Added 8:29 a.m. January 8, 2006 – Please read this apology/explanation about this post: More thoughts about Baptists, some rethinking

NewsOK/AP: Southern Baptist leader arrested in city Tulsa pastor arrested for alleged prostitute solicitation

Some of my closest friends are Baptists and have a tremendous amount of respect for them and their faith, but I do not have much respect for the institutional Southern Baptist denomination (particularly the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma who were some of the most strident spokespersons for the state constitution’s gay marriage ban and have continued in promoting hatred and intolerance toward gay people — two examples: OBU will expell students who are found to have engaged in “homosexual activities” or to have engaged in on-campus “promotion of homosexuality” can be expelled, and the SBC convention has called for members to attack anti-discrimination policies on high school campuses that protect gay students)

Latham’s arrest speaks volumes to the hypocrisy of the institution of the Oklahoma Baptist church. I do feel sorry for the man (as I do anyone who is caught in a situation like this), but I have to wonder how things could have been different if the denomination had a different stance on this issue. Certainly there is a fair degree of personal sickness/sinfulness for a man to solicit sex from a stranger, but could part of what led him to this place be the fact that his church doesn’t truly address this issue, and that all too often it does not act with love towards its gay members? Why else would one engage in such risky and foolish behavior, if there wasn’t such fear of directly addressing the issue of one’s sexual orientation?

Again though all of this said, please don’t read my remarks as being hateful towards Baptists. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work of the SBC church in many areas (particularly in campus ministry… I still am grateful to my experiences with the Baptist Student Union at SWOSU in the mid-90’s). My criticism of the denomination I hope is one of loving criticism.