Speaking to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, Ohio, Northwest Arkansas megachurch pastor Ronnie Floyd, who serves as the president of the SBC, urged members to take a stand against same-sex marriage, saying God has defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Floyd is the senior pastor of Cross Church, a congregation with over 15,000 members and multiple campuses in Northwest Arkansas. In June 2014, Floyd was elected to the presidency of the SBC, and was re-elected without opposition to another two-year term today.
Addressing the faithful in Columbus, Floyd spoke on the need for Baptists to decry abortion and racism, but said of the forthcoming Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage: “This could be a watershed moment in our history, possibly changing the trajectory of our nation unlike anything we’ve seen since 1973 in the Roe vs. Wade decision.” He said that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, it could harm religious liberty.
Floyd reportedly received a standing ovation when he said: “Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in a covenant commitment for a lifetime. We do not need to redefine what God has defined already.”
Floyd’s no-compromise speech on gay marriage and other hot button social issues comes less than a week after the Southern Baptist Convention announced that the denomination had lost more than 230,000 members in 2014, the largest one-year drop in membership since 1881 when statistics on church membership were first compiled. It’s the eighth straight year of declines for the denomination, with last year marking the lowest number of new baptisms into the faith since 1947. Total Southern Baptist membership is now at 15.5 million. The report on membership also said that weekly church attendance at SBC affiliated churches fell three percent in 2014, which equates to $20.9 million less income.
Southern Baptist is America’s second-largest denomination, after Roman Catholicism. Total membership in the U.S. is down by over 800,000 since 2006.
Earlier this month, Floyd had made headlines when he decried the transition of Caitlyn Jenner, calling the transgender former Olympian’s revelation as “sad” and adding: “Let me tell you what else is sad: the comments from the American culture. Comments like ‘Once a champion, always a champion… Did God make [Jenner] this way? Absolutely not.”