By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
MOUNT OLIVE – The Convention of Original Free Will Baptist Churches earlier this month became the latest in a growing number of denominational leaders to affirm and proclaim their support for an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman at one time.
A resolution, approved May 21 at the group’s annual convention at Mount Olive College, says in part that “the Convention of Original Free Will Baptist accepts the Bible to be our Rule of Faith and Practice;” that “the Bible defines marriage as between a man and a woman;” and that “marriage throughout human history has been the basic building block of society.” It calls on each conference in the denomination, in their next session, to affirm their position on the issue and includes a final paragraph ruling that a copy of the resolution in support of defining marriage in the Constitution be sent to each Representative and Senator of the North Carolina Legislature.
“It is simply an affirmation of our belief in the sanctity of marriage as given in the Holy Scriptures,” said the Rev. Buddy Sasser, director of Convention Services for the denomination based in Ayden, N.C.
“It was very obvious that the Original Free Will Baptist Denomination as a whole feels very united on this issue,” he added. “Like many other believers, we feel that the Bible gives the guidelines for the sacred institution of marriage.”
The Rev. David Hansley, president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, was especially glad to see the resolution and its overwhelming support.
“I was very pleased to see my own convention pass this resolution,” said Hansley, who serves as the denomination’s Director of Home Missions. ”
The Original Free Will Baptist Convention met for the first time in 1913. This year the annual gathering drew more than 600 attendees from the denomination’s eight different conferences which cover all or part of 38 North Carolina counties and portions of South Carolina and Georgia.
According to Sasser, additional response to this issue is expected at fall conferences that meet in October and November.
Sasser encouraged CAL supporters to consider their opinion on marriage and express it to those who represent them in government.
“Not only should they share it with their own lawmakers, but also those in leadership roles who chair committees and determine which bills are allowed to be heard,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, the Christian Action League’s executive director.
Although North Carolina statutes recognize marriage only between a man and a woman, there is no such provision in the state’s constitution, meaning that the state could be just one judicial ruling away from having legalized same-sex marriage.
House Bill 361, which would allow North Carolina voters to determine whether the state’s Constitution is amended to protect marriage, was referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House on March 3, with plans to send it to Judiciary I, then on to Election Law and Campaign Finance Reform, and finally to the Appropriations Committee. It has not been discussed at all this session.
Similarly, its companion bill, Senate Bill 272, has been sitting in the Committee on Ways and Means since Feb. 24.
Nonetheless, popular support for the measures has grown throughout the state where polls show roughly 75 percent of North Carolina voters would vote for an amendment if they were simply given the opportunity.
In addition to the Original Free Will Baptists, other denominational bodies that have announced their support for a marriage amendment include the Board of Directors of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the Council on Christian Life and Public Affairs of the Baptist State Convention and the Roman Catholic diocese of both Raleigh and Charlotte.