While some Internet references describe New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kan., as a Southern Baptist congregation, an SBC official says the church has not been in friendly cooperation for more than a year.

By Bob Allen

A Baptist pastor in Kansas is taking heat for suggesting the government should execute homosexuals in an audio clip from his Sunday sermon making the rounds on the Internet.

Curtis Knapp, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kan., is heard in a 40-second clip first reported by Jeremy Hooper on the equality blog Good As You suggesting the government should, but won’t, execute gays.

“They should be put to death,” he says. “That’s what happened in Israel. That’s why homosexuality wouldn’t have grown in Israel. It tends to limit conversions. It tends to limit people coming out of the closet.”

He continued: “Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them?’ No, I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should. [You say], ‘Oh, I can’t believe you. You’re horrible. You’re a backwards, Neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling Scripture? Is God a Neanderthal, backwards in his morality? Is it his word or not? If it’s his word, he commanded it. It’s his idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.”

The excerpt is from an hour-long message titled “The curse of homosexuality,” which quotes Bible verses including Leviticus 20:13: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act. They shall surely be put to death.”

“He said put them to death,” Knapp proclaimed. “Should the church drag them in? No, I’m not saying that. The church has not been given the power of the sword, the government has. But the government ought to. You got a better idea, a better idea than God? God had one government on earth that he instituted and that’s what he told them to do. Should a new government come up with a better idea than God came up with? I don’t think so.”

Knapp anticipated arguments against his remarks, including comparisons to Fred Phelps, pastor of the independent Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., controversial for picketing at public events including funerals with placards bearing the message, “God hates fags.”

“Let me ask you something, if Fred Phelps believed two plus two is four, would you repudiate that knowledge just because Fred Phelps believed it?” he asked. “Suppose Fred Phelps believes the earth is round not flat, shall you become part of the Flat Earth Society because you want to distance yourself from Fred Phelps, because you can’t stand being associated with him in any truth that you share in common? I’ll bet we could find hundreds of things that Fred Phelps believes that you also believe that are true, and you do not pitch them because Fred Phelps believes them.”

“Fred Phelps happens to believe homosexuality is wrong,” Knapp said. “And you know what? He is right. I can see the headline tomorrow: ‘He’s right!’ Are his manners always the right way? Is his approach always the right way? No, of course not. Does he say it in love? Doesn’t sound like it. Does he really want homosexuals to repent and find eternal life? Doesn’t sound like he does. But that’s the problem, not him out declaring homosexuality to be an evil of our day. It is. He’s right.”

New Hope Baptist Church was affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention when Knapp became pastor in 2004. Sing Oldham, vice president for communications for the SBC Executive Committee, said the church reportedly has not been in friendly cooperation with the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists for about 18 months, but the SBC was not notified about removing them from the convention’s online database of Southern Baptist churches until reporters started asking about the affiliation May 31.

Knapp said his reason for including homosexuality in a series of sermons about revival is because “the sin of homosexuality in our culture and the increasing acceptance of it and the casual, easy way that we talk about it without vomiting shows how far we have fallen as a nation, and how desperate is the need for repentance.”

He compared America to the situation described by Paul in Romans 1, where “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness, ungodliness, because men exchanged the truth for a lie, and therefore he gave them over to homosexuality.”

Knapp said the idea that homosexuality is a personal lifestyle choice that doesn’t harm anyone isn’t found in the Bible.

“It is a violent and aggressive sin, and it is contagious,” he said. “The thing that you notice when you read Scripture is that homosexuality is not a group of oppressed people that are, well they are just sort of dainty and they’re kind of gentle people and they just get pushed around all the time and oppressed. No, they are violent people, in Scripture. Sodom and Gomorrah, the group was violent.”

Knapp said the same holds true for today. “You see it today,” he proclaimed. “They are violent. They are mean-spirited. They bully people.”

Knapp said America’s growing tolerance toward homosexuality isn’t a sign of progress but rather God’s judgment.

“More and more people are being given over to that in our culture, showing that God is angry with us for accepting idols instead,” he said, “for saying, ‘We don’t want you in our government. We don’t want you in our schools. We don’t want you in our homes.’”

“We are as a country ripe for judgment, and nothing will avail, nothing will fix it, nothing will change, nothing will improve unless the church gets on its knees and prays to God for repentance and starts speaking out,” Knapp said.