The annual Southern Baptist Convention just took place in Phoenix, Arizona, earlier this week. Now, despite the Southern Baptist denomination being founded explicitly to support slavery1, it seems to have moved on from the 1860s, and in 1995, it first apologised for its role in sustaining and promoting slavery, and has since prioritised racial reconciliation1.
On Tuesday, the prominent black pastor Dwight McKissic, from Texas, submitted a proposal to the convention, that it affirm the denomination’s opposition to white supremacy and the alt-right*. He had published his proposed text on the blog SBC Voices and the language was strong and pointed. It stated that “there has arisen in the United states a growing menace to political order and justice that seeks to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide our people, and foment hatred, classism, and ethnic cleansing”. It identifies this as white nationalism and the alt-right, and urged the denomination to oppose its “totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies”1.
Submitting this proposal was just a first step. It then had to pass through a resolutions committee, which chooses whether proposals will be heard by the convention. The committee decided not to submit McKissic’s proposal. If the committee decides against submitting a proposal, delegates can introduce, from the floor, a motion for reconsideration. McKissic introduced such a motion, but it failed. Then, as Emma Green states in The Atlantic: “All hell broke loose”1. Another black Southern Baptist pastor tweeted “Any ‘church’ that cannot denounce white supremacy without hesitancy and equivocation is a dead Jesus denying assembly. No 2 ways about it”. When people realised what was happening, several leaders started lobbying to have the motion reconsidered. It was and a revised version was submitted and was passed on the Wednesday.
That a motion condemning white supremacy would even be considered unworthy in the 21st century is staggering. The alt-right and their puppet in the White House represent the greatest danger to US democracy I have seen in the last 30+ years of watching US politics. They have no respect for democratic institutions and no respect for the office of the president. They want to take the US back to the 19th century.
Given that 81% of evangelicals voted for Trump in the presidential election, this makes a mockery of one of the other resolutions passed by the convention in which they called for “moral character” in public officials. What seems to be happening here is that a dichotomy has occurred within the evangelicals. On the one hand you have those who would be recognised and would be comfortable in the presence of a pale brown Jew called Jesus, while the other much larger group (81%?) would think Jesus was a libtard, socialist, homo-lover, and they would probably ostracise him. So much for ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’.
*alt-right2: a loose group of far right ideology, ranging from ultraconservatism to white nationalism, white supremacism and neo-Nazism.