SBC Draws Protests

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Twenty gay rights protestors face charges after a demonstration on Tuesday outside the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis.

About 200 people tried to get inside but were stopped by police.

Those who refused to leave were charged with city ordinance violations. The protest was peaceful.

Inside the convention facility, several people planted by the gay rights group, Soulforce, stood up and chanted, "Please Brother Merritt, hear us."

James Merritt is president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Soulforce says it wants to meet with Merritt over concerns that the nation's largest protestant denomination "promotes hatred" against homosexuals.

As a denomination, Southern Baptists believe God does not sanction homosexual lifestyles.

An Islamic group has also demanded that the SBC condemn what it calls "bigoted" and "hate-filled" statements attributed to the Rev. Jerry Vines of Jacksonville, Fla.

During a pastor's conference last night, Vines was quoted as saying many of this country's problems can be blamed on religious pluralism. He called Islam founder Mohammed "a demon-possessed pedophile," and " I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take lives of thousands and thousands of people."

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based council on American-Islamic relations, called the comments "outrageous."


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