Southern Baptists in Nashville to Honestly Address Church’s Racist Past, Focus on Reconciliation


Southern Baptists did not mince words about their racist past during a two-day summit here devoted to making churches more diverse.

During the first half-hour of the conference Thursday (March 26), the Southern Baptist Convention’s top ethics czar acknowledged that the denomination’s heritage included preaching family values while splitting up the families of black slaves.

“Our heritage comes to us through a trail of blood, but not all of it is Christ’s blood, and some of it cries out from the ground right now,” said Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

He assured the audience that racial hatred would land them in hell.

But demonstrating the difficult task of getting blacks and whites to worship together, fewer than a fifth of the nearly 550 attendees at The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation summit were black — even with powerhouse names such as African-American pastor Tony Evans on the agenda.

This was the second year that the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission held a summit for pastors and other church leaders. Registration drew more than twice last year’s number when the summit focused on homosexuality.

Commission officials attributed that jump to a national conversation surrounding the Ferguson protests that followed the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

Moore said the work of racial reconciliation isn’t just for people whose “bedsheets have eyeholes,” he said, referring to the Ku Klux Klan. It’s for articulate people whose racism finds expression in complex and indirect ways.

“Racial reconciliation is going to take the courage of knowing who you are in Christ,” he told an energetic crowd, earning a shower of amens and yeses. “We are not the state church of the Confederate States of America.”

The Southern Baptist Convention was born in 1845 in a split over its support of slavery, a stance its leadership didn’t formally apologize for until 1995.

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Source: R |  Heidi Hall

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