Stances of Faiths on LGBT Issues: National Baptist Convention USA Inc.

The National Baptist Convention USA Inc., the largest predominantly African-American denomination in the United States with more than 5 million members, has issued no public statements on its attitudes or policies toward gay, lesbian and bisexual people and the issues that affect them.

Traditionally, however, the denomination has regarded homosexuality as sinful. It also forbids clergy to officiate at commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples.  And to date, it has been silent on transgender members.

Yet the denomination’s president, the Rev. Dr. William J. Shaw, has spoken out against President Bush’s proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban marriage for same-sex couples. Shaw told The New York Times in March 2005 that, although he does not believe the Bible allows same-sex unions, there is no need for a constitutional amendment on the issue.

“My position on same-sex marriage is not that it is the sole determinant on moral issues,” he said. “Marriage is threatened more by adultery, and we don’t have a constitutional ban on that. Alcohol is a threat to the stability of the family, and we don’t have a ban on that.”

One reason predominantly African-American churches have not embraced their gay, lesbian and bisexual members is that they are largely invisible within the church, according to Keith Boykin, president of the National Black Justice Coalition.

“While the black church embraces single mothers, drug addicts and ex-cons, it does not embrace black homosexuals largely because they haven’t organized to make their presence felt,” Boykin wrote in an article entitled, “Whose Dream? Why the Black Church Opposes Gay Marriage,” published in The Village Voice on May 24, 2004. “Instead, black gays and lesbians have been shamed and silenced into a kind of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ relationship with the church.”

The results are ambivalent, he said. “Far too many black gays and lesbians maintain a truce within the church that allows them to serve quietly, and this conspiracy of silence enables the church to remain simultaneously the most homophobic institution in the black community and the most homo-tolerant.”

Resources for LGBT African-American Christians

  • Operation Rebirth offers a list of churches nationwide that  “preach God's love to and for all people” regardless of race, creed, color, gender, socioeconomic background or sexual orientation.
  • The Balm in Gilead is dedicated to working with faith communities to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in the African Diaspora. It runs an annual HIV testing program and Black Church Week of prayer for the healing of AIDS.

Headquarters Location

If you would like to communicate with the National Baptist Convention USA Inc., here is their mailing address:

National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
1700 Baptist World Center Drive
Nashville, TN 37207