Southern Baptists reconsider condemning 'alt-right' movement

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Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention were divided over a resolution affirming the denomination's opposition to the "alt-right" during their annual meeting this week in Arizona. The faith group is also home to some of Trump's most vocal evangelical critics.

The denomination's annual convention in Phoenix voted to "decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ" and "denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as a scheme of the devil".

Leaders of a national Southern Baptist conference voted to repudiate white supremacy and the growing "alt-right" movement Wednesday, reversing an earlier decision that had caused uproar internally.

"This is why we've chosen to extend a hand of fellowship to the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination of churches".

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In voting yesterday, the resolution on moral leadership urged church, government and business leaders to set a positive example and thanked public officials who "displayed consistent moral character and uncompromising commitment to biblical principles".

Pastor Micah Fries tried to get the convention to reaffirm wording (based on a 1998 resolution) that said "serious allegations continue to be made about moral and legal misconduct by certain public officials", and "character does count in public office", but the Christian organization shot that down as well.

The resolution touched on the church's racist history, as the Southern Baptists once prominently taught the "curse of Ham" theory, which the resolution describes as "echoing the belief that God through Noah ordained descendants of Africa to be subservient to Anglos" and "which provided the theological justification for slavery and segregation".

The resolution did say that leaders "in every walk of life" have "destroyed their careers" and "brought shame" because of their moral choices. The statement also commended leaders who won't meet alone with members of the opposite sex other than their spouses to avoid temptation.

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Texas pastor Dwight McKissic moved to bring his proposal on the "alt-right" to messengers Tuesday June 13.

"We regret and apologize for the pain and the confusion that we created for you and a watching world when we decided not to report out a resolution on alt-right racism", Barrett Duke, the resolutions committee chairman, told the gathered crowd of about 5,000. "Any "church" that can not denounce white supremacy without hesitancy and equivocation is a dead, Jesus denying assembly".

The divide to which McKissic pointed in his comments Tuesday did not appear Wednesday, if it existed at all, in light of the remarks by those who spoke for the resolution and the overwhelming vote in favor of passing it. Newbell is an author and the director of community outreach at the denomination's Ethics and Religious Liberty commission. "I don't know if you're aware of this, but Twitter was filled with the alt-right calling the Southern Baptist heroes".

The internal splits come at a time of decline for the Southern Baptists. They remain among the president's most steadfast supporters.

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'Virtually everyone who sees these figures will react negatively and lament the poor state of our churches, our lack of evangelistic fervor, and our increasingly irrelevant programs, ' Frank S Page, president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), told Baptist Press.

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