Alliance of Baptists President Michael Castle said March 25 he will ask the leaders at the progressive fellowship’s upcoming annual gathering to consider moving the 2017 annual meeting away from North Carolina in light of a new state law that bars municipalities from enacting LGBT protections.
Castle, senior pastor of Harmony Creek Church in Dayton, Ohio, said he will ask the Alliance board of directors and Alliance community when they meet April 8-10 in St. Louis whether they should move next year’s meeting in Raleigh, N.C., “as an act of protest and solidarity with justice organizations, religious communities and businesses who are rising up to say ‘no’ to discrimination, fear and hate.”
Alliance of Baptists leaders quickly condemned last week’s passage of HB-2, an emergency measure signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory to prevent implementation of a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender individuals the right to use public facilities based on their gender identity.
A statement on the Alliance website called the measure “punitive and regressive” and demanded “equal protection for all in a state that has gone on record suppressing voters, gerrymandering districts, refusing Medicaid expansion, loosening gun restrictions and considering Christianity as the official state religion.”
Castle, who is gay, denounced the new law as “Holy Week déjà vu.”
“On the very week when Christians commemorate the final week of Jesus’ life, arrest and crucifixion, the North Carolina legislature and governor have demonstrated once again the horrors of an unholy alliance of political and religious powers to wound and hurt the marginalized, the oppressed and the poor,” Castle said. “It was the same kind of power that killed Jesus because he came proclaiming good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom from oppression and celebrating God’s favor.”
“After listening to all the ridiculous and baseless talk over restroom fears voiced many elected officials and religious leaders in support of this discriminatory law, it is time for people whose faith is rooted and grounded in love, who support religious liberty, who promote an intelligent faith-based sexuality education for children, youth and adults, and who seek justice for the poor and marginalized to speak up and say ‘no’ to such fearmongering and ignorance (both political and religious) that leads to such hurtful, hateful, and unjust actions,” he said. “The Alliance of Baptists may be small, but we will continue to raise a loud, clear and courageous voice for the Jesus way of love and justice for all our neighbors.”
The law, which requires transgender individuals to use the public restroom that corresponds to the biological sex listed on their birth certificate, sparked protests from the LGBT and business communities.
The National Basketball Association said it is possible the league will move its 2017 All-Star Game out of North Carolina in response to the measure.
“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events,” the league said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not know yet what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”
On Monday a transgender couple, a lesbian law professor and two civil-liberties groups filed a lawsuit claiming the North Carolina law is unconstitutional.
The individual plaintiffs, ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina said the law brands LGBT persons “as second class citizens” and denies them equal protection of law in violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.