Southern Baptists on Racism and Alt-Right

There is a good deal of confusion about what the Southern Baptists (SBC) have just voted on. Vox, a liberal/progressive publication, has an article declaring, “What a unanimous Southern Baptist condemnation of the alt-right says about evangelicals in America.” They flat-out got it wrong.

RNS (Religion News Service) did a much better job, declaring, “In dramatic turnabout, Southern Baptists condemn white supremacy.” First, they correctly noted that SBC condemned racism, not the alt-right. Second, they correctly noted that their first vote, which took a stronger position against the alt-right, failed to pass. Only their greatly weakened platform passed on the second vote. RNS had another article (here) which provides a much better account of the vote and its context.

Curiously, the evangelical Christian Post  did not cover the story. I suspect they couldn't figure out how to present it without offending much of their readership.

The actual 1-page text of the SBC platform is here. This was a legalistic document, with many “whereas” clauses followed by several resolutions. The first “resolved” clause says that SBC denounces “every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” That is, SBC denounces racism, regardless of source. The fact that they mention alt-right rather than the courts or Congress is technically irrelevant. (Furthermore, they denounce the sin, not the sinner, so their members are free to continue their participation in alt-right groups with a clean conscience.)

The second “resolved” clause went beyond that, and denounced “every form of racial and ethnic hatred as a scheme of the devil.” Here they get carried away, and display their ignorance of Scripture – which they insist is the literal word of God. In the Hebrew Bible, God repeatedly singles out various ethnic groups and commands the children of Israel to perform a variety of hateful acts against them. The most extreme examples are in the book of Joshua. God tells the children of Israel to commit genocide against a series of ethnic groups living in Canaan and then occupy their territory. These ethnic groups have done nothing wrong, but God tells Joshua to destroy them as a preventative matter, lest they tempt the Jews to worship foreign gods.

The SBC either willfully ignored many chapters of Scripture, or they would have us believe that God was under the influence of Satan. Neither position is acceptable.