Southern Baptists wrestle with gay hoax

June 28, 2011

(RNS) Officials of the Southern Baptist Convention say they were the
victims of a hoax in which a group claiming to be the denomination's
Executive Committee announced it had started to support gay marriage.

A website of the "Southern Baptist Convention of America" features a
"`welcoming and affirming' resolution on homosexuals" that it claims was
drafted by the committee in an "extraordinary emergency session."

The supposed resolution concludes that "the sanctity of marriage for
all unions joined in love under God's grace is holy and should receive
marriage rights by the Southern Baptist ministry regardless of sexual
orientation."

Roger Oldham, a spokesman for the official SBC Executive Committee,
said Tuesday (June 28) the statement is a hoax.

"This is clearly not an action of the Southern Baptist Convention or
the Executive Committee," he said. "It is a hoax and we do not know who
is perpetrating the hoax."

The sham extended to a phone number listed on a press release that
was answered by an "intern" of the "Executive Committee Press Office."

An email sent in response to a phone inquiry announced a press
conference at the real Executive Committee's address in Nashville, Tenn.//
Oldham said the committee did not host such an event.

Gay rights activists met in an unprecedented meeting with SBC
President Bryant Wright during the Southern Baptists' recent annual
convention in Phoenix. They reportedly had a civil discussion but Wright
maintained the Baptists' stance that homosexuality is a sin.

Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America, one of the
groups that met with Wright, said his organization had nothing to do
with the hoax.

Childers called the hoax "not very productive" and said he was
trying to determine who was responsible for it.