Monday, June 19, 2017

Southern Baptists Voted Overwhelmingly to Condemn ‘Alt-Right White Supremacy’

Members had already voted Tuesday to condemn gambling and Planned Parenthood, and they adopted a statement on the importance of public officials who display “consistent moral character.” That resolution also commended “those leaders who choose not to meet privately with members of the opposite sex who are not their spouse,” a group which includes Vice President Pence, who drew attention when he said he doesn’t eat alone with a woman other than his wife.

 

Members of the Southern Baptist Convention voted Wednesday to condemn a white nationalist movement, but only after fierce backlash following their decision a day earlier not to move forward with a similar resolution.

The decision was met with a standing ovation as about 5,000 members of the denomination voted at their annual convention to affirm their opposition to the alt-right movement, which seeks a whites-only state. But it was not a decision easily reached.

Dwight McKissic, a black pastor from Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Tex., had introduced the resolution calling on the denomination to make it clear it had no sympathy for the alt-right.

“I saw people identifying themselves as Southern Baptist and members of the alt-right, so this is horrifying to me,” McKissic said. “I wanted the Southern Baptist Convention to make it very clear we have no relationship to them.”

Members had already voted Tuesday to condemn gambling and Planned Parenthood, and they adopted a statement on the importance of public officials who display “consistent moral character.” That resolution also commended “those leaders who choose not to meet privately with members of the opposite sex who are not their spouse,” a group which includes Vice President Pence, who drew attention when he said he doesn’t eat alone with a woman other than his wife.

But when the resolution on the alt-right failed to move forward because of objections to some of the wording, many younger members and evangelicals of color became upset. “I thought it would be a slam dunk, but I misread Southern Baptists apparently,” McKissic said.

Barrett Duke, chairman of the SBC’s resolutions committee, told Religion News Service that the committee’s decision to not bring the resolution forward for a vote on Tuesday was “not an endorsement of the alt-right.” He said the initial resolution did not clearly define who the alt-right is. A call to Duke was not returned.

The debate over the resolution highlights the divisions within the denomination. A majority of white evangelicals supported the election of President Trump. But many evangelicals of color have questioned that support and criticized Trump’s policies as harmful to minorities, if not racist.

While several Southern Baptist leaders have served on Trump’s evangelical advisory board, many younger Southern Baptists — including the denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty president Russell Moore, 45 — vocally opposed his candidacy.

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