May 11, 2012

Baptist Blasphemy: Pastor Bryant Wright, Homosexuals & Nazi’s Oh My!

A road sign that says 'Baptist Church' with an arrow pointing downward toward hell and the text "Baptist Blasphemy - the church abandoned Scripture in 2000, and politics now guide the faith."

by Roy Steele

Sitting at the intersection of faith and politics in America is Pastor Bryant Wright, the gay hating president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who embodies Baptist blasphemy because he ignores the book of Matthew [22:36-40] which states you should love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

Since the year 2000, the Baptist Churches of the Southern Baptist Convention took a sharp turn to the right. They decided that pastoral roles could only be held by men, declared that being gay is immoral, and made a commitment to speak for the ‘unborn.’ Scripture had always guided the Church before, and for the first time in church history, politics trumped scripture.

It was national news when a Baptist North Carolina pastor gave his congregation special dispensation to physically attack a child if the child “acts gay.” Prior to that, a prominent Georgia pastor falsely claimed that the gullible American public had accepted the “lies of the devil” for believing that gay people are born that way. He attributed the public’s tolerance of homosexuality to a misinformation campaign modeled on “Nazi propaganda.”

We are examining the intersection of faith and politics, and this is our second article. We  shine a light on the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, their doctrine of faith, political issues, and the role of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Baptists in member churches. We also profile pastor Sean Harris and pastor Bryant Wright, the divisive anti-gay president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The History of the Southern Baptist Convention


The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a Christian denomination, with more than 16 million members in the United States. It is the second largest Christian religion, and the largest Protestant religion in the US today. Contrary to what their name might lead you to believe, the church is not regional, as there are churches from coast to coast, and represented in 41 states.

This loose alliance of disparate congregations first drafted, and then adopted, the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) in 1925. The BF&M outlines the Church’s theology and ideology that’s supported and articulated in scripture. SBC member churches are not required to adhere to the BF&M, and they don’t have to use it as their statement of doctrine.

The BF&M has only been changed or revised a few times since 1925. The churches of the Southern Baptist Convention who choose to ascribe to the BF&M Statement agree that:
Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.
A holy cross with the text of the Baptist Faith and Message Statement of 1963 directly above the Baptist Faith and Message Statement of 2000.
From 1963 to 2000 the Baptist Faith and Message Statement didn’t change, and it remained the doctrine of faith for thirty-seven years. During that time Section XV. entitled  “The Christian and the Social Order” stated, “The Christian should oppose in the spirit of Christ every form of greed, selfishness, and vice.” That’s it. Simple, direct, and to the point, with the added bonus that it was based on the foundation of Christianity.

In 2000, at the height of the culture wars, the SBC changed the language. Now that  section says, “In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”

That’s quite a significant change. Prior to 2000, the Church had no position on racism, abortion, and sexual immorality. The language adopted by the SBC in 2000 can’t be found in Scripture, but could be found in the platform of the Republican Party. Right-wing evangelicals seized control of the church from moderates, and they also established that pastoral roles could only be fulfilled by men.
“While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” The statement cites 1 Timothy 2:9-14, which says in part, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.”
There is no consensus among ecumenical scholars regarding the validity of that Biblical passage.

In 1998, the SBC raised a few eyebrows when they started to move toward the right by stating that a wife should “submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.”

What always impressed me personally about the Baptist Faith, is that their Faith and Message Statement was based on Scripture and rooted in the Bible. In 2000, they abandoned their Biblical ideals in order to pursue a political agenda, and aligned themselves with the Republican Party. The “Fundamentalists” took over, and that’s where we are today.

A church steeple with the 1998 resolution that the SBC adopted in 1998, which says a wife should "submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband."
There are wide gulfs that continue to divide the church and center around doctrinal debates related to Biblical inerrancy and literalism, whether to accept or reject modern science, the role of women at home and in the church (war on women), the ordination of women, and the myriad of issues surrounding human sexuality.

Remember that the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church that says homosexuality is a mental disorder, the Baptist Faith and Message mandate to oppose “all forms of sexual immorality (adultery, homosexuality, and pornography),” and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints admonition to expel and shun “non-celibate homosexuals,” are political positions voted on and adopted by male members of each faith. These political views are not divinely inspired, and don’t reflect the teachings of Christ. They do give each church the right to discriminate. Members of each faith often justify their bigotry by claiming that the Bible supports their position. That is an unequivocal lie. People are brainwashed and misinformed, and they are taught to hate LGBT people.  


The Divisive Southern Baptist Preachers In The News


The SBC is frequently in the news and subjected to a national spotlight because of the large role the Baptist churches play in communities across the country.


Pastor Sean Harris, North Carolina


A North Carolina Pastor gave his congregation special dispensation to physically attack their child if the child acts “gay.”  Pastor Sean Harris was in the news for advocating and encouraging physical violence toward children. He belongs to the “beat the gay out of your child” school of parenting. During a recent Sunday sermon, this pastor said:
Dad’s, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? “You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.” 
And when your daughter starts acting too butch you reign her in. And you say, “Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.”
And the worst part of this, is the fact that this wackadoo Baptist Pastor said [emphasis my own]:
You say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?” Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.
Pastor Harris also said that “The Bible makes no compromise on effeminate behavior. God created you a male, God created you a female. If you were created a male, you are to act like a man.”

I’ve never seen anything close to that written in scripture, and would love to have the good Pastor show me the passage he is referring to. This must be a trend within the Baptist Church, of making things up to suit your sermon, or conform to your political agenda.

This holy roller thinks he’s so “holy” and knowledgeable, and respected and smart, that he speaks for God, and has the absolute moral authority to hand out a “special dispensation” for beating up one’s child in the name of the Lord, to essentially “beat the gay out” of a child. This is wrong on so many levels, that I don’t know where to begin. Baptist blasphemy first comes to mind.

My father repeatedly tried to “beat the gay” out of me, when I was 4, when I was 5, when I was 6, and when I was 7. As I got closer to turning 8, he stopped. Needless to say,  I can attest to the fact that it doesn’t work, and you can’t “beat the gay” out of your child. Anyone who thinks differently belongs in jail. The wounds heal, and the bruises fade, but the scars remain forever.


Pastor Bryant Wright, Georgia


Bryant Wright, a Georgia Pastor, falsely claims that the American public has been duped by accepting the “lies of the devil” for accepting that LGBT people are born that way.

Pastor Bryant Wright Fact File - Senior Pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, false prophet, and anti-gay president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

After characterizing a non-existent gay marketing campaign as “Nazi propaganda” he was roundly criticized and denounced by the American Defamation League.

Pastor Wright is based in Marietta, Georgia, and he recently delivered a sermon he called “When Homosexual Behavior Is A Big Issue.” During the course of his hour long sermon, he makes the tired and untrue argument that “homosexuals engage in sinful homosexual behavior” that they’ve learned, and that God isn’t responsible for creating or causing the sinful behavior or sinful acts. The church and scripture is clear according to him, and he’s convinced that scripture supports his balderdash.

He declared that it’s “one of those common lies of the devil that is repeated so much over and over again, that now the majority of the American public believe it’s true.”

He’s shocked that people have bought the 'lie' that a human being is born gay. He goes on to say that we learned from the Nazi’s in World War II how they approached propaganda. Since they believed “wholeheartedly that if you repeat an outrageous lie over and over again, that people will start to believe it.” The homosexuals have done the same thing, he opines.

This Pastor’s warped opinion conflates the widely held views surrounding “homosexuality” with the public support for marriage equality and nondiscrimination laws, with Nazi propaganda and German support of the Nazi party and Hitler’s political agenda, prior to the start of World War II. That’s a bit of a stretch, if you ask me.

How does the Pastor draw that conclusion you might ask? Since he knows what other people don’t know, he makes the claim that the Nazi propaganda machine was all about telling outrageous lie after outrageous lie, until the public bought whatever they said hook, line and sinker. He thinks the homosexuals did the same thing, and told lie after lie, until the public bought our lies hook, line and sinker. He is wrong and he’s a stinker.

It does amaze me how much smarter than everyone else he is, and you have to give him credit for not falling for any our lies. Therefore, he can point to the queers and say “Nazi propaganda.” Most disturbing is that he is selling this insane point of view to his congregants and he expects them to buy his propaganda hook, line, and sinker, too. (If anyone is smart they see right through the pastor, and they DON’T buy any of his bullshit.)

If you were to accept his reasoning, just for arguments sake, the next logical question would be that since he posits that God isn’t responsible for sinful behavior, and we are all God’s children, why does he keep producing LGBT people if he’s not responsible for sinful behavior? Sexual orientation is not a behavior by any stretch of the imagination.

This pastor appeared on my radar when I received a press release from Faith in America, calling on him to apologize for the “Nazi” remarks made in his sermon. I found his sermon in mp3 format, downloaded it, and started to listen.  Not long into the sermon, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I couldn’t believe that any Pastor would make some of the blasphemous statements about my community, that he made.

Shockingly, Georgia pastor Bryant Wright is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. In essence, he is their Pope, or the head honcho, of the second largest Christian denomination in the United States.

As I brushed up on some Bible study this past weekend, I remembered what I was taught in Sunday school, and what I learned from going to church. It isn’t any different from what’s taught in most Christian churches today. The Bible is a guide, or a metaphor, that embodies the spirit of Christ. If we emulate his example, our country and our planet will be a better place to live.

I know that’s an overly simplistic view, and why should we complicate things, when that’s the essence of the truth.

I’m not a Biblical scholar, but have studied scripture, and I can go to bat with the best of them, when it comes to a debate. This is not a debate, so I feel it is imperative that I address the issue surrounding what the Bible really says about human sexuality, and marriage equality.


For Baptist LGBT Christians - What Does The Bible Say About Me?


What does the Bible say about gay marriage, and gay relationships in general?

The Bible says NOTHING about committed LGBT relationships, and it says NOTHING about same-sex marriage. Did you hear me? It says NOTHING!

If you’d like to talk about Nazi style propaganda, let’s start with the religious folks who have been lying about what the Bible really says.

These four words...sexuality, heterosexual, homosexual, marriage, and their meanings or definition, are a modern construct. Those terms did not exist thousands of years ago. The theories, industries, politics, and debate that currently exist around these social issues, were not present, when the passages of the Bible were assembled into a written work.

When we hear about passages in Leviticus or the book of Romans, they must be considered in the spirit of the time that they were written. They ARE NOT pronouncements about gay rights or LGBT relationships. In actuality, the passages that talk about how “lying with a man” is an abomination, is addressing “holy behavior” applicable thousands of years ago, and isn’t a judgement about an LGBT individual, or the gay community as a whole.

Any credible Biblical scholar will tell you that the word of God represented by the Bible, is a guide, and that any text should be considered within the historical context of the time it was written.

In my opinion, the most criminal and egregious affront to human dignity, is the anti-gay war that the religious right has waged against our community, for over thirty-five years. Politicians and religious leaders have draped every corner of their being with the Bible, and discussed it as if the Bible was a safe haven, where they could hate and lie with impunity. They falsely use the Bible as a license to spread hate, and that license isn’t there, it doesn’t exist.

The most egregious part is that this war has been predicated on faulty misinterpretations of what the Bible really says, and right wing extremists have made wholesale inventions of what they want the Bible to say.

There isn’t one shred of credible evidence or scholarly study that supports the extremist evangelical point of view. And in fact, there are mountains of evidence to support the opposite view, that we are all God’s children who should be loved.

The Bible is much less controversial than you or I imagined. People invent controversy, the Bible doesn’t. The Bible believes everyone is worthy of love, regardless of who one’s partner is.

A church with the book of Matthew [chapter 22 verses 36 to 40] 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I have zero tolerance for people who lie about God, and claim to know his intentions. If you are a Christian believer you know that there is but one judge on judgement day. And it’s none of the blasphemous false prophets like Bryant Wright, or Sean Harris, or James Dobson, or Bryan Fischer, or Tony Perkins. They make money selling hate in the name of God.

People like Pastor Harris and Pastor Wright knowingly make incendiary and slanderous remarks about their neighbors, and their congregations, that doesn’t reflect God’s word.

For example, in the book of Matthew 22:36-40, it says:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 
37 Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
That’s pretty straight forward and you don’t need an ecumenical scholar to interpret what it says. If you eliminated 8 of the 10 commandments, and the rest of God’s word, you should love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

Many Baptists and other Christians have lost their way, and need to go back and reflect on scripture. They would also do well to heed that missive. Pastor Wright has either forgotten how to “love thy neighbor,” or he’s a false prophet uninterested in the word of God. If he’s not interested, he has no business standing in front of his congregation or the Southern Baptist Convention. The Baptist Church and Bryant Wright are obsessed with political views rather than scripture, and that precludes them from embracing the Gospel as they should.

It’s what I call Baptist blasphemy - and I don’t mind telling you that myself. You heard it here first folks, so go now and spread the good word.

straight talk in a queer world.
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