By: Ryan Almy
In an unprecedented move by a Texas Baptist church, the battle for equality has gained some significant ground in the warzone of religion. The Royal Lane Baptist Church of Dallas effectively alienated itself from Texas’ largest umbrella group for Baptist churches, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, when Royal Lane pastor David Matthews announced that the church welcomes and will ordain homosexuals.
Such alienation from the larger network of Baptism does not come without cost, however, as the church will essentially be on its’ own when it comes to relief work and other church missions as long as the prevailing Baptist ideology holds homosexuality as sinful.
Founded in 1952, the Royal Lane Baptist Church has a history of advancing the frontlines of equality, which is especially remarkable in a state with deep conservative roots. The church was one of the first in Texas to allow racial integration and to ordain women deacons.
This latest stance by the church highlights the similarities between past struggles for equality and the current movement that is sweeping the country into controversy: gay’s rights to marry and have religious affiliation. It also highlights the blatant hypocrisy of the prevailing religious sentiment toward homosexuality. The largest Baptist group in the world, the Baptist World Alliance, states that their mission is to lead in world evangelism and defend human rights and religious freedom…(unless you are a homosexual abomination).
This “pick-and-choose” style religion is all too common among all major faiths: many churches and many of the faithful are devout in their belief systems right up until the point where that very same system can be used to defend that which they are uncomfortable with, at which point division must occur to quickly extinguish any notion that “we” are affiliated with “them.” Why, instead of finding commonalities within our fellow man and forming bonds based on that for which we all strive (rights, justice, and belonging), do we prefer to find what separates us?
If it is indeed God that is common to us all, shouldn’t we all have the chance to share in the love of that God? Royal Lane has finally addressed that most crucial question, and has illustrated how religion and homosexuality can not only co-exist, but in fact insist upon one another. Royal Lane deacon Doug Washington says, “to say something is wrong with homosexuality is to say God made a mistake. I can’t buy into that.”