Southern Baptists want to reach out to those outside of their traditionally White Southern base, so at the Southern Baptist Convention held in New Orleans this week, they elected their first African-American president. Yes, with the election of Fred Luter (pictured), Pastor of the Franklin Ave. Baptist Church in New Orleans and their first Black president, the group offered a symbolic gesture to combat its longstanding legacy of racism.
Hold your applause, though, because all they did was trade one form of prejudice for another and present it in darker wrapping.
Yes, the group nearly unanimously passed a resolution that states ”the exclusive union of one man and one woman” and the equally killjoy note that “all sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that the resolution does recognize that gays and lesbians face “unique struggles,” but affirms that gays lack the “distinguishing features of classes entitled to special protections.” That sounds like a fancy way of talking brainwashing, but whatever floats your boat.
Southern Baptists, and all of the religious community, really, have every right to express their views on marriage. However, what these groups continuously fail to grasp is the fact that they marry people under the accordance of the state. Your dogma does not dictate who can and cannot get married. That is why you preachers aren’t the only people who can marry people. If you don’t believe me, ask any person who had enough spare change to buy the right to perform weddings via the Internet.
With that reality check cashed, I’d like to highlight my biggest problem with the resolution that:
”It is regrettable that homosexual rights activists and those who are promoting the recognition of ‘same-sex marriage’ have misappropriated the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement.”
One of the resolution authors, Rev. Dwight McKissic, said to the AJC:
“It’s important to sound the alarm again, because the culture is changing.”
Funny how McKissic, who is Black, can criticize cultural changes as it pertains to people he doesn’t care for yet champion it when it suits his own interest. McKissic also opined that it was an “unfair comparison” for gays to equate same-sex marriage with civil rights.
“They’re equating their sin with my skin,” he said.
Oh, God. This again.
No one ever truly compares gay rights to that of slavery or legalized disenfranchisement on that grand a scale. What people do say, though, is that there are many laws in place that make gays feel like second-class citizens — like Black people, like women, and other minority groups. To take that point and retreat to the “y’all never worn shackles” stance is a superficial way of deflecting.
Not to be a pedant but here is the definition of the term civil rights:
The rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality.
There you have it. And don’t McKissic and those of his ilk remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once saying that after being introduced to Mahatma Gandhi by former Howard University President Mordecai Wyatt Johnson that he bought “a half-dozen books” on the nonviolent revolutionary? How is King learning from one group’s methodology in seeking equal rights any different than gays learning from the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements? Do they not know that the work of Cesar Estrada Chavez in farm workers’ struggle constitutes as a civil rights issue too?
It’s time the whole lot of you silly, selfish Negroes stop acting as if you own the term “civil rights.” Meanwhile, if Southern Baptists think adding Black faces to familiar forms of prejudices is the way to usher in a new era, good luck with that ’cause time is on the side of gays, not old complaints about them.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick