Southern Baptist Convention in uproar over "alt-right"

Southern Baptist Convention in uproar over

Tuesday night, Southern Baptist officials who oversaw the resolutions had refused to introduce a different repudiation of the "alt-right", which emerged dramatically during the US presidential election, mixing racism, white nationalism and populism. But the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) - home to some 15.2 million members, prominent evangelical supporters of Donald Trump as well as occasional Trump critic Russell Moore - is undergoing an internal debate which reflects decline among its ranks and the reality that, under President Trump, these are far from normal times.

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 assembly issued a statement encouraging morality in leadership that avoids language critical of current political officeholders. He urged the Southern Baptist Convention 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".

While the condemnation of the "alt-right" movement failed, attendees did pass a resolution on moral leadership that praised public officials who "displayed consistent moral character and uncompromising commitment to biblical principle". Southern Baptist pastors from across the country gather annually to discuss their beliefs and practices. Quoting the 1998 document, the pastor, Micah Fries of Chattanooga, Tennessee, proposed restating that "serious allegations continue to be made about moral and legal misconduct by certain public officials" and "character does count in public office".

The resolution did say that leaders "in every walk of life" have "destroyed their careers" and "brought shame" because of their moral choices. The decision was met with confusion and anger from members of the denomination and the public. "Any "church" that can not denounce white supremacy without hesitancy and equivocation is a dead, Jesus denying assembly".

The vote to adopt the resolution condemning the alt-right came after initially passing on a similar proposal presented by the Rev. William Dwight McKissic, a prominent minister from Arkansas.

McKissic's move was rejected by the Resolutions Committee, whose chair Barrett Duke told reporters afterward the panel spent a number of hours considering the proposal "before we finally said we just didn't see a way that we could speak to the multiple issues that were raised in that resolution in a way that we felt would be constructive".

Several Southern Baptists were panicked, contending that silence would be misinterpreted as support for white supremacy. Newbell is an author and the director of community outreach at the denomination's Ethics and Religious Liberty commission.

The convention approved a different resolution re-stating the faith group's long-standing opposition to gambling and condemning the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for its role as the leading abortion provider in the U.S. It's also why Harvest Crusades, with the assistance of the Southern Baptist Convention, organized the Harvest America 2017 crusade on June 11 at the University of Phoenix stadium.

The controversy comes at a time of a growing divide between evangelicals over politics.

While congregations in the SBC remain independent-with local pastors free to govern their church's affiliations and approaches to ministry-the dual affiliation of Southern Baptist and Calvary Chapel is pretty unusual, and Laurie's congregation is the most high-profile example that belongs to both.

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