CBF Circle of Friends:
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
“Radical Religious Right
poses significant dangers to our
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
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
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…
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
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]
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
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
[ Contents ] [ Next ]
Report from the Capital, October
1993, pg. 9. Statement was made
by Oliver Thomas, BJCPA general council.
from the Capital, November-December, 1993, pg. 6.
Also see James Dunn’s statement,
November/December 1993, pg. 15
Ethics Today, June 1995, pg. 25.
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
to Win: A Practical Guide for Defeating the Radical Right in Your Community,
to Win: A Practical Guide for Defeating the Radical Right in Your Community,
[vii] 1994 CBF General Assembly
breakout session, entitled “Is Religious Freedom Really Free?” CBF Tape
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
Associated Baptist Press, “Employment non-discrimination bill creates
debate among religious groups,” October 30, 1997.