The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, Defender of Church-State Divide, Dies at 81


The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, who began his profession within the Southern Baptist Conference however grew to become more and more troubled because the denomination grew extra aggressively conservative, and who went on to steer the Interfaith Alliance, a company devoted to non secular and cultural variety and to protecting faith and politics separate, died on June 7 in Monroe, La. He was 81.

Northminster Church of Monroe, the place Dr. Gaddy was senior pastor from 1991 till his retirement in 2016, posted news of his demise on its Fb web page, saying he had been having critical well being points for a number of months. The Interfaith Alliance, of which he was president from 1997 to 2014, additionally famous his demise on its web site.

“Throughout so many areas,” the group’s president and chief government, the Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, stated in that post, “Welton used his platform to challenge a imaginative and prescient for America that was inclusive of various beliefs and respectful of each particular person’s inherent dignity.”

Dr. Gaddy, whereas main congregations in a number of Southern states, held numerous posts within the Southern Baptist Conference within the Nineteen Seventies and the primary half of the ’80s, together with serving on its government committee from 1980 to 1984. However though he gave the impression to be a rising star within the denomination throughout this era, he was typically at odds with its rising conservatism, which was largely being orchestrated by the strategists Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson. Mr. Pressler and Mr. Paige have been on the warpath over what they perceived as liberal developments in doctrine and have been putting like-minded people in positions of energy.

Dr. Gaddy pushed again particularly exhausting towards these developments in the course of the years he was pastor on the Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Price, from 1977 to 1983. He was typically recognized as a pacesetter of the average faction of the denomination; opponents derisively labeled them “the Gatlinburg Gang” after they met in Gatlinburg, Tenn., within the early Eighties to debate their considerations concerning the Southern Baptists’ conservative transformation. (Dr. Gaddy termed it “a steamroller, cloaked in piety.”)

In October 1983, Dr. Gaddy introduced that he was leaving Broadway Baptist and would turn out to be the campus minister at Mercer College in Macon, Ga. He held that put up from 1984 to 1988. In 1991, he grew to become senior pastor at Northminster, a church affiliated with the progressive Alliance of Baptists, which now proclaims to individuals visiting its web site that “each a part of you is welcome right here — your gender, your race, your politics, your theology, your sexuality.”

Dr. Gaddy grew to become a key determine within the Interfaith Alliance, a gaggle based in 1994 “to rejoice non secular freedom,” as its web site says, “and to problem the bigotry and hatred arising from non secular and political extremism infiltrating American politics.”

In 1998, when the Southern Baptist Conference amended its assertion of beliefs to include the idea that “a spouse is to submit herself graciously to the servant management of her husband,” Dr. Gaddy, in an interview with NBC Information, condemned the transfer.

“I feel it’s unhealthy for the household,” he stated. “I feel it’s unhealthy relationally. I feel it’s heresy theologically.”

In Could 2008, when Senator John McCain of Arizona, searching for the Republican presidential nomination, received into scorching water when two conservative evangelical ministers he had been courting made particularly offensive remarks about Muslims and Jews, Dr. Gaddy was outspoken concerning the underlying downside.

“This can be a good instance of when politicians and non secular leaders attempt to use one another, each of them find yourself getting harm,” he advised The New York Instances.

In 2010, when information shops reported that Trijicon Inc., which provided telescopic gun sights to america navy, had been embossing phrases drawn from the New Testomony on these sights, he was amongst these expressing outrage. In a letter to President Barack Obama, he stated that the gun sights “clearly violate a authorities rule prohibiting proselytizing.” He referred to as the follow “solely the most recent in an extended line of violations of the boundaries between faith and authorities inside the navy.”

Dr. Gaddy wrote some 25 books and was the longtime host of “State of Perception,” a weekly radio program produced by the Interfaith Alliance and broadcast nationally. No matter hat he was sporting, protecting church and state separate was a foremost concern.

“I consider strongly within the First Modification to the Structure,” he advised The Information-Star of Monroe in 2016, “and suppose that virtually, in addition to traditionally, when faith and authorities get entangled with one another, it hurts each. But it surely most likely hurts faith most.”

Curtis Welton Gaddy was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Paris, Tenn. His father, George, was a clerk for the Louisiana and Nashville Railroad and treasurer of the West Paris Baptist Church; his mom, Jenola (Rayburn) Gaddy, taught Sunday college there.

“I actually can’t bear in mind once I didn’t go to church,” he advised The Fort Price Star-Telegram in 1981. “We went twice on Sundays, as soon as on Wednesday evening and on most days of the week.”

He earned a bachelor’s diploma in 1963 at Union College in Jackson, Tenn., a Baptist establishment the place he was additionally a high tennis participant. He obtained a grasp’s diploma in theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., in 1968 and a Ph.D. there in 1970.

By then he was pastor on the First Marion Baptist Church in Paris Crossing, Ind. In 1971, he was named pastor of Beechwood Baptist Church in Louisville, and the following 12 months he moved to Nashville to turn out to be director of Christian citizenship improvement for the Southern Baptist Conference.

His considerations concerning the mixing of politics and faith have been evident even then. In 1973, he supplied a prayer at a Southern Baptist breakfast in Washington attended by members of Congress. Amongst different issues, he requested God to “forgive our worship of a civil faith which equates nationalism with Christianity, confuses governmental coverage with Your will, and interprets patriotism as blind allegiance.”

Dr. Gaddy married Julia Mae Grabiel (often called Judy) in 1962. She survives him, together with a son, James, and a number of other grandchildren. One other son, John Paul, died in 2014.

In a 1981 speech, Dr. Gaddy expressed his rising frustration with the best way the conservative faction and the Ethical Majority, based by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, have been hijacking non secular dialogue and twisting the views of himself and others.

“Opposition to the political platform of the ‘pro-family’ forces is interpreted as opposition to household life,” he stated. “Disapproval of makes an attempt to move laws governing the follow of prayer in public establishments is labeled as disapproval of prayer. The protest towards tax credit for functions of funding non-public schooling is peddled as opposition to schooling.”

“Our society appears to have an aversion to complexity,” he added. “Perhaps we learn too many bumper stickers.”


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