Ministers Flail Ruling On Sodomy
November 29, 1998
17 W. 12th St., Columbus, GA 31902
By Larry Gierer, Staff Writer
To some area religious leaders, the Georgia Supreme Court's striking down of the
state's anti-sodomy law was just a sign of the times -- a big neon sign that reads
For one, the 6-1 decision Monday upset the Rev. Tony Dickerson, pastor at Pinehurst
"I was very disappointed," Dickerson said. "The law offered a moral
standard and the important issue here is that the standard has been lifted. I hope the
legislature will do something about that."
The law, which the court says violates privacy rights established by the constitution,
bans oral and anal sex between consenting adults, homosexual or heterosexual.
"If a new law is introduced," Dickerson said, "I believe it might be set
in more contemporary terms."
The Rev. Norman Dunlap was equally dismayed. "I wish they hadn't done it,"
said the pastor at Wesley Heights United Methodist Church. "We need a law like that
on the books. Society is declining morally and losing a law such as that is just another
mark on the decline."
Dunlap, who said a new law should still include actions by both heterosexuals as well
as homosexuals, is sure that several pastors will rally for a new law to be enacted.
"I won't march to the dome," he said. "I will write people in Congress and
let them know how I feel."
The Rev. Ron Cottle, the chancellor at Beacon College, was especially disturbed by what
he sees happening in Georgia as well as other places in the nation.
"While many believe sodomy is morally reprehensible and contrary to God's design
of the human body and is an unnatural sexual behavior, it remains true that you cannot
legislate morality," Cottle said. "Morality must be taught and caught in the
home and in church and synagogue. A society cannot be led into moral behavior by passing
That said, Cottle doesn't mean to let legislators off the hook. Georgia's laws should
reflect what Georgians are and what they believe, Cottle said. "And the vast majority
of us are not sodomites."
Cottle feels the courts are playing politics and yielding to pressure from outside
sources. He notes that it's "sad" to see what he calls well- organized and
funded gay/lesbian forces targeting and methodically revising anti-sodomy laws state by
state. He said all 50 states used to have anti- sodomy laws and that only 13 do today.
"They (gays) say that the nation's moral values are changing and that
homosexuality and lesbianism are acceptable lifestyles. This is not the view of the great
majority of Georgians or Americans. Our lawmakers should be defeated at the polls if they
do not represent our views but cave in to the special interests such as the well-funded
gay community. It's time for a spiritual renewal in this country," said Cottle.
The Rev. Chris Mitchell, pastor at Solid Rock Assembly of God, agrees with the need for
a spiritual renewal and while he's in favor of a written sodomy law, he, as the others, is
more concerned with something else.
"I'm concerned with moral laws," Mitchell said. "Deep down, people know
what they should and shouldn't be doing even if nothing is written down. Some
relationships are just unnatural. This country has lost a lot of its morality. The way to
get it back is through Jesus."
U.D. Roberts, a local businessman, is the moderator for the Columbus Baptist
Association. He was distressed by the court's action because he believes the law to be a
good one for Georgia, one that most Georgians support. There's another reason, however,
why he is upset.
Roberts tends to agree with the minority opinion penned by Justice George H. Carley.
Carley stated that the court has "exceeded the limits of its judicial authority and
usurped the legislative power to enact laws to promote the public health, safety, morals
and welfare of its citizens."
"This is a greater issue than just one case," said Roberts. "We're
seeing more and more of this. The system is out of balance. The court was not delegated
the authority to make law. The legislative branch is the preeminent branch."
What should be law, he said, ultimately "falls back to the people."
Roberts said courts reversing such laws has become a national trend. "I think the
courts have become very political," he said.
Some people say that the sodomy law pertains to a behavior and therefore shouldn't be
on the books.
"Why have any laws at all?" Roberts said. "Wearing a seat belt is a
behavior. We have a law about that. Some laws, including the sodomy law, are there for the
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