The move enacts one of the most rigid anti-gay policies among the nation's Christian churches. The vote changes the convention's long-standing laws, which previously only had one simple requirement for membership: support the convention with both cooperation and financial contributions.
"Homosexuality is a sin and it's unacceptable behavior, and for the benefit of the church, its members and the benefit of society of a whole, we are taking this stance," said Norman Jameson of the Baptist State Convention.
"It's the only sin that we're trying to publish in our school books and teach our children, that this is just a lifestyle," said Bill Sanderson of Wendell, who is the pastor behind the proposal. "Why don't we do that for murders, thieves? Why don't we do that for other groups?"
Jack McKinney is pastor of Pullen Baptist Church in Raleigh. His church welcomes gays and lesbians, and he said the proposed ban is sad.
"Generations from now, I think people will look back at this as a bigoted act, and this is a very sad day for the church when we start to exclude people for who they are," McKinney said.
The measure to change the organization's by-laws passed with a two-thirds majority during the second day of the three-day convention. As a result, up to 17 churches statewide might be removed from the organization.
Four local congregations -- including Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary and Millbrook Baptist Church in Raleigh -- support the Alliance of Baptists. The convention has said that national organization approves of homosexuality and that those churches are in jeopardy of removal.