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Stances of Faiths on LGBTQ Issues: American Baptist Churches USA

BACKGROUND

The American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) is the fifth-largest Christian denomination in the United States, with approximately 1.3 million members and 5,000 congregations worldwide. Although ABCUSA shares many traditions, beliefs and values with other Baptists, ABCUSA is a distinct entity from its relatives, the American Baptist Association (ABA), the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the Alliance of Baptists, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Following more moderate ideals than the ABA and SBC, ABCUSA is considered one of the most inclusive and radical Protestant bodies. At its core, ABCUSA 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 ABCUSA Biennial after 20 years of being banned.

LGBTQ EQUALITY

ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION & GENDER IDENTITY

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 ABCUSA 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.

ABCUSA does not appear to address transgender issues specifically.

ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY

The American Baptist Churches 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.”

ON NON-DISCRIMINATION

The American Baptist Churches USA does not appear to have taken an official stand on the Equality Act or other issues regarding non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

ON ORDINATION

LGBTQ ordination is not explicitly accepted nor banned in the American Baptist Churches USA. However, in several regions there are statements that a candidate must sign stating they are not a "practicing homosexual" prior to ordination.


RESOURCES

The Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists,  a national organization advocating for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people within Baptist communities of faith.
Both the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Alliance of Baptists emerged from the 1980’s fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention as networks for moderate to progressive Baptist congregations and seminaries.

CONTACT INFO

American Baptist Church USA
P.O. Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
Website: www.abc-usa.org

Last revised: 8/15/2018 | BACK TO FAITH POSITIONS PAGE