Baptist group bars chaplains from same-sex rituals

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – The religious denomination that provides the largest share of active-duty military chaplains has barred members from taking part in services for same-sex couples – a prohibition that includes weddings, counseling sessions and couples retreats.

The North American Mission Board – an arm of the Nashville, Tenn.-based Southern Baptist Convention – also barred chaplains from participating in any services that would appear to endorse or accept same-sex unions.

The group issued the decision last week in the wake of the U.S. Department of Defense recognizing same-sex marriages and extending benefits to gay spouses.

NAMB spokesman Mike Ebert said the military officials sought the group’s input on the Defense Department’s decision.

The military has 439 active-duty chaplains and 268 reserve-duty chaplains affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.