Thursday, June 15, 2017

Southern Baptist Convention and the Alt-Right

WaPo |  The initial text of the resolution called on Southern Baptists to “reject the retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries of the so-called ‘Alt-Right’ that seek to subvert our government, destabilize society, and infect our political system,” which was removed in the final version.

The new text of the resolution noted some of the convention’s previous actions on race, including how Southern Baptists voted in 1995 to apologize for the role that slavery played in the convention’s creation. It noted how in 2012 it elected its first black president. More than 20 percent of Southern Baptist congregations, it says, identifies as predominantly nonwhite.

“Racism and white supremacy are, sadly, not extinct but present all over the world in various white supremacist movements, sometimes known as ‘white nationalism’ or ‘alt-right,’ ” the resolution states. Southern Baptists “decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and “we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil.”

Moore and Steve Gaines, the president of the SBC, who worked on the revised resolution, declined to comment on the resolution before it came to a vote. But Moore said he was encouraged by the decision to revisit the resolution. “They recognize that white supremacy in this alt-right guise is dangerous and devilish and we need to say something,” Moore said.

McKissic, who wrote the original resolution, declined to speculate over why the committee didn’t bring his proposal forward. He said black Southern Baptists were disappointed by how it was handled, but it became clear on Tuesday that a large number of white Southern Baptists wanted to vote on the resolution.

“I don’t think they anticipated how white people would get upset about this and demand something be done,” McKissic said. “I’m encouraged and heartened by this. It was the white people who said, no we will not take this sitting down. We don’t want this association with the convention.”
Just before the proposal was passed, one member asked Southern Baptist leaders whether a study of the “alt right and the alt left” could be done this year. But then several Southern Baptists stood before the convention urging the convention to adopt the resolution before it passed.

The Southern Baptist Convention has a long and complicated history on race, one that has recently gotten wrapped up in many Southern Baptists’ support for Trump. Some of the committee members are affiliated with National Religious Broadcasters and First Baptist Church in Dallas, institutions that are seen as friendly to Trump. The committee considering resolutions has 10 members, one of whom is black.