The Southern Baptist Convention condemned white supremacy in a resolution adopted 24 hours after a mostly white resolutions committee initially rebuffed a black pastor’s appeal to allow the issue to make it to the floor of the 2017 SBC annual meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix.
The resolution passed Wednesday afternoon decried “every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The alt-right is a set of far-right ideologies centered on “white identity” and the preservation of “Western civilization” currently being energized by the election of President Donald Trump.
According to media on site at the Phoenix Convention Center, leaders of the historically white denomination went into damage control Tuesday night after voting not to consider a resolution denouncing the alt-right movement proposed prior to the convention by Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.
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.
McKissic, an African American who last year successfully persuaded the convention to pass a resolution condemning public display of the Confederate flag, argued from the convention floor that by their support of slavery and segregation Southern Baptists in past generations “gave the theological license to the alt-right to do what they’re doing right now.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alternative Right is a term coined in 2008 by Richard Bertrand Spencer, a white nationalist who advocates for an Aryan homeland and the “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to halt the “deconstruction” of European culture.
Spencer is on record as calling Martin Luther King Jr. “a fraud and degenerate” and immigration “a kind of proxy war” for white Americans.
The alt-right regards Donald Trump as a political savior, labeling Republican politicians willing to compromise over globalism or liberal ideas “cuckservatives,” a combination of “cuckold” and “conservative.”
Russell Moore, head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, argued during Wednesday’s debate the movement is of the devil.
“When we stand together as a convention and speak clearly, we are saying that white supremacy and racist ideologies are dangerous, because they oppress our brothers and sisters in Christ, they oppress those who are made in the image of God, they oppress our mission field, but even above and beyond that unrepentant racism is just not wrong, unrepentant racism sends unrepentant racists to hell,” Moore said.
Duke, former vice president for public policy at the ERLC who was recently elected executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention, apologized to messengers “for the pain and the confusion that we created for you and a watching world when we decided not to report out a resolution on alt-right racism.”
“Please know it wasn’t because we don’t share your abhorrence of racism, and especially the particularly vicious form of racism that has manifested itself in the alt-right movement,” Duke said. “We do share your abhorrence.”
McKissic, a longtime critic of the lack of ethnic diversity in SBC leadership, recently attributed an embarrassing photo of preaching professors at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary dressed in gangster-rap garb to a lack of African Americans on faculty.
“A black preaching professor would have no doubt persuaded his co-laborers of the single most important reason why this ‘gangsta rap’ photo idea should have been a non-starter,” McKissic wrote on his blog. “He would have argued it would be impossible for the larger culture to appreciate the optics as being genuine and sincere.”