ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Southern Baptists’ uncompromising stand against homosexuality was underscored at the SBC annual meeting June 13-14 as messengers overwhelmingly adopted a motion commending radio personality Laura Schlessinger for her staunch opposition to the homosexual lifestyle.
The motion on behalf of Schlessinger was one of 26 made by messengers to the 2000 convention (compared to 38 at the 1999 convention in Atlanta) and was one of only two that reached the floor for a vote. Others were referred to convention entities or ruled out of order. Motions are requests by messengers for specific action by the SBC or its entities.
The Schlessinger motion in its original form was introduced by Wiley Drake of Buena Park, Calif. It called for the newly elected president of the SBC to write a letter commending her for upholding traditional Judeo-Christian principles.
Schlessinger, who is Jewish, has been the recent target of death threats and ridicule because of her outspoken opposition to homosexuality, views she regularly expresses on her popular nationally syndicated talk radio program. She is scheduled to have a nationally televised show in the fall, but homosexual activists are pressuring companies not the sponsor it. Most recently, Proctor & Gamble announced its withdrawal of sponsorship for the Schlessinger television program.
“She knows where we stand as Christians and she takes a strong stand for the family,” Drake said in speaking for the motion.
No one spoke against the motion; however, it was amended to narrow the convention’s commendation of Schlessinger to her views on homosexuality.
After the overwhelming show-of-hands-style vote in favor of the amended motion, SBC President Paige Patterson noted he had already sent a letter thanking Schlessinger for her stand against homosexuality.
The other motion brought to a floor vote called for the creation of a reconciliation committee to focus on rival organizations competing for favor among state conventions. The motion was overwhelmingly rejected by a show-of-hands-style vote.
“Our beloved Southern Baptist Convention is currently fractured and fragmented by groups forming subgroups and even competing conventions,” said Paddy O’Connor of Brooksville, Fla., who introduced the motion. “Surely it is the will of God that goodwill exist between these autonomous groups.”
But Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, urged the convention to defeat the motion, declaring that “there is not a messenger here that wants confusion and contention” in the SBC. He reminded messengers of the continued record giving to the Cooperative Program, the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings (for international and North American missions, respectively) and of the record number of missionaries the SBC has sent throughout the United States and the world.
Chapman urged Southern Baptists to remain focused on the work at hand and asked the messengers to recall how the convention-appointed Peace Committee had already completed the work called for in the 1980s.
“I believe this is not the time to stop and dig a trench, but rather it is a time for Southern Baptists to move like a mighty army upon this world,” Chapman said. “The greatest reconciliation will come when Southern Baptists walk shoulder to shoulder” in pointing the world to Jesus Christ.
Three motions referred to more than one agency asked that:
— FAITH Sunday school evangelism program grants be available to pastors of small churches, by Richard Boswell, Fort Worth, Texas, referred to the North American Mission Board and Lifeway Christian Resources.
— Southern Baptist institutions and seminaries not require employees to sign the Baptist Faith and Message as a condition of employment, by Fred Steelman of Chattanooga, Tenn., referred to all agencies.
— NAMB and International Mission Board change their missionary appointment policies regarding divorce and remarriage to include those who have been divorced for biblical reasons, by Rick Dominic, Fort Towson, Okla., referred to NAMB and IMB.
Motions referred to the North American Mission Board requested that:
— The SBC endorse ministries to the homosexual community, by Michael Beshears, Morganton, N.C.
— A Media Advisory Task Force develop media strategies to present Southern Baptists in a positive manner, by Ray Henry, West Palm Beach, Fla.
— The syndicated radio broadcast named “Powerline” not use secular music and increase its presentation of the gospel, by David King, Monroe, Mich.
— NAMB hold an evangelistic crusade on the Saturday prior to the annual SBC meeting in New Orleans in June 2001, by John F. Thompson, III, Plymouth, Fla.
Motions referred to the Executive Committee requested that:
— Solicitation of non-Cooperative Program funds from local churches be restricted, by John Powers, Norfolk, Va.
— 60 percent of all elected and appointed boards, committees and trustees be made up of members from churches of 300 members or less, by Jim Ferno, Sylvania, Ga.
— The day of Pentecost be placed on the denominational calendar, by Timothy A. Folds, Sr., Trenton, Fla.
— Ascension Day be placed on the denominational calendar, by Tim Hall, Chipley, Fla.
— The Convention Arrangements Committee prayerfully consider choosing Cleveland, Ohio, as the city to host the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in June 2005, by Bob MacKey, Parma, Ohio.
— “All other” be changed to something else (perhaps laymen) on the messenger survey card, by David McNeil, Jackson, Miss.
— A study be commissioned to consider the viability of establishing satellite centers to telecast nationwide the SBC’s annual meeting, by Tony Darnell, St. Louis.
— A study be conducted concerning the use of Cooperative Program funds in joint efforts with any group whose beliefs conflict with the witness of Southern Baptists, by Jerry Moser, Theriot, La.
One motion — asking for a study of the effects of the SBC boycott of Disney, by Jessie Sanders of Titusville, Fla. — was approved for referral to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
A motion referred to Lifeway asked that LifeWay re-evaluate what it deems as “appropriate products” for sale through LifeWay Christian Stores, by Freddie Marshall, Heathsville, Va.
Six motions were ruled out of order. They asked that:
— The convention postpone consideration of Baptist Faith and Message amendments for one year, by Wayne Ward, Louisville, Ky.
— A two-thirds majority be required to revise the Baptist Faith and Message, by Louis J. Rosas, Memphis, Tenn.
— A report be developed by the seminaries explaining why they chose not to fund professional interpretive services for the deaf, by Scott Hamilton Rogers, Tampa, Fla.
— The newly elected president of the SBC send a letter to the president of the United States, Congess and the American Medical Association, expressing opposition to the killing of babies under any circumstances, by Wiley Drake, Buena Park, Calif.
— The newly elected president of the SBC write a letter to a fellow Southern Baptist, President Bill Clinton, asking that he resign his membership from his local Southern Baptist church because of his pro-homosexual views, by Wiley Drake, Buena Park, Calif.
— The SBC express support for honoring the American flag, by Alan Heneisen, Tampa, Fla.
— The convention urge all SBC churches to support the Boy Scouts of America, by Harold Phillips, Port Deposit, Md.