Stances of Faiths on LGBT Issues: American Baptist Church USA
The American Baptist Church USA is the fifth-largest Christian denomination in the United States, with approximately 1.5 million members and 5,800 congregations worldwide. Although ABC-USA shares many traditions, beliefs and values with other Baptists, ABC-USA is a distinct entity from its relatives, the American Baptist Association, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Alliance of Baptists, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Following more moderate ideals than the ABA and SBC, ABC-USA is considered one of the most inclusive and radical Protestant bodies. At its core, ABC-USA believes in and advocates for autonomy in religious organization and function, religious freedom through expression and cultural/ethnic inclusion within the church. Of its more traditional values, the denomination believes that the Bible is the divinely authoritative guide for serving God, that believers in Christ need to participate in the Lord’s Supper and full-immersion or believer’s baptism and that all members have the responsibility to inform others of Christ through evangelism and missionary work.
During 2011, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB) was given a booth on the Exhibit Hall floor at the ABC-USA Biennial after 20 years of being banned.
ABC-USA embraces diversity within the family structure. As policy, the church supports the right of all people to build mutually satisfying human relationships. However, in November 2005, the General Board voted to amend the document entitled We Are American Baptists by stating that American Baptists are a people who “submit to the teaching of Scripture that God’s design for sexual intimacy places it within the context of marriage between one man and one woman, and acknowledge that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Biblical teaching.”
A 1992 denominational vote determined “the practice of homosexuality” to be “incompatible with Christian teaching." Noting that individual members of the denomination may not agree with all resolutions which are approved, the church does acknowledge that issues such as sexual orientation require full and continuous engagement in dialogue.
In 2006, more than 300 churches from the Pacific Southwest region of the ABC (USA) voted to withdraw from their 1.5-million member parent denomination after its leaders refused to address complaints about the membership of “welcoming and affirming” churches, or churches that accept as members unrepentant homosexuals, in the denomination.
In 1988, the ABC-USA adopted a resolution to address HIV/AIDS. Most recently updated in September 1998, the resolution is based on two components of the church’s policy on human rights:
“The right to the basic necessities of food, shelter, clothing and health care;” and
“The right to human dignity, to be respected and treated as a person and to be protected against discrimination without regard to age, sex, race, class, marital status, income, national origin, legal status, culture or condition in society.”
Overall, the church declares that HIV/AIDS should be viewed as an illness and not a punishment inflicted by God. Furthermore, the church supports increased funding, the insurance of protection of human and civil rights and the elimination of discrimination for people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS.
The church does not offer a specific position on HIV/AIDS within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Contact the American Baptist Church USA
If you would like to communicate with the American Baptist Church USA, the mailing address is:
American Baptist Church USA
P.O. Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851