Local News

Reaction Mixed To New Anti-Homosexual Policy For N.C. Baptists

Posted November 14, 2006 6:06 p.m. EST

The Baptist State Convention approved a policy Tuesday that would ban churches from the statewide group if they support the gay lifestyle.

While more than two-thirds of the delegates voted for the measure, it was clear many North Carolina pastors are divided on the issue.

"The Bible is clear. Homosexuality is an abomination," said one Winston-Salem pastor.

However, Pastor Don Gordon of Yates Baptist Church in Durham said he is disappointed in the members' decision. He said the move is more exclusive than inclusive.

"I think a lot of people will see the Baptist church as homophobic," Gordon said.

The new policy means churches can't support, promote or bless homosexual behavior. If they do, they risk being banned from the Baptist State Convention.

The convention's directors said the group wouldn't actively police the policy or monitor churches to make sure they comply with the rule. However, if officials receive complaints about a church disobeying the directive, they would ask questions.

"The attempt would be to find out, 'Is this your position? Do you want to continue being a member of the Baptist State Convention?'" explained Milton Hollifield Jr., executive director of the Baptist State Convention.

Pastor Bill Sanderson of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell proposed the policy. Sanderson said he did so because he believes the homosexual lifestyle has become commonplace in America's culture.

"God didn't create Adam and Steve, He created Adam and Eve," Sanderson said.

Sanderson and other pastors said their church doors are open to gays and lesbians. They can worship with their congregations, but they won't be allowed to become members. They said if homosexuals wish to join, they must repent and change their lifestyle.

The measure impacts 4,080 churches in North Carolina. It takes effect immediately.

Four local congregations -- including Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary and Millbrook Baptist Church in Raleigh -- support the Alliance of Baptists. The convention previously said that national organization approves of homosexuality and that those churches are in jeopardy of removal.

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