What is your church doing to change public perception?

In this thread, http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=6974551#post6974551, we’re discussing how individual southern baptist churches can’t be painted with the same brush as the SBC because the SBC is the minority and supposedly this particular denomination is accepting of homosexuality and don’t tow the hard line against gays.

Well, after surfing around the various sites, I have yet to find a single SB or Baptist church that accepts homosexuality as a natural and legitimate creation of their god. None of them have said that they’ll perform homosexual “marriage” services. None of them say that “practicing” gays can go to heaven. Nearly all say it is a “lifestyle”.

I believe that except for the Episcopals (Hi Siege and Poly!) (and very few others) this is a core belief of nearly every christian denomination. If I’m wrong, I’d like to see some websites or hear your examples of how your church is different, and what you’re doing to change public perception. This could include, press releases, TV interviews, talk shows, rallies, website statements, or anything else that is more than just a comment in passing during Sunday services.

I’m sure this is the wrong forum, but I couldn’t decide where to put it. If you mod types feel the need to park it elsewhere, have at it.

No responses? I’d like to think that because it’s Sunday, everyone’s at church changing those public perceptions, but…

SB who just got home from church here.

I taught the college age sunday school today and my topic was the uproar over “The Book of Daniel” (the new series that has Jesus as a character) and the furor over Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays.

My wrap up after the class was that Christians will take up any battle to feel they are “fighting the good fight”, when what we are really supposed to be doing is loving God and each other unconditionally. I postited that we fight all of these other battles to make us feel good and occupy our spiritual life because we fail miserably at the one thing Jesus asked us to do…love God and each other…

So what will I do to change the perception of the SB church? I will do my best to love my neighbor regardless of anything. Straight? Gay? Black? Jew? Atheist? Convict? Oppressor? Friend? Purple? Muslim? Illegal alien? Love 'em all.

Well except the Purples. Fuck them

I think there is a very fine line to walk here.

Some groups are entirely defined by their relationship to one issue. We’ll use the KKK as a handy example of this. If you’re a KKK member, you are a bigot. If you are not a bigot, you do not join the KKK. If you become a non-bigot, you leave the KKK.

That one’s easy.

Some groups cannot be defined except as members of the group. I am an American. What do you know about me based on that? You can say:

  1. That I’m an American, and
  2. That I’m an American.

That’s it. You can’t tell my beliefs, my politics, my feelings toward Bug Selig (hate him!), or cauliflower (love it!), or if I’m tall (I’m not), or religious (I’m not), or friendly (I’m not), or employed (I am).

Religious affliation is somewhere in between. When I identified as a Catholic, I accepted that certain things would be assumed of me, things like what my position would be on Biblical inerrancy, to pick something fairly innocuous that most Catholics would agree on.

Changing religions is easier than changing citizenship, but much harder than no longer going to Kiwanis.

My wife, daughter, and I are Episcopalian. It is self-explanatory.

Here’s an organization of Baptist churches that describe themselves as “Welcoming and Affirming”: http://www.rainbowbaptists.org/wachurches.htm

Seems to be plenty of resources on the site about the issue as well.

I believe there are also a number of Unitarian Universalist churches that practice Christianity, but are still in line with the bulk of their religion in accepting homosexuality.

Thanks for the link. I found a couple of sites there that state inclusiveness as part of their mission. Good to see. It’s still BY FAR the minority, and I stand by my statement that MOST baptists/southern baptists are against homosexuality. So much so that it seems rather ridiculous for these churches on this site to call themselves baptist. I’ll check the site in 10 years and see if it could even be remotely considered a “movement.”

I know…those fucking Purples. I have no room for them either.

Glad to hear you’re fighting the good fight. One down…12,999,999 to go!! :wink:

See, the way I see it is that as long as the bigotry in baptist (or most christian) doctrine exists, you are accepting that as your own when you join. Particularly when they clearly define their stance on their official sites. Using your KKK example, they claim a lot of things, racial and religous bigotry included. As you said, if you don’t embrace the bigotry, you shouldn’t join. Here’s what they claim:

Looks pretty good on the surface, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t negate the fact that they’re bigots. You can say you belong for all the good things they do, but unless you consider all facets of the organization, you’re kidding yourself if you think it’s unfair to be lumped in with the bad as well.

Wow, just about everything.

I’m a member of the Cathedral of Hope which is one of the largest LGBT churches in the world.

Here is their mission statement:

The Mission of the Cathedral of Hope is
to reclaim Christianity as a faith of
extravagant grace,
radical inclusion and
relentless compassion

The Cathedral broadcasts on television in many cities, online throughout the world, and on Air America radio in Dallas.
The Metropolitan Community Church is another group of churches which is supportive of gays.

Also, the United Church of Christ voted to support gay marriage as well as full inclusion of LGBT people in their ministry.

First, a lot of independent Baptist churches may have stances ranging from total affirmation to Fred Phelps, but won’t have an Internet presence. I found nothing in a quick search for two large Baptist churches in Raleigh that are gay-affirming: First Baptist and Pullen Memorial Baptist, both of which left the SBC quite a while ago.

You can add Dopers Sauron and Aries28 (husband and wife) to those opposing from within. They have been making small but noticeable waves within their own congregation, guiding an adult class, for example, and asking meaningful questions at the annual meeting. (That makes it 3 down, 12,999,997 to go? ;))

I found this site talking about denominations advocating fairness.

My own parish and diocese, I don’t need to do much with as regards the issue. Our bishop came out firmly in favor of Gene Robinson’s ordination, alienating some large conservative parishes to take a principled stand. Somewhere in the depths of the archives here I reproduced a portion of the formal teaching he did on the subject. Our clergy couple is steadfastly for gay rights and for inclusiveness, so much so that it gets at least alluded to about one sermon in four. We happen to be a fairly left-wing parish in the diocese, but in general the sentiment is supportive, even among the more conservative parishes. (Skammer may have some words to say on their balanced, principled stand.)

Also remember that many of us are in fact standing on principle, a sense that backing gay rights and fully welcoming gay members is precisely what Jesus taught, as opposed to what people would infer from Paul and others to support their own prejudices.

Good sites, effectively address the issues. Thanks.

Those two baptist churches need to cough up the cash and get websites!

Truth be told, it’s nice to see a tiny glimmer of hope, but it’s really a drop in the bucket. GENERALLY SPEAKING, the sites and anecdotes provided here are predominatly non-Baptist. They have, however, contributed to the softening (however slight) of my take on christianity in general. I hope this is the tip of a big honkin’ iceberg.

I am an Episcopalian and have also attended services at a Unity Church (not to be confused with Unitarian).

From Unity Headquarter’s Webpages:

So, if an immigrant comes to the US are they responsible for every bad thing the US does?

Or can it be that some organizations are so large, encompass so many people, that every person within it is going to disagree on something?

I wouldn’t be a member of a homophobic church, but then I wouldn’t be a member of a church at all. I still considered myself an RC for a long time even though I have never in my life believed in Jesus and found the entire concept ludicrous. But I was born a Catholic. I was baptized and had first communion and confirmed and even went to a Catholic university without ever believing in the major tenet of the religion. I also don’t believe in sexism, and it’s rampant in the RCC. Yet until I became an actual atheist, I considered myself a Catholic. Why? Because it was the only church I knew and the only church I had ever attended.

My church–Central Baptist Church in Wayne, PA–is one of those. I’ve gone there all my life, and I didn’t even realize until I was a teenager that we were so different from what most people think when they hear “Baptist.”

As for what my church does… We have a mission group dedicated to sex/gender/orientation equality. We’ve got a rainbow sticker on our door and a table of GLBT pamphlets and stuff right outside the sanctuary. Members of our church are involved in Soulforce, an organization to protest against religious and political discrimination based on sexual orientation/gender identity.

The thing about Baptists is that individual churches have autonomy (there are associations, such as the Southern Baptists, but it’s not required that a church belong to one or follow everything it says), which has led to a wide range of beliefs within the denomination. There is no unifying “Baptist doctrine” that says anything about homosexuality.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist . . . The UUA is very gay-friendly and I’d like to be able to say it’s doing something to “change public perception” – but most people seem to recall its existence only when Garrison Keillor makes jokes about it.

This is where you may be in error - no, it is not a core belief.

There are exceptionally few churches for which anything to do with homosexuality is a core belief. When it comes to core beliefs of most mainstream christians, core beliefs tend to do with God, Christ, the Spirit, people, people’s relationship with God, people’s relationships with other people, etc. Ideas about homosexuality are incredibly unimportant as far as beliefs of the church. For most churches they may barely, barely make the list (in the Catholic catechism, it isn’t paragraph 1, nor 2, it’s paragraphs #2357-2359. There’s more in there about sacred art.) - it’s not a prominent thing, it isn’t a core thing, it definitely isn’t a central part of what the church does or why people attend churches.

Baptists, despite the press they get, are not the majority of Christians. They’re also ridiculously non-heirarchical. The core thing that distinguishes them is not how they feel about homosexuality, it’s how they feel about baptism (and heirarchy). My guess is the reason that one might attend a Baptist church is because of the things that are actually core beliefs

I don’t think a nation and a religion can be compared side by side with regard to this. I see your point, and as I said, I understand that not everyone believes every single tenet of a particular faith. But I also think that issues that are so huge, and so important (to me, anyway) hold much more weight than some inconsequential differences, and if those differences are hurting people, and are hypocrital to the very purpose of a faith, it would be in the best interest of the faithful to pull out and reorganize.

As I said earlier, I understand there’s a huge difference between Southern Baptist and Regular Ol’ Baptist. I’ve been given a few links to some of those Regular Ol’ Baptist sites and they seem to back up what you say. But the Southern Baptist churches nearly all link to the SBC page when asked where they stand on homosexuality. It IS doctrine and it IS negative.