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Southern Baptist leaders wrongly noted in AP account of Allen’s speec

LOS ANGELES (BP)–An Associated Press account circulated nationally has erroneously left an impression that “church leaders,” possibly implying those of the Southern Baptist Convention, “rejected” the son of former SBC President Jimmy Allen when the son’s family was struck with AIDS-related tragedy in the mid-1980s.
Allen, in a telephone interview July 19, said he did not, however, make a specific reference to SBC leaders in a July 16 address in Los Angeles to the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches’ 30th anniversary “General Conference and World Jubilee.” A July 17 report in the Los Angeles Times recounting Allen’s address to the homosexual-oriented religious group carries no quote of Allen specifying SBC leaders.
The five-paragraph Associated Press account appears to be a condensation of the 18-paragraph Los Angeles Times account, including an error in the time frame when Allen was SBC president. Both reported he led the SBC from 1971-79. The correct years were 1977-79.
The Los Angeles Times story reported that Allen’s son, Scott, had been fired by a church in Colorado “when word got out that his wife, Lydia, and their sons were infected with HIV” from a tainted blood transfusion at the birth of their first son. That congregation, however, is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination, and Allen noted to Baptist Press that he and his son led an AIDS workshop there three years ago, and the church has since begun an AIDS ministry.
“Local churches is where the difficulty came,” Allen told BP, in finding a Sunday school open to their surviving grandson with AIDS, who died in 1995 at age 13. The churches were in several denominations, Allen said.
Allen issued a statement July 16 about why he, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, accepted an invitation to address the homosexual-oriented Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, which describes itself as “the world’s largest organization serving the spiritual needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community.”
Allen told Baptist Press:
“My decision to speak to the Metropolitan Community Churches’ conference came on an appeal by [MCC founder] Dr. [Troy] Perry after he had heard me preach to a group of AIDS caregivers. I have stated clearly my beliefs about the issue of God’s intention for our sexuality, both in my book, ‘Burden of a Secret,’ and on platforms across the nation. However, he pointed out to me that many of his people ‘need to know there are still parents in that [Baptist tradition] who love their children even if they don’t agree theologically with them.’
“I have a gay son with AIDS,” Allen continued. “I love him and we do not agree. I believe it’s time for us to talk to each other instead of about each other.”
Allen, in addition to his statement, reiterated, “I’m not changing any positions or pulling any punches about what I believe.”
Allen’s daughter-in-law, who was married to one of his three sons, died in 1992 as a result of the AIDS-tainted blood transfusion 10 years earlier when her first son was born. A second son also died in 1986 at nine months of age as a result of the earlier transfusion.
Another of Allen’s three sons is the one he mentioned as being involved in a homosexual lifestyle.
Allen, now of Big Canoe, Ga., was president of the SBC during his pastorate at First Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas. He later became president of the SBC’s former Radio and Television Commission. He also is among the Baptist moderates who, in opposing the SBC leadership, founded the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in 1991-92.
A July 14 news release distributed nationally by PRNewswire announced Allen’s scheduled appearance at the MCC conference, stating:
“While Rev. Allen disagrees with UFMCC doctrine on the issue of being gay and Christian, he shares much with the 1,500 church leaders attending the conference from 21 countries. Rev. Allen lost a daughter-in-law and two grandsons to AIDS. He will share his experiences of trying to find a Sunday School within his own denomination that would accept his grandchildren. Many Metropolitan Community Churches now offer Sunday School to growing numbers of children with HIV/AIDS and others diseases.” Distribution of the news release was paid for by the MCC.