Faith in America points out virulently anti-gay denomination’s hypocrisy and the almighty dollar; Convention president Rev. Mark Harris, supports NC marriage discrimination amendment, and says being gay is a choice.
North Carolina-based Faith in America, a pro-LGBT, pro-faith community organization, has called on the N.C. Baptist State Convention to explain its association with Graystone Consulting, part of Morgan Stanley), which is known for its strong support on LGBT issues (Morgan’s Chairman of the Board, John Mack supports marriage equality). The Convention’s foundation’s assets are managed by Graystone.
A Morgan Stanley subsidiary, Graystone Consulting, is employed by the N.C. Baptist Foundation to manage the foundation’s assets, reported at $128 million in 2009. The N.C. Baptist Foundation is the financial investment arm for the N.C. Baptist Convention. Its web site states the foundation is “committed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to serving North Carolina Baptists and others in generating an increased awareness of Christian estate stewardship principles as a means of financially undergirding churches, institutions, and mission endeavors on a permanent basis.”
“You cannot escape the hypocrisy,” said Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America. “Here is an anti-gay religious organization that tells its churches that they will be expelled from the convention if they affirm or support LGBT people. But yet when it comes to managing the tremendous financial blessing God has bestowed upon North Carolina Baptists, they turn to a company that not only affirms LGBT people and all their human dignity but whose top executive actively supports the fight for their equality, including marriage equality.
“What the N.C. Baptist Convention says is bad for its churches and members obviously isn’t bad for the convention.”
Helming the N.C. Baptist Convention is no friend of the gays; Rev. Mark Harris, pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church, was elected to the convention’s presidency this week and has a long history of anti-gay statements, and it doesn’t look like the Convention likes the sunlight on the issue of a 100% HRC pro-LGBT scoring org managing its money. (QNotes):
Officials with the N.C. Baptist State Convention declined to comment in response to Faith in America’s statements. They referred qnotes to officials with the North Carolina Baptist Foundation. Its president, Dr. Clay Warf, was out of the office on Thursday and a message left for Director of Development Bill Overby was not returned.
Harris also declined to comment directly in response to criticisms over the foundation’s investments. In an interview via telephone on Thursday, however, Harris explained his positions on LGBT equality and the impending anti-LGBT amendment.
“I believe the bible makes it clear,” he said. “The bible introduces marriage as between one man and one woman.”
Harris also said he believes homosexuality is a choice.
“I believe, if you read the book of Romans, the first chapter, you begin to understand homosexuality being a choice,” he explained. “It is a decision a person makes to give up natural relations for unnatural relations.”
Harris insisted he was speaking for himself only. “I’m not speaking for anyone in the North Carolina Baptist Convention,” he said. “Everyone certainly is free to have their own convictions.”
Faith in America’s Childers:
“Judging from the anti-gay sentiment coming from its incoming president and the convention’s endorsement of a constitutional amendment whose sole purpose is to place a moral and religious stamp of disapproval on the lives of gay and lesbian people, you wouldn’t expect the N.C. Baptist Convention to have a strong supporter of LGBT equality managing its assets.
“While it may be somewhat hypocritical, we are encouraged by the fact the N.C. Baptist Convention would place that kind of trust in a financial company that is regarding as such a strong advocate for the full human dignity and full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. It’s close relationship and trust with Morgan Stanley should signal to North Carolina’s 1.4 million Baptists that LGBT equality, including marriage equality, harms no one except gay and lesbian individuals and their families.”