The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was founded in 1845 when a group of 293 Baptist leaders representing 365,000 church members split from other Baptists because slaveholders in their ranks were denied missionary posts.
Yesterday (June 13), the SBC met for the first day of its annual meeting in Phoenix. Ahead of the gathering, William Dwight McKissic Sr., pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, introduced a resolution titled, “Resolution on the Condemnation of the ‘Alt-Right’ Movement and the Roots of White Supremacy.”
As The Atlantic reports, the SBC resolution committee declined to consider the proposal. So during yesterday’s meeting, McKissic requested that time be allotted for the full body to consider the it. His motion failed—and the tweet war began. Thabiti Anyabwil, a pastor who was not in attendance at the meeting, kicked things off:
The amount of work left to do in “Evangelical” (who knows that means any more?) church is staggering. Here’s the largest failing publicly.— Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) June 14, 2017
We must be clear: We live in a time when equivocating on these matters furthers the sin of racism even to violence and death.— Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) June 14, 2017
Now is not the time for indifference or complicity. Now is the time for prophetic courage, clarity and assertion. We need to get it together— Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) June 14, 2017
Any “church” that cannot denounce white supremacy without hesitancy and equivocation is a dead, Jesus denying assembly. No 2 ways about it.— Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) June 14, 2017
Several others chimed in, before Richard Spencer—the White supremacist leader who was famously punched on camera earlier this year—added his excitement to the mix.
So apparently the Southern Baptists Convention *didn’t* denounce the Alt-Right after all. Interesting development! https://t.co/07RUvoUOTc— Richard Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) June 14, 2017
According to The Atlantic, SBC leaders quickly realized they should reconsider:
According to several attendees, once people realized what had happened, a number of leaders started lobbying to get the motion reconsidered.
“A group of us gathered around McKissic, and resolved that we were going to see what we could do with this,” said Dave Gass, the pastor of Grace Family Fellowship in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. As they worked behind the scenes, the Convention’s top leaders were apparently also in crisis mode trying to fix the situation. The committee’s problem with the resolution was apparently “a few key phrases that left a few things unclear,” Gass said. “It wasn’t that they didn’t like the resolution. It’s that they didn’t like the wording of the resolution.”
Even if the committee’s decision was based on rhetorical nitpicks, it looked like the denomination had refused to condemn the alt-right. After a few frantic hours, around 9 p.m., the body reconvened. Pastors tweeted in all-caps trying to get people back into the convention hall, and Steve Gaines, the newly reelected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, begged people not to leave.
“The committee on resolutions is prepared to report out a resolution on the anti-gospel, alt-right, White-supremacy movement,” explained Barry McCarty, the Convention’s parliamentarian. But not quite yet—because of Robert’s Rules of Order, he said, they had to wait until Wednesday afternoon to vote.
Resolution on the Condemnation of the “Alt-Right” Movement and the Roots of White Supremacy
WHEREAS, Scripture teaches that from one man God made every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation (Acts 17:26); and
WHEREAS, the prophet Isaiah foresaw the day when the Lord would judge between the nations and render decisions for many people (Isaiah 2:4); and
WHEREAS, the Psalmist proclaims the Kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations; and
WHEREAS, the promise of heaven includes the eternal blessings of the Tree of Life for God’s people, which includes the healing of the nations that comes from the leaves of that tree; and
WHEREAS, the supreme need of the world is the acceptance of God’s teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love; and
WHEREAS, all Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society, opposing all forms of racism, selfishness, and vice, and bringing government and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love; and
WHEREAS, just societies will order themselves as free men and women and organize at various times and for various purposes to establish political order and give consent to legitimate government; and
WHEREAS, the liberty of all nations to authorize such governments will, at times, allow for the rise of political parties and factions whose principles and ends are in irreconcilable conflict with the principles of liberty and justice for all; and
WHEREAS, 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; and
WHEREAS, this toxic menace, self-identified among some of its chief proponents as “White Nationalism” and the “alt-right,” must be opposed for the totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its violent disciples; and
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. The SBC officially renounces the “curse of Ham” theory in this Resolution; now be it therefore
RESOLVED, that the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, AZ, June 13-14, 2017, denounces every form of “nationalism” that violates the biblical teachings with respect to race, justice, and ordered liberty; and be it further
RESOLVED, that we 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; and be finally
RESOLVED, that we earnestly pray, both for those who lead and advocate this movement and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of their perverse nationalism, and come to know the peace and love of Christ through redeemed fellowship in the Kingdom of God, which is established from every nation, tribe, people and tongue.