Southern Baptists break with global network
Citing "a continual leftward drift" in the Baptist World Alliance, the Southern Baptist Convention yesterday overwhelmingly voted to withdraw from the international group.

A Southern Baptist committee said the BWA had taken anti-American stances, had become tolerant of liberal theology, and had wrongly accepted the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an American group that has been critical of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Those accusations are a mystery to BWA general secretary Denton Lotz. Yes, that's brother-in-law of popular Bible teacher Anne Graham Lotz, Billy's daughter.

"We certainly are not liberal," Lotz says. "We're all conservative evangelicals."

But Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the committee recommending the split, pointed to Baptist World Alliance's inclusion of American Baptist Churches, and that denomination's recent accepting of the membership of Evergreen Baptist Association. That group has two churches that accept practicing homosexuals.

To Patterson, being a member of an organization that has links to such churches, no matter how far removed, is a form of infidelity to Scripture.

"We can no longer afford in this particular day, when the press for 'gay marriage' is on, to be in an alliance of any kind with denominations which support 'gay marriage' in any form or fashion," he said.

Lotz notes that the American Baptist Convention has "a statement that says that homosexuality is inconsistent with the Christian lifestyle."

ABC General Secretary Roy Medley called Patterson's comments "completely outrageous. … To characterize American Baptist Churches USA as being in favor of gay marriage goes beyond the pale. Our policy statement on family life, adopted in 1984, maintains, 'We affirm that God intends marriage to be a monogamous, life-long, one-flesh union of a woman and a man.'"

As you can see, this debate is really nothing like the debates in the global Anglican Communion or the United Methodist Church. Both of those denominations have more hierarchical structures, and their large church bodies carry more weight in individual congregations than in Baptist polity. The Baptist World Alliance has no authority which is more of a fellowship or fraternity, with no authority. And where both sides in the mainline denominations tend to agree that disagreements are between liberals and conservatives (though terms like "orthodox" and "fundamentalist" tend to be used more often in the debates), in the Baptist world there's still a major debate over what makes one a conservative evangelical.

Article continues below

More articles on leaving the Baptist World Alliance:

More on the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting:

  • Baptist pastors cheer architects of `resurgence' | Hundreds of Southern Baptist pastors cheered leaders of the "conservative resurgence" Monday, 25 years after they launched it in Houston to stem fears of ambivalence in younger generations (Houston Chronicle)

  • Southern Baptists still divided over conservatives' rise | On the revolt's 25th anniversary, Baptists still disagree about what happened and how it changed the convention (Palm Beach Post)

  • Giving 'Exodus' a new meaning | Southern Baptists, show the way and perhaps many will follow. Stop waiting for the world's permission to fully exercise your faith and beliefs (which will never come) and start training your children in the ways your God wants them to go (Cal Thomas, The Washington Times)

  • Bush finds common cause with Baptists | President Bush said Tuesday he was leery of casting himself as "more religious than my neighbor" as he aligned himself on an array of issues with a politically influential Christian group (Associated Press)

Article continues below
  • Mega-pastor | Prestonwood leader wrapping up term as Southern Baptist president (The Dallas Morning News)

More articles

Churches still can't endorse candidates:

Vatican: Inquisition not so bad:

  • Vatican: Inquisition not so widespread | Torture, burning at the stake and other punishment for the faithful condemned as witches or heretics by church tribunals during the centuries-long Inquisition was not as widespread as commonly believed, the Vatican said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  • Historians say Inquisition wasn't that bad | According to the documents from Vatican archives relating to the trials of Jews, Muslims, Cathars, witches, scientists and other non-Catholics in Europe between the 13th and the 19th centuries, the number actually killed or tortured into confession during the Inquisition was far fewer than previously thought (The Guardian, London)

  • Inquisition wasn't quite as bad as people think, says Pope | The Vatican sought to play down the terrors of the Inquisition yesterday, claiming that far fewer people were tortured and executed for heresy than was popularly believed (The Telegraph, London)

  • Also: The Spanish Inquisition (Script, Monty Python's Flying Circus)


Article continues below

Catholic bishops discuss abuse prevention:

  • U.S. Catholic bishops approve new series of audits on abuse | The bishops also spent the afternoon discussing whether Catholic lawmakers who defy church teaching on abortion should be denied Communion, several church officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said (The New York Times)

  • Bishops order nationwide checkup on abuse prevention | All Catholic dioceses will be audited to see whether they are complying with 2002 church rules on protecting the young (Los Angeles Times)

  • Catholic bishops authorize abuse audit | America's Roman Catholic bishops voted overwhelmingly to authorize more evaluations of sex abuse prevention plans in all U.S. dioceses, despite earlier attempts by some church leaders to delay further audits (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: U.S. victims of priest sexual abuse fear waffling | A group representing victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests pleaded with U.S. Catholic bishops on Tuesday not to water down strict rules they set two years ago to weed out bad clergymen (Reuters)

  • Report criticizes archdiocese's investigation | A volunteer group of therapists and advocates for children released a report Tuesday criticizing an investigation of sexual abuse allegations against the chief canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Boston, accusing the archdiocese of ignoring its own policies and canon law in handling the complaint (The Boston Globe)


  • 'God' decision affirms court's Christian views | Although the Supreme Court did not technically rule to keep "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, it sent enough signals in a ruling Monday that suggests the 50-year phrase "one nation under God" will survive indefinitely, a UTEP political science professor said (El Paso Times, Tex.)

  • Man who opposes 'God' in Pledge gets $1M | Michael Newdow said he does not expect to receive any money from the Rev. Austin Miles despite libel judgment (Associated Press)

  • 8 justices block effort to pull phrase in Pledge | An inconclusive decision by the Supreme Court left "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance but kept the issue alive (The New York Times)

  • Atheist father blasts decision on Pledge | The atheist father who challenged the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance says the Supreme Court's dismissal of the case represents "a blow for parental rights" (Associated Press)

Article continues below
  • 'Under God' to stay in Pledge of Allegiance | Justices reverse lower court ruling (The Boston Globe)

  • 'Under God' remains in Pledge | The Pledge of Allegiance can remain in public schools for now, the Supreme Court said yesterday, reversing on a technicality a 2002 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the words "under God" are unconstitutional (The Washington Times)

  • Students say pledge flap 'not that big a deal' | The U.S. Supreme Court's decision Monday to retain the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance ruffled few feathers at Newport Harbor High School, where most students said they aren't put off by the religious reference (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

  • Justices keep 'God' in Pledge of Allegiance | In tossing out a California atheist's challenge, the high court avoids the question of constitutionality. This leaves the door open to similar lawsuits (Los Angeles Times)

  • Justices keep 'Under God' in Pledge | Atheist father lacked standing to sue on behalf of daughter, court rules (The Washington Post)


  • In support of the Pledge | Ultimately, there must be a ruling on the merits of the issue, and in that case we urge the court to preserve the traditions developed to honor this country's commitment to religious freedom (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  • Tiptoeing around 'Under God' | The Supreme Court can't dodge the phrase forever (Erwin Chemerinsky, Los Angeles Times)

  • Father knows worst | The high court wasn't chicken to duck the pledge case (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate)

  • Supreme Court wisely deflects dispute over Pledge | The Pledge of Allegiance is a weak and needless entry into the religious-freedom argument (Editorial, USA Today)

  • Never mind the Pledge | Punting may deflate the end of the court's term, but passivity here was a virtue, not a vice (Editorial, The Washington Post)

Homosexuality & religion:

  • Third gay pastor named for Seattle Methodist church | In what could become another test of the United Methodist Church's stance on gay clergy, Bishop Elias Galvan of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference is appointing the Rev. Katie Ladd, a lesbian, pastor of Seattle's Woodland Park United Methodist Church (The Seattle Times)

  • Episcopal bishop blesses a gay couple | The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington conducted a blessing service for one of the country's top homosexual rights advocates and his partner while protesters stood outside holding crosses swathed in black fabric (The Washington Times)

Article continues below

Gay marriage:

Gay marriage in New York:

  • Area clergyman leads protest of gay marriage | Opponents of gay marriage rallied on the Capitol steps Tuesday to urge lawmakers not only to ban it but also to pass a law that says New York won't recognize gay marriages performed in other states (Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.)

  • Minister at epicenter of gay-marriage battle | After sitting out most of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, to her everlasting regret, Unitarian minister Dawn Sangrey decided to fill that gap in her life by plunging into the battle over gay marriage (The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y.)

  • New York court backs gay marriage | A New York court has ruled in favor of gay marriages saying that failure to do so would breach the equal rights laws written into the state's constitution (BBC, video)

  • Mayor cleared of gay-marriage charges | A judge Thursday dismissed criminal charges against a small-town mayor for marrying gay couples, saying the state failed to show it has a legitimate interest in banning same-sex weddings (Associated Press)

  • No charges for mayor over gay marriages | New Paltz official performed 25 gay marriages in February, contrary to NY's domestic relations law (Newsday)

  • New Paltz news | Real criminals love it when our prosecutors get distracted with "crimes" of the heart (Editorial, The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y.)

  • N.Y. judge bars mayor from marrying gays | A mayor who performed rapid-fire marriages for 25 gay couples was barred Monday from marrying same-sex couples, after a New York judge ruled that it was up to the Legislature or the courts to decide the issue (Associated Press)

Article continues below

Homosexuals in Canada:

  • Just 1% of Canadians say they're homosexual | Are there 320,000 gay people in the country? Or is it at least 1.6 million, or perhaps closer to 3.2 million? (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Gay activists dispute Statscan survey | For the first time in its history, Statistics Canada has released a survey on the sexual orientation of Canadians, but some members of the gay community contend that the numbers are dramatically lower than the truth (Canadian Press)

  • Gays, lesbians and the numbers game | The absence of political clout should not deprive gays and lesbians of defenders where it counts most -- among the lawmakers in Parliament (Editorial, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)


  • Answering the call in the global fight against AIDS | Awareness leads to action for an evangelical church in Paramount, which has adopted an African village hit hard by the disease (Los Angeles Times)

  • Silence on AIDS shames black church | The black church stands as the cornerstone of the African-American community, but there is one pressing social issue it has turned a tin ear to—AIDS (Rick Badie, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • U.S. right squeezes lifesaving aid to Africans | In Ghana, the trickle-down effect of the gag rule has been widespread. And because Ghanaians — Christian and Muslim — are a religious people, the effect has been to undermine many programs that conservatives could support (Barbara Crossette, Los Angeles Times)


Related Elsewhere:

Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to

What is Weblog?

Check out Books & Culture's weekly weblog, Content & Context.

See our past Weblog updates:

June 15 | 14
June 10 | 9 | 8 | 7
June 4 | 3 | 2 | 1
May 28 | 26 | 25 | 24
May 21 | 20 | 19 | 18 | 17
May 14b | 14a | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10
and more, back to November 1999

Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
Previous Weblog Columns: