To Soften Their Obdurate Hearts: The Southern Baptist Convention and Marriage Equality

Allan Vestal

Drake University Law School

May 19, 2012

Tulane Journal of Law and Sexuality, Vol. 21, p. 49, 2012
Drake University Law School Research Paper No. 12-17

Majorities for acceptance of homosexuality are found among men, women, whites, Hispanics, political independents, Democrats, and moderate or liberal Republicans, in all age groupings up to age sixty-five, and at all educational levels. Majorities of mainline Protestants, Catholics and the religiously unaffiliated favor acceptance. Pluralities for acceptance are present among Blacks and those over sixty-five. In only two groups do majorities believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society: conservative Republicans and white evangelicals.

Popular support for marriage equality has reached a majority of our citizens, with majorities among Democrats and independents, liberals and moderates, and all people up to age fifty-four. In our national discussion on marriage equality, the opposition of the Southern Baptist Convention looms large. This article discusses whether there is a historical basis upon which the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest protestant denomination, might reconsider its strong opposition to same-sex civil marriage and join our emerging national consensus in favor of marriage equality.

In addressing the Southern Baptists and marriage equality, the article considers two facets of Southern Baptist history. The first is the record of its redemption on issues of slavery, civil rights and racism leading to the 1995 Resolution on Racial Reconciliation. The second is its tradition of strong support for the strict separation of church and state, what it once described as “the holy principle of the absolute separation of church and State.” The article also notes changes in the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention that are critical to the prospects for such reconsideration. The discussion concludes by identifying six lessons for dealing with the Southern Baptists as we move forward on marriage equality.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 77

Keywords: homosexuality, marriage, acceptance, equality, same-sex

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Date posted: September 19, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Vestal, Allan, To Soften Their Obdurate Hearts: The Southern Baptist Convention and Marriage Equality (May 19, 2012). Tulane Journal of Law and Sexuality, Vol. 21, p. 49, 2012; Drake University Law School Research Paper No. 12-17. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2149164

Contact Information

Allan Vestal (Contact Author)
Drake University Law School ( email )
27th & Carpenter Sts.
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States
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