South­ern Bap­tists re­con­sider con­demn­ing ‘alt-right’ move­ment

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION -

PHOENIX | A na­tional meet­ing of South­ern Bap­tists will con­sider con­demn­ing the po­lit­i­cal move­ment known as the “alt-right” amid an up­roar over the de­nom­i­na­tion’s com­mit­ment to con­fronting prej­u­dice.

Lead­ers of the faith group ini­tially re­fused to take up a pro­posal that they re­pu­di­ate the po­lit­i­cal group that emerged dra­mat­i­cally dur­ing the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, mix­ing racism, white na­tion­al­ism and pop­ulism.

Bar­rett Duke, a South­ern Bap­tist leader who led a com­mit­tee that de­cided which res­o­lu­tions should be con­sid­ered for a vote, said the res­o­lu­tion as orig­i­nally writ­ten con­tained in­flam­ma­tory and broad lan­guage “po­ten­tially im­pli­cat­ing” con­ser­va­tives who do not sup­port the “alt-right” move­ment.

But the de­ci­sion caused a back­lash on­line and at the gath­er­ing in Phoenix from South­ern Bap­tists and other Chris­tians, es­pe­cially AfricanAmer­i­can evan­gel­i­cals. The de­nom­i­na­tion has been striv­ing to over­come its found­ing in the 19th cen­tury in de­fense of slave­hold­ers.

Thabiti Anyab­wile, a black South­ern Bap­tist pas­tor, tweeted that “any ‘church’ that can­not de­nounce white supremacy with­out hes­i­tancy and equiv­o­ca­tion is a dead, Jesus-deny­ing assem­bly. No 2 ways about it”.

South­ern Bap­tist lead­ers re­sponded Tues­day

night with a dra­matic call for at­ten­dees to re­turn to the assem­bly hall, then an­nounced they would take up the pro­posal af­ter all on Wed­nes­day.

It was a highly un­usual move for the de­nom­i­na­tion’s tightly chore­ographed con­ven­tions, un­der­scor­ing the sen­si­tiv­ity of the is­sue and the alarm among lead­ers that their ini­tial re­jec­tion of the pro­posal would be viewed as an un­will­ing­ness to fight racism.

In en­cour­ag­ing the meet­ing to re­con­sider, Steve Gaines, pres­i­dent of the South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion, said he wanted to send the mes­sage that “we love every­body on this planet.”

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