Homosexuality remains focus of denominational controversy

Two Protestant denominations gathered in annual conference this week, with one emphasizing "a quiet convention" and the other facing difficult debate on the issue of homosexuality.

The Southern Baptist Convention focused on evangelism and on family life at its June 12-13 meeting in New Orleans. One concern is countering a high rate of divorce among Baptists and others. The SBC stirred controversy the past two years with its rejection of women clergy and call for women to submit to their husbands. The SBC has a strong stance opposing homosexuality, and disallows convention representation from any church that affirms it. Its four-year boycott of Disney is based on what it terms the company's "promotion of homosexuality." Soulforce, a homosexual advocacy group, held a "jazz funeral" protest at the convention.

The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. is considering some 30 resolutions relating to homosexuality at its June 9-16 meeting in Louisville, Ky. While the church's constitution upholds traditional teachings on marriage, over the past year its regional bodies rejected an amendment that explicitly banned same-sex ceremonies. Since the amendment's defeat in March, conservatives have wooed some 300 of the 11,000 congregations into a new Confessing Church movement. To head off a confrontation, top leaders are proposing a commission to do a "foundational" review that might lead to a new confession of faith. Votes on key resolutions are expected late this week.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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