Whenever a standardized test or some other document asks my religion, I put a check next to Southern Baptist.
Although the name of my lifelong church includes “Baptist” but not “southern,” I always knew it belonged to the Southern Baptist Convention.
So when my Twitter timeline on Tuesday was suddenly filled with tweets about the SBC — many of them negative — it caught my attention.
It seemed the annual SBC meeting was in turmoil over a proposed resolution to condemn the alt-right, or white supremacy, movement.
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Originally, the convention leaders did not want to take the resolution to a vote, but after a push from attendees, the leaders promised to tweak the resolution and present it the following day.
I worried that whatever resulted from the tweaks would be too little too late.
But the new resolution, titled “On the Anti-Gospel of Alt-White Supremacy,” maintained strong language condemning “racism and white supremacy… present all over the world in white supremacist organizations.”
The resolution called on the SBC to “decry every form of racism… as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Of course, racism is not a new issue to the SBC; the denomination was formed when Baptists from the south continued to support slavery while northern Baptists renounced it.
The SBC apologized for these racist roots in 1995, and acknowledged it in this resolution: “We know from our Southern Baptist history the effects of the horrific sins of racism and hatred.”
This resolution, largely championed by younger SBC members, is a step toward a promising future for the denomination. The SBC must shake the stereotype that to be Baptist (or sometimes, religious at all) is to be ultra-conservative to the point of these extremes.
In fact, many in the alt-right movement have expressed a disdain for Christianity and “typical” conservatives.
Citing multiple verses of Scripture, the resolution made clear that if you ask “What would Jesus do?” the answer is not, “support white supremacy.”
Even the fact that the campaign in support of this resolution came overwhelmingly through social media is evidence of a new trend within the SBC. #SBC17 was filled with tweets backing the resolution and urging the convention to vote on it.
The convention listened.
There were still critics, and unfortunately the SBC had to edge up to the resolution rather than adopting it immediately. However, many at the convention attributed the delay to unfamiliarity with the alt-right movement. Regardless, the SBC is far from the only organization with racism in its past (the United States of America is another), and it should be applauded for once again distancing itself from that history.
In the midst of the discussion, Russell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission who led the rewrite of the resolution, tweeted, “The so-called Alt-Right white supremacist ideologies are anti-Christ and satanic to the core. We should say so.”
And the SBC did say so. So the next time I’m asked to specify my religion, I will once again proudly check Southern Baptist.
Bailey Vandiver is a University of Kentucky journalism student and an intern with the Herald-Leader editorial board.