Southern Baptists voted overwhelmingly to condemn ‘alt-right white supremacy’ – Washington Post

 In U.S.
The alternative right has come under fire from Hillary Clinton and establishment Republicans, but it has been seeping into American politics for years as a far-right option for conservatives. Here’s what you need to know about the alt-right movement. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

A Southern Baptist Convention proposal to condemn a white nationalist group was passed and received a standing ovation during the convention’s annual meeting on Wednesday after the denomination received received fierce backlash when it looked like it wasn’t going to go to a vote.

After a day of chaos over whether the proposal would see the convention floor, Southern Baptist leaders worked on the language of the proposal late Tuesday night. On Wednesday, about 5,000 Southern Baptists seemed to vote overwhelmingly positive on the resolution condemning the alt-right movement — a small, far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state. The debate over the resolution highlights the many divisions within the denomination around the election of President Trump, which put the spotlight on white supremacists among his supporters.

Just before the proposal was passed, one member asked Southern Baptist leaders if a study of the “alt right and the alt left” could be done this year. But then several Southern Baptists stood before the convention urging the convention the adopt the resolution before it passed.

Many evangelicals of color have said they feel alienated by such high white evangelical support for Trump and have asked leaders to condemn those who support him who are racist. While several Southern Baptist leaders have served on Trump’s evangelical advisory board, many younger Southern Baptists — including the denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty president Russell Moore — vocally opposed his candidacy.

The Southern Baptist resolution was written by Dwight McKissic, a black pastor from Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Tex., who said he wanted the denomination to make it clear they had no sympathy for the alt-right.

“I saw people identifying themselves as Southern Baptist and members of the alt-right, so this is horrifying to me,” McKissic said. “I wanted the Southern Baptist Convention to make it very clear we have no relationship to them. I thought it would be a slam dunk, but I misread Southern Baptists apparently.”

Meeting in Phoenix this week, Southern Baptists voted on Tuesday to condemn gambling and Planned Parenthood, and they adopted a statement on the importance of public officials who display “consistent moral character.” That resolution also commended “those leaders who choose not to meet privately with members of the opposite sex who are not their spouse,” referring to Vice President Pence, who drew attention when he said he doesn’t eat alone with a woman other than his wife.

Discussion broke out Tuesday over the alt-right resolution after a committee that brings resolutions to a vote declined to do so, a move that drew attention from alt-right leader Richard Spencer.

Last night, Moore and Steve Gaines, the president of the SBC, worked with the committee to shape the language of the proposal so it could be voted on today.

Moore said that he was encouraged by the decision to revisit the resolution. “They recognize that white supremacy in this alt-right guise is dangerous and devilish and we need to say something,” Moore said.

The initial text of the resolution called on Southern Baptists to “reject the retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries of the so-called ‘Alt-Right’ that seek to subvert our government, destabilize society, and infect our political system.”

The new text of the proposal noted some of the convention’s previous actions on race, including how Southern Baptists voted in 1995 to apologize for the role that slavery played in the convention’s creation and racism. It noted how in 2012 it elected its first black president. More than 20 percent of Southern Baptist congregations, it says, identifies as predominantly nonwhite.

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