RELIGION

American Baptist College not shying away from same-gender sexuality in social justice debate

  • In this April 1, 2015, photo, American Baptist College President Forrest E. Harris poses in his Nashville, Tenn. office. Some pastors affiliated with the small Baptist seminary have threatened to withdraw financial support after a lesbian bishop was invited to speak at the college as part of a lecture series. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    In this April 1, 2015, photo, American Baptist College President Forrest E. Harris poses in his Nashville, Tenn. office. Some pastors affiliated with the small Baptist seminary have threatened to withdraw financial support after a lesbian bishop was invited to speak at the college as part of a lecture series. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this April 1, 2015, photo, American Baptist College President Forrest E. Harris poses with photos from the civil rights movement in his Nashville, Tenn. office. Some pastors affiliated with the small Baptist seminary have threatened to withdraw financial support after a lesbian bishop was invited to speak at the college as part of a lecture series. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    In this April 1, 2015, photo, American Baptist College President Forrest E. Harris poses with photos from the civil rights movement in his Nashville, Tenn. office. Some pastors affiliated with the small Baptist seminary have threatened to withdraw financial support after a lesbian bishop was invited to speak at the college as part of a lecture series. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)  (The Associated Press)

At one time, American Baptist College was a fertile seedbed of social justice that produced several giants of the civil rights movement.

But the historically black college has largely slipped into obscurity in the decades since John Lewis, Bernard Lafayette and other national civil rights leaders emerged from its ranks.

Now it's seeking to return to its social justice roots. That effort, however, has become complicated after a lesbian bishop was invited to speak at the college last month as part of a lecture series.

Some pastors affiliated with the college threatened to withdraw financial support. The issue revived the question of whether the gay rights movement is a civil rights movement, a notion that many black pastors and leaders oppose.