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Church Posting Anti-Muslim Message Leaves SBC

The North Carolina church that made recent headlines with its sign declaring “The Koran needs to be flushed,” has left the Southern Baptist Convention to become an independent Baptist church.

According to the Biblical Recorder, newspaper of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Danieltown Baptist Church in Forest City, N.C., voted to sever ties with the state and Southern Baptist conventions, as well as Sandy Run Baptist Association.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
According to the paper, Pastor Creighton Lovelace said the church left the Southern Baptist fold for several reasons.
 
Some people, he said, were concerned the controversy over the sign could endanger Southern Baptist missionaries.
 
Lovelace also cited “editorials” by the Biblical Recorder, which he called “scathing” in their opposition to the church and its pastor.
 
The reference was reportedly not to news or opinions stories on the newspaper’s main pages, but to a new Weblog by Editor Tony Cartledge called the “Editor’s Journal.”
 
On May 24 Cartledge compared the anti-Quran sign to “a roadside bomb … calculated to cause pain and outrage.”
 
The next day he profiled the young pastor’s “short but outspoken history of activism and self-promotion.”
 
“Lovelace apparently desires to make a name for himself as quickly as possible,” Cartledge wrote. “The calculated offensiveness of his roadside sign, timed to tap into already-simmering worldwide outrage, offers the ultimate shortcut.”
 
On May 26, after Lovelace took the sign down and issued a statement of apology, the editor commented: “It is not for us to judge whether Lovelace is sincere in his apology, or whether he simply caved to public and private pressure. In either case, we may be glad that the young pastor does seem to have learned something about the importance of respect for others, including people of other faiths.”
 
Cartledge isn’t the only Baptist official to criticize Lovelace’s message. Morris Chapman of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee issued a statement disavowing disrespect for the Quran.
 
Lovelace told the Charlotte Observer that four Southern Baptist officials called and told him the anti-Muslim message might put missionaries in danger.
 
After Chapman spoke out against the Danieltown church sign, EthicsDaily.com e-mailed former SBC president Jerry Vines and asked if he would apologize for a similar comment he made in 2002, when he called the Muslim prophet Muhammad a “demon-possessed pedophile.” Vines has not yet responded.
 
Chapman and other SBC leaders strongly defended Vines, who refused to back down for his comments, saying he was merely speaking the truth.
 
At first that was also Lovelace’s defense. Later, however, after learning that Muslims revere their holy book in an even deeper way than American Christians honor the Bible, he issued a statement apologizing for the sign and expressing “deep regret” for offending many in the Muslim community.
 
Invited to comment on Chapman’s criticism of his statement and defense of Vines, Lovelace said in an e-mail, “I think it is sad to see a double-standard, which is tantamount to hypocrisy.”
 
According to the Biblical Recorder, Danieltown Baptist Church has remained on membership rolls of the state convention but hasn’t contributed any money in recent years.
 
Lovelace said some church members were already considering going independent before the church sign controversy. Lovelace also referred to a David Cloud article distributed by the Fundamental Baptist Information Service offering 13 reasons “Why I am not Southern Baptist.”
 
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
 
Previous related stories:
SBC Leaders Intervened to Encourage Removal of Anti-Muslim Church SignSouthern Baptist Leaders Join Critics of Anti-Quran Church Sign