The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee decided earlier this week that a church’s membership in a pro-gay Baptist group does not automatically disqualify it from being part of the conservative Baptist denomination.
A membership condition for the SBC, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, states that a church is disqualified from being a member if it “[acts] to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior.”
Based on this condition, Oklahoma messenger to the SBC annual meeting last June, Wes Kenney, asked the Executive Committee “to consider any church’s affiliation with the Alliance of Baptist to constitute an action which affirms, approves or endorses homosexual behavior.”
The Alliance of Baptists affirms gay marriage and permits members of any sexuality.
But the Executive Committee members decided against banning all churches that are members of the Alliance from also being members of the SBC, according to the Associated Baptist Press. Instead, it decided that each church’s qualification should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The Southern Baptist Convention is well known for its firm stance against same-sex marriage and for its position that homosexual relationships and acts are sinful.
In 2009, the SBC voted to oust Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas when it discovered that the church allowed openly gay members to hold leadership positions. Broadway Baptist Church last fall ended its 125-year-old affiliation with the General Baptist Convention of Texas.
And just last month, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary severed its 14-year affiliation with the Tarrant Baptist Association because it said the latter has a member church or churches that do not adhere to the SBC position that homosexuality is a sin.
Tarrant Baptist Association has 395 member churches, according to its website.
The SBC Executive Committee’s recommendation will be a formal motion at the annual SBC meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., June 14-15.