Southern Baptist leaders cut ties with California LGBT-affirming church

Executive Committee chairman Mike Routt, lead pastor of Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, presides over the Sept. 23 plenary session, while Executive Committee President and CEO Frank Page (right) follows along. Photo courtsy of Bob Allen, ABPnews/Herald
Executive Committee chairman Mike Routt, lead pastor of Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, presides over the Sept. 23 plenary session, while Executive Committee President and CEO Frank Page (right) follows along. Photo courtsy of Bob Allen, ABPnews/Herald

Executive Committee chairman Mike Routt, lead pastor of Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, presides over the Sept. 23 plenary session, while Executive Committee President and CEO Frank Page (right) follows along. Photo courtsy of Bob Allen, ABPnews/Herald

(RNS) The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee voted unanimously Tuesday (Sept. 23) to break ties with New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., after determining it was condoning “homosexual behavior.”

“We believe that, following the lead of Pastor Danny Cortez, New Heart Community Church has walked away from the Southern Baptist Convention’s core biblical values,” said Roger Oldham, a spokesman for the committee.

Oldham said Cortez attended the meeting and indicated that he had officiated at a same-sex wedding.

Danny Cortez, pastor of New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., watches proceedings from the visitors’ gallery. Photo courtsy of Bob Allen, ABPnews/Herald

Danny Cortez, pastor of New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., watches proceedings from the visitors’ gallery. Photo courtsy of Bob Allen, ABPnews/Herald

The denomination has cut ties to churches that endorsed homosexuality before, but this may be the first time that its Executive Committee has withdrawn fellowship from a church on behalf of the denomination. The move came less than two weeks after the California Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Board voted unanimously to withdraw fellowship from the congregation because of Cortez’s announcement that he affirmed gays — including his teenage son — and his church had taken a “third way” on homosexuality.

Cortez could not immediately be reached for comment about the SBC Executive Committee vote.

After the California convention board’s vote on Sept. 11, he said: “We want to make it clear that while our hope has been to stay within the SBC denomination, we nonetheless hold them dearly as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We ask that God bless them, and bless us, as we all attempt to navigate this very difficult period of church history.”


About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.


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  • Keep it coming SBC. Show the world what kind of people really make up your leadership.

    Why distance yourself from your bigoted origins (formed in support of slavery) when you can embrace them with gusto!

  • I hope that in all the press, it’s made well known that removing association with a homosexual group isn’t an “SBC thing” but is instead a simple submission to Biblical authority on the part of the SBC. In other words, God makes these decisions and we are to follow them. It’s EXTREMELY clear in scripture that He strongly condemns homosexuality. Anyone not liking this view needs to take it up with God, not the SBC.

  • The reality about religious groups is that if you do not share the same basic set of beliefs, you automatically separate yourself from the group. No need for any formal “excommunication” by the parent group, face reality and reorganize differently, separately.

  • ChurchSalt: You’re wrong about your conclusions. Are all the sectarian divisions among the numerous Christian sects based on biblical authority? No, they are based on interpretations or acceptance of particular, differing interpretations of biblical texts.

    Religion is at least as divided into disagreeing parties as governmental politics. For that matter, politics is as big a part of religion as it is of civil government. It’s as fluid and constantly changing as study, learning, thinking, and deciding.

  • Frank: Meaninig the SBC is right when they agree with your biases, your prejudices, your lack of understanding of that which is different than you.

  • @ChurchSalt, So was God giving a press conference? You seem to indicate that was the case.

    The fact that churches exist which “affirm” is proof enough that people still maintain their Christian faith and still find interpretations of scripture which do not fall on the side of ostracism, discrimination and excuses for bigotry against gays. Obviously “extremely” clear is as clear as you chose it to be.

  • You… you guys do know that Jesus (PBUH) frequently hung out with sinners, right?? Loving sinners and bringing his message to him was a huge part of his ministry. He did not cut ties with them, but rather embraced them in love.

    Love is the answer to a sinner in your midst. Cutting ties with them is contrary to the actions of Jesus (PBUH), who commands you to go AFTER the lost sheep and embrace the prodigal son, not give up and abandon them as lost when they stray.

  • Fourth Valley-Read 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the whole chapters and
    Luke 13 the whole chapter. We are to love people yes but in Truth.
    Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk and 1 Corinthians 6:10 says
    that all drunkards go to hell including people who get drunk with
    wine because the wine Jesus made was new wine/diluted and from
    the fruit of the vine plus the Bible says don’t get drunk on strong
    wine so the people who get drunk with wine are also wrong! If you
    say you love Jesus then don’t follow the Bible/religion no Truth is
    in you! Not enough to believe. We must Repent then follow and
    Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven!
    Bible says Repent or perish! Repent or perish! We must Repent!

  • Fourth Valley- We are to rebuke people. Read all of the Bible. Luke 13
    the whole chapter and 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 whole chapters are a great
    start. Many people today are headed for hell because all people do
    is pat them on the back. Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord and
    not enter heaven! If people preach they have to preach the whole Truth
    not just part of it. The Bible is the Truth so the whole Truth is needed.

  • @Karla:

    I follow the Kitab, with more explicit condemnations of alcohol. Yes. Drunkenness is wrong. But casting aside a drunkard?? This is also wrong. When the sheep goes lost, the Good shepherd goes after it. Cutting ties with sinners is giving up on the sheep as good-as-dead.

    What you say is true. If you say you love Jesus yet reject the Bible by shunning sinners, as you put it, “no Truth is in you”.

    Plus alcohol being a sin has naught to do with cutting ties with sinners also being a sin, so I am confused why you would even bring it up. What relevance is this??

  • Corinthians was written by Paul. Jesus (PBUH), contrary to Paul, is constantly criticized for spending time amongst sinners by the Pharisees. Personally, I find the Word of the Son of God to be worth more then the word of a repentant Roman, but if you disagree with Jesus (PBUH) and side with Paul that is your right and prerogative.

  • Fouth Valley- I was making the point that God said no drunkard will
    enter heaven unless they Repent so even God cuts ties with a
    sinner and 1 Corinthians 5 the whole chapter says if someone who
    calls themself a brother that won’t listen you’re to remove them from
    church if after several warnings/rebukes they don’t change so they
    know had bad their sin is. Luke 13 says we must bear good fruit!
    That is fruit of Repentance not good works because many,many
    non-believers do many good works plus good works don’t save us!
    If the tree does not bear good fruit it will get cut down and it will be thrown into the fire which means they go to hell. We must Repent!

  • Fourth Valley-In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with
    God and the Word was God then the Word/Jesus became flesh and
    dwealt among us! Jesus is the Word and the Word is Jesus/they
    are one in the same! Read all of the Bible not just part of if cause
    Jesus is not the pushover many have made Him out to be. Look at
    the Cross. Only one guy next to Jesus went to heaven and that’s
    because only one guy Repented/changed his heart about his sin.
    Bible says Repent or perish! Repent or perish! We must Repent!

  • We are to love people but in Truth! Jesus hung out with sinners
    but He said Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand so we
    are to love people/sinners yes but not just pat them on the back.
    Bible says Repent or perish! Repent or perish! We must Repent!

  • Amen! I don’t know what I can add that hasn’t already been wonderfully said by Karla, Frank and especially Doc Anthony. I also look forward to agreeing with Shawnie5 on this issue.

  • The Southern Baptists are not objecting to “having sinners in their midst.” They are all sinners, after all. They are objecting to churches telling sinners that their sins are OK.

    What Paul taught was not substantially different from what Jesus taught. The principle of confronting a brother with sin first privately and then before the other brethren, and treating him as an unbeliever if no repentance is forthcoming, came from Jesus (Matt. 18). Not that this is necessarily a call to shunning, but a call to continue to love and intercede and call to repentance — yet not to affirm the sin in any way.

  • Shawnie5-Very well said! We are all sinners/we fall short but that doesn’t
    mean that we can’t change! The Lord Jesus Christ told the woman caught
    in adultery to go and sin no more! He told her to change her/the behavior!
    We all sin/fall short but we can’t continue to practice sin. We must Repent!

  • Karla wrote, “We are to rebuke people.”

    Most Americans have notice just how much a small number of denominations take such pleasure by doing that.

  • CarrotCakeman-That’s why this nation has gone astray! Look what
    happens when you don’t listen to God! All through the Bible we see
    the results of people not listening to God. It started in heaven when
    the devil became a rebel then was thrown out of heaven. Look at
    Judas and also look at the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve didn’t
    listen then got thrown out of the Garden so all of these people who
    think God is some kind of pushover need to read their Bible. In the
    book of Revalation it says if you are lukewarm you will be spit out!
    Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one guy went
    to heaven! Why is that? Only one of the guys Repented of his sin!
    The gate/road is narrow! Jesus that said many people will say to Me
    Lord,Lord and not enter heaven! We all must Repent! All sin needs
    to be rebuked not just gay marriage or abortion. Drunkards,gossips,
    the sexually immoral in any form,all idolaters,coveters/the greedy,
    the proud,mean people and all liars will have their place in the lake
    of fire unless they Repent! Repent or perish! We all must Repent!

  • Karla … but I bet you do not know what Jesus wrote in the sand.

    There’s always something just out of reach, isn’t there … that invites one to grow a wee bit more, and more … and more, which makes the first, last, and the last, first 😉

    Peace to you, Karla.

  • opheliart–Very true! I’ve always wondered what He wrote in the sand and
    we all need to stay in the Word/Bible so we can grow. God bless.

  • “Not that this is necessarily a call to shunning, but a call to continue to love and intercede and call to repentance”

    And yet shunning is exactly what is being done and encouraged. Go figure. There is nothing involving love, intercession or repentance in turning people away or encouraging discrimination against people. But it makes you feel better about acting maliciously when you claim that is your motivation.

  • Again, there would be no problem with a Baptist church that had homosexuals among its regular attendees. That is the perfect place for those needing love, intercession and repentance. But a church that performs same-sex marriage and thereby celebrates sin can not rightly be a part of the SBC They are not just tolerating, not just overlooking, but actually celebrating, the very sins that put Jesus on the cross.

  • And yet their actions seem to prove otherwise. The idea of treating gays as human beings being somewhat beyond the pale for the SBC and other denominations.

    Its their church, their rules. But we can dispense with the nonsense that such actions are being done in the name of showing Christian love and respect for others. There is nothing more phony than Christians trying to justify malice and prejudice under the guise of “showing concern for one’s sin”.

  • For what is probably the 854th time…there is no love, respect or humanity whatsoever in celebrating sin. It is, in effect, lying to the unwitting (or not) about disaster lying ahead.

    “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners [murdered by Pilate] than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13.

  • We as a church don’t always do a good job of embracing the sinner while not condoning the sin. We also seem to give the impression that some sins are worse than others in God’s eyes, when in fact we “have all sinned and fallen short…”
    We as a church must invite, welcome, and love everyone, because Christ died for all of us! We don’t always do a good job with that, and there is much room for improvement.

    At the same time, we cannot condone or celebrate sin…any sin. Yes, Jesus hung out with, visited the homes of, came to the rescue of, and ultimately died for sinners. However, not once did He tell anyone to “go ahead and keep doing what you’re doing.” No, instead He told them to change their life, to “go and sin no more.” Jesus would not have approved of any pastor performing a wedding in which the participants were outside the Biblical model that He (Jesus) ordained.

  • “Celebrating sin” is just a euphemism to cover malicious, spiteful behavior on the part of the self-righteous Christian shunning and attacking others.

    A way to make you feel better about treating others badly. There is no genuine concern for the person on the receiving end.

    Somehow that all important commandment after love of God, to love thy neighbor is conveniently excused, ignored and outright violated under the guise of “fighting sin”. Christian love merely a pretext for self-aggrandizement.

  • MommyM- Very well said! So many people today only talk about gay marriage
    or abortion so they don’t have to face their own sin. The sexually immoral in
    any form go to hell. Drunkards/coveters/the greedy are listed right along with
    homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6 the whole chapter. All sin is bad like gossip,
    pride,gambling,getting drunk,coveting/greed,jealousy,gambling,mean people,
    sharp tongues,premarital sex/sleepin around before the marriage and so on.
    The Bible says Repent or perish! Repent or perish! We all must Repent!

  • #855…there is no love in celebrating, approving, endorsing, or whitewashing sin. It is, in fact, pure hatred. Jesus mentioned the prophet Jonah more than once during His ministry, and Jonah was the perfect example of one who did not want to call others (the people of Ninevah, in his case) to repentance precisely BECAUSE he hated them and, quite maliciously indeed, did not want to see them spared…but ultimately was not allowed to get away with that.

    “Christian love merely a pretext for self-aggrandizement.”

    While you’re telling us what we think, again…how exactly does someone else’s sin “aggrandize” us in any way? We are all sinners (otherwise we’d have no need for Christ) and we each have our own load of faults and temptations to struggle against.

    Perhaps I should hire a baker and a photographer and throw a party so everyone can show their love for me by celebrating my recurring lack of patience with atheists who purport to read my mind. It would make about as much sense.

  • Gilhcan calls opinions opposed to his “biased” and “prejudiced” without any sense that in doing so, he is guilty of the same charges.

  • Then the Southern Baptist should also break away from all Southern Baptist Churches that have women as Pastors. That is unbiblical also.

  • No Larry you are dead wrong. The Bible, the Inspired Word of God states in both the Old and New Testament that homosexuality is an ABOMINATION and those who practice it will burn in Hell. Couldn’t be any more plain than that. By the way, Scripture also states that any one who supports and defends the abomination will be judged as if they are also a homosexual
    Defending the indefensible will land you straight into Hell.

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