Southern Religion

McKissic’s racism motion referred to committee

Texas pastor Dwight McKissic’s much-anticipated motion to disfellowship churches which condone racism was referred to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee.

Such referrals standard process, the Arkansas Baptist news reported:

Committee on Order of Business Chairman Jonathan Whitehead of Missouri, expressed agreement for the intent of the motion, but suggested the need to refer it to the SBC Executive Committee.

“We do not disagree with the spirit behind your motion at all,” Whitehead said. “Whenever we go amending our legal documents we should probably follow the process of letting the proper entities deal with the appropriate legal processes.”

June 17, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , | 1 Comment

‘Once a rising star in denominational life’ Dwight McKissic

Ouch? Regarding African-American Baptist pastor Dwight McKissic’s April 7 excoriation of the Southern Baptist Convention for failure to live up to its 1995 renunciation of racism and slavery, Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press wrote:

McKissic, once a rising star in denominational life until he disagreed publicly with influential leaders over a decision to stop appointing missionaries that use a “private prayer language,” said most systemic, institutional and individual racism in SBC life is “passive, not intentional.”

Well, he didn’t call McKissic a “has been,” even if the summation was lame. That disagreement was a full-bore, denominational uproar in which McKissic’s stand played an important role. Most spectacularly, in August of 2006, McKissic gave a sermon at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel in which he discussed his use of private prayer languages. Seminary president Paige Patterson did not have the sermon posted on the school website. Debate & turmoil. In June of 2007, McKissic resigned from the seminary board of trustees.

Ok. Was Enid, Oklahoma, pastor Wade Burleson also “once a rising star” until he disagreed publicly with influential leaders over private prayer languages (and other matters)? Specifically associated with his role as a member of the International Mission Board, from which he resigned in 2008 — an experience he documents in “Hardball Religion: Feeling the Fury of Fundamentalism.”

Maybe not the right characterization, but the official SBC reaction to McKissic is still dismissive. Allen writes that “Sing Oldham, vice president for convention relations at the SBC Executive Committee” said that “a motion referred by the convention in 2009 to study ways to more actively involve ethnic churches and ethnic leaders in serving the needs of the SBC.” And McKissic’s blog post “will certainly be a resource.”

We’ll see.

April 9, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , , | 1 Comment

SBC racism, sexism and repentance

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) actions toward women “fall short of Biblical standards (Acts 2:17-18)” and require public apology, prominent Southern Baptist and African-American pastor Dwight McKissic argues on April 1 — an apology like the SBC’s 1995 renunciation of racism and slavery.

There are good historic and modern reasons for such an apology:

The SBC was formed in 1845 when women were not allowed to vote in the vast majority of SBC churches. Consequently, women by and large did not attempt to register as delegates/messengers to the annual SBC meetings. In 1885 women were excluded by the vote of the convention from being seated as delegates. The convention voted to only accept “brethren” as representatives from churches to the annual meetings. Josiah Lawrence made a motion to seat women as “messengers” in 1917 and the vote actually occurred in 1918 with overwhelming approval.


McKissic also cites well-known examples of modern Southern Baptist mistreatment of women [1, 2, 3], finally weaving mistreatment of Southern Baptist women, SBC racism and the sexual abuse of SBC women together around the case of now-imprisoned former pastor Daryl Gilyard.

Results of the earlier renunciation suggest that apology to SBC women, while clearly merited, would accomplish little of measurable value. For as McKissic demonstrates via damning examples in his April 7 blog, there are still serious problems:

  • There was no black representation on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. McKissic brought that to the attention of Frank Page at the Louisville Airport in June ’09. Page called SBC President Johnny Hunt, who corrected the oversight, which McKissic calls “symptomatic of the problem.”
  • “Ten years after the ’95 racial reconciliation and apology statement, there has not been one African American appointed to a position as the Chief Executive Officer of a SBC entity,” although there are three vacant spots.
  • At the Southern Baptists of Texas Evangelism Conference in February, SBC Evangelist Jimmy Davis “communicated that President Obama was not a Christian” and “encouraged the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention to ‘pray that God providentially remove President Obama from office.'” Yes, something about the image of all of those Anglo Southern Baptists kneeling in prayer against Obama does seem racist.
  • Baptist Deacon Bill Fortner in a blog entry described President Obama as “the Tragic Negro,” a characterization which McKissic accurately characterized as “clearly racist and beyond the pale.”
  • An Anglo SBC church in Louisiana refused to let Anglo missionaries who had adopted children of color speak in their church because of the color of their children.
  • “A Black Baptist Arkansas Pastor who disassociated himself from the SBC in recent years” explained to McKissic that during a missions trip to Mexico with an Anglo Southern Baptist congregation, “one of the Anglo mission team members use racial slurs” for which, when confronted, he did not apologize.
  • Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, preached a sermon at First Baptist of Jacksonville, FL., in which he said to “approving laughter” that Black churches take up “twelve offerings.” Caner went on to relate:

    “… you go to a Black church gentlemen, you are not going to have on a blue suit, you are going to have blue shoes to match, and your handkerchief is going to match your tie, and your whole outfit is going to match your car. It’s BEAUTIFUL. And ladies: when we talk about black church, we’re talkin’ about hats. And I’m not just talkin’ Easter hats as some of you may wear, I’m talkin’ ’bout satellite dish hats. [laughter]. Big enough to receive a signal, with a curtain rod goin’ down the front that you can just pull the curtain across.”

How the SBC can accomplish a resurgence while driving away people of color and, woman by woman as well as church by church, spiritually inspired women, is unclear. Thus McKissic suggests changing the name of the organization to “The International Baptist Convention” to create the opportunity for “a new start in a new millennium.” Which might work almost as well as the 1995 renunciation of racism and slavery (the one he dissects by recent example).

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Religion, SBC | , , , , | Comments Off on SBC racism, sexism and repentance

Great Repentance Resurgence (GRR) hits a wall

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) repentance of “systemic, institutionalized, and historic negative attitudes toward women, races, and dissenters” called for by prominent African-American pastor SBC pastor Dwight McKissic was to involve electing a black SBC president this summer. That was to be Fred Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, who doesn’t plan to run [Associated Baptist Press]:


Luter said in an e-mail April 3 that McKissic isn’t the only person who has suggested that he seek office, but he has not agreed to be nominated. “There are a lot of guys throughout the convention who would like to see that happen,” Luter said. “I truly appreciate their trust and confidence in me, however that will not happen this year.”

GRR plan B? Or maybe move right on to debate over the Great Commission Resurgence?

April 5, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , | 1 Comment

First, the SBC Repentance Resurgence required to elect a black president

Before the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) can experience a Great Commission Resurgence (GCR), it must repent “systemic, institutionalized, and historic negative attitudes toward women, races, and dissenters,” argued prominent African-American pastor SBC pastor Dwight McKissic. And elect pastor Fred Luter of Franklin Ave. Baptist Church in New Orleans the first African American President of the SBC.

In a March 30 blog entry, McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Tex., also recommended Troy Gramlin, Pastor of the Flamingo Road Baptist Church in South Florida, is to be nominated for president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference.

McKissic said some have erred in treating Gramlin’s view of women in the ministry as unbiblical. He challenged “Peter Lumpkins, Gramlin’s most vocal critic,” to debate Gramlin.

Founded in 1845 amid national debate over slavery and the role of slaveholders in the church, only after first undergoing a “Great Repentance Resurgence” can the SBC hope to undergo a Great Commission Resurgence, McKissic argued. It is a repentance McKissic clearly intends to sweep past the 1995 renunciation of racism and apology for past defense of slavery to deal more constructively with the role of women and others.

McKissic pointedly addressed the SBC leadership. He said:

The primary reason I’m addressing this subject is because I want to appeal to the patriarchs of our convention (Johnny Hunt, Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Ronnie Floyd, Frank Page, and others) to call a solemn assembly and invite Southern Baptists to pray, seek God’s face, repent and turn from our wicked ways.

And quoted Joel 1:13-15 to illuminate his point.

McKissic’s call for repentance comes amid turmoil over the fate of the GCR Task Force recommendations and a stinging if more parabolic criticism by outspoken Enid, OK, pastor Wade Burleson.

These are interesting times for current and would-be SBC leadership. And are destined to become progressively more so.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , | 1 Comment

Racism and health reform opposition: Protesters scream ‘n****r’ at black congressman

William Douglas of McClatchy Newspapers reports:

Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted “nigger” Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s.

Chad Pergram of reports:

Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Andre Carson, D-Ind., both members of the Congressional Black Caucus, allege that a group of protesters hollered at them and called them the N-word.

Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo reports:

Tea partiers and other anti-health care activists are known to get rowdy, but today’s protest on Capitol Hill–the day before the House is set to vote on historic health care legislation–went beyond the usual chanting and controversial signs, and veered into ugly bigotry and intimidation.

Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and fellow Congressional Black Caucus member Andre Carson (D-IN) related a particularly jarring encounter with a large crowd of protesters screaming “kill the bill”… and punctuating their chants with the word “nigger.”

Standing next to Lewis, emerging from a Democratic caucus meeting with President Obama, Carson said people in the crowd yelled, “kill the bill and then the N-word” several times, while he and Lewis were exiting the Canon House office building.

“People have been just downright mean,” Lewis added.

Underlying tensions, unmasked.



March 21, 2010 Posted by | Health, Politics | , , | 1 Comment

Minority young children become the majority [not extinct]

Straightforward demographics trump shrill cries that “Black Children Are An Endangered Species.” Black, brown, red and yellow children are apparently the majority of their age group now, just as current minority groups are projected to become the summary majority in 2042.

Minority children have been moving toward majority status for some time, not toward extinction. In 2009, 48 percent of the children born in the United States were members of minority groups. And growth continued so that, according to projections from the latest U.S. Census data by researchers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), the tipping point passed.

Kenneth Johnson, UNH professor of sociology and senior demographer at the UNH Carsey Institute, and Daniel Lichter, Ferris Family Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, said [.pdf] in a paper published Wednesday in the Journal Population and Development Review:

We do not need to rely on Census projections or wait until 2042 to observe the putative demographic implications of growing racial and ethnic diversity in American society. Our research documents the demographic forces that have placed today’s young people in the vanguard of America’s new racial and ethnic diversity. The seeds of diversity are being sown today by immigration and high fertility, which are revealed in growing racial and ethnic diversity among America’s children and youth. In many parts of the United States, the future is now.

Why? Most women of childbearing age are members of minority groups:

A key reason for the growing child diversity is the changing mix of women in their prime child-bearing years (20-39 years old). From 1990 to 2008, the number of non-Hispanic white women in prime child-bearing years decreased 19 percent while the number of minority women increased 40 percent. In 1990, 63 percent of all births were to non-Hispanic white women; in 2008, 52 percent were to non-Hispanic white women.

It is irresponsible to artificially elevate racial tensions in any context, but it is especially so in times of demographic transition when there is already tension over the costs of transition. The demographers speak directly to the most immediate concern when they write [.pdf]:

It has been more than 25 years since Samuel Preston (1984) argued that America’s declining fertility rates, increasing longevity, and consequent aging of the population have had the effect of shifting the nation’s resources from the young to the old. The social and economic realities of children had deteriorated while the circumstances of the elderly had improved. Our results raise an additional demographic complication for children (Hernandez 1993). That is, will America’s older, largely white population—through the ballot box and collective self-interest—support young people who are now much different culturally from themselves and their own children? Will they vote, for example, to raise taxes for schools that serve young people of ethnic backgrounds different from theirs? Preston (1984: 448) worried that “Americans have never had any strong sense of collective responsibility for other people’s children, only private responsibility for their own.” This may be especially true if “other people’s children” are largely minority, disproportionately poor, and live in separate communities. In fact, Poterba (1997) found that the presence of large fractions of elderly residents in a jurisdiction was associated with significantly lower per-child educational spending, especially if the elderly and children were of different races.

For the sake of the young who are alive, and for the sake of those yet to be born, this is a time to build more bridges.

March 11, 2010 Posted by | History, Politics | , , , , | 5 Comments

Billboards and a drive to recriminalize abortion

Recently while declaring his willingness to eat nonhuman persons, Al Mohler showed that he knows what a species is. He certainly knows black children are not a separate species. Georgia billboards saying “Black Children are an Endangered Species” not withstanding. Though the view of blacks as a separate species, rather than human beings, is defended by people who affect white robes with pointed hoods. Not allies for the president of Southern Baptist Seminary, especially given the Southern Baptist Convention’s 1995 renunciation of its past stands in favor of segregation and slavery.

Yet Mohler does blog in ardent support the billboard campaign and its arguments, among them that Planned Parenthood is somehow applying views of eugenics once entertained by its founder, the late Margaret Sanger. Mohler seems to be unconcerned that applying the same guilt by historic association to the SBC he serves could put him among defenders of racial segregation. Ford Motor Co. could be worse tarred, given the late Henry Ford’s admiration for Adolph Hitler. Those are, however, three similarly false arguments.

The “endangered species” argument is also unsound as variously made. Black Americans as a group are not endangered the way that metaphor invites us to believe. Black fertility rates (live births per woman of childbearing age), like overall U.S. fertility rates, are projected to show a 2010 Census increase. The reverse of a decline in overall birth numbers. Not suggestive of ethnic cleansing. Nor coherent with the expressed fears of extermination.

It is still true that a relatively large number of black pregnancies end in abortion, just as Catherine Davis argues. The Centers for Disease Control reports that “57.4% of the abortions performed in Georgia in 2006 were performed on African-American women.” Whereas blacks compose 30% of Georgia’s population. Similarly, black women account for some 37% the nation’s abortions. Whereas just 13% of the population is black. Yet women seeking abortion are distinguished more by their poverty than by their race. They are mostly unmarried, most already have at least one child and are ending unintended pregnancies which probably resulted from a failure of or failure to properly use birth control.

Contributory factors are nonetheless not the decision. The controversial abortion numbers are the result of decisions black women make to have abortions. Decisions they are free to make. Decisions Mohler would deny them the legal right to make by criminalizing abortion, first by reversing Roe v Wade. Therein lies the freely expressed core purpose of this uproar: To end what Mohler calls “the scandal of abortion.”

March 9, 2010 Posted by | Health, Law, Medical Care, Religion | , , | 1 Comment