SC Southern Baptists urge pastors to preach against homosexuality

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS/AP) - South Carolina's Southern Baptists have approved resolutions encouraging pastors to preach against homosexuality and urging state lawmakers to vote against any bills that would expand legal gambling activity in the state.

One of the eight resolutions approved Tuesday by more than 1,000 delegates holding their 190th annual meeting in Columbia also states that "Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians have been portrayed by the media as intolerant or dangerous because of our commitment to Christ and our belief in Biblical precepts."

But the resolution also calls on Christians "to uphold the biblical standard of human sexuality against all onslaughts" while encouraging believers "to love and show compassion toward homosexuals and transgendered persons."

The resolutions encouraging legislators not to expand legal gambling activity also notes that "gambling can lead us to misuse our time, talents and resources" and encourages Baptist pastors to "educate their congregations and the public on the destructive forces of gambling."

"Legalizing immoral activities changes the legal consequences but does not remove the harm," the resolution says.

The state Supreme Court is considering the appeal of a decision to overturn the convictions of five men arrested in a 2006 raid on a Mount Pleasant poker game. State prosecutors argued before the justices last month that casual in-home poker games do not violate a state law against card or dice games but said the men arrested had been operating an advertised, organized game and therefore had broken laws against operating a "house of gaming."

State legislators have tried to advance bills to decriminalize friendly poker games and charity raffles, but those issues stalled in both chambers. During the October hearing, Chief Justice Jean Toal seemed to suggest they should try again.

Other resolutions approved Tuesday encourage Baptists to be more involved in prison ministries and ask congregants to request that state lawmakers stiffen state laws relating to copper theft. That resolution also expresses a "need for Divine intervention to stop the property destruction from copper theft."

Delegates also approved a $29.5 million budget, a decrease of more than 9 percent from last year's budget. The two-day convention wraps up Wednesday.

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