Kentucky Baptist Convention

Homosexuality is 'amoral?' Dear newspaper, I don't think that word means what you think it does

Homosexuality is 'amoral?' Dear newspaper, I don't think that word means what you think it does

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.

But these type of reports in the Courier-Journal always seem to be slanted toward one side of the debate — the progressive one. (See past examples here and here.)

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:

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Courier-Journal pins F-word (fundamentalist) on Southern Baptists, but thinks better of it

Courier-Journal pins F-word (fundamentalist) on Southern Baptists, but thinks better of it

Words have meanings.

For example, for journalists the word "fundamentalist" has a specific meaning. The Associated Press Stylebook -- the journalist's bible -- notes that "fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians.

"In general, do not use fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself," the stylebook advises.

Those pejorative connotations are why I was surprised to see the Louisville Courier-Journal characterize ordinary Southern Baptists as fundamentalists in a story today. I was prepared to question this original lede in the Courier-Journal:

Fundamentalist Southern Baptists have long opposed same-sex marriage and ordaining gay ministers, arguing that the Bible unequivocally rejects homosexuality as sinful and perverted.
The Louisville-based Kentucky Baptist Convention hasn't left that position to interpretation. The powerful Southern Baptist group, which has 2,400 churches and 750,000 members across the state, has ousted congregations that bless gay unions and welcome people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender as pastors and missionaries.
That's why discussions on dropping a ban against hiring gay and transgender people by a more liberal group of affiliated churches, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, has threatened to trigger an even larger rift.

Why, I wondered, did the Courier-Journal choose to use that adjective in this story?

I was not alone in asking that question:

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Louisville Courier-Journal offers a case study in biased media coverage of same-sex marriage

Louisville Courier-Journal offers a case study in biased media coverage of same-sex marriage

Here at GetReligion, we advocate a traditional American model of journalism — one that relies on a fair, impartial reporting of news.

Last week, I highlighted the difficulty that some media organizations experienced applying that concept to the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in favor of same-sex marriage:

After I wrote that post, I came across a Louisville Courier-Journal story that epitomizes the biased nature of many reports on this subject.

Let's start at the top of this puffy profile of a Baptist pastor who supports same-sex marriage:

The Rev. Jason Crosby, a controversial local Baptist gay rights advocate whose church was kicked out of the Kentucky Southern Baptist Convention last year for agreeing to officiate same-sex marriages, spent the weekend celebrating.
"This has been more of an emotional journey for me than I'd ever have imagined," said the Rev. Jason Crosby, the pastor of Crescent Hill Baptist Church, one hour after the Supreme Court ruled Friday in the favor of allowing same-sex couples to legally marry across the country. "I can't even begin to imagine how elated people must be feeling today, after the grueling times they've endured."
Crosby said four couples got in touch with him — within minutes of the historic ruling Friday — to ask if they could marry in the church, 2800 Frankfort Ave. "I'm thrilled we've opened the door to more joy. We've opened the floodgates to celebrate the love that people find in different ways."
Crescent Hill is one of two Baptist churches in Louisville that were dismissed from the Southern Baptist Convention for their welcoming position on homosexuals last year. Constant in his position despite the rejection and hatred from his own churchmen, Crosby started conducting gay marriages last November.

Did you catch that last sentence?: Constant in his position despite the rejection and hatred from his own churchmen ...

Hatred? 

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Kentucky church gun giveaway story shoots straight

Churches offering free items, services or even doughnuts to their neighbors isn’t news. When they offer 25 long guns and shotguns as door prizes, however, people (and the press) take notice.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah are making headlines this week for doing just that: inviting 1,000 or so unchurched, mostly young men to a free steak dinner and gun giveaway Thursday night labeled as a “Second Amendment Celebration” in hopes of “luring them to Christ.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported on the Southern Baptist-affiliated event in its weekend edition a few days ago, and since then several news outlets have picked up the story.

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