imageThose annoyingly preachy TV and radio ads from Marietta pastor Bryant Wright? Yeah, well that guy is once again head of the Southern Baptist Convention and he’s speaking “right from his heart” about the gays.

But give the former radio host on WSB – Atlanta’s clearinghouse for conservative, anti-gay personalities – some credit. When he got to preaching about the gays, he did so with them in the room. Really.

Wright (photo), who founded Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta and Right from the Heart Ministries, met earlier this month in Phoenix with a coalition of religious and secular organizations that advocate against anti-gay religious bigotry. Wright met with the groups on June 15, a day after winning a second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, a religious organization that enjoys a long track record of anti-gay positions and edicts.

Wright met with members of Faith in America, Truth Wins Out, Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and the Phoenix-based group HERO. They presented him with a petition with 10,000 signatures calling on the SBC to apologize for what it calls the organization’s psychological harm it causes by supporting ex-gay ministries.

Wright was unmoved.

Wright told the delegation he was “certainly glad to hear of your concerns,” but in the end they must agree to disagree.

“We don’t feel there can be a need to apologize for teaching sexual purity,” Wright said. “Our only authority for expressing our faith is the word of God, and all through the word is sexual purity for God’s people, and that is true whether it’s homosexual sex or it’s heterosexual sex. We just feel like from our understanding of
Scripture, that that is taught in the Old and the New Testaments.”

“To follow Christ, it would be very difficult for us to betray our faith by ignoring what God’s word says about sexual purity,” Wright said.

And then there was this from Wright: Baptists don’t hate the gays, we just think you’re like adulterers.

Wright told the group that the Southern Baptist Convention believes homosexuality is a sinful behavior but does not hate gay or lesbian people. “People commit adultery,” he said.”We don’t hate adulterers.”

But the session – the groups say it was the first-of-its-kind sit down between an SBC president and gay groups – also included this bit of surprising advice from Wright: Dads shouldn’t abandon their gay children.

Wright told an 18-year-old member of the group who had been rejected by his father, a Southern Baptist music minister, that the boy’s father was wrong.

Ben Alley, 18, of Marshalltown, Iowa, was introduced to Wright in the meeting as someone who would not be spending this coming Father’s Day with his family because his father had rejected him because of his sexual orientation.

“I want to tell you your father was wrong,” Wright told Alley.