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LGBT hiring policy highlights CBF factions by David Roach

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DECATUR, Ga. (BP) — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s decision to lift its absolute ban of hiring homosexual and transgender individuals has drawn diverse reactions from within the Fellowship — and predictions that churches on both sides of the ideological spectrum could break ties with the CBF.

“The reality is that we’re liable to lose some churches — on the left and on the right,” Steve Wells, a Houston pastor who served on the CBF committee that recommended revising the Fellowship’s hiring policy, told Texas’ Baptist Standard newsjournal. “I really don’t believe it will be that many.”

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. predicted a more severe division within the CBF, writing in an online commentary it “was evident from the beginning” that “the LGBTQ revolution would be the fuse that would detonate the CBF.”

The CBF was founded in 1991 as a fellowship of churches that objected to the ideology and methods of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Conservative Resurgence.

The CBF Governing Board voted Feb. 9 to open some positions with the Fellowship to “Christians who identify as LGBT” but to continue to restrict “leadership positions in ministry” and missionary roles to believers “who practice a traditional Christian sexual ethic.” The policy change was recommended by the seven-member Illumination Project Committee appointed in 2016 to chart a unified path forward for the CBF amid diverse views on human sexuality.

The new hiring policy and an accompanying implementation procedure replaced the previous CBF hiring policy, which prohibited “the purposeful hiring of a staff person or the sending of a missionary who is a practicing homosexual.”

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