CBF keeps policy of not funding gays
July 6 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

CBF keeps policy of not funding gays | Friday, July 6, 2001

Friday, July 6, 2001

CBF keeps policy of not funding gays

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor ATLANTA - The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) kept in place a policy prohibiting the hiring of practicing homosexuals or the funding of organizations that endorse homosexual behavior. CBF members defeated a motion that would have suspended the policy in a vote on the final day of CBF's June 28-30 General Assembly in Atlanta. The CBF Coordinating Council approved the policy in October 2000 as an "Organizational value statement regarding the funding of partners." It includes the statement "we believe that the foundation of a Christian sexual ethic is faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman and celibacy in singleness."

The policy adds: "Because of this organizational value, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship does not allow for the expenditure of funds for organizations or causes that condone, advocate or affirm homosexual practice. Neither does this CBF organizational value allow for the purposeful hiring of a staff person or the sending of a missionary who is a practicing homosexual."

The motion to suspend the policy, by Larry and Carolyn Dipboye of Tennessee, called for the appointment of a special committee to study "a Christian sexual ethic," soliciting opinion from CBF members and reporting back in one year.

The motion was defeated in a standing vote of 701-502, as counted by the ushers.

The issue first arose during a pre-assembly meeting of the Coordinating Council on June 27 when Dixie Lea Petrey of Tennessee offered a similar motion. After lengthy discussion, the motion was defeated 38-13.

Another motion, to change the policy's title to "A CBF Organizational Personnel and Administrative Funding Policy" was approved.

The Dipboyes' motion kept the matter alive by bringing it to the floor of the General Assembly, and it was assigned to a breakout session for further discussion.

During a lively hour moderated by Bart Tichener of Columbia, Mo., nine people spoke for the motion and eight spoke against it. Six of the eight who spoke against the motion were from Texas. All who spoke in favor were from east of the Mississippi River.

No one who spoke for the motion expressed affirmation of homosexual practice but argued that the matter had been decided without adequate discussion or input from the membership.

Opponents of the motion were more inclined to address the moral question. Bill Sherman, from Nashville, Tenn., said the Coordinating Council's statement was as good as it could be on a divisive issue. "The same Bible that tells Baptists to believe also says Baptists should behave," he said. "There comes a time when you have to say right is right and wrong is wrong."

Todd Lake of Waco, Texas, said that even the corrupt popes of the Renaissance period never tried to redefine their behavior as something other than sin, as advocates of homosexual behavior are attempting to do.

Dorothy Murphree, of First Baptist Church in Asheville, said she did not want to vote against honest, open dialogue. "It is not right to pick out one issue over others," she said, or "to put finances over fellowship."

David Currie of Texas said CBF did not pick out the issue but that it had been forced on the organization. "While some want to discuss it," he said, "churches want to know CBF's position. They want to know if CBF will send missionaries that hold certain positions.

"I'm tired of hearing people say we don't believe anything," Currie said. "We're not being ungracious - we've been forced into saying 'do we support this or not?' The churches want to know."

A substitute motion to retain the organizational value while appointing a study committee failed. As time for discussion expired, participants in the breakout session voted by an estimated 55-45 percentage to recommend the matter for approval on the convention floor.

By policy, motions are also reviewed by an Advisory Counsel to the Coordinating Counsel. It voted to recommend against approval of the motion.

When the issue came to the floor during the final business session on June 30, CBF Coordinator Dan Vestal began the discussion by providing more background information. He said many pastors and others had contacted him to say they were opposed to funding gay and lesbian students as candidates for ministry, since so few churches would consider hiring them. One said he planned to bring up the issue at the 2000 meeting in Orlando, but Vestal asked him to wait until the Coordinating Council could formulate a policy.

An internal policy prohibiting the hiring of persons known to be practicing homosexuals already existed, Vestal said, noting that both he and previous CBF Coordinator Cecil Sherman had openly expressed their disapproval of homosexual behavior.

Vestal said he drafted the value statement and shared it with the deans of the theological schools that have partnering relationships with CBF. Vestal stressed that he asked for the deans' input, but not their approval. Some approved, and some did not.

Vestal then took the statement to the Advisory Council and the Coordinating Council, which adopted it last October.

"I take responsibility for the statement," Vestal said. "It expresses my convictions, though not everyone in CBF shares those convictions.

"It was a sincere effort of leadership," he said, "the best I knew how to do at the time."

During the discussion period, Larry Dipboye said he was concerned that the policy targeted homosexuals only and did not speak to other moral issues. Nick Foster of Alabama echoed that sentiment and asked if there would also be policy statements issued on adultery, gluttony or other sins. He said CBF should not fear what others say or believe predictions that rescinding the motion would be the death knell for the organization.

Keith Parks of Texas, former head of the SBC International Mission Board and the CBF missions effort, said, "Let's don't exclude the many who generally agree with us who will think we are fixated on this issue. To vote for this is to say this is the highest priority for CBF for the next 12 months. This is not true, and not what the churches want. There is a minority that wants to emphasize this, but passing it will exclude a larger number of others who don't want to focus on this but on mission and ministry." Parks said CBF should focus on the broader agenda of the kingdom of God.

After a series of parliamentary questions, a vote was called and the motion was defeated.

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7/6/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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