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ANALYSIS: Baptist Standard editor’s endorsement evidences CBF leader’s sway in Texas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–David Currie, who is at the forefront of a national anti-Southern Baptist Convention campaign, was lauded in a recent Texas Baptist Standard editorial for his group’s “strategy” in keeping the Baptist General Convention of Texas from going along with the Southern Baptist Convention’s “juggernaut to the right.”

However, it is precisely Currie’s close ties to persons and organizations with theological and political views to the “extreme left” that has raised concerns within the Southern Baptist Convention over his influence on churches in Texas and elsewhere — as well as the influence of the dissident Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, in which Currie has served as chairman of the CBF Coordinating Council’s finance task group.

While not mentioning Currie by name, the July 10 editorial by Baptist Standard editor Marv Knox stated that Texas Baptists “can express thanks for,” among several factors, “the stalwart and supportive strategy of Texas Baptists Committed” which Currie leads for distancing the state convention from the SBC, to the point of possible BGCT budget cuts that “reflect displeasure with the SBC.”

Under Currie’s leadership, Texas Baptists Committed has been working in harmony with the CBF in creating opposition in Texas and elsewhere to traditional Southern Baptist missions and theology, say leaders among conservative SBC laymen’s groups.

While Currie has stated that “I do not support homosexuality or abortion,” the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association expressed concern in a recent newsletter over the relationship CBF leaders like Currie have with pro-homosexual and pro-abortion groups. Currie serves on the board of directors for The Interfaith Alliance, an ecumenical organization whose leaders promote pro-homosexual, pro-abortion agendas. Yet Currie claims not to know where the organization stands on such volatile issues as homosexuality and abortion.

“I have been on [The Interfaith Alliance] board for four years and have never missed a meeting,” Currie declared. “The issues of homosexuality and abortion have never been mentioned during a meeting, nor to me in private conversation by a fellow [Interfaith Alliance board] member,” Currie stated in Texas Baptists Committed’s newsletter in March 1999.

But according to the Viewpoint newsletter of the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association:

— The Interfaith Alliance, or TIA, has launched a “Bridge Building Project” to “engage in partnership” various groups, including “gay men and lesbians,” to “increase our diversity and strengthen our movement,” according to the organization’s Internet site. The Bridge Building Project will encompass both “aggressive outreach and infrastructure building,” along with “training, networking opportunities, publications, research and other support” to “include these new voices in discussions about civil society.” (TIA’s executive director, incidentally, is C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist minister and an oft-quoted critic of religious conservatives.)

— The Interfaith Alliance has released an “issue paper,” titled, “Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians in Housing, Employment, and Education,” supportive of the controversial Employment Non-Discrimination Act percolating in Congress since the mid-1990s. The bill would establish homosexuality, under the title of “sexual orientation,” as a classification deserving protection in the same way race, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, religion and disability now have protected status in the workplace. The Interfaith Alliance issue paper charges that religious conservatives have “propagated a series of harmful myths about the gay and lesbian community,” such as “using the metaphor of disease, suggesting that homosexuals can and must be ‘cured’ by programs of ‘reparative therapy’ in order to live a healthy lifestyle … .”

— Five TIA board members who have served alongside Currie signed a controversial document in January calling for the “full inclusion” of homosexuals in congregational life, “including their ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions.” The document was issued by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).

— The Interfaith Alliance is one of 10 organizations that produced a publication titled, “Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel.” The publication, sent last fall to 15,000 school districts nationwide, was initiated by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which describes itself as the nation’s largest organization combating anti-homosexual bias in America’s schools.

— The Interfaith Alliance, through its Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award, has honored pro-homosexual activists. Earlier this year James C. Miller, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, was presented the award after he advocated the inclusion of homosexuals in the Boy Scouts of America. In 1999 it presented the award to Donna Red Wing, who led an initiative to bring together the faith community with homosexuals in “challenging anti-gay tolerance from the religious right,” according to a May 4 TIA press release.

— Four TIA board members signed a 1996 Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR, now known as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) letter supporting President Clinton’s veto of a bill that would have banned the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure.

“I do not know about beliefs of some people I serve with on boards,” Currie said in a Texas Baptists Committed newsletter column after he was challenged by the MBLA’s Viewpoint newsletter earlier this year. “I have never asked them about these issues. Prying into people’s personal lives is not my nature.”

Bill Streich, research director for the Texas Baptist Laymen’s Association, meanwhile reacted, “What individual board members believe is important because their policy-making decisions are indeed based on what they believe.

“The Interfaith Alliance’s pro-homosexual, pro-abortion positions should concern any board member who claims to believe otherwise,” Streich said. “Yet Currie seems content in encouraging Texas Baptists to support TIA while excusing himself from any accountability for the ungodly positions it advocates.”

Such relationships are “symbolic of what’s wrong with the CBF and why there has been such concern about the growing influence of the CBF within our state conventions,” the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association newsletter warned.

“For too long, CBF leaders [like Currie] have been allowed to redefine the pro-homosexual/pro-abortion religious left as ‘mainstream,’ while at the same time portraying conservative, Bible-believing Southern Baptists as ‘fundamentalists’ and conservative Christian organizations like Focus on the Family as ‘religious extremists,'” the newsletter noted.

Kerry Messner, president of the MBLA, also expressed concern over the condemnation directed at Christian leaders like James Dobson.

“The willingness of top CBF leadership to condemn conservative, pro-life Christian leaders like James Dobson while at the same time aligning themselves with pro-homosexual, pro-abortion advocates of the religious/political Left demonstrates clearly the degree to which liberalism has influenced the leadership ranks of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.”

Currie led a “breakout session” during the CBF’s General Assembly this year on “How Mainstream Baptist Organizations Assist CBF in Your State,” with “Mainstream” being used as an anti-SBC banner in various states.

Currie and Houston businessman John Baugh have traveled to 12 states to help organize so-called “Mainstream” groups, according to a June 1 report in the Baptists Today journal.

The Baptist Standard’s endorsement of Currie and Texas Baptists Committed will surely add to the confusion in Texas caused by conflicting statements by BGCT leaders about relations to traditional Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist causes. Knox and the Baptist Standard have sided with Currie in what is sure to be a series of public relations moves aimed at distancing the BGCT from conservative Southern Baptists in Texas.

    About the Author

  • Don Hinkle