PHOENIX - The Southern Baptist Convention denounced same-sex marriage and homosexuality at its annual meeting, while asking members to help gays become heterosexual through Christian faith.
The nation's largest Protestant denomination also spent much of the gathering that ended Wednesday defending the right of evangelicals to proclaim their religion the only path to salvation.
"There are forces that attempt to silence us, who say don't intrude on our lives," said the Rev. Jack Graham, the Southern Baptist president. "We cannot resist the love and the call of God to penetrate our world."
The denomination made a special plea to its more than 42,000 churches to befriend gays and help "liberate" them from homosexuality. Gay rights groups said the initiative promoted hatred.