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Black Southern Baptists decry homosexual claims

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–“How dare you?” Brendan Saunders, a church planter at Freedom Church in Baltimore, asked rhetorically to people in the homosexual community. “To take the years of oppression enforced on the black community and trivialize it because you want to justify your sinful actions, how dare you?”

The claim that same-sex “marriage” is the 21st-century equivalent of African Americans’ 19th- and 20th-century struggle for civil rights is even more offensive than it is wrong, and it is totally erroneous concept, said many participants at the National African American Fellowship prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Indianapolis.

“I am intensely offended,” said E.W. McCall Sr., pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church in La Puente, Calif. “To place homosexuality’s sin rights movement on the same platform as the struggle of African Americans for civil rights is appalling.

“What they want to do is convert us to their way of life, an abnormal way of life,” McCall said, citing Scriptures such as Romans 1. “It’s wrong. It’s ridiculous. I hope Americans won’t buy it. It’s biblically wrong and theologically unsound.”

Biblical admonitions against homosexuality from black Southern Baptists rose to a crescendo during the June 13-14 annual meeting of the fellowship when the group’s president, Baltimore-area pastor Robert Anderson, spoke of the importance of passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

“There is a very aggressive movement for same-sex ‘marriage,’ and the black church has been silent on this,” Anderson said. “We need to speak up because they have come into our territory to proclaim the mantle of civil rights. I’m appalled as a black man; I’m appalled as a Christian.

“Leviticus 18:22 says homosexuality is an abomination. God has drawn the line; the wrath of God has been revealed,” Anderson preached. “For people to be thinking homosexuality is OK, we have done them an injustice. God says the wages of sin is death.”

The civil rights movement was about a person’s race, a person’s gender, things over which a person has no choice, while homosexual activity is a choice a person makes, Anderson explained.

“And if they say it’s in the genes, I say those genes need to be washed by the Word of the Lord,” the NAAF president preached to thunderous applause by the 300 or more people present at a June 14 session. “If it’s in your nature, it needs to get out of your nature. That’s called redemption.”

Joseph Lyles, pastor of Ft. Foote Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md., said there was a time he ridiculed homosexuals.

“I used to say they had broken wrists,” Lyles said. “Now I say they have broken hearts. We need to show them the love of Christ and to develop ministries to meet their needs. No way should they be ridiculed. I think that deepens the hurt.”

Regardless of the Christian love that should be extended to homosexuals as well as all other people, there is absolutely no equation between the civil rights movement and the homosexual rights movement, Lyles said.

“Civil rights is a God-given right to liberty, which homosexuals already have,” Lyles said. “I respect their human rights. I don’t look down on homosexuals but try to get them to look up to Jesus. Homosexuality is unnatural and ungodly, but God doesn’t give up on them. There’s hope!”

Blacks before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s were not permitted to vote, to eat at the same lunch counters, stay at the same hotels or go to the same schools as whites, explained Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and a speaker at the 2004 SBC Pastors’ Conference.

“We didn’t have rights,” Luter said. “Gays have all the rights in the world to live as free citizens. We didn’t. I think it’s being insensitive to what we have gone through as African Americans to compare what they’re going through to the civil rights struggle.

“In the church I pastor, we have X-everythings. Jesus is the answer. The blood of Jesus Christ can free a person from homosexuality and every other sin.”

Same-sex “marriage” is not a birthright, said Leon May of Anchorage, Alaska.

“The gay community has never had a history of enslavement and its effects,” May said. “It’s an affront to black people for homosexuals to say their cause is a modern-day civil rights movement. To do so means hundreds of years of suffering enforced on black people is demeaned by the homosexual community’s outcry of equivalency.

“To begin with, biblically homosexuality is an abomination in the sight of God,” May said. “What the homosexual needs to do is to be delivered from homosexuality through the blood of Christ. They can change through the power of redemption.”

George McCalep, pastor of Greenforest Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., questioned the logic of the homosexual rights movement’s claim of equivalency with the civil rights movement.

“I think it’s awful, the way they’re trying to say they’re the same,” McCalep said. “Racism is a sin. Homosexuality is a sin. That’s right. But one is done to you; one is one you do. You can’t equate the two, and it denigrates the sacrifices and too often even the lives given by millions of African Americans who only wanted the same rights as white people to live and worship and work and play — for themselves and for their children and grandchildren.”