When I tell people that I was raised Southern Baptist, they say "Oooh...". But I say, no, not that Southern Baptist. I was raised as a part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a liberal off-shoot of the Southern Baptist Church. How liberal? I don't know. I was just a kid in a non-political family, so I don't really know the church stance on various political issues. I do know that my minister was a wonderful man. He spoke at my grandfather's (Papa's) funeral when I was 18. My grandma (Granny), a Catholic, was worried because Papa was anti-religion. Where did he go when he died? The minister gave a sermon at the funeral which I will always remember. He said that God is love. That God is not concerned with if you go to church. God is concerned with what you do, how you live your life. I didn't know it at the time, but that's liberal religion.
Now I'm a Unitarian Universalist, but not because I'm not a Christian. My partner was raised Hindu/Muslim, and we needed a church home that was big enough to encompass all of our beliefs. We also wanted a church that supported our family as a same-sex couple, and knew that Christian, Hindu, and Muslim churches traditionally would not be supportive.
My childhood minister died when I was 19, about 6 months after Papa. My dog died a few weeks later. It was a hard year. I didn't come out until I fell in love with K, when I was 21. What would he think? What would he say? I imagine he wouldn't be supportive. The website for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is vague regarding their support of gay-issues. In a way, I'm glad he's not here to reject me. It would hurt too much.
In college I attending a church that was a part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship that was even more liberal. They had female Deacons, my home church did not. Around the time that I was considering my own sexuality there was a Sunday school discussion about homosexuality. It was the kinder, gentler approach to homosexuality as a sin, but it still left me uneasy. Not long after I stopped attending and also quit the Baptist Campus Ministries (I was the secretary, so this was a big deal for me). I talked to the head of our campus baptist group when I quit. She was a deacon at that church. I told her that I was uncomfortable with the church views on homosexuality. I didn't say I was thinking about homosexuality myself - I hadn't said this outloud to anyone yet - but I'm sure she guessed. She said that did not think homosexuality was a sin and that she had attended a few same-sex weddings. That made me feel better but I quit anyway.
I read this article in the Atlanta Journal yesterday about the recent Baptist Convention:http://www.ajc.com/search/content/opinion/stories/2008/02/12/baptistsed_0213.html Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are trying to convince Baptists to be more inclusive. And there's a groups of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists pressing the issue. Good for them for sticking with it. I'm not strong enough to fight, but I'm glad they are. I still feel something strong for this religion, somewhere deep inside.