BALTIMORE — The new president of the Southern Baptist Convention said Wednesday that the denomination won't relax its position on same-sex marriage and transgender identity, even as courts across the country strike down gay marriage bans and the convention tries to bolster membership.
Southern Baptist Convention president-elect Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, told the Associated Press that although America's attitude toward gay and transgender individuals is rapidly changing, the convention does not intend to alter its position that gender identity cannot be different from biological sex and that homosexuality is immoral.
"We stand strong on what the Scripture says about marriage between a man and a woman. At the same time, we do know that we have this issue facing our culture," Floyd said. "But due to the situation today, we must hold the word of God in one hand and the love of God in the other and have compassion and love to bring people into the fellowship."
On Tuesday, the convention approved a resolution opposing efforts by governments to "validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy" at its annual convention. The resolution and meeting come as the group attempts to reverse declining membership and baptisms.
Two Mormon activists face excommunication: Two Mormons who have gained national attention for pushing their church to ordain women to the priesthood and to accept openly gay members have been notified this week that they face excommunication for apostasy.
The two are Kate Kelly, a human rights lawyer who founded the Ordain Women movement, and John P. Dehlin, the creator of a popular online forum for Mormons and a doctoral candidate in psychology who has published his research into the problems faced by gay church members.
It is the first time since 1993, when the church ejected a handful of intellectuals known as the "September Six," that it has moved so forcefully to quash such prominent critical voices.
The move is a sudden change of course for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had been working to project an image of greater diversity and openness. The church's public affairs office did not have an immediate response.
Information from New York Times was used in this report.