A Baptist church in North Carolina has discontinued funding to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship because the congregation feels the organization's new hiring policy opening the door to LGBT employees isn't inclusive enough.
On Sunday, members Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary voted to halt church funding to the 1,800-church CBF in response to the fellowship's recent decision to update its hiring policy to allow for the hiring of practicing homosexual employees.
Although the new policy announced in February as a result of the CBF's two-year "Illumination Project" opens the door for prospective gay employees, it still prohibits gay individuals from being considered for leadership roles within the organization.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the congregation explained that it will suspend funding to Cooperative Baptist institutions "until their leadership rescinds a hiring practice discriminatory to LGBT people." It also urged other churches to do the same.
"We have been told that most positions are open to LGBT people, but most is not enough," a letter from the church to CBF leadership reads. "Any discrimination is too much discrimination. That discrimination against LGBT people extends specifically to many leadership positions and all field personnel is particularly egregious."
The church's letter argues that even though the new hiring policy doesn't make mention of sexuality, "there remains a deliberate and public practice to discriminate against LGBT people in hiring for positions within the CBF."
"What if one of our children comes out as LGBT and God calls them to be a missionary? What if God calls one of our LGBT members to be a denominational leader? What should we tell them about the CBF?" the church asked in the letter. "Should we say that their identity means that they experienced a second-class baptism? The Gospel and baptism we received does not make anyone into second-class Christians. Yet, this is precisely what CBF procedure tries to do."
The letter calls for the CBF to "rescind and reject in its entirety" the policy laid out by the Illumination Project.
The church's decision also comes as Baptist church associations in Texas and Virginia have stopped facilitating funding to the CBF because of the hiring policy.
In the cases of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, however, they oppose the new hiring policy because it allows the hiring of practicing homosexuals.
"The Virginia Baptist Executive Board regrets it has had to address the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's approval of the Illumination Project committee's report permitting the hiring of LGBT personnel for certain staff positions in the organization," a BGAV statement explains. "Though the BGAV respects CBF's right to change its hiring policy, such a decision has had a direct impact on the BGAV. The executive board has sought to respond in the most prayerful and prudent way to the effects of this impact."
In a statement after the BGCT decision to remove CBF from its Cooperative Program budget, BGCT President Danny Reeves said that the Dallas-based convention "has held to God's Word."
"We lovingly say to all people the truth that marriage is to be between one man and one woman," Reeves said.
Liberal Baptist theologian David Gushee reportedly opined in a speech last weekend that CBF's new hiring policy will "weaken" the organization because it neither affirms staunch conservative views on homosexuality nor the full inclusivity demanded by some liberal Baptists.
"CBF's inability or unwillingness to do theological reflection and take a principled stand leaves them comparing most unfavorably to either the SBC or the Alliance of Baptists," the Mercer University ethics professor was quoted as saying by Baptist News Global. "For that matter, almost every denomination takes stands on issues, and has scholars who help them do so."