A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Gay-Friendly Authors Populate SBC's Lifeway Site

Yep. That's correct. The Southern Baptist Convention's bookstores are stocking their catalog/shelves with "gay-friendly authors," Wal-Mart style.

Horrors? Or Hypocrisy?

Not a believer. Check out this article from EthicsDaily.com

Here is a snippet...
In 2005 the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution urging churches to be on guard against homosexual influences in public schools. But a conservative Web site says the nation's largest Protestant body might first want to get its own house in order by checking out shelves of the SBC's publisher, Lifeway Christian Resources.

Baptist Press last week bemoaned that Wal-Mart is still dabbling in support of "the homosexual agenda," despite warnings of a boycott by religious conservatives. A writer challenged readers to type the word "gay" into the search engine for Wal-Mart's online bookstore, reporting that more than 1,000 titles turn up.

On Friday Paul Proctor at NewsWithViews.com followed two earlier columns warning about Christian book sites that promote authors who are "heretics and false teachers" with a similar challenge.
Check out the list of Gay-Friendly books being sold by Lifeway at EthicsDaily.com. Follow their instructions and you can do your own search at Lifeway.

The Southern Baptist Convention is anti-gay. No argument there. In the last six months alone, Missouri Southern Baptists have threatened to boycott Wal-Mart due to their "pro-homosexual policies" and North Carolina Southern Baptists flat out kicked gay-friendly congregations to the curb. Ok, so what's the deal?

Why the double standard? Lifeway doesn't stock President Frank Page's Trouble With The Tulip but will sell Gifted by Otherness: Gay and Lesbian Christians in the Church....

Southern Baptists, are you bothered?

Again, let me conclude this post with the words of the 13th Apostle - Rufus - from Kevin Smith's classic Dogma...

"And that, my friends, is hypocrisy..."

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19 Comments:

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Do CP dollars go to Lifeway Stores? I'm thinking they actually don't - I'm pretty sure that Lifeway Christian Resources is self-supporting. That's because it's a not-for-profit business.

Not that that makes this any less amusing.

12:23 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Just double-checked with my inside source - CP dollars do NOT go to Lifeway Christian Resources or to Lifeway Christian stores.

12:38 PM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

Look, I am already boycotting LifeWay these days, mainly because of the lack of solid theological books marketed in their catalogs and monthly flyers. But I do wonder if those books are on the site because they are requested by seminaries and seminary professors. Both Southern Seminary and New Orleans (and I am guessing the rest of the big six) stocked those types of books for classroom engagement. I know it might be hard to imagine for some that SBC seminaries actually engage with differing opinions, but it does happen.

If that is the reason why these books are on LifeWay's list, then it is indeed appropriate, given that it is using it for educational material. LifeWay also stocks plenty of other liberal commentaries, theological resources, and cultural issues books that are used by the seminaries or even by churches as a part of the overall church training.

I'm not defending LifeWay - as I said I refuse to buy books there and will only go into the Seminary stores - but, I think the article at Ethics Daily didn't go far enough into research before it wrote the story. First, they should have talked to a LifeWay representative about the reason for the books on sale on the site. Second, they should have asked what percentage of sales these books generate. And third, they should have inquired about any customer complaints and what led them to discontinue the Eastern mysticism and yoga books but not the pro-homosexual books.

This sort of journalism though is the same problem that BP has - they do not attempt to tell both sides of the story or at least get a response from the SBC representatives before they post a story. You just posted a story about BP and spin. Do you think that there are some issues with posting this on the Ethics Daily site without adequate response from the SBC?

12:40 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Yep, you're right about CP money.


D.R.

Perhaps you could explain how seminary professors order books and where do students purchase these textbooks from? Baylor professors turn in a list of required books for a given semester. The bookstores then order X number of copies of the required texts. I can't go online and purchase each and every book at any given point during the semester. Lifeway makes these books available 365 days a year.

I seriously doubt that ALL of the books listed (gay-friendly and New Age) were at some point required texts at one point or another in a SBC classroom.

EthicsDaily was merely reporting on another story. Perhaps PaUl Proctor contacted Lifeway. I don't know. EthicsDaily did a good job on this piece as usual though. No spin here or there.

Even if the books have only sold a handful of copies, does that matter?

Let's suppose for sake of argument that EthicsDaily did contact Lifeway. In the past, Southern Baptist agencies/auxillaries don't tend to comment on matters raised by moderate Baptist reporters. EthicsDaily or ABP can't force folks like Patterson and others to comment each time they write a story.

In this case, EthicsDaily was reporting an old story not making new news. They could have contacted Lifeway but weren't obligated to do so.

1:01 PM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

I'm not familiar with Lifeway. Are they connected to SBC or are they their own private business?

I looked at their website and it didn't look like the sort of place I would shop, but if DR's boycotting them, that's good enough for me...to start shopping there (ha!)

1:30 PM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

BDW,

First, the advent of internet classrooms and satelite campuses using CRV technology requires LifeWay to carry many more books on its website. Additonally, pastors that life in remote locations and will only buy books from LifeWay if possible will find this service very useful.

Second, your very response indicates the factors about this story that aren't known. We don't know if they contacted LifeWay. We don't know why these books are on the list and what function they serve and we don't know if they even sell any of these books or just show that they can obtain them if needed to satisfy students, pastors, or educators who seek to grasp an opposing view. That's the problem with the article - it leaves too many questions unanswered and doesn't indicate it gave LifeWay a chance to respond. I think that had ED given them a chance, they would have indicated this in their article - especially if they were denied comment, which would bolster their case for LifeWay being guilty of hypocrisy (maybe you should email them and ask - given that they've never responded to me before).

Also, I honestly do think that when you have 50 professors at 6 schools (not including the colleges) teaching at least 5 different classes in a year, having one or two books (few of which actually address homosexuality directly) from 13 different authors isn't a big surprise. Additionally, you will find liberal systematic theologies from folks like Pannenburg and Marx on the LifeWay site as well. Simply because one carries an author is not itself an admissions that the author is somehow approved.

Honestly, I think that Ethics Daily is just as guilty as BP of trying to take a cheap shot at the other Baptist denomination. I don't see a difference here and I think you wouldn't if you actually looked at it from an unbiased viewpoint.

1:45 PM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

Dan, there are two LifeWay's in Louisville. One is on Hurstbourne in the TaylorHurst shopping center (may not be in bike riding distance though) and the other is at Southern Seminary in the Honeycutt Student Center.

1:47 PM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

Well, so Missouri Baptists are going to boycott Wal-Mart. Yeah, and I guess that will probably be about as effective as the boycott of Disney.

Why should ethics daily be held to a higher journalistic standard of verification than Baptist Press?

2:17 PM

 
Blogger Kevin Bussey said...

Wow! Thanks for the story. That is pretty sad and hypocritical.

5:30 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Dan,

Lifeway Christian Resources is an agency of the SBC (it was formerly called the Baptist Sunday School Board). They produce original material for churches, things like Sunday School curriculua, VBS materials, etc. Lifeway Christian Stores (formerly Baptist Bookstores) is a division of Lifeway. The stores sell stuff produced by Lifeway, but obviously also offer a much wider variety of products.

9:19 PM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Thanks.

"there are two LifeWay's in Louisville. One is on Hurstbourne in the TaylorHurst shopping center (may not be in bike riding distance though)"

EVERYwhere is bike riding distance, if you have the time...

Although, in the case of Hurstbourne, it's not the distance, it's the poor road planning that would keep me away.

Well, that and the fact that it's really probably not a store that would have much of interest to me.

But thanks!

9:37 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Lifeway has responded. From Mainstream Baptists...

LifeWaystores.com improving efforts
to filter questionable titles from third-party distributor’s list

LifeWaystores.com is enhancing its efforts to ensure that questionable books are filtered out of a massive list of titles available online through its third-party distributor. In fact, the third-party distributor makes 130,000 titles available to LifeWay, while adding sometimes as many as 1,000 new titles each week. Lifewaystores.com includes only about 100,000 of these titles, having eliminated nearly 25 percent of the books for a variety of reasons, most often because of inappropriate content, according to Mark Scott, vice president of the Christian stores division of LifeWay Christian Resources. In addition, LifeWay filters the titles electronically based on information from publishers and the reputation of authors and publishers for producing biblically-based material. Every week, dozens of inappropriate titles are removed successfully. And, says Scott, the electronic filtering and human-review processes are being improved to meet the high volume of new books hitting the Christian retail market.

“Even so, no system is perfect, and because we’re human and make mistakes, a few inappropriate titles occasionally make it through our filtering system and onto the online list,” says Scott. “When we become aware of these titles – often through an email from a customer – we investigate them, and if we confirm them to be inappropriate, we remove them immediately.”

That’s what happened this week as several Web logs reported that LifeWaystores.com was offering a number of pro-homosexual titles. “We checked it out immediately and found that, in fact, several titles did appear on our third-party distributor’s list,” says Scott. “We were unaware of these and removed the titles immediately. We appreciate it when such titles are brought to our attention and we invite our customers to contact us if they discover titles or authors about which they are concerned. Our customers place a high degree of trust in us to provide biblically sound resources. We value that trust and strive to maintain it.”

LifeWaystores.com also will be providing “Read with Discernment” tags on certain titles that are requested for scholarly study but may not appropriate for a broader Christian audience. ”Many of the titles available through the distributor are made available for critical study or research so that pastors, seminary students and ministry leaders have access to material that helps them understand and develop responses to the diversity of religious thought in a postmodern world,” says Scott.

10:26 AM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

Dan,

You said, "Well, that and the fact that it's really probably not a store that would have much of interest to me."

That's sounds a bit snarky to me. The LifeWay store at Southern carries quite a bit of historical works, especially by our Baptist forefathers. For someone who claims to be such an Anabaptist I wonder how much of the Anabaptists you really have read (apart from the treatises on peace).



BDW,

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I think LifeWay made a reasonable response. I had no idea that a third-party vendor was involved in its online site. It makes sense though, given that this is a regular practice at other online bookstores. I hope you update your post to reflect this.

10:55 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

"That's sounds a bit snarky to me. The LifeWay store at Southern carries quite a bit of historical works, especially by our Baptist forefathers."

No snarkiness intended at all. Might I be excused if I say that I find most "christian" bookstores (I dislike attaching the adjective "christian" to bookstores, music, buildings, etc - no offense intended), if I find them not to my tastes.

I'd just as soon purchase directly from the source (as in my purchases of Art Gish's anabaptist treatises or the Mennonite's stuff), or from a used book store or borrow them from friends and libraries. Failing that, I prefer to buy from local bookstores (ie, not chains).

I feel the same way about buying books from Walmart or Target, no strike against Lifeway, which I know nothing about besides what I've read here.

11:12 AM

 
Blogger Tim said...

No worry here. I don't waste my money on intellectual drivel so none of the 'christian book sellers' will profit off me.

I did visit one of these Christian bookstores here in Jackson with a coworker at lunch one day. I WAS impressed with the anti-theft system they had in place there. Very high-tech. Got me wondering what kind of clientele actually shopped at the place and whether the market for stolen religious trinkets/books was really that large?

I have been approached in the mall parking lot by folks of dubious integrity trying to sell me gold chains of equally dubious provenance, but I have never been approached by anyone offering a discount on a dashboard Jesus.

The only logical conclusion: their security MUST be working.

Enjoy.

9:28 AM

 
Anonymous rc said...

Just thought I'd mention that the Washington State courts have rejected domestic partner benefits for homosexual couples. That's jacked.

The ruling was based on a law or ammendment that said marriage is a man-woman contract.

Too bad. Though I believe that homosexuality is a disfunction, and that gay marriage is a moral-relativism shell game... secular government should't be in the marriage business in the first place.

It would be better if the govt only offered civil unions. The whole fundamentalist objection to that the government is that activists are trying to change the cultural meaning and acceptance of marriage by government fiat. The simple solution is to make our secular government responsible only for civil unions. The rules could be fairly generic, and fundamentalists wouldn't have to suffer secular judges telling us what's right and wrong.

But my first reaction to the Washington ruling is: that's what you get. Leaving morality up to a vote means that you might lose. That's exactly what happened in this case.

Pro gay marriage folks don't want a secular government- they want a government sanctioned gay marriage, an official statement that gay marriage is just the same as traditional marriage. Secular gaverbnment is in no place to make that cultural and spiritual statement.

But that doesn't stop progressives from pressing their case. These days, prevailing opinions and votes tend to favor progressives. But watch how they howl when the pendulum swings!

8:38 PM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

Tim,

I used to work inventory at a Lifeway store in Louisville. Let me assure you, theft occurs at Christian book stores just like at the mall. E-Fencing is huge these days, especially regarding Christian videos and music. Yes, it is unfortunate that Christian bookstore have to have security, but after watching a guy fill up a backpack with CD's and DVDs, I would say it is necessary.

9:08 PM

 
Blogger ajlin said...

"Lifeway doesn't stock President Frank Page's Trouble With The Tulip..."

This statement isn't necessarily true- I've seen Page's book on the shelf of the LifeWay here at SBTS.

2:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it true that the NAMB.NET DVD named IN THE NAME OF JEHOVAH features a closet homosexual as one of the Southern Baptist Church’s main witnesses against the teachings of the Watchtower?

6:31 AM

 

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