Debate over gay marriage plays out in black and white US churches and state's legislation
The National Black Church Initiative, a coalition of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans says it has broken its fellowship with Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) following its recent vote to approve same-sex marriage.
The Presbyterian General Assembly, the top legislative body of the PSUSA, had voted to revise the constitutional language defining marriage, a move that put the church's definition more in line with the trend emerging in countries of the developed world.
In parts of Africa and Asia, the topic of gay marraige is taboo and homosexuals can face jail and persecution.
At the same time, the move to the acceptance of same-sex marriage and the rejection of its rejection has also been played out in some U.S. states.
Religious conservatives in Indiana have crafted legislation they say is to ensure the religious rights of their citizens. They cited other states - Kansas in 2013, Mississippi in April, and, Arkansas, The Los Angeles Times reports.
It is a mystery, then, to many here that a new hashtag has popped up on social media: #boycottindiana, commented the LA Times.
It said criticism of new Indiana legislation as discriminatory against gays and lesbians erupted this weekend in canceled construction, stalled convention plans and the specter of business leaving the state.
Social media campaigners focused their anger on the Indiana Statehouse after Indiana's Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed into law far-reaching freedoms for religious beliefs.
These protect those who say their beliefs forbid them from serving same-sex couples in an area where there appears to be a onvergence between white conservatives and a significant number of black believers on the issue.
"It [Indiana] became the 20th state to pass such legislation and, for some reason, the first one with a target painted on its back for doing so."
The battle in the church pews basically over the same issue followed the PCUSA decision earlier in March week to redefine marriage as "a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives."
Previously, marriage had been permitted in the church only "between a woman and a man."
But the NBCI rejected the change and said on March 27, "This arbitrary change of Holy Scripture is a flagrantly pretentious and illegitimate maneuver by a body that has no authority whatsoever to alter holy text."
Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the black churches grouping noted "NBCI and its membership base are simply standing on the Word of God within the mind of Christ.
"We urge our brother and sisters of the PCUSA to repent and be restored to fellowship."
The NBCI said PCUSA's "manipulation represents a universal sin against the entire church and its members."
It said that with its action, "PCUSA can no longer base its teachings on 2,000 years of Christian scripture and tradition, and call itself a Christian entity in the body of Christ. It has forsaken its right by this single wrong act."
Evans said apostle Paul warns us about this when he declared in Galatians 1:8 that there are those who will preach another Gospel.
"For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him...
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light," Evans said in his scriptural quote.
In the strongly worded statement Evans said, "No church has the right to change the Word of God. By voting to redefine marriage PCUSA automatically forfeits Christ's saving grace.
"This is why we must break fellowship with them and urge the entire Christendom to do so as well."
In Indiana, meanwhile the freedoms ensured in the state's S.B. 101 come at the cost of the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender residents, opponents say