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IRD: Will Baptist Group Follow Collapsing Mainline Churches in Sexuality Compromise?

"In calling the meeting an 'awkward family conversation about sexuality' the CBF may be charting new territory for the denomination's sexual ethics. -- Mark Tooley, IRD President

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- A conference held by a group of U.S. Baptists may point to a potential shift on sexual ethics for the group. The conference is already making waves as the event draws near.

Figures within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are hosting "A [Baptist] Conference on Sexuality and Covenant" April 19-21 at the historic First Baptist Church Decatur, Georgia.

David Gushee, a noted ethicist at Mercer University, is one of the conference's chief organizers. Gushee is a prominent spokesman on the Evangelical Left. He chairs the New Evangelical Partnership for Common Good, headed by former National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) official Richard Cizik, who lost his NAE job after backing same-sex civil unions. Gushee states that the changing face of sexual identity and practice across the U.S. requires the church to ponder its long-held position on sexual ethics.

The build-up to the conference has been framed around the need for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to discuss what sexuality fidelity looks like in 21st century America, as traditional sexual norms have been abandoned by large swaths of the American population.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which claims 1800 congregations, started in 1991 in reaction against the conservative majority of the 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "Launched by dissenting 'moderate' Baptists in response to the emerging conservative consensus in the Southern Baptist Convention, some of the CBF leadership now seem poised to embrace liberal culture and sexual revisionism.

    "Gushee asserts that Baptists have avoided serious conversation about sexuality. On the contrary, what many Baptists have done is not compromise with the broader culture on an issue to which scripture and global Christian tradition speak directly."
The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church's biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.