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Southern Baptists Condemn White Supremacy and the Alt-Right

Last week the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)—the United States' largest Protestant denomination—voted to condemn white supremacy and its latest manifestation, the alt-right movement. Were it any other denomination, this would not be news—nor would a convention vote even be necessary. But Southern Baptists always been different from other Christians.

The last remaining of the alternative denominations founded in the 19th century by Southern U.S. Christians wanting to preserve the institution of slavery, the SBC did not formally denounce slavery and racism until 1995. The SBC was also the only Christian denomination that did not oppose the Iraq war in 2003. And SBC leader Russell Moore discovered to his chagrin last year, it's a denomination that strongly supports President Trump.

So when prominent black pastor Dwight McKissic offered a resolution opposing white supremacy and the alt-right movement ahead of the SBC's annual meeting in Phoenix last week, it was not a complete shock that the denomination's resolutions committee initially decided against putting McKissic's proposal up for a vote.

But to those within the SBC who have worked for racial reconciliation, the committee's decision was a slap in the face—especially after neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer tweeted his approval. In response to the committee's vote, Reverend Garrett Kell addressed the convention, saying, "I would hate for us to leave here today with confusion about where the Southern Baptist convention stands on the alt-right." McKissic himself said, "It becomes a mystery how you can so easily affirm standard beliefs about other things, but we get to white supremacy … and all of a sudden, we’ve got a problem here."  Moore tweeted, "The so-called Alt-Right white supremacist ideologies are anti-Christ and satanic to the core. We should say so." SBC President Steve Gaines and others worked behind the scenes to reverse the committee's decision, and by Wednesday afternoon the committee had agreed to put the resultion up for a vote. It passed almost unanimously.

In the end the SBC did the right thing, but couldn't they have done it without all the drama?

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