(Photo: Matt Miller) Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission addresses reporters in Phoenix at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. The alt-right is a set of far-right ideologies centered on "white identity" and the preservation of "Western civilization" now being energized by the election of President Donald Trump.
Chaos unfolded at the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., this weekend after religious leaders refused to hear an African-American pastor's resolution denouncing the white nationalist and alt-right movements.
The denomination initially refused to take up a resolution repudiating the movement that emerged dramatically during the USA presidential election and mixes racism, nationalism and populism. "I wanted the Southern Baptist Convention to make it very clear we have no relationship to them", McKissic told the Post.
"I'm disappointed that we as a convention could leave the illusion that we don't reject the racist ideologies held by many in the alt-right movement", he said. Yet after a great deal of public pressure, church leaders acquiesced and voted to condemn "every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy". The 15.2 million-member denomination, the nation's largest Protestant group, has been working to overcome its founding in the 19th century in defense of slaveholders. Ten years later, in 2015, it passed a resolution supporting racial reconciliation.
At the same time, several prominent Southern Baptists became evangelical advisers to Trump's campaign, including the Rev. Robert Jeffress of Dallas, and the Revs.
It also animated many well-intentioned clergy and laypeople within and beyond the SBC who lament the strands of white supremacy and blindness to racial inequity that still persist in churches.
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There has arisen in the United States a growing menace to political order and justice that seeks to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide our people, and foment hatred, classism, and ethnic cleansing... this toxic menace, self-identified among some of its chief proponents as "White Nationalism" and the "Alt-Right", must be opposed for the totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its violent disciples.
Billy Levengood, a 32-year-old convention attendee from Oxford, Pennsylvania, said he will vote for the resolution, in part to help the denomination move beyond its origins.
"When that happens, you can either accept it or challenge it by asking the convention in session to request that the resolutions committee bring your resolution to the floor to be voted on", McKissic told HuffPost.
The heated debate on Tuesday night prompted the convention to draw up a new resolution, which was voted in on Wednesday afternoon. "Most illogical is his support from evangelicals and other social conservatives", he wrote during the campaign. But Moore said he was encouraged by the decision to revisit the resolution. He welcomes the selection of Florida pastor H.B. Charles as the first black president of the SBC's Pastors' Conference earlier this week, and the continuing election of people of color to other one-year terms of leadership. Under a cloud of external pressure from media reports saying they had failed to condemn racism and a storm of criticism on social media, Gaines chose to push the boundaries of the rules. "I see the heart of the majority".
"I think we're unified around that", he said.
"I'm grateful that things have ended up like they have. for the Kingdom of God's sake", McKissic said.
"If we're not careful about some issues that we care about, we run the risk of sounding like we hate our enemies and, as a result, we end up violating another set of biblical principles", he said.