NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--An elaborate hoax Tuesday claimed that the Southern Baptist Convention was on the verge of formally supporting "gay marriage" and repenting of its stance on homosexuality, and the hoax backed up the false claim with a press release, phone number and website.
The stunt was pulled off by a group calling itself the Center for Responsible Christian Living, but the group didn't identity itself until later in the day and only after one major Catholic blog had posted the release as legitimate. The blog soon pulled it. No major media outlet reported the news as real. Several media members, in fact, called the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee to make sure officials knew of the hoax.
The Center for Responsible Living -- which does not have a website -- said the hoax was to "highlight the Southern Baptists' anti-gay stance as both irresponsible and unchristian." The Center for Responsible Living's press release did not list a phone number or a spokesperson. All the quotes were of "anonymous" spokespersons.
Roger S. ("Sing") Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations for the SBC Executive Committee, said the SBC's approach to homosexuality is not only biblical but loving.
"Southern Baptists do not think it irresponsible or unchristian to uphold clear biblical teachings on human sexuality and marriage," Oldham said. "Godís expectation of sexual purity is woven throughout every part of Scripture, across generational and cultural lines. The Bible is equally clear that all who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, those who repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone, will be forgiven and delivered from the bondage of sin. To deny such a fundamental biblical teaching as Godís redemptive purpose is the height of irresponsibility and would clearly be un-Christian."
The fake press release -- sent out early in the morning -- and fake website falsely claimed that the Executive Committee, "meeting in extraordinary emergency session," had asked that the SBC adopt a statement defining marriage as "two partners" because "loving and committed homosexual relationships must have the right to acknowledgment in the eyes of God." The hoax further said the Executive Committee had proposed a resolution urging "our agencies and institutions seek diligently to bring about greater diversity from the LGBT community." The fake resolution also said Southern Baptists were repenting of their past stance.
The hoax came complete with a website that didn't look anything like the convention's real website but did have enough faith-themed icons that it likely could trick some people. Curiously, the website claimed to be the "Southern Baptist Convention of America." The real SBC does not have "of America" in its title.
A call to the number on the press release led to a recording with a male voice stating, "You've reached the headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention. Please enter the extension of the person you are trying to reach or leave us a message in our general mailbox after the tone. For more information on the Southern Baptist Convention or to find contact information on a specific church in your area, please check at our website, at www.sbcaa.net."
The SBC's real website is SBC.net
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.