Amid Controversy, Southern Baptist Convention Denounces Alt-Right Movement

After a couple of days of controversy, confusion, failed votes, and eleventh-hour revisions, the Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to denounce the "anti-Gospel of Alt-Right white supremacy."

The rather chaotic sequence of events that finally resulted in the unequivocal condemnation of "every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy" is what one Baptist leader described as "close to being a disaster." After one pastor proposed an unsatisfactorily phrased resolution condemning the movement, the Southern Baptists scrambled to amend the measure and get the two-thirds majority required for its passage. It took a number of votes, clarification about what exactly the Alt-Right is, and a team working last minute to hammer out an "air-tight" version, but when the final resolution was put up for a vote, it passed nearly unanimously.

Here are the resolutions that, according to organizers, were passed by all but one member:

[B]e it RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of these hatreds, 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 language.

(Complete text of resolution below.)

CNN provides a detailed account of the wild sequence of events that resulted in the formal condemnation of the Alt-Right. A few excerpts:

The debate began when Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black pastor from Arlington, Texas, called on Southern Baptists to formally condemn the movement's "retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries" and re-affirm its opposition to racism in the aftermath of a presidential election that saw the rise of a small movement of nationalist and white supremacists that coalesced in support of President Donald Trump. ...

McKissic's resolution, however, had been rejected by the convention's Resolutions Committee before the meeting. It would not receive a vote unless it was forced by the will of the convention attendees — called "messengers" — from the floor.

On Tuesday afternoon, McKissic stood to introduce his resolution and ask why it was rejected. Barrett Duke, chairman of the Committee on Resolutions, said that it had been rejected because it "was not well-written" and included "inappropriate" language.

When McKissic called for the body to force the committee to reconsider via a two-thirds vote, it failed, in part because few had even seen the resolution and "many expressed confusions about what, exactly 'the alt-right' was."

Rev. Garrett Kell addressed the group saying he "would hate for us to leave here today with confusion about where the Southern Baptist convention stands on the alt-right." McKissic, meanwhile, managed to gather support among "mostly young, Gen-X and Millennial pastors," who committed to helping him get the resolution pushed through.

In large part thanks to the leadership of SBC President Rev. Steve Gaines and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, who took the lead on rewriting the resolution, an "air tight" version was completed in time for a vote the next day while some of the parliamentarian rules were set aside to make sure the measure had the chance for a revote:

Under a cloud of external pressure from media reports saying they had failed to condemn racism and a storm of criticism on social media, Gaines decided to push the boundaries of the rules.

The Resolutions Committee, he said, recognized that they had made a mistake and unanimously voted to request something of a parliamentary do-ver. Even though they had already formally closed their annual report, they requested permission from the convention to use open time the next day to hold a vote on a newly worded resolution that would condemn the of the philosophy alt-right.

When Gaines put the finalized resolution to vote, a "sea of hands went up throughout the convention hall," organizers saying they noticed only a single dissenter. Read CNN's full account of the "high drama" here.

Below is the full text of the resolution "On the Anti-Gospel of Alt-Right White Supremacy":

PROPOSED RESOLUTION #10 ON THE ANTI-GOSPEL OF ALT-RIGHT WHITE SUPREMACY

WHEREAS, Scripture teaches, “From one man [God] has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26); and

WHEREAS, The Psalmist proclaimed, “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD” (Psalm 24:1); and

WHEREAS, The Apostle Peter said, “God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:34–35); and

WHEREAS, Our justification before God is based on faith in Christ Jesus alone and not in our ethnicity (Galatians 3:27–28); and

WHEREAS, Scripture proclaims that Jesus is purchasing by His blood believers “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9); and

WHEREAS, Throughout eternity we will gather with a “multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language” in worship of our risen Savior (Revelation 7:9); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message conveys that all Christians are obligated to make the will of Christ supreme in their 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, We know from our Southern Baptist history the effects of the horrific sins of racism and hatred; and

WHEREAS, In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention repudiated “historic acts of evil, such as slavery,” committed “to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry,” and “genuinely repent[ed] of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously”; and

WHEREAS, In recent years the Convention has nominated and elected individuals from a variety of ethnicities, including electing our first African-American president in 2012; and

WHEREAS, In recent resolutions the Southern Baptist Convention called on “all Christian men and women to pray and labor for the day when our Lord will set all things right and racial prejudice and injustice will be no more” (2014); expressed continued grief “over the presence of racism and the recent escalation of racial tension in our nation” (2015); and urged fellow Christians to discontinue using the Confederate battle flag, acknowledging that it is “used by some and perceived by many as a symbol of hatred, bigotry, and racism, offending millions of people” (2016); and

WHEREAS, More than 20 percent (nearly eleven thousand) of our cooperating Southern Baptist congregations identify as predominately non-Anglo and for the last three years more than 50 percent of Southern Baptist new church plants have been predominately non-Anglo; and

WHEREAS, B&H Academic recently published Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention, highlighting our continuing need to root out vestiges of racism from our own hearts as Southern Baptists; and

WHEREAS, Racism and white supremacy are, sadly, not extinct but present all over the world in various white supremacist movements, sometimes known as “white nationalism” or “alt-right”; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of these hatreds, 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 language.

 
 
 

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