LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Southern Baptist Convention, which provides the largest share of active-duty military chaplains, has barred members from taking part in weddings, counseling sessions and couples retreats for same-sex couples.
The North American Mission Board, an arm of the SBC, also prohibits chaplains from participating in any services that would appear to endorse or accept same-sex unions.
The group issued the decision in the wake of the U.S. Department of Defense recognizing same-sex marriages and extending benefits to gay spouses.
"Our chaplains want to uphold the authority and relevancy of Scripture while continuing to serve in a very diverse setting," Doug Carver, a retired Army major general who leads the mission board's chaplaincy efforts, said in a statement Aug. 29. "We believe these updated guidelines will help them do that while still sharing the love and the hope of Christ with everyone."
Mike Ebert, a spokesman for the mission board , said the Southern Baptist Convention spoke with defense officials before issuing the guidelines.
Defense Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said, "A chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs."