Texas pastor William D. McKissic Sr. says public criticism at the Southern Baptist Convention of his resolution to disavow the “alt-right” movement was “unfair” and “inappropriate.”
The Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday passed a revised resolution condemning the alt-right movement.
The vote came a day after the SBC rejected a similar measure, drawing sharp criticism from its sponsor during the group’s national meeting in downtown Phoenix.
“Alt-right” — short for alternative-right — is a term often applied to those whose political views embrace white nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism.
The new resolution passed almost unanimously among the 5,000 members in attendance at a Wednesday afternoon session, after language was removed that leaders objected to Tuesday.
The new resolution explicitly denounces both the alt-right and white supremacy in all forms. It includes the following language:
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 …”
Texas pastor William D. McKissic Sr. initially offered a resolution titled, “On the Condemnation of the “Alt-Right” Movement and the Roots of White Supremacy” that did not gain approval by a two-thirds majority of the SBC’s Committee on Resolutions prior to the Phoenix meeting.
A vote by the full group was allowed on Tuesday to determine whether the resolution should be considered, but the motion was overwhelmingly rejected. The group later agreed to bring back a revised resolution.
A noteworthy omission in the new text is McKissic’s condemnation of the “Curse of Ham,” a biblical passage that was used in the past to justify slavery by the SBC.
The passage from McKissic’s original resolution included this language:
WHEREAS, the roots of White Supremacy within a “Christian context” is based on the so-called “curse of Ham” theory once prominently taught by the SBC in the early years—echoing the belief that God through Noah ordained descendants of Africa to be subservient to Anglos—which provided the theological justification for slavery and segregation. The SBC officially renounces the “curse of Ham” theory in this Resolution;
Frank Page, SBC Executive Committee chief, told the Anderson (S.C.) Independent Mailthe original resolution was extreme, but the subsequent resolution forcefully condemns racism, which, he said, the convention has done for decades.
Page said the Southern Baptist Convention is Christianity’s most diverse denomination, with one in five churches being ethnically diverse.
“We don’t just talk about resolutions, we do it,” Page said.
Barrett Duke, SBC Committee on Resolutions chairman, apologized to McKissic that it took the SBC another day to accept the resolution.
McKissic was satisfied with Wednesday’s outcome.
“I think we’re back to a good place, after a 24-hour rollercoaster ride,” he said, though adding that the SBC’s position on the language that was removed still needs clarification.
“I think until they go back and denounce the Curse of Ham specifically, we’re going to periodically have these problems,” McKissic said.
Coming to an agreement
The 2017 SBC Committee on Resolutions has 10 members. This year they had seven white men, one white woman, one Hispanic man and one African-American man.
“If you’ll look at the makeup of the committee, you’ll see exactly how this happened,” said McKissic. “Yeah, we have 20 percent minorities (in the church), but we don’t run anything.”
On Tuesday, McKissic asked the committee to reconsider its stance during a call for questions after nine other resolutions were passed, prompting SBC officials to hold another vote to determine whether the convention wanted to vote on the resolution at a future meeting. That vote failed.
On Tuesday, Duke said the SBC wasn’t necessarily against the spirit of McKissic’s resolution, but felt the language used was “inflammatory,” prompting McKissic to approach SBC officials after the session and demand more time to explain his resolution.
Just what is the alt-right movement anyway?
The SBC Committee on Resolutions agreed to reconsider whether the resolution would be brought to the floor. The convention then voted to consider the revised resolution.
“The alt-right is a platform for racist ideologies to take hold, and exacerbate in our society, and is a reason for many of the hate crimes we’ve seen lately,” said Charles Hedman, a convention attendee who spoke from the floor Wednesday, imploring others to vote in favor of the resolution.
Recent resolutions passed by the SBC have aimed to distance themselves from their Confederate roots. The 2016 SBC passed a resolution recognizing the Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred and bigotry, and asked their members to discontinue displaying the flag.
In 1995, the SBC passed a resolution recognizing that in their history they have opposed civil rights for African-Americans and used biblical teachings to justify racial prejudice and discrimination.
Page said he and the convention recognize and take responsibility for what they see as the previous mistakes of the convention.
“We own our past, we can’t change our past,” he said.
The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant body in the United States, and was created in the mid-19th century when they split from the northern Baptists (now American Baptist Churches USA) over the issue of slavery.
In a 2014 Pew Research Center study, 85 percent of SBC members identified as white, 6 percent identified as black and 3 percent were Latino.
The remaining 6 percent identified as Asian, mixed or other.
The resolution adopted Wednesday says more than 20 percent of Southern Baptist congregations identify as predominately “non-Anglo.” In the last three years, more than half of new church plants have been predominately “non-Anglo.”
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