The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Run Stories About the Racist Letter That Dr. Dwight McKissic Has Received

Arlington pastor Dwight McKissic receives racist letter after leaving Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

A prominent Black pastor has left the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and its parent group, the Southern Baptists Convention, could be the next to see him walk out the door.

Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington said he has witnessed a pattern of racism within the Texas group since the early 2000s, including recent incidents involving a Rockwall pastor and the most “blatantly racist” letter he’s ever received.

“I just want to expose that it’s here,” McKissic said. “Racism is alive and well.”

But his exit stems directly from the state convention’s adoption of a resolution that condemns critical race theory as “incompatible with the Baptist Faith and Message.”

The Arlington pastor said he doesn’t agree with all components of the theory, which says that laws and institutions perpetuate racial inequality. But he said it is wrong — and possibly harmful to Black churches — to say none of it is beneficial.

And if the national Southern Baptist Convention also adopts the resolution, or rescinds an existing one that includes a positive reference to the theory, he said the church he founded in 1983 will join a national movement of Black pastors who are cutting ties with the group.

“If they adopt that statement in June, it would be the feeling to me that people you trusted hit you in the face with a baseball bat,” McKissic said.

There has been “major opposition” to the existing resolution, he added, though he said he hopes there is a “change of heart.”

‘Un-Christlike statements’
Last week McKissac received a letter that he said stunned him and reaffirmed his decision, announced Jan. 15, to leave the Texas convention, which has not yet responded to a request for comment.

In the letter, author John V. Rutledge accused the Southern Baptist Convention of “foolishly repenting the sin of [being white].” He described Black people as “savages,” and “Negroes” who have “defiled and diminished” all areas of life, including the church. He added that they are being given “residences that they could not otherwise afford” and “unmerited entry into classrooms and boardrooms.”

McKissic said his confidence in Christ, his family and himself trumps the words of others. Rutledge, who has also written a book criticizing the Southern Baptist Convention, has not yet responded to a request for comment.

The state convention denounced Rutledge’s sentiments in a statement “with great urgency” Tuesday evening.

“[McKissic] nor any of our African American brothers and sisters in Christ should ever have to endure such racist, ungodly remarks,” the statement read. “Mr. Rutledge is not in any way affiliated with the SBTC nor does he speak on behalf of the churches of this convention.”

The Arlington pastor detailed his history of encounters, some racist, with the Texas convention in an exit statement he posted on his blog. It began in 2006, when a former convention executive told him he could “ride on the bus” of the organization, but not drive it, McKissic wrote.

“I remained a member from then until today, simply to not break fellowship over a tertiary issue,” he wrote in the blog post. “I decided to stay on the bus from 2006 until January 2021. But, today, I have decided it is time to ‘get off the bus.’ I no longer want to ride, and I certainly do not want to drive.”

McKissac also condemned a recent statement by First Baptist Church of Rockwall pastor Steve Swofford, a member of the SBC executive committee, who in a Jan. 3 sermon said President Joe Biden would be a “cognitively dysfunctional president.”

“What if something happens to him and ‘Jezebel’ has to take over? ‘Jezebel Harris,’ isn’t that her name?” Swofford said, invoking a racial stereotype from the Jim Crow era referring to Black women as sexually promiscuous.

McKissic called out the pastor on Twitter — as well as Tom Buck of First Baptist Church of Lindale, who also called Vice President Kamala Harris the name — and challenged the Texas convention to “repudiate” them and their “un-Christlike statements.” Neither responded to a request for comment from The Dallas Morning News.

But in 2015, McKissic himself used the term in a blog post about a Black pastor in a same-sex marriage. He said that a Baptist college inviting United Church of Christ pastor Yvette Flunder to speak at an event reminded him of Jezebel, the Biblical figure who taught “sexually deviant practices” that Jesus “strongly rebuked.”

McKissic told The News on Wednesday afternoon that there is a “huge difference” between how he and Swofford used the word.

“It’s apples to oranges,” McKissic said. “One was political, and one was complete theology. [My comparison] was of 100% ecclesiastic context with no political ramifications.”

He added that he did not call Flunder by the name of “Jezebel,” because he was raised “better than that.” Swofford, he said, had called Harris by that name.

The national mood
McKissic joins other Black pastors who are considering cutting ties with the Southern Baptists, including the Rev. Ralph West of the Church Without Walls in Houston; the Rev. Seth Martin, whose multiracial Brook Community Church in Minneapolis had been receiving financial support from the Southern Baptist association in Minnesota; and the Rev. Joel Bowman, who abandoned plans to move his Temple of Faith Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., into the SBC fold.

“It would feel like a divorce,” McKissic, who had as many as 1,200 congregants before the pandemic, told The Associated Press. “That’s something I’ve never had, but that’s what it would feel like.”

Their concerns stem from the resolution the Texas convention adopted, which was developed last year by a group of six seminary presidents, including the Rev. Albert Mohler, who could be elected as the national convention’s next president at its annual meeting in June.

The presidents later apologized for not consulting Black pastors before issuing the declaration, but Mohler told The Associated Press the presidents would likely have reached the same decision.

He suggested his critics do not reflect the opinions of most of the convention’s 14.5 million Southern Baptists, of which about 400,000 are members of predominantly Black churches.

“I believe I represent the vast mainstream of conservative Southern Baptists on these issues,” he said. “I think I am polarizing only at the extremes.”

The seminary leaders’ stance on critical race theory, as well as Mohler’s public support for Donald Trump in the 2020 election, “should disqualify him from being SBC president,” McKissic said.

Some white SBC pastors are also troubled, such as the Rev. Ed Litton of Mobile, Ala., who is one of Mohler’s rivals for the presidency. McKissic has endorsed Litton’s candidacy.

Litton co-signed a statement by a multiethnic group of Southern Baptists last month that asserted that “some recent events have left many brothers and sisters of color feeling betrayed and wondering if the SBC is committed to racial reconciliation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Dallas Morning News
_______________________________________________________

Arlington Southern Baptist pastor receives racist letter over split with denomination

A Southern Baptist pastor in Arlington received a letter laden with racist remarks after pulling his church from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and weighing whether to leave the national convention over leaders’ shortcomings in addressing racial insensitivity in the denomination.

The Rev. William Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington is one of several Black pastors who is considering leaving the Southern Baptist Convention. McKissic announced Jan. 15 he would pull his and his church from the Texas convention after leaders created a policy that denounced Critical Race Theory, a school of thought that examines structural racism and conscious and unconscious bias against people of color, as divisive and harmful to the church.

Days after his announcement, McKissic received letter from John V. Rutledge, an author and former Southern Baptist. In a one-page letter, Rutledge said “nothing is ever enough” for Black people.

McKissic said he shared the letter to remind people that racism still exists. He’d also like to know how many other people within the denomination hold similar beliefs, but are less transparent than Rutledge.

“I think more information is better from my perspective, just to simply make people aware not so much of Rutledge as a person but the mindset he represents, to let them know that racism is alive and well,” McKissic said.

The letter, dated Jan. 25, was shared Monday evening on Twitter, where commenters largely reacted with disgust and disbelief over the letter’s contents.

This unspeakably racist letter was sent to @pastordmack after the @BaptistStandard reported that he was leaving the @_SBTC.

Tell me again this war on “CRT” has nothing to do with race. Tell me again it’s just about scriptural fidelity. pic.twitter.com/20pah6MU5o

— David Bumgardner (@david_bumg) February 2, 2021

Drawing on offensive words and stereotypes of Black people, he noted people of color should be grateful, citing their accomplishments in the denomination and federal initiatives such as Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

“Yet they remain savages; they defile and diminish every arena in which they parade: academic, political, corporate, judicial, military, athletic,” he wrote.

McKissic said he has no plans to respond to the letter.

McKissic has said he will leave the national convention if leaders in June vote to rescind or replace a 2019 resolution that acknowledges critical race theory and intersectionality as lenses to analyze the faith. A statement by the church’s Council of Seminary Presidents in November argued that affirmation of the theories is “incompatible” with the denomination’s faith and message.

A spokesperson for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention said the group was informed of the letter Tuesday evening. Executive Director Jim Richards said in a statement the convention “denounces both the statements and sentiments” of the letter.

“Although recently Pastor McKissic lead his church to withdraw from the SBTC, he is still considered a beloved brother and gifted pastor,” Richards said. “He nor any of our African American brothers and sisters in Christ should ever have to endure such racist, ungodly remarks.”

McKissic was not immediately available for comment. However, he thanked Twitter followers for support after sharing the letter. Rutledge, he noted, left the Southern Baptist church after 50 years. Rutledge has penned two books, both critical of the church.

“I posted the letter because there are those yet within the SBC, who share his views, but not his transparency,” McKissic wrote.

McKissic has pressured the state and national Southern Baptist conventions for years to update or eliminate policies that ostracize or restrict worship. In a 2006 sermon, he challenged a national policy restricting Southern Baptist missionaries from praising in tongues and praying in private. The sermon was pulled from archives, but leaders rescinded the policy in 2015 and archived his sermon in 2018.

The response to McKissic’s sermon and complaints almost caused him to leave the Texas convention in 2006, he wrote in a blog post, when leaders at the time told him those with “private prayer languages” may “ride on the bus at SBTC, but … will not be able to drive the bus.”

“Today, I decided it is time to ‘get off the bus,’” McKissic wrote. “I no longer want to ride, and I certainly do not want to drive!”

McKissic was also behind the proposal to condemn the Confederate battle flag that the national convention approved in 2016.

Source: Fort Worth Star Telegram