The Pathway

Official News Journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention



April 1999

Published by the Missouri Baptists Laymen's Association

The CBF Circle of Friends:

Religious Voices Advocate Homosexuality

The gulf between the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) continues to widen -- especially in the area of homosexuality.  While the SBC and SBC-related institutions have spoken clearly and stood firm regarding homosexual behavior, the CBF has not.  And no CBF-related organization is more deeply involved with liberal, pro-homosexuality groups than the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs (BJCPA), which includes on its board of directors CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal.  This year, the BJCPA will receive approximately half of its $878,000 1999 budget from the CBF and Southern Baptist state conventions.  

The consistent alignment of the BJCPA with the most liberal voices in American religion/politics has become an indisputable fact.  Far-left groups like the ACLU and People for the American Way (PAW) that support legal protection for the partial-birth abortion procedure, gay marriages, legal protection for pornographic materials and unrestricted federal funding for the “arts,” have been among the BJCPA’s closest allies.  Regarding the ACLU, the BJCPA states:  “The American Civil Liberties Union has done more for religious liberty than many denominations.”[i]  Praising both the ACLU and PAW, the BJCPA’s general counsel stated:  “I hope I shall never again have to hear someone say that the ACLU and People For the American Way don’t care about religion.”[ii]  (The president of PAW served until recently on the BJCPA board of directors.)  

“Radical Religious Right poses significant dangers to our churches”

Equally indisputable has been the BJCPA’s consistent display of extreme hostility toward conservative Christian organizations that have stood firm against abortion rights, Biblical acceptance of homosexual behavior, the free flow of pornography and unrestricted federal funding for the “arts.” 

In 1995, a CBF-funded group called the Center for Christian Ethics (CCE), headed up by long-time BJCPA leader Foy Valentine, hosted a discussion entitled “Countering the Radical Religious Right.”  A statement was issued which states in part: “We are alarmed because the Radical Religious Right poses significant dangers to our churches, our political system, and our American way of life.”[iii]

According to the CCE: “The Radical Religious Right…seeks a church-dominated society where; (1) abortion is outlawed; (2) homosexuality is returned to the closet; (3) secular humanists and other liberals are run out of government, public education and the media…”  Those identified by the CCE as the “Radical Religious Right” were Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and D. James Kennedy.[iv]

Those signing the CCE statement opposing the “Radical Religious Right” included three CBF moderators; both CBF coordinators (Daniel Vestal and Cecil Sherman); BJCPA executive director James Dunn and the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Barry Lynn.  (Numerous BJCPA and CBF leaders serve on the governing board of Americans United.  See AU page) 

In 1994, the BJCPA played a leadership role in the production of a 252 page far-left political training manual entitled: How to Win: A Practical Guide for Defeating the Radical Right in Your Community.  The manual was the work of a coalition of over 60 liberal organizations including the Baptist Joint Committee; the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Americans United for Separation of Church and State; People for the American Way; and The Interfaith Alliance.  (Two Interfaith Alliance board members serve on the Religious Liberty Council of the BJCPA.)   (See How to Win page and How To Win Quotes)   

The “Radical Right” was identified in the manual as Focus on the Family, Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, American Family Association, and a host of other such organizations.  The specific charges against the “Religious Right” as identified by the training manual include opposition to: abortion; homosexual behavior; the free flow of pornographic material; and unrestricted federal funding for the “arts.”

Clergy Against Clergy: A Political Strategy

Probably the most significant aspect of the How to Win training manual has been its call for “using religious voices to confront the Religious Right.”  Pitting clergy against clergy on the local level has become a common strategy of the Religious/Political Left.  Both Americans United and People for the American Way have formed “Clergy Networks” for this very reason.  Another organization with close ties to the BJCPA is  the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), which has a group called “Clergy for Choice.”  (RCRC was a leader in the effort to keep the partial-birth abortion procedure legal.) 

According to the How to Win training manual, the best way to…

…oppose the agenda of the religious right [is] from a religious viewpoint.  Representatives of such viewpoints clearly illustrate that your side also has moral and value-based arguments it can marshal.  Inclusion of such individuals or faith groups indicates clearly that religious people believe the separation of church and state to be good for religion, that religious people support gay and lesbian rights, and that religious people - in fact, most mainstream religious denominations - support a woman’s right to choose [an abortion] for reasons rooted in their faith.  With religious support for your cause, you will have come one giant step closer to defeating the religious right.”[v]  (bold print emphasis ours)  

Another deliberate strategic effort on the part of the Left has been the integrating of homosexual groups and individuals into Religious Left activities.  According to the How to Win training manual:

The lesbian and gay community is well-organized, motivated and educated.  You need their help, their expertise and their resources.  The battle for equality for gay and lesbian Americans will eventually be won, and it will be won by this strong, cohesive community.  You cannot successfully battle right wing forces without gay and lesbian participation.[vi]  (emphasis ours)  

Numerous Religious Left organizations closely aligned to the BJCPA and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship have worked diligently for the full acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons - not just into society at large, but within the churches.  (See Alliance of Baptists and Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America pages) 

By embracing homosexual persons, telling their stories and their struggles, the Left has labored to put a human face on the issue of homosexuality.   This has allowed the Religious/Political Left to frame the political debate over homosexuality as “discrimination” and “equal rights” rather than granting legal protection to wrongful behavior.  However, it is important to note that the entire “gay rights” agenda is being advanced as an issue of discrimination.  Whether “discrimination” occurs in the area of employment, housing, adoption, domestic partnership benefits, marriage, or in the life of churches, as homosexual behavior gains legal recognition, anti-discrimination laws will become a powerful political tool in the hands of the Left, forcing silence or acceptance of homosexual behavior on all Americans.  Already, those who have stood firm on the Biblical prohibition against homosexuality are identified as promoting “homophobic campaigns of hate, bigotry and discrimination.” 

In 1994, the BJCPA worked with “a number of religious and gay and lesbian groups” on the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA), the centerpiece of gay rights legislation.  By adding a religious exemption for churches and not-for-profit religious organizations, the BJCPA claims to have made ENDA “politically more saleable.”[vii]  However, BJCPA general council Brent Walker also noted that “those with religious objections to hiring homosexuals should not be able to discriminate when they engage exclusively in for-profit enterprises.”[viii]

In 1996, ENDA (which also includes protection for bisexuality) failed passage in the U.S. Senate by only one vote.  Other Religious/Political Left groups that have endorsed ENDA include:  the National Council of Churches (former BJCPA general counsel Oliver Thomas serves as the NCC’s special counsel); People for the American Way (whose president is a recent past member of the BJCPA board); and The Interfaith Alliance (which has two board members serving on the BJCPA’s Religious Liberty Council).     

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[i] Report from the Capital, October 1993, pg. 9.  Statement was made by Oliver Thomas, BJCPA general council.

[ii] Report from the Capital, November-December, 1993, pg. 6.  Also see James Dunn’s statement,  November/December 1993, pg. 15

[iii] Christian Ethics Today, June 1995, pg. 25.

[iv] Christian Ethics Today, June 1995, pg. 18.  This article represents the position-paper at the Maston Colloquium which resulted in the statement “Countering the Radical Religious Right.”

[v] How to Win: A Practical Guide for Defeating the Radical Right in Your Community, pg, 50.

[vi] How to Win: A Practical Guide for Defeating the Radical Right in Your Community, pg. 120.

[vii] 1994 CBF General Assembly breakout session, entitled “Is Religious Freedom Really Free?” CBF Tape #3.   Brent Walker, BJCPA general counsel speaking.  Also see Baptist Press article, “BJC defends role in manual and proposed ‘gay rights’ bill,” June 2, 1995.  Tape is available from Convention Cassettes Unlimited, 1-800-7765454. 

[viii] Associated Baptist Press, “Employment non-discrimination bill creates debate among religious groups,” October 30, 1997.


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