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State conventions denounce racism, white supremacy

EDITOR’S NOTE: Additional information on resolutions approved by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention were added later to this story. Also see related report on the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s resolution against racism that was posted after this article. See related resolution passed by messengers during Louisiana Baptist Convention’s annual meeting here.

WASHINGTON (BP) — Southern Baptists in at least five state conventions have approved resolutions decrying racism or white supremacy.

Messengers to the annual meetings of the Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and SBC of Virginia (SBCV) conventions have passed statements in November addressing the rise of white nationalism and supremacy in the United States. Their resolutions expressed many of the same convictions offered in a resolution approved at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in June.

Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore commended the actions by Baptists in the states.

“Messengers across our state conventions sent a signal to the watching world this week and last, showing that those of us in Christ are one family, that we are one body, and an attack on one part of the body is an attack on the whole,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“I am heartened by these resolutions, which continue to call white supremacy what it is — a false gospel,” Moore told Baptist Press in written comments. “I thank God that our denomination has committed itself to opposing the satanic scourge of racism and to promoting racial unity.”

In addition to denouncing racism and/or white supremacy, all five of the state resolutions used Scripture to affirm the equality of all human beings and Jesus’ purchase by His death of people from every ethnic group, tribe and language. They also called for prayer that those deceived by racist ideologies would recognize their error through the Gospel. Four of the five resolutions acknowledged the need for more progress in eliminating racism.

In the resolutions approved by messengers:

— The Alabama convention, meeting Nov. 14-15 in Huntsville, resolved to “condemn every form of racism, including and specifically alt-right white supremacy and white nationalism, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

It also said, “That as a witness to the sacrificial love of Christ for all people, we will oppose persecution and harassment of all racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, refugees, and anyone else targeted by these white supremacist/nationalist groups.”

The messengers called for Baptist churches to “seek racial reconciliation in our respective communities across Alabama to show the power of the Gospel and to give respect, honor and love to one another and thus make known that we are His disciples.”

In addition, the resolution urged opponents of the “alt-right” — a movement that advocates white nationalism and/or supremacy — to use only “peaceful, non-violent means” in their protests.

— The Arkansas convention, meeting Nov. 7-8 in Russellville, addressed the issues involved in two resolutions, one on racial reconciliation and another on America’s polarization.

In their statement on racial reconciliation, the messengers committed to “be diligent in denouncing racial discrimination in whatever form it takes in seeking to bring healing and cohesiveness to our fractured culture as we understand that in the final analysis there is one race — the human race — created by God for His pleasure.”

The resolution on polarization said, “[W]e believers must endeavor to remove from our midst any remaining forms of unbiblical attitudes for others based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or other such inappropriate distinctions.”

— North Carolina Baptists, who met Nov. 6-7 in Greensboro, denounced “racism in all its expressions as sin against a holy and just God, because it disregards the image of God in all people and denies the truth of the Gospel that Christ died for the sins of all mankind.”

In an apparent reference to the debate over Confederate statues and memorials, the resolution called on North Carolina Baptists “to humble themselves before God, acknowledging that while the preservation of history is critically important for a nation, the demonstration of Christ’s love and the proclamation of the Gospel to all peoples must take precedence over the important personal preferences of individual Christians, including the preservation of history. Therefore, we call on North Carolina Baptists to joyfully set aside anything that might create a barrier for the sharing and hearing of the full truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

— Oklahoma Baptists, who met Nov. 13-14 in Oklahoma City, denounced all forms of racism and said they “know from our Southern Baptist history the effects of the horrific sins of racism and hatred; and that in 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention repudiated ‘historic acts of evil, such as slavery,’ and also committed ‘to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry.’ We recognize that racism and white supremacy are, sadly, not extinct but present all over the world in various movements.”

According to the Baptist Messenger, Shawnee pastor Todd Fisher, Resolutions Committee chairman, said, “Given the state of current events in our nation, our committee believes it is important for our state convention to clearly articulate our belief that the Gospel has absolutely no place for racism and that Jesus loves and died for people from every nation, tribe and language. I am proud of Oklahoma Baptists for making this statement today and for our desire to grow in ethnic diversity as we minister to the diverse people of our great state and world.”

— The SBCV, meeting Nov. 12-14 in Colonial Heights, addressed the August rally organized by the “alt-right” in Charlottesville, Va. Opponents of “alt-right” ideology gathered to counter protest, and violence ensued between the groups. One woman died when an “alt-right” protester drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters. The messengers extended their “love and compassion of those in Charlottesville devastated by these events.”

The messengers also denounced “every form of nationalism that violates the biblical teachings with respect to race, justice, and ordered liberty.”

“[W]e will stand with ethnic minorities and anyone else targeted for intimidation so that the attempt to devalue our fellow image bearers results in a bold witness of the sacrificial love to which Christ calls us,” the SBCV said.

In addition, the resolution encouraged SBCV churches “to prayerfully consider increasing diversity among local church and denominational leadership.”

While those conventions explicitly condemned racism, South Carolina Baptists, meeting Nov. 7-8 in Columbia, adopted a resolution that renounced all forms of hatred.

In their June resolution on “alt-right white supremacy,” SBC messengers said they:

— “[D]ecry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ;

— “[D]enounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as a scheme of the devil intended to bring suffering and division to our society;

— “[A]cknowledge that we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst;

— “[E]arnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of these hatreds, and come to know the peace and love of Christ through redeemed fellowship in the Kingdom of God, which is established from every nation, tribe, people, and language.”