Richard Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, said a formal "declaration on marriage" will be issued later this month at the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. "We want to make sure there is no confusion about what the Bible says on this issue," he said. The convention already has a position statement that says homosexuality is a sin, but convention leaders are concerned about efforts to legalize gay marriage, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that essentially legalized sodomy, and the recent consecration of a gay Episcopalian bishop.
The Southern Baptist Convention and other conservative groups are trying to make gay marriage a top issue in next year's elections. They support a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman and would prohibit recognition of all same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. "We hope to make every candidate in this 2004 election cycle--be he or she a candidate for president, Senate, Congress, governor, or state legislature--answer the question 'Are you for or against the federal marriage amendment?' And then we will make sure everyone we influence knows how the candidate answered it," Land said.
Land said the convention is engaged in a "cultural war and a spiritual war."
"The homosexual activists are out to normalize and affirm their lifestyle and to marginalize those of us who believe it's unnatural and unholy," he said. "When we get attacked, we fight back. They want a war for the high ground of this culture, they got it, and we intend to win it." As part of the effort to recruit "ordinary soldiers" to the "spiritual battleground," the leader of the convention's publishing house and bookstore chain has offered discounts to employees who buy copies of The Homosexual Agenda, reprinted in paperback in July, which purports to show how "radical" gay activists are attempting to achieve their goals through the courts, allegedly at the expense of Christian values.
In a memo last month, James T. Draper encouraged employees of LifeWay Christian Resources to give copies of the book to their pastors, Christian teachers in their children's schools, and "anyone who has acquiesced because they think there's nothing we can do about it." In a follow-up memo, Draper said he was pleased with the response: "You obviously understand the gravity of the situation we face in America and the threat that the homosexual agenda is to our religious freedom and God's design for marriage and family."