Southern Baptist state legislator Paul Stam, Charlotte pastor Clint Pressley and evangelist Franklin Graham are among those calling the NCAA hypocritical for its decision to withdraw seven championship events from North Carolina over the state's antidiscrimination law.
Two days after the NCAA's Sept. 12 move, the Atlantic Coast Conference followed suit by stating it would move all neutral-site championships for the coming academic year out of North Carolina, including the football conference championship game in December.
The most high-profile events affected by the NCAA's decision are first- and second-round Division I Men's Basketball Championship games that were slated for March 17 and 19 in Greensboro.
At issue is a measure known as House Bill 2, adopted earlier this year, which does not include sexual orientation or gender identity among classes of people designated for antidiscrimination protection. The law also requires individuals in state buildings to use restrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates.
The Obama administration claims the law violates federal antidiscrimination standards and issued a May 13 directive instructing public schools and universities to grant transgender students access to programs, activities and facilities—including restrooms and locker rooms—based on their gender identity and not their biological sex.
At the June Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis, messengers voted to designate Charlotte as the site of the 2023 annual meeting.
In response to the NCAA, Stam, speaker pro tem of the North Carolina House of Representatives, issued an eight-page news release Sept. 13 detailing what he termed the collegiate association's "breathtaking hypocrisy."
The NCAA, Stam wrote, "selectively boycotts North Carolina for policies it claims are unique to our state—but actually are common throughout the nation—and for daring to disagree with a sweeping federal mandate by the Obama administration—a mandate that is currently being challenged in court by 24 other states."
Stam, a member of the SBC Executive Committee from 2005-09, added, "The NCAA is in violation itself of the civil rights provision of Title IX [of the 1972 Education Amendments] as interpreted by the Obama administration."
Among Stam's contentions, which cite supporting documentation in more than 30 footnotes:
• "The NCAA claims that the 'dynamic' in North Carolina is different from other states. But North Carolina state law on discrimination is the same or very similar to that of 28 other states and the statutory law of the federal government."
Stam advised the NCAA to "take a careful look at its activities and those of its thousands of members" in those states as well.
• "The NCAA and its member institutions are not in compliance with the civil rights provision of Title IX as defined by President Obama."
While the administration instructed colleges and universities to treat students consistently with their perceived gender identities, Stam wrote, NCAA rules prohibit so-called transgender females who are not undergoing hormone therapy from competing on women's teams.
If the NCAA held itself to the same legal standard to which it seeks to hold North Carolina, Stam wrote, "a male could self-identity as a female and demand a position on [an athletic] team. Will women put up with having an anatomically correct male in their shower rooms and in their hotel rooms on travel days? Some may; most will not. None should be asked to do so."
• Although the NCAA claims "North Carolina law provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community," in litigation concerning HB 2, "not a single LGBT person has cited one instance of being denied service."
Pressley, a former SBC first vice president, told Baptist Press the NCAA and the ACC apparently want "to be on the 'right side of history' and the right side of what seems to be the prevailing view in society."
Yet, demanding that North Carolina treat everyone according to their gender identity and not their biological sex "seems hypocritical to me because they still have men's basketball and women's basketball," said Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte.
Though people in North Carolina love sports, Pressley said he has not heard "overwhelming wailing" at the loss of NCAA and ACC championship events. He urged Gov. Pat McCrory and state legislators not to succumb to pressure either to adjust or rescind HB 2.
Upholding a biblical view of gender and sexuality, Pressley said, should be "a first-tier issue" for followers of Jesus.
"It takes us all the way back to creation," he said. "... How men and women are identified has to do with their sex. Sexuality is certainly more than biological, but it's obviously not less than that."
"Human flourishing" and "the overall well-being of people" are advanced most effectively "when we understand the sexes as male and female and not as interchangeable," Pressley said.
Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrote in a Sept. 15 letter to ACC commissioner John Swofford of the "profound hypocrisy of the ACC, the NCAA and other companies and organizations who are making calculated business decisions disguised as moral outrage."
ACC sponsors like Dr. Pepper and Toyota conduct business in countries where homosexuality is illegal, Graham wrote, asking why the conference does not sever ties with those sponsors. NCAA policy, he added, requires a male-to-female transgender athlete who is not taking hormone therapy to compete on a team "in accordance with his ... assigned birth gender."
"That is precisely what supporters of HB 2 have been requesting," Graham wrote, "that people use public restrooms in accordance with their assigned birth gender."
Graham continued, "I am a big sports fan. ... But I would rather defend the biological definition of the two genders as created by the Creator of the universe than to attend—or even watch on TV—a football or basketball game to determine the ACC champion."
J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, presented "some resources on House Bill 2" in a Sept. 16 blog post, noting, "More discussions will be necessary in the days to come."
Greear's recommended resources include articles by Russell Moore and Joe Carter of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Trevin Wax of LifeWay Christian Resources; and Brad Hambrick, pastor of counseling at The Summit.
David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP (bpnews.net) reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.