NASHVILLE, TN - At previous Southern Baptist Conventions, demonstrators stormed stages and during the 2001 convention in New Orleans tried to crash a meeting hall with a casket they said represented gays hurt by the group's anti-homosexual teachings.
But at the last few annual meetings protests have grown more subdued as Southern Baptists, the nation's second largest Christian faith, have shifted focus from politics to more spiritual issues -- this year, most notably, dissolving an eight-year boycott of the Walt Disney Company for policies deemed too antifamily.
At the St. Louis convention in 2002, 50 protesters were arrested for trying to disrupt the outgoing Southern Baptist president's keynote speech.
At the 2001 convention in New Orleans, conflict erupted outside the Louisiana Superdome by gay rights group Soulforce, which tried to enter the arena with the symbolic casket. About 30 protesters were arrested without incident and released. The group also protested at this year's two-day convention in Nashville, which ended last Wednesday.
Nashville police, however, said no one was arrested, nor were
any disturbances reported.