get them away from 'trying to take your rights away' - because that's about as un-Baptist as it gets.

    •  Well said. (0+ / 0-)

      I'll stick to attacking/insulting, but if someone wants to try pleading with the Bible humpers, I suppose this diary has some good tips.

      Personally, I don't care if they get pissed off or just cling to their religion even more stubbornly.

      Our government is secular, despite many of the backwards thinking Christians in our govermnment false believing otherwise.

      As the old people die off and the new, less religious generations continue to take over.

      The victory of logic and reason is inevitable. Even if I don't live to see it, I can take solace in that fact.

      Not for my personal vindication. But for the sake of humanity as a whole.

  •  My friend Katie, who is ordained in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the American Baptist Church, has admitted to my partner and I that she feels she is just about ready to start presiding over same-sex weddings.  She has been rigorously studying her Bible and feels that she can justify herself to any critics.  Were she to do so, it would be a great risk to her position in the church where she serves.  However, I think she wants to be the one to marry my partner and I, and I think she would be sorely disappointed if she did not.

    I think she got the idea that if DOMA falls before the Supreme Court, that we would be eligible for federal benefits, so we'd want to get married right away.  I had to explain to her that Pennsylvania (where we live) first has to get around to recognizing same-sex marriages before we'd get any federal benefits.  It's just as well she cool her heels ffor a while;  if she were to preside over a same-sex wedding, she could lose her church and alienate much of her family.  (A number of her children are way more conservative than she is.)

    Nonetheless, it would be a little weird for a gay couple consisting of an ex-Catholic and someone who is unchurched to be married by a Baptist minister.

    More on Katie here.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 07:30:06 AM PDT

  •  Thank you (5+ / 0-)

    My church, the UCC, supports marriage equality. I have been married by my pastor, at the alter, with all the trappings. We have been together 18 years. Yet still, our state of Illinois does not recognize our marriage. It sure seems to the state is favoring one particular religion. And it is not mine.

    The wealthy are not the cause of a robust economy, they are the beneficiaries.

    by weddedgay on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:11:28 AM PDT

  •  Thughts of a retired Baptist pastor in 2002 (3+ / 0-)
    One. Homosexuality is an unchangeable nature; it is not a lifestyle choice.

    Two. All people are created in the image of God. The homosexuality of gays and lesbians, created by God, is good and not evil.

    Three. The homosexual is just as normal a person as a heterosexual and should not be thought of in sexual terms.

    Four. Several passages in the Bible speak of same-gender sex. In every instance, the Bible is talking about heterosexuals who, filled with lust, have become sex perverts. The Bible says nothing about innate homosexuality as we know it today or about people who are homosexuals.

    Five. The burden imposed on homosexuals by society is a great evil. We should stand in revulsion against, and do all we can to oppose, the prejudice, the hatreds, and the condemnation of a society that make the homosexual's life so difficult.

    Six. Homosexuals are being sinned against by our churches. Like our society, our churches need to change.

    Seven. Gays and lesbians in general have the potential for outstanding character and accomplishment; some may have greater potential than most heterosexuals to be exceptional persons.

    Eight. It is not only unrealistic to expect homosexuals to live without sex, but also it is psychologically harmful to them for them to do so.

    Nine. Full acceptance by society, including the blessings and legality of marriage should be extended to gays and lesbians in the same way it is extended to others.

    Ten. As in society, gays and lesbians should be accepted and affirmed in our churches and given any opportunity for service, including ordination, that others have.

    His full discussion and explanation is chock full of scriptural citations, for those who like such things.

    "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:26:27 AM PDT

  •  This is more or less precisely my position. (4+ / 0-)

    With variations: I'm Orthodox Jewish, not Southern Baptist, and my religion has no explicit doctrine regarding the separation of church and state.  I have long believed, however, that American Jews ought to support separation of church and state, and fight for it as hard as we can -- for the simple pragmatic reason that if the state has the authority to make laws respecting religion, it won't be our religion that gets respected.

    My religion prohibits same-gender sex.  I'm not interested in changing that; I'm interested in making sure that nobody be forced to abide by that prohibition unless they choose to, any more than anyone is forced to abide by the prohibition against working on the Sabbath or eating bacon.  (Others are interested in changing the religion.  Splinter groups and new denominations are happening, and are going to keep happening.  I respect anyone's choice to move to a denomination whose doctrine and practices they prefer.)

    My country prohibits unequal treatment before the law on the basis of race, creed, or gender.  I am interested in upholding this prohibition, and for that reason I'm interested in making sure that same-gender marriage gets legalized and recognized.  Because by the laws and ideals of this country, there is no justification for doing otherwise -- and because my religious rights will not be affected by said legalization in the slightest, and neither will anyone else's.

  •  Ecclesiastical only? (0+ / 0-)
    In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others.
    ecclesiastical:  Of or relating to the Christian Church or its clergy.

    No group or denomination should be long as they are a Christian church.


    Republican tax policies have led to financial conditions which have caused Republicans to demand cuts to programs they have always opposed.

    by AppleP on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 10:05:45 AM PDT

  •  Jesus Loves Me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan, Eyesbright

    That is what I learned as a child in the Baptist church in NC.
    As an adult I have been part of a Yogic church out of India because they live like Jesus and honor him unlike my Baptist relatives in NC.  I live in CA where there is more acceptance of those not like us.  My niece is a trans male, but she or he is still my niece.  Her wife is wonderful and very good for my niece.  All of this happened without conversation.  It came from the heart and the willingness to make our lives conform to our beliefs.  Evangelicals even in my area often do horrible things.  They block the high school with rants about gays.  I call them the anti-christs because they act in opposition to every part of Jesus's life.  If Jimmy Carter and Al Gore can't moderate the out-of-control take-over of the US by these religious extremists, how would my conversation with them help?  The coalition behind Hitler was corporations, military and evangelicals with the evangelicals sticking with the program until the end.  Glad I was able to find the right place for me and my family.  We honor all religions, but not when they practice cruelty.

  •  Catholic agrees (5+ / 0-)

    I agree with your very well thought out and logical argument.  Given my faith tradition is different from yours and we have come up with the same conclusion, I can only attribute the controversy over the fact that many of our fellow citizens do not differentiate between civil and religious marriage.  A marriage should not have government approval to be religiously valid, only that religion or faith tradition can decide what is valid for their members or congregation.  Given the fact that the government does not and should not approve what constitutes marriage in my faith tradition, then no one religion can dictate whether any civil marriage is valid.  If a religious tradition does not want the government to impede their marriage traditions, in turn that religious tradition does not have standing to apply their theocratic tests or definitions of marriage to civil marriage.   They are two separate issues and I do not confuse them, as you rightly point out, common law marriage is mainly a civil idea ignoring any religious involvement.  I don't know of any Christian tradition that recognizes common law as a substitute or stand in for a religious marriage in that particular faith tradition.  Thanks for providing the framework that logically separates civil marriage from religious marriage.

  •  Charismatic,...but also studied German history. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm a charismatic who currently is between churches, and usually attends different churches of my relatives. A Southern Baptist church is included here, so I have had a taste of the doctrine of theocracy. I'm fundamentalist enough, (believe in the virgin birth, for example) but I also studied German history in college and know what dangerous road the conservative states in the Bible Belt are going down. I also studied the speeches of Slobodan Milosevic, and how he whipped up religious fury that led to genocide in Bosnia.

    Christian churches should let the state same-sex marry, even if they do not practice same-sex marriage themselves. Equality is the best way to safeguard human rights.

    Whenever society marginalizes a group, the end of the road is always death.

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