Lawrence Ware, Who Announced He Was Leaving the SBC In NYT Op-Ed, Shares Responses from People Across the Country

Southern Baptists voting to formally condemn the political movement known as the “alt-right,” at their national meeting in Phoenix in June.
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Last month, I announced in an Op-Ed that I was leaving the Southern Baptist Convention. I had to. As a black scholar of race and a minister committed to social justice, I could no longer be part of an organization that is blind to its racism.

Some readers questioned my motives. A few black ministers wrote Op-Eds elsewhere explaining why they chose to stay in the convention.

More than 1,000 people commented on the Times website, and hundreds more on social media. My email was flooded with reactions from people all across the country.

Here is a collection of their responses.

—Lawrence Ware

Some left the S.B.C. because of anti-Semitism.

Brother Ware, I understand your feelings. My uncle was a Southern Baptist minister, yet I had to leave the church of my heritage when I was 17 and first learned of the Holocaust. After my minister told me that the Jews who died at the Nazis’ hands went to hell, I knew that I could no longer be a Southern Baptist. Other than weddings and funerals, I never stepped foot in another S.B.C. church.

— GrayGarden in Connecticut

I still remember the words of a president of the Southern Baptist Convention: “God does not hear the prayers of a Jew.” That has colored my attitude toward the Convention. Nothing has happened to change my attitude since then.

— Dirtlawyer in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Others left because of sexism.

I left the Southern Baptist Convention back in the 1970s as a 9-year-old (mentally at least; I was forced to attend their services until I was 15. But intellectually and emotionally, I washed my hands of them as a child). During the debates about women’s rights and passing the Equal Rights Amendment, I repeatedly heard ministers insult and degrade women — and even call for their husbands to physically abuse them if they were not “obedient” — from the pulpit. Even a child realizes that is a message of hate and not the gospel of Christ.

— StrangeDaysIndeed in New York City

Then there was the homophobia.

I left the Southern Baptist Church in the 1980s when all I heard from the pulpit and in the pews was how AIDS was a condemnation from God for the sin of being gay. No love, no compassion, no mercy … nothing vaguely Christ-like.

— ConorAedhan in Memphis

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: The New York Times
Lawrence Ware