Dean says his religious views led to support for same-sex unions
WASHINGTON (BP)--Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean says his religious views led him to endorse homosexual unions as Vermont's governor.
"The overwhelming evidence is that there is [a] very significant, substantial genetic component to [homosexuality]," Dean said Jan. 7, The Washington Post reported. "From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people."
Dean's comments came a day after he told reporters, according to The Post, "My view of Christianity ... is that the hallmark of being a Christian is to reach out to people who have been left behind. So I think there was a religious aspect to my decision to support civil unions."
Those views of Christianity and God are not consistent with the Bible, some Southern Baptists replied.
"The hallmark of Christianity," said ethics specialist Richard Land, "is being a disciple of Jesus, which means we follow His teachings [and] the teachings of the Bible, which state in both the Old and New Testaments that homosexual behavior is a sin.
"Southern Baptists and evangelical Christians believe that the authority of Scripture supersedes the mere opinion of Howard Dean or anyone else," said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "We get our morality from Scripture, and we are under its authority."
Tim Wilkins, who directs a ministry to homosexuals, said of Dean's remarks, "To claim that the Bible not only condones but celebrates homosexuality is equivalent to making the claim that Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' is a musical comedy. There is nothing in Scripture at all that would give that indication.
"God does not make people homosexual. He created us male and female. We are all physiologically heterosexual."
Wilkins, a former homosexual, is executive director of Cross Ministry in Wake Forest, N.C. His wife of 10 years and he have two daughters, with another child on the way.
Dean's claim there is "overwhelming evidence" homosexuality has a genetic basis is "unsubstantiated," Wilkins said.
"The research does not overwhelmingly show a genetic link to homosexuality," he said. "The first question I would ask Mr. Dean is, 'Mr. Dean, to what study are you referring?' I think if he were most people, he would have no idea to which study he was referring."
Christianity does involve reaching out to people in need, Wilkins said. "But the grace of Jesus Christ does not leave people where they were," he said. "It leads them to a life of fulfillment and purpose and a God who makes all things new. A grace that forgives us of sin but does not free us from sin is a grace not worth having."
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6 that some of the members of the church in Corinth were "effeminate" or "abusers of themselves with mankind" but had been changed by the Lord Jesus, Land said.
While he was Vermont's governor in 2000, Dean signed a civil unions bill into law that granted marriage-like benefits to same-sex couples. While he has said he opposes homosexual "marriage," he continues to support same-sex unions.
Dean's comments on his signing of the civil unions legislation apparently are the first he has made in this campaign about a role for religion in his policy decisions. "I don't go through an inventory like that when making public policy decisions," he said Jan. 7, The Post reported.
Only recently has he begun talking about religion. A week earlier, Dean said he planned to talk more openly about his religious beliefs when he campaigns in the South.
On Jan. 6, he said, according to The Post, "I think we have got to stop thinking about the South as some peculiar region. I am going to talk about the same things everywhere."
Dean is a member of a Congregationalist church, which is considered a liberal Protestant denomination, The Post reported.
Dean appears to be the leader for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to many polls, but the first vote has yet to be counted in the process. The first contest will be Jan. 19 at the Iowa caucuses. The first primary election will be Jan. 27 in New Hampshire.
Americans largely support public expressions of religious faith by public officials and candidates. A July poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found 41 percent of adults said politicians have made too few references to faith and prayer, while just 21 percent said they have made too many.
Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said President Bush talks about his faith the correct amount, while only 14 percent said he does so too much.