Faith in America is calling upon Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, to apologize for incendiary speech that compared affirmation of gay and lesbian people to Nazi propaganda during World War II.
"It is really inconceivable that a person of such prominence within one of America's largest Christian denominations could utter such a comparison," said Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America. "It is beyond shameful and it makes a mockery of the faith he professes."
In a Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 sermon entitled "When Homosexual Behavior is a Big Issue", Wright stated that anyone who believes same-sex sexual orientation is God-given or that sexual orientation can't be changed is believing a "lie of the devil" that has been repeated so much that now a majority of the public believes it – saying that was a lesson learned from Nazi Germany.
In his sermon, Wright said it makes him "really shudder" at the thought of faith leaders who affirm the dignity of gay and lesbian people, saying they are teaching "what God says is evil is really good." In addition, he makes the following statements:
"When man all of a sudden decides what God says is sin or evil is really good, that is blasphemous behavior. That is calling God a liar."
"When man says that homosexual desires are God-given and that a person can no more be changed than you could change the color of their skin, this is one of those common lies of the devil that is repeated so much over and over again that now the majority of American public believe it is true. We learned from the Nazis in World War II in how they approached propaganda. They believed wholeheartedly that if you repeat an outrageous lie over and over again it becomes more and more believable to where the public as a whole finally will embrace it. We saw that in World War II."
Yesterday, CNN and a number of other media outlets reported on a pastor of a Baptist church in North Carolina who had apologized for his comment in a sermon that said boys who appear effeminate should have their wrists broken.
Childers said he understands how a pastor might say something in a sermon that they may not want communicated on the media airwaves but that the posting of Wright's sermon on his web site demonstrates that Wright apparently has no problem with espousing such rhetoric to the public. He said Wright, as a national religious figure, must be held accountable for publicly espousing and promoting that kind of hostility toward gay and lesbian people, especially the rejection and hostility faced by LGBT youth and families.
"Wright’s association of those who affirm lesbian and gay people with Nazis is intentional, even if perhaps unconscious," Childers said. "He obviously wants to paint those who affirm gay and lesbian people to be about as bad as possible, as bad as Nazis."
"But think for a moment what the parent of a gay or lesbian child hears. They hear that treating their child as a natural, wonderfully created child is somehow of the devil and that to embrace their child's sexual orientation is as evil as Hitler. And that if they believe otherwise, they are calling God a liar.
"So parents hear that they must reject their children. Kids hear that it is OK to bully their evil gay or lesbian peers? And young gay kids hear that suicide would be better than a life of rejection and condemnation. This is the kind of physical, emotional and spiritual violence that Wright is inciting within our society.
"Bringing such violence to bear on our neighbors makes a mockery of a faith that emphasizes love and compassion above all else. If Wright feels like shuddering, he should think about the consequences of bringing such violence against children and families."
Last year at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler stated before convention delegates that he did not believe sexual orientation was a matter of mere choice and that "we as Christian churches have not done well on this issue."
"I wonder if Wright considers his colleague Albert Mohler someone who is spreading "outrageous" lies as the Nazis did?" Childers asked. "And I wonder if Mohler would consider Wright's words a job well done?"
Faith in America is a nonprofit organization that works nationally to educate the public about the harm caused to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, especially LGBT youth and families, when religious teaching is misused to justify stigma and hostility. Brent Childers, who serves as executive director, is a former Southern Baptist and former Religious Right adherent.
NOTE: Wright's reference to Nazis can be viewed at the following web page beginning at the 29:30 mark:
Mohler's comments from the 2011 SBC annual meeting can be viewed here: