James A. Smith Sr., a Southern Baptist known to frequent this journalism-focused website, had a GetReligion-like response to a sentence he saw in a Louisville Courier-Journal story.
To set the scene, the news article involves the Kentucky Baptist Convention — “the powerful Kentucky Baptist Convention,” as the Courier-Journal likes referring to it — disassociating itself from congregations dually aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Yes, these cut ties resulted from a dispute between a Baptist convention upholding traditional doctrinal beliefs and one taking more progressive stands. That’s certainly newsworthy, particular in a state where the Southern Baptist-aligned Kentucky convention reportedly has over 2,400 affiliated churches with more than 750,000 members.
In the case of the latest story, the language again seems overly loaded, depicting the Kentucky Baptist Convention as “booting” and “targeting” and “kicking out” churches as opposed to standing by its beliefs. And of course, the first quote comes from a critic of the decision:
The Kentucky Baptist Convention on Tuesday cut ties with more than a dozen churches, including at least one in Louisville, for supporting a Baptist religious organization that earlier this year lifted a ban on hiring LGBTQ employees.
The Louisville-based Kentucky Baptist Convention, which has long opposed same-sex marriage, ordaining gay ministers and believes homosexuality is sinful, voted to end its relationship with KBC-affiliated churches that also made financial contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship at its annual meeting in Pikeville, Kentucky.
The KBC targeted several local churches, including the 1,600-member St. Matthews Baptist, where leaders called the decision ending a 90-year relationship "historic and disheartening."
But I’ve seen worse, less balanced coverage of such decisions: To its credit, the Courier-Journal does quote a few supporters of the move, including the convention’s president:
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the convention, said in an interview that the convention could not support groups that "embrace alternative lifestyles" and adopt policies that "redefine what is right and wrong" when it comes to Baptist beliefs that homosexuality is a sin. He said some churches decided to stop giving to the group.
And later, the story ends this way — with the sentence that caught Smith’s attention:
R. Albert Mohler, who is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a recognized scholar of Baptist theology, said in an interview that more conservative Baptist churches were maintaining memberships by adhering to strict biblical teaching including those that view homosexuality as amoral.
"Thankful for the conviction of Kentucky Baptists today," he tweeted.
Here is what Smith tweeted:
According to Dictionary.com, “amoral” means:
2. Having no moral standards, restraints, or principles; unaware of or indifferent to questions of right or wrong:
Yes, it’s a safe bet that “immoral” is the word needed there.
It’s interesting, too, that the Courier-Journal apparently interviewed Mohler and then quoted a tweet instead of the interview.
Besides a more balanced approach, what would make this story better?
For one, reference is made to some churches leaving the CBF after a warning from the KBC last year. It would be nice to hear from a leader of one of those congregations.
Also, it would be nice to know what was said during the 20 minutes of debate before the motion was passed. That might have given more insight than the predictable quotes from both sides included in this news story.