Whether it's demonizing Trayvon Martin, Dan Savage, or Jimmy Carter, the Southern Baptist Convention, can't seem to escape it's legacy of hate.
There is something to be said about a Christian denomination that took 140 years to apologize for its adherence to slavery: it is, after all, one helluva group of stubborn bigots. It also has yet to apologize for: the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow, segregation and evicting people out of their homes while they were sick and dying during the AIDS epidemic.*
Now, through the tender sentiments of powerful Southern Baptist leader, Richard Land, the Trayvon Martin case has simply brought to the fore what the SBC has been trying to divert attention from after the civil rights era: it's still as bigoted as it ever was.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The head of the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy arm condemns the response of many black leaders to the Trayvon Martin case as "shameful." Some black pastors within the nation's largest Protestant denomination say Richard Land's comments are setting back an effort to broaden the faith's appeal beyond its traditional white, Southern base.
He said he understands why the case has touched a nerve among black leaders, but he also defended the idea that people are justified in seeing young black men as threatening: A black man is "statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man."**
It may seem ironic that Land's statement comes on the heels of the announcement of African-American Fred Luter II (Franklin Avenue Baptist Church of New Orleans) as the next president of the SBC. Then again, as one wag put it: "For Two thousand years, the Church has had its St. Thomas, and now the SBC has it's St. Uncle Thomas."
And the hate extends to others...
The SBC's own "War On Women" and "Friendly Cooperation"
Technically, all Southern Baptist churches are congregational, meaning that they are autonomous: they have a Baptist Faith and Message which they are not required to adhere to, but seminaries and missionaries are required to attest that their practices and teachings are consistent with the BFM. Go figure.
Autonomy aside, the SBC makes dictums like they were going out of style (and we wish some of them were) - dictums such as the rejection of homosexuals within the church and the rejection of women as pastors. And they frown upon any individual church not participating in "friendly cooperation":
The possible ouster of Broadway Baptist Church [for its acceptance of homosexuals], along with a move to expel churches with female pastors, may signal that the Southern Baptist Convention wants to further narrow the meaning of "friendly cooperation."And then we have Wiley Drake:
Right Wing Watch:
In 2007-2008, Wiley Drake served as Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention ... but once President Obama was elected and Drake started praying for his death and the deaths of Democratic members of Congress, the Southern Baptist Convention was quick to distance itself from Drake.Too late.
And also Trent Lott:
Southern Baptist Trent Lott's comments about African-Americans being better off under slavery than they are now:
It [slavery] is a crushing mark on America's soul. And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery.Diminishing To Atheism?
In his provocative article, Christianity In Crisis (Newsweek), Andrew Sullivan posits that more young people are turning to atheism than ever before. According to Sullivan, Christianity has been "destroyed by politics, priests and get-rich evangelists." He might add Southern Baptists to that list as well, simply because the SBC has become too political with its overtly Fundamentalist (and prejudiced) belief system. Accordingly, the Southern Baptist membership has declined significantly in the past 7 years and apostates take to atheism more than they do to another denomination: it's bigotry may be pushing people out.
But will it ever be enough to make a difference on the landscape of America's hate? One SBC leader posited that at the current rate of decline, half of the SBC churches will close their doors by 2030.
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