U.S. Embassy, in gay parade, sparks protest

WASHINGTON (BP) -- Two Southern Baptist Convention entity heads have joined pro-family leaders from 11 countries to protest participation in a "gay pride" parade by the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic.

Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, signed onto a letter opposing the embassy's involvement in the parade, which will be Aug. 18 in Prague. Nearly 120 others signed the letter, which was released Aug. 14.

Also endorsing the letter was Patterson's wife, Dorothy, who is professor of theology in women's studies at the seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

The signers said in the letter, which was sponsored by the World Congress of Families (WCF), they could not "imagine a worse form of cultural imperialism than Washington trying to force approval of the 'gay' agenda on societies with traditional values."

"At the directive of the president of the United States, Washington is aggressively promoting the 'gay' agenda internationally, including same-sex 'marriage' and the stigmatization and marginalization of any who object to the same," the letter said.

U.S. Embassy staff not only will take part in the parade, but Norman Eisen, the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, has expressed support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights during the six-day Prague Pride Festival. He spoke at the event's opening Aug. 13, according to The Washington Times, and signed a letter with eight other ambassadors affirming their solidarity with the Czech LGBT communities.

The embassy's promotion of homosexual rights in the Czech Republic aligns with the State Department's broader agenda since Hillary Clinton became its secretary. Since she took the office in 2009, Clinton has directed the department to "champion a comprehensive human rights agenda," including LGBT rights, according to a news release.

This year, U.S. embassies have participated in "gay pride" parades or hosted LGBT events in such countries as Ecuador, Finland, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Kenya, Pakistan, Panama and Sweden.

The United Nations "has never affirmed homosexual 'marriage' or rights," the signers of the WCF letter said. They pointed to sections of the 1948 U.N. Declaration of Human Rights in support of government's protection of traditional marriage and the family.

"It stands to reason, then, that anything which undermines the family -- including changing the definition of marriage -- is a breach of the State's responsibility to protect this indispensable institution which precedes government and makes a stable and free society possible," they said.

Those who identify themselves as LGBT "have the same rights as other citizens," the letter said. "This does not include the 'right' to force others to validate a lifestyle they find objectionable, for religious or other reasons. It also does not include the right of men to marry men and women to marry women."

In addition to Land and the Pattersons, other signers included former Arkansas Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee; former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay; WCF founder Allan Carlson; Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel chairman; Tim Wildmon, American Family Association president; Benjamin Bull, Alliance Defending Freedom chief counsel; Michael McManus, Marriage Savers president; Yehuda Levin, Rabbinical Alliance of America spokesman, and Janice Shaw Crouse, director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at Concerned Women for America.

WCF is a network of organizations and individuals from more than 60 countries that has the goal of restoring the natural family as society's basic unit.


Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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