By Bob Allen
The president of the Southern Baptist Convention said April 3 on CNN that he misspoke and was misunderstood in an interview on Christian radio linking North Korea’s nuclear threat to arguments about gay marriage in the United States.
Liberal blogs, including People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, picked up audio of comments by SBC President Fred Luter aired March 27 on TruNews with Religious Right talk-show host Rick Wiles.
Wiles asked Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, about saber rattling by North Korean dictator President Kim Jong-un occurring at the same time the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments on same-sex marriage.
“You got this happening over here and you got this happening over here: could the two be connected?” Wiles asked. “Could our slide into immorality be what is unleashing this mad man over here in Asia to punish us?”
Luter answered: “It could be a possibility. I’m not that strong in prophecy, but I would not be surprised that there’s not a connection there simply because of the fact we’ve seen it happen in Scripture before. I would not be surprised that at the time when we are debating same-sex marriage, at a time when we are debating whether or not we should have gays leading the Boy Scout movement, I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that we have a mad man in Asia who is saying some of the things that he’s saying.”
Luter appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 to explain whether he stands by his comments.
“That was really his view on it,” Luter said about Wiles. “He saw that connection. I said, well man I’m not strong in prophecy, I don’t necessarily see that. It’s possible if you say it is, but I don’t see it. I don’t think there’s any connection about what the guy’s doing in North Korea and what’s happening here in America today, none at all.”
After Cooper played the clip of Luter’s original statement, the pastor claimed he was talking about the reference Wiles was making.
“The Scripture I was talking about was the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah, where a city was destroyed because of that type of activity, but I was not directly connecting it with North Korea and what’s happening here in America,” Luter said.
Cooper, who is openly gay, asked Luter about his response to another question from Wiles: What are the ramifications for America if the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right?
“Oh, man, I would hate to think of it,” Luter said on TruRadio. “You talked about Sodom and Gomorrah in your introduction, and I can just see that happening man. It would be like America is pointing its finger at God and saying: ‘I know what your word says God, I know what the Scripture says but we want to be our own king, we want to do things our own way.’ The last time a nation did that they were destroyed, Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed. I just see things getting consistently worse in America because of our decisions that we’ve made to just get farther and farther away from God and God’s word.”
Luter told Cooper the problem is not only with gay marriage. “I think a whole lot of decisions we are making in America – all the babies we are killing as a result of abortion, the racism problem that we have in America, the crime problem that we have in America, with guys going into movie theaters and shooting people, going to political rallies and shooting people — it’s a combination.”
“It is not just the situation with gay marriage,” Luter said. “It’s a number of things that our nation is embracing and that we cannot deny that a lot of the things that are happening in America are the results or consequences of those decisions.”
Luter told Cooper his problem with the gay marriage debate is not whether same-sex couples can form civil unions, but he doesn’t want to call it marriage, which he says the Bible defines as between a man and a woman.
Assured by Cooper that a Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage would not require churches to perform gay weddings, Luter disagreed: “Not now, Anderson, but I promise you, brother, it’s going to happen sooner or later.”
Luter told Cooper that if he had it to do over again, he would answer Wiles’ question in a different way. “That was misspoken,” he said. “That was misunderstood, and it was not what I meant. I did not mean that at all, and I’m glad we can clear it up on your show.”