SBC leader disavows disrespectful message about Koran

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Morris H. Chapman, issued a public statement May 24 expressing disapproval about a church sign that carried a disrespectful message about the Koran.

The portable display in front of Danieltown Baptist Church in Rutherford County, N.C., reads, "The Koran needs to be flushed."

The church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Of course, the Koran does not support the beliefs of Southern Baptists, but we recognize and respect the rights of Muslims to believe as they choose,” Chapman said. “Furthermore, Southern Baptists wish to relate to our Muslim neighbors in a respectful manner that allows mutual sharing of our beliefs.”

The sign is an apparent reference to a Newsweek article, since retracted, that alleged that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had placed copies of Islam’s holy book in washrooms and had flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk. The article incited deadly riots in Afghanistan and caused large protests in Muslim countries around the world.

According to The Daily Courier in Forest City, N.C., the pastor of the church, Creighton Lovelace, is not apologizing for the sign.

"I believe that it is a statement supporting the Word of God and that it (the Bible) is above all and that any other religious book that does not teach Christ as Savior and Lord as the 66 books of the Bible teaches it, is wrong," Lovelace said. "I knew that whenever we decided to put that sign up that there would be people who wouldn't agree with it, and there would be some that would, and so we just have to stand up for what's right."

Chapman said that he did not know Lovelace personally, but that he had no doubt that the pastor “believes strongly in the Bible as God’s Word and Jesus Christ as the sole means of salvation for mankind, as do all Southern Baptists.”

However, Chapman said, “It is lamentable that Rev. Lovelace displayed a message on the sign in front of his church that applauds the desecration of the Koran.

Chapman explained that the Southern Baptist Convention is not a monolithic institution but that the consensus of Southern Baptists likely would react negatively to Lovelace’s message.

"The Southern Baptist Convention does not control the actions of any member church. It is not a denominational hierarchy. We cooperate as a network of churches and each church is autonomous, acting under its own authority.

"However, I know the heartbeat of Southern Baptists and I’m confident they will deeply regret the public display of this disrespectful comment about the Koran."

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