In a video watched tens of thousands of times over the weekend, a Southern Baptist pastor in Dallas, Texas has criticised negative reactions to President Obama’s personal endorsement of marriage rights for gay couples.
Senior Pastor Frederick Haynes III of the Friendship-West Baptist mega-church launched a six-minute speech from the pulpit praising Barack Obama’s personal commitment to marriage equality and calling on congregants to ask what causes them to oppose gay equality and the president’s announcement.
Pastor Haynes says: “Do you know the words of the Declaration of Independence? ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men, all people are created equal’.
“Notice it does not say ‘all straight men are created equal’. It does not say ‘all men unless you are gay or lesbian you are created equal’. He swore upon oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution, not the Bible. He is not the Pastor of the United States, he is the President of the United States.
“And for the first time in the history of this nation, we have a President who has dared to use his position to make the democratic promise available not just for a select few, but for everybody, regardless of their race, creed, their color, or their sexual orientation.”
Recognising that many were “upset” by the president’s personal endorsement of equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples, he says preachers had been “hurrying and scurrying” to conference calls to discuss it.
He asks the congregation: “Why are you so upset, why did it bother you so? Why were you so emotional you had to clothe your anger with the Bible and justify your bigotry with scripture? Why did you have to do it?
“We often major in what Jesus minored in. Have you ever read the Gospel and heard Jesus say anything about homosexuality?”
He continues: “Why are you so mad at the president that you have to call conference calls so you can organise the statement you’re going to make about what the president said? Why are you so angry? Jesus never said a word about it, but you want to major in what Jesus minored in?”
To a mixture of cheering and jeering, he says: “You’re not feeling this, but I’m going to preach the Gospel anyhow. You do understand, my brothers and sisters, that the sad reality is we love to judge other folks’ sins because it keeps it off of us.”
Recent pronouncements from baptist pastors which have made the headlines around the world included Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, who suggested putting gays behind an electrified fence, “so they can’t get out, and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out. Do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”
Pastor Sean Harris of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, told his congregation they have “special dispensation” to punch and crack the wrists of effeminate sons and tell their “butch” daughters to “dress themselves up”, but later issued a retraction of words which appeared to advocate child abuse.
With 47,000 views today, Pastor Haynes’ comments were warmly welcomed on YouTube, with comments including, “Wow I hate to say this but, that is the best thing I have heard a theist say. If I ever go to church I would want that man as the church leader” and “A NON-crazy-bigot baptist!!!! hallelujah!!!”