Southern Baptists Vote to Condemn Alt-Right Racism

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) yesterday voted to condemn the white nationalist "alt-right" movement, a day after failure to put a similar motion to the vote caused consternation and condemnation.

Messengers to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting denounced "alt-right white supremacy" in a almost unanimous vote after a tumultuous day of refusing to address the issue.

The pastor identified the "toxic menace" as white supremacy and the "alt-right" movement, urging his fellow Southern Baptists to reject "totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its violent disciples".

Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines announced a soul-winning task force June 14 during his closing remarks at the 2017 annual meeting in Phoenix.

At the same time, several prominent Southern Baptists became evangelical advisers to Trump's campaign, including the Rev. Robert Jeffress of Dallas, and the Revs. The denomination was founded in 1845, when it split from other Baptists who opposed slavery. While 81 percent of evangelicals are said to have supported Trump, according to exit polls, pre-election polling suggested 62 percent of non-white evangelicals supported his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. They remain among the president's most steadfast supporters. When the proposal was not presented Tuesday, McKissic made a direct, unsuccessful plea for reconsideration from the floor of the Phoenix meeting. Once again, McKissic's statement failed to gain enough support, sparking outrage.

Barrett Duke, chair of the resolutions committee, said on the first day of the convention that McKissic's resolution was poorly written and contained some "inflammatory language" not appropriate for an SBC resolution.

Few messengers had seen the actual resolution and many expressed confusions about what, exactly "the alt-right" was. Pastor McKissic heard from black pastors who represent 20 percent of the convention.

"This may show my ignorance, sir, because I don't know how this works", Kell said.

Many alt-right members claim to be Southern Baptists, he said.

The committee initially refused to consider the resolution.

Meanwhile, McKissic was incensed.

The controversy comes at a time of a growing divide between evangelicals over politics. According to Baptist Press, he said the committee agreed with the resolution's point on racism, but thought it and other "elements [in the proposal] already had been addressed recently" in Southern Baptist life.

Charles Hedman of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, told ABC News that far-right groups had been passing out racist material outside the convention hall Tuesday night.

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"God has given us wonderful state conventions. I wanted the Southern Baptist Convention to make it very clear we have no relationship to them", McKissic told the Post.

Gaines responded, CNN reported, by saying: "I'll speak for myself. God loves us all and God has created us all in His image".

"The damage was done by taking three votes on something that was a no-brainer."
"God uses him to call people to faith in Christ".

But behind the scenes, Southern Baptist leaders were already working fast. As an outspoken critic of Trump in 2016, Moore became a polarizing figure a year ago - at least temporarily - within the denomination. "This year, I'm going to emphasize soul-winning everywhere I go".

But that was then. "Too many Southern Baptists were on the wrong side of the fire hoses in Birmingham. It's resolution number 10", said Moore. The alt-right, a movement that includes people who advocate white nationalism, has gained increasing attention in the last 18 months.

The resolution condemning white nationalism passed easily in the convention's closing session, to thunderous applause from the floor.

Duke and McKissic embraced during a news conference after the vote. There were 21 messengers who were approved through the credentials process but were unaffiliated with a state convention.

Gaines, however, was resolute about not leaving until the issue was addressed.

"Racism and white supremacy are not merely social issues". By Wednesday evening, leaders had passed a revised statement disavowing the racist ideologies.

He called the vote a "strong condemnation of the alt-right". He called the vote.

Gass said: "It wasn't that they didn't like the resolution".

After the dramatic vote, pastors gathered in a nearby room to debrief, where they acknowledged that they narrowly dodged a catastrophe.

"I don't think they anticipated how white people would get upset about this and demanded something be done".

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