Southern Baptist Convention Votes To Condemn White Supremacy

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Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines announced a soul-winning task force June 14 during his closing remarks at the 2017 annual meeting in Phoenix.

The committee behind new resolutions decided not to move the proposal forward on Tuesday, the first day of the group's 2017 meeting in Phoenix.

The Southern Baptist Convention, home to prominent evangelical supporters of President Donald Trump, adopted a statement on moral leadership at the group's annual meeting Tuesday that avoided pointed criticism of current political officeholders.

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".

He said he would support a less specific condemnation of racism, contending media sometimes categorize people as part of the "alt-right" based exclusively on whether they backed President Donald Trump.

"I just want clarity from the president of the Southern Baptist Convention about whether we condemn, as a convention, racism", he said.

"I'm disappointed that we as a convention could leave the illusion that we don't reject the racist ideologies held by many in the alt-right movement", he said.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is an outspoken opponent of the president. Not to mention the fact that all nine other resolutions passed with almost unanimous votes. The alt-right shows up for protests and events organized by leaders like Richard Spencer, the white supremacist who coined the movement's name; but it mostly rallies support online, where proponents regularly attack those opposed to their political aims.

Duke explained in his opening statement Wednesday, however, that the issue that prevented the initial vote was one of clarity in messaging, rather than division over white supremacy.

WHEREAS, the roots of White Supremacy within a "Christian context" is based on the so-called "curse of Ham" theory once prominently taught by the SBC in the early years-echoing the belief that God through Noah ordained descendants of Africa to be subservient to Anglos-which provided the theological justification for slavery and segregation.

Barrett Duke, the head of the resolutions committee, told The Atlantic that he was aware that "feelings rightly run high regarding alt-right ideology", but didn't clarify what those feelings were. He is a controversial figure who was kicked out of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February and lead a white nationalist torch rally opposing the removal of a Confederate statue in May, according to the Washington Post at the time.

After the committee on order of business approved the request, messengers endorsed unanimously or almost unanimously a scheduled vote on the resolution Wednesday. The motion was overwhelmingly rejected Tuesday with pastors and leaders calling it poorly written with inappropriate language.

Trump's Baptist disciples could not vote against the resolution, and maybe felt a tinge of cognitive dissonance as they pondered their support for the NY billionaire. But Moore said he was encouraged by the decision to revisit the resolution.

"I'm grateful that things have ended up like they have. for the Kingdom of God's sake", McKissic said.

Gaines, senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church of Memphis, Tennessee, stated at the meeting that he is planning to create "a soul-winning task force that will look into ways that as Southern Baptists we can be more effective in personal evangelism and soul-winning and also in evangelistic preaching". "I believe that the time is right to reach across the church and to lock hands in total support of the rapid advance of the Gospel in our nation and in our world".

"If we're not careful about some issues that we care about, we run the risk of sounding like we hate our enemies and, as a result, we end up violating another set of biblical principles", he said.

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