Elected leaders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship passed a rare social commentary statement June 24 condemning the June 15 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
“CBF is not a like-minded fellowship about matters related to human sexuality,” says the statement adopted by the organization’s Governing Board, but “violence, whether motivated by racism or religion, is an affront to the God who created each one of us in God’s image and likeness.”
“Admittedly and sadly, the Church has been said to be tacitly complicit in the Orlando attack because some Christians have either spoken in hateful ways about LGBTQ persons or have remained silent when other people spewed hate,” the statement says. “No more. We stand united in our belief that every person is created in God’s image and endowed with a sacred dignity that cannot be taken away.”
“We stand united in condemning anyone who questions the full worth of LGBTQ persons before God or as citizens of our country,” the statement continues. “We reject any language and condemn any person who advocates violence against LGBTQ persons.”
Acting independently of the Governing Board, nearly 400 individuals signed a separate statement posted online Friday morning that affirms solidarity with the LGBTQ community and opposes the CBF’s own policy against hiring gays unless they take a vow of celibacy.
“We repent of our complicity in systems — even and especially our own — that perpetuate bias and discrimination against LGBTQ persons, and covenant to work and witness for full inclusion of all people at every level of religious life,” says the unofficial statement signed by 386 individuals affiliated with CBF as of Monday morning June 27.
“We recognize that for many in the LGBTQ community prayer has too often been weaponized as a tool for oppression, subjugation and spiritual abuse,” the unofficial statement continues. “We call this ministerial malpractice, and covenant only to pray when our prayer motivates us to act.”
CBF bylaws forbid the introduction from the floor of the General Assembly of resolutions addressing any “moral, ethical, theological, doctrinal, political or public policy” issue.
“The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is a network of Baptist Christian churches and persons who come together for the purpose of doing for the Kingdom of God, so CBF is not in the habit of issuing proclamations,” the Governing Board statement explains. “Most of the time it makes more sense for our churches and people to speak for themselves.”
“There are, however, extraordinary moments in our life together when something so wonderfully good or something so unspeakably evil happens that we feel compelled to speak with a common voice,” CBF leaders proclaim. “The recent mass shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando was so unspeakably evil that it calls for a unified response from all good people of faith. CBF stands united in our grief for the senseless and tragic loss of life resulting from this terroristic attack.”