Essay on Religion, Sexuality, and Identity in the New South

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Religion, Sexuality, and Identity in the New South

A long line forms at Our Way Café in Decatur, Georgia as customers are anxious to buy a plate heaping with traditional Southern food. If one were to observe the employees and those in line, one might notice that a diverse group patronizes this restaurant. There are men in business suits, men in gas station jump suits, women with huge diamond earrings, and women in sweats. Blacks, whites, young, old, Hispanics, and many gays eat and work at Our Way Café. These gays are open to exhibiting their sexual orientation and preferences, as same-sex couples find the setting to be comfortable. This array of people represents the community of Decatur, an in-town neighborhood east of Atlanta.
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The fiscal, technological, and corporate developments lead to the further development of this tolerant, liberal, and educated group. Those who attend Oakhurst Baptist Church would most closely identify with this group. There are social problems, though, that are underlying this “roaring boom” in the city (Hunter 20). Population increase left many families struggling for living accommodations. Technological employment leapt, but unemployment for the unskilled and young rose, particularly among blacks. This “presents an uncited and under-discussed problem in the community,” (Hunter 12). Many blacks became a group left behind during the modernization and “Manhattanization” of Atlanta in that they fill the “service economy”. Globalization has also eroded numerous Southern traditions and ways of life; Southern Baptists are amongst those that resent this change. The majority of Southern Baptists took the globalization of Atlanta in the opposite fashion as the tolerant suburbanites and became protective of their conservative beliefs and churches.

“Pro-gay church to be ousted” read the September 16, 1999 Faith and Values section of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. This article reports upon an unprecedented action in 177 years of Baptist history: the removal of a church from the fellowship of the Georgia Southern Baptist Convention (Barillas 3). The Georgia Southern Baptist Convention voted against Decatur’s Oakhurst
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