Southern Baptists back gay marriage ban, reject public school pullout
June 17 2004 12:00 AM ET
The Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis on Wednesday approved a call to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Approximately 8,500 church representatives made up the convention. The Southern Baptists also voted down a controversial proposal that would have asked parents to pull their children from public schools in favor of religious education. The 16.3 million-member SBC is the United States' largest Protestant body.
The gay marriage resolution passed without debate. It commended President George W. Bush, who spoke to the meeting Tuesday, for supporting the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. The text of the resolution read, "The union of one man and one woman is the only form of marriage prescribed in the Bible as God's perfect design.... This traditional family is the fabric of all social order and the foundational institution that builds and maintains strong societies."
Also earlier this year, a statement denouncing "government schools" as "officially godless" had been proposed by retired Air Force general T.C. Pinckney and attorney Bruce Shortt. The meeting's resolutions committee rejected that in favor of a broader and less pointed warning against "the cultural drift in our nation toward secularism." Pinckney took the floor to propose a briefer amendment encouraging parents to provide their children "a thoroughly Christian education" through private day
schools or homeschooling. That was defeated by a show of hands after the most spirited debate of the meeting.
The Reverend Calvin Wittman, who chaired the resolutions committee, said half its members are homeschoolers but that the panel opposed Pinckney's bid because parents must decide. Baptists must be careful "not to usurp the authority that God has placed firmly in the home," he said, adding that there wasn't enough consensus among church members to issue such a statement.