Saturday, June 17, 2017

"Condemning White Supremacy and the Alt-Right Movement Shouldn't Be Hard. But the Southern Baptist Convention . . ."

Things I've read and shared on social media in the past few days, about the kerfuffle that ensued at last week's meeting of the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., the Southern Baptist Convention, when an African-American delegate offered a resolution asking the convention to condemn white supremacist and alt-right ideology and the longstanding use of the bible to support this ideology:

Adelle M. Banks, "In dramatic turnabout, Southern Baptists condemn white supremacy": 

After a fierce backlash on social media, Southern Baptists reversed course and adopted a statement denouncing "alt-right white supremacy," calling it "antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
The unusual move on Wednesday (June 14) was a shift from the previous day, when the Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolutions Committee declined to bring to a vote a Texas pastor’s proposed resolution condemning the "alt-right" movement, whose members include white supremacists. . . .
The resolution's failure on Tuesday prompted indignation and anger as younger evangelicals, including African-Americans, took to social media to vent their feelings.

In an article entitled "The Southern Baptist blowup over white supremacy, explained," Jack Jenkins explains what happened at the SBC meeting this past week. When African-American pastor Dwight McKissic presented a resolution to the resolutions committee asking the "messengers" gathered at the convention to condemn white supremacy and the alt-right, along with the longstanding use of the biblical text regarding Ham's curse to bolster white supremacy, the committee refused even to vote on the resolution.

News about this leaked to social media and all hell broke loose. The odious white supremacist Trump advisor Richard Spencer got involved and praised the SBC for standing against attempts to condemn white supremacy. All of this shamed the convention messengers, and they then turned around and voted on the resolution, removing the section about the misuse of the bible for many years in white evangelical circles to support white supremacy. Spencer then did an about face and trolled the SBC, calling its delegates "cucks." 

Obviously, the primary reason this debate was so volatile is that the whole world can see that Southern Baptists voted in huge percentages to place Donald Trump in the White House, despite (or because of) his open appeals to white supremacist racist ideas as he campaigned. This decision of Southern Baptists turns a spotlight on the duplicity of the SBC's (and white evangelicals' in general) pretense to care about racism — and about the duplicity of their condemnation of President Clinton as someone lacking moral character to lead a nation, when they were willing to vote for Donald Trump. 

In an article entitled "Southern Baptists grapple with morality, white nationalism in the Trump age," Adelle M. Banks points readers to the resolution the SBC passed in 1998 condemning President Clinton and claiming that strong moral character is a necessary prerequisite for anyone leading a nation. Read this 1998 "Resolution On Moral Character Of Public Officials," which the SBC passed to place Southern Baptists against Bill Clinton, and then call to mind the fact that SBC delegates at this latest convention wanted to reiterate that statement post-factum, after the horses were long out of the barn when a vast majority of Southern Baptists placed Donald Trump in the White House, and the question arises: What kind of moral presence do Christians who behave this way expect to have in the American public square? What kind of moral credibility do they imagine they have?

When they cannot  pass a resolution condemning white supremacy without huge fanfare and without being shamed to act by social media. In the age of Donald Trump . . . . Whom they elected to office. . . . Despite that resolution about how imperative it is that national leaders have strong moral character, which they took seriously only when it applied to a Democratic president . . . .

Sunnivie Brydum, "Black Pastor Who Introduced SBC Resolution Against Alt-Right Assumed It Would Be a 'Slam Dunk'":

The Texas pastor who drafted the original resolution calling on the Southern Baptist Convention to condemn white supremacy and the "alt-right" said he was "shocked" by the massive controversy his resolution sparked at the conservative denomination's annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona this week. 
"I thought it would be a no-brainer, I thought it would be a slam-dunk," the Rev. Dwight McKissic told Roland Martin on Friday's episode of One News Now (watch the full interview below). "I thought they had turned a corner, at least in the sense of being able to intellectually, theoretically, biblically, affirm what the Bible says, that one God created all men equally."

Daniel José Camacho, "Why did this powerful church group struggle to denounce white supremacy?" 

Condemning white supremacy and the alt-right movement shouldn't be hard. But the Southern Baptist Convention – the nation's largest Protestant denomination– had its doubts about whether to do so this week. 
During the annual meeting, they initially declined to pass a resolution doing just that. Chaos ensued at the denomination's annual meeting and a firestorm of criticism quickly followed. Delegates eventually passed a modified version of the resolution – originally drafted by one of its black pastors – but the damage had been done. 
It would be a mistake to interpret this fiasco simply as a misstep. The Southern Baptist Convention's reluctance to condemn racism is not only true to its history but it reflects how white supremacy is built into the very DNA of American Christianity.

Emma Green, "A Resolution Condemning White Supremacy Causes Chaos at the Southern Baptist Convention":

"The amount of work left to do in 'evangelical' (who knows that means any more?) church is staggering," tweeted Thabiti Anyabwile, a black Southern Baptist pastor who was not at the meeting. "Here’s the largest failing publicly." He went on: 
"We must be clear: We live in a time when equivocating on these matters furthers the sin of racism even to violence and death. ... 
Any 'church' that cannot denounce white supremacy without hesitancy and equivocation is a dead, Jesus denying assembly. No 2 ways about it. … 
I'm done. With this Twitter spiel. With 'evangelicalism.' With all the racist and indifferent nonsense that passes as 'Christian.'"

In the preceding article, Emma Green states that the SBC is significantly roiled by this issue because Southern Baptists are "a denomination that was explicitly founded to support slavery."

Because this is so self-evident and so well-known, I'm beyond perplexed to find Jacob Lupfer reporting at Religion News Service that, like any religious body, Southern Baptists "have their fair share of racists," but racism is not a problem for the Southern Baptist Convention. And that it's a "false narrative" to claim that there's any problem with racism among Southern Baptists — though a huge proportion of Southern Baptists voted to put Donald Trump in the White House after he overtly race-baited during his campaign.

Can Jacob Lupfer truly not know what Emma Green and everyone else in the world seems to know, that the Southern Baptist church was born out of the resistance of Southern Baptists to attempts to abolish slavery? Did the Southern Baptist college in Oklahoma from which Lupfer graduated truly not teach him any of this history?

It's important to note that one big focus of concern when Southern Baptist messengers initially refused to hear Pastor Dwight McKissic's resolution condemning white supremacy was that he included a condemnation of misuse of the biblical story about Noah's son Ham in his resolution.

Southern Baptists (and other white evangelicals in the South) long used this biblical story to support white supremacy. Noah's son Ham was cursed for uncovering his father's nakedness, and he and his descendants were consigned to lives of servitude to his brothers and their descendants. They were told they'd be hewers of wood and drawers of water for Noah's other sons — that is, servants.


The final resolution that the messengers passed, after the big furor broke out over the initial refusal to hear McKissic's resolution, deleted the reference to the misuse of the biblical Ham text as a ground for white supremacy. Deleting that reference helped the resolution finally pass. Why?

Because it points to the fact that THE BIBLE CAN BE AND HAS BEEN USED TO SUPPORT WHAT IS INSUPPORTABLE. As people committed to biblical literalism, to the notion that every word of the bible is literally inspired and erroneous, Southern Baptists are very nervous when it's shown that they've been flatly wrong for years on end about any biblical text. This undermines their entire belief system and its assertions . . . .

Including their current very loud and aggressive insistence that "the bible" condemns homosexuality and requires Christians to treat LGBTQ people like pariahs . . . . Having been wrong about slavery and white supremacy and the bible in the past may well indicate that Christians opposing homosexuality on pseudo-biblical grounds are now capable of being wrong about homosexuality today . . . .

Southern Baptists do not wish to entertain that possibility. It's easier, years down the road from the abolition of slavery and knocking down of legal segregation, to start burying the hatchet about racial issues and make common cause with black evangelicals who often share the commitment to attacking LGBTQ people, than to admit that one might be just as wrong today about the bible and a moral issue as one was in the past.

Sunnivie Brydum, "Southern Baptist Convention Kicks Out Gay Attendees, Waffles on White Supremacists":

While the Southern Baptist Convention considers whether or not to denounce white supremacy and the "alt-right," it apparently has no such equivocation over the place for LGBT Christians at its annual gathering: gays and those preaching tolerance for them are not welcome inside the Convention’s annual meeting. 
At least, that's the message sent loud and clear to a small group of activists who tell RD they were "forcibly removed" from the convention this morning in Phoenix, Arizona. All told, five people were removed and had their conference registrations revoked, allegedly without formal explanation. All of those removed are affiliated with Faith in America (FIA), a progressive nonprofit dedicated to "[moving] the needle forward on LGBTQ equality in the pews and in our legislation."

Not to be forgotten: with fateful consequences, the U.S. Catholic bishops chose to form an alliance with these white evangelicals in the final decades of the 20th century, an alliance that accounts for the votes of a solid majority of white Catholics in the U.S. for Donald Trump. That alliance with its implications for how the U.S. bishops and white Catholics regard the historic sin of racism is given cover by the media and many white Catholics with claims that racism is a Southern sin, that it can't possibly have anything to do with the choice of white Catholics in the final decades of the 20th century to become Republican.

And to vote for Donald Trump . . . . But: Qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent.

The graphic appears to be a woodcut illustration from a 19th-century publication. I find it online at many sites, with no indication (that I have found) of its source. It's reported that Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack offers this bit of pithy moral advice to its readers, so it's possible that this illustration was used at some point to illustrate that publication — though I would think that Google, which knows about everything in the world, would know this, and I find no clear indication of that connection by googling.

No comments: