- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2003

PHOENIX (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention approved resolutions yesterday denouncing same-sex “marriage” and prejudice against Jews, while expressing concern for people with AIDS.

The nation’s largest non-Catholic denomination also reiterated its support for the U.S.-led war on Iraq and asserted its members’ right to proclaim Christianity as the only path to salvation.

The resolutions, approved on the last day of the SBC’s annual meeting, are not binding on individual churches, but are meant to express the denomination’s opinion.

In the resolution on sharing their faith, the Southern Baptists said they have been unfairly portrayed as “intolerant and even dangerous because of our commitment to Christ.”

They affirmed their opposition to same-sex “marriage” and called on all judges and public officials to do the same.

“Legalizing same-sex ‘marriage’ would convey a societal approval of a homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible calls sinful and dangerous,” the resolution read.

No U.S. state recognizes same-sex “marriages,” though Vermont has instituted civil unions that give homosexual couples the benefits and responsibilities of marriage. The Canadian prime minister said Tuesday he will file a bill to permit same-sex “marriages” in that nation.

Earlier in their meeting, Southern Baptist leaders encouraged their members to reach out compassionately to homosexuals with a message about how Christianity can help them become heterosexual.

Another resolution noted the increase in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide and condemned prejudice against Jews, with whom the SBC has a complex relationship. Southern Baptists aggressively evangelize Jews, which many Jews find offensive, but the denomination also strongly supports the state of Israel.

The denomination also acknowledged the severity of the global AIDS crisis and expressed support for President Bush’s five year, $15 billion initiative to fight AIDS overseas.

Southern Baptists also came out against distributing condoms to prevent the spread of the disease. Abstinence-education programs that emphasize “a Biblical view of sexuality” would be more effective, they said.

Delegates also restated their support for the U.S.-led war on Iraq and opposition to abortion.

In other business, the denomination voted to cut $125,000 of its annual $425,000 payment to the Baptist World Alliance in a dispute related to differences with church moderates.

The alliance, which says it represents more than 200 Baptist organizations, is considering a request for membership from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which was formed by moderates in response to the Southern Baptists’ conservative shift.

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