In the aftermath of last night’s white supremacy chaos at the Southern Baptists’ annual convention, the line that’s getting the most attention on social media is: “a denomination that was explicitly founded to support slavery.”
For those who don’t know their church history, yes, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. was founded on the belief of a biblical justification for slaveholding. I’m not Baptist, but as a former religion editor here at the DMN, I am well aware of that grim fact — and how long it took for church leadership to even begin making amends.
But another fact is that the Southern Baptist Convention deserves credit for its efforts in recent years to make racial reconciliation a priority. In 1995, it finally got around to apologizing for its foundational support for slavery. In 2015, it passed a resolution promoting reconciliation. Last year, it called on Christians to get rid of their Confederate flags.
Baptist leaders have spent a lot of time saying the right things about correcting structural inequities in America and becoming more welcoming to their brethren of color.
So how did things go so wrong last night after the first full day of the group’s annual meeting in Phoenix?
At the center of the story is Arlington’s Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, who several weeks ago submitted a resolution condemning the “alt-right and white nationalism.”
So far, so good.
But the resolutions committee decided McKissic’s proposal contained inflammatory and broad language “potentially implicating” conservatives who do not support the alt-right movement.
Because the resolution did not get the required two-thirds committee vote, chair Barrett Duke didn’t move it to the floor. But McKissic persuaded convention officials to ask all 5,000 people on hand if they wanted the resolution heard; that vote too fell short of the two-thirds majority needed.
That’s when all hell broke loose, starting with an online backlash, especially from African-American evangelicals, and spilling into the assembly hall Tuesday night. The Atlantic did a great job of rounding up reaction here.
Southern Baptist leaders, although way too late, realized the enormity of their error and called attendees back to the gathering place late Tuesday night to say that, indeed, such a resolution would get a hearing today.
SOURCE: Sharon Grigsby
The Dallas Morning News