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Southern Baptists Vote to Condemn Confederate Battle Flag

Via WaPo:  Southern Baptist Convention votes to condemn Confederate battle flag

The Southern Baptist Convention, once founded as a pro-slavery denomination that aligned itself with the Confederacy, voted Tuesday to condemn the Civil War battle flag of the South.

“It’s not often that I find myself wiping away tears in a denominational meeting, but I just did,” Russell Moore, the prominent evangelical writer who leads the denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote in a blog post after the vote. “Does this change the game as it applies to the crushing issues of racial injustice around us? Of course, it does not. But at the same time, we cannot dismiss this as just about symbols. Symbols matter.”

The resolution was proposed by William Dwight McKissic Sr., a black pastor in Arlington, Tex., who told The Washington Post before the vote Tuesday that he thought it imperative that the Southern Baptist Convention — the United States’ second-largest religious group, after only Catholicism — make a statement about the flag after the slayings in a church in Charleston, S.C., a year ago.

You can’t take something that is contaminated and make it innocent. I think to honor those nine people in Charleston that were killed, surely you can repudiate what drove Dylann Roof to kill those folks. You say to the black community, we identify with your pain. We share your pain,” McKissic said.

Indeed. (Emphasis mine).

The evolution of the resolution is worth noting:

Before the Southern Baptist Convention gathered for its annual meeting Tuesday, McKissic and the denomination’s president, Ronnie Floyd, said they were not sure whether the resolution would make it out of committee, let alone pass a vote. Commenters on McKissic’s website responded with defenses of Southern heritage when he announced he submitted the resolution.

Instead, when the resolution came up for a vote, attendees at the meeting amended the words to make it stronger. Moore said that voters took out a reference to the sense of family history that leads some people to fly the Confederate flag. And where the resolution committee proposed a draft asking that Southern Baptists “limit” use of the flag and “consider” outright removal, the whole group amended that.

The final resolution said: “We call our brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters.”

Kudos to the SBC.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. JohnMcC says:

    What wonderful news! I would be curious (but am a bit too lazy to dig into it) whether there will be significant push-back. Their congregational structure makes it fairly easy for a local congregation to leave the ‘Association’ and many years ago when I knew anything about the SBC there would have been some local churches willing to do so.

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  2. Tony W says:

    Welcome to the 1900’s Southern Baptists!!!

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  3. Tyrell says:

    These resolutions are not binding on the individual churches. Some will complain, but I doubt if any pull out. Their members will continue to attend church, contribute, have summer picnics, and then get in their trucks with Confederate flags on the front bumper or attached to the bed.
    It seems around here that there have been more flags displayed than in decades. One local store that sells them can’t keep them in stock.

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  4. DrDaveT says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Their congregational structure makes it fairly easy for a local congregation to leave the ‘Association’ and many years ago when I knew anything about the SBC there would have been some local churches willing to do so.

    That goes both ways. The church my parents attend withdrew from the SBC a couple of decades ago for the opposite reason; the SBC was too bigoted and political. (The issue at the time was browbeating the SBC-sponsored seminaries into being less ‘liberal’ in their theology…)

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  5. @Tyrell: This is true, but surely it is worth giving credit where credit is due, and to celebrate progress, even if that progress isn’t the end of the problem, yes?

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  6. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: Somewhere in their usual twenty or more Trump stories today POLITICO has one about increased Confederate flag (2nd Naval Jack actually*) display in reaction to removing it from the SC Capitol, and how this has now become entwined with Trump, even though when asked about the SC decision at the time he said, “I would take it down, yes,” the billionaire real estate mogul said. “I think they should put it in a museum and respect whatever it is you have to respect.” As @Tony W: said, the SBC may have reached the 20th centurty, much of the south has not.

    * Because if they displayed the First, Second, or Third (dither much?) Confederate National Flag none of y’all experts on the Confederacy would recognize it.

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  7. Don’t forget that the SBC was created in 1845 purely as a rejection of the Triennial Convention’s support for abolitionism. It was created as an explicitly pro-slavery organization.

    If they really want to demonstrate “solidarity of the whole Body of Christ”, the organization should disband entirely and rejoin the American Baptist Convention.

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  8. Hal_10000 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Aren’t all resolutions of the SBC non-binding? I seem to remember a religious edict a long time ago about wives submitting to their husbands’ authority and everyone noting that it was non-binding.

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  9. John Peabody says:

    Oh, it’s so much fun to point and laugh it those ignorant Southerners! Even if they take a step in the right direction, bless their hearts, we should never encourage…only point out how stupid they were to begin with!

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  10. Jenos Idanian says:

    Next up, we need to get liberal groups to repudiate the hammer & sickle and condemn the Che posters.

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  11. @Hal_10000: Indeed, they are non-binding. But, again, this is progress, even if non-binding progress. It deserves accolades not derision (that you are deriding, but some are).

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  12. @Stormy Dragon: In fairness, the first paragraph of the story (and quoted above) states:

    The Southern Baptist Convention, once founded as a pro-slavery denomination that aligned itself with the Confederacy, voted Tuesday to condemn the Civil War battle flag of the South.

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  13. Tyrell says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: This is progress and it looks like the SBC is slowly changing. A denomination of 12 million members, slowly changing like a huge ship turning.

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  14. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Never gonna happen; we’re talking about Baptists, a group of denominations that will separate over anything.

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  15. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Click

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  16. DrDaveT says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    we’re talking about Baptists, a group of denominations that will separate over anything.

    Are you referring to pre-millenialist free will Baptists, or post-millenialist congregationalist Baptists?

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  17. An Interested Party says:

    Next up, we need to get liberal groups to repudiate the hammer & sickle and condemn the Che posters.

    Which liberal groups are those? And, to be fair, while the hammer & sickle and Che posters do represent a failed political ideology as well as our main Cold War enemy, at least they don’t represent treason and racism with the disingenuous fig leaves of “heritage” or “state’s rights”…

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  18. Tyrell says:

    @DrDaveT: What about the pre-tribulation Baptists and the fire baptized Baptists ?
    A few years ago the SBC elected a black pastor as their president, which few other mainline denominations have done.

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  19. Hal_10000 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Oh, I agree. I was just noting that there’s nothing unusual about it being non-binding. This is actually a very big thing as the SBC pulls a lot of water, binding or no.

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  20. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: Exactly! Perfect!

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  21. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Just looked it up; Wikipedia lists 63 (by my hand count) national bodies of Baptists.

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