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Pro-abortion organization holds awards dinner at Baptist church

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–A prominent Baptist church in Louisville hosted an awards dinner Jan. 26 for a pro-abortion organization. At the event a top abortion lobbyist to the Kentucky General Assembly was honored and the event’s featured speaker was the leader of one of the state’s most active pro-abortion, pro-homosexual organizations.

About 130 people attended the Roe v. Wade Awards Dinner at Crescent Hill Baptist Church. At the dinner the Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice (RCRC) presented its top award to Beth Wilson, director of the Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Reproductive Freedom Project and a key abortion lobbyist to the state legislature.

The event’s featured speaker was Carol Kraemer, executive director of the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Kentucky Fairness Campaign. Recently, the Kentucky Fairness Campaign provided support to the Hate Free Schools Coalition, an organization that trains students on how to start a Gay Straight Alliance Network chapter in Kentucky public and, in some cases, private schools. The Gay Straight Alliance is a youth-led organization that promotes the homosexual lifestyle in schools. Among the events publicized in the Fairness Campaign’s newsletter is the “‘Just us'” Queer Womyn of Color Conference.

Baptist Press contacted Ronald Sisk, pastor of Crescent Hill, by telephone for comment. Sisk answered the phone, but terminated the call when asked about the dinner. Sisk did not return a subsequent phone call by BP.

“I find it contradictory for churches who say they are concerned about human rights to champion an organization whose mission is to destroy unborn human begins,” said C. Ben Mitchell, a consultant on biomedical and life issues for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and associate professor of bioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill. “This would be like a church calling for the emancipation of black slaves while hosting a dinner for the Future Plantation Owners of America.

“Of course, Baptist churches are autonomous,” Mitchell said. “So are Baptist church members. They ought to autonomously join another church where human rights are celebrated from conception to natural death.”

A brief account of the awards dinner at the Kentucky Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice website says, “The audience spontaneously rose to their feet when Beth [Wilson] was presented.”

Wilson is leading the opposition to a bill presently moving through the Kentucky General Assembly that defines a fetus as a person under Kentucky’s criminal homicide law. The measure passed the state Senate by a 32-2 margin. In the House, observers say the chances of its passage are 50/50. It is not known if Democratic Gov. Paul Patton will sign the bill if passed.

“Anti-abortion groups want to use this issue to undermine a woman’s right to choose,” Wilson told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I’m sorry our senators are taking us down this road.”

Wilson said pro-abortion advocates object to defining in state law that a fetus is a person. “If they do it here, they’ll try to define a fetus as a person in other laws, and then they’ll ask how can abortion be legal under our laws,” she said. “It’s a slippery slope.”

Senate President Pro Tem Dick Roeding, a Republican, the bill’s chief sponsor, said, “The time has come for Kentucky to protect the rights of the unborn child. The life of an unborn child is a sacred gift from God.”

The Washington, D.C.,-based national RCRC formed in 1973. It bills itself on its website as a coalition of 40 national organizations from 16 denominations and faith traditions “to ensure full reproductive choice and religious freedom for all people through the moral power of religious communities.”

The RCRC has pursued aggressive lobbying efforts in Washington, fighting against a ban on partial-birth abortion and more recently opposing President Bush’s decision banning U.S. aid to international groups that perform abortions.

This is not the first time Crescent Hill or its pastor have garnered attention over theological and political issues.

In October 1999 Sisk told a Baptist/Jewish relations forum in Louisville that he rejected the exclusive nature of the gospel.

“I certainly don’t believe that any one tradition has an exclusive corner on God,” Sisk said. “I would never limit God’s salvation to those who share my own perspective or my own understanding. I would respect the traditions of others, both Christian and non-Christian, for the truth which they reveal. I would say Christ’s spirit operates in places where Christ is not named or known.”

Sisk said he believed in “the cosmic Christ” who, he said, “goes beyond any name or any theology or any community and is found at work in the same way” that the universal God of Judaism is at work.

“To the degree that a person’s life puts them into touch with that spirit of Christ, they have a relationship with God as genuine as my own,” he said.

Sisk was quoted in the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper on June 12, 2000, as saying, “Not all Scripture rises to the full level of Christ.” He pointed to various passages from the Old Testament and the instructions of Paul as examples.

Sisk formerly served on the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) Coordinating Council. The CBF is a breakaway group of moderate and liberal Baptists dissatisfied with the conservative leadership of Southern Baptist ministries, missions and theological education.

Crescent Hill member J. Howard Teel, who serves on the church’s missions committee, is on the Kentucky RCRC’s board of directors, according to the organization’s website. Teel identifies himself as a “Cooperative Baptist.”

Crescent Hill is aligned with the American Baptist Churches and is listed on the CBF website among its “network” of churches.

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  • Don Hinkle