A late-night session, calls and tweets to get back in the hall, through creative procedural maneuvers we are able to schedule a vote against the “anti-gospel, alt-right, white supremacy” movement – the hall was packed to overflowing and the vote was made – unanimous! Not a NO-vote to be seen anywhere in the hall. We will assuredly pass the resolution this afternoon to another unanimous vote and cheers. All is right with the world – we got it right, right? Not so fast.
I awoke this morning tired and frustrated that we didn’t, in fact, get it right. The world is watching. Our brothers and sisters of color are watching. They’re getting a mixed message.
They see the diversity of preaching at the pastor’s conference and non-Anglo brothers being elected as officers of the conference and Convention. They see the frustration in the hall of messengers that want desperately to get this right and make a clear and definitive message against racism. They see in the end a unanimous decision to schedule a vote and do the right thing…
But they also see their Convention fail to make a clear and definitive statement against the evil of racism without significant backlash pushing them to do so. They see an African American brother make a passionate plea to the Convention to act but his resolution rejected because of word choice and writing style. They see a resolution committee willing to take the time to craft benign statements about things people already know we believe, reworking other resolutions to make them palatable, while ignoring and being unwilling to act on an issue of vital importance to the minority community. They see a committee and then Convention of messengers who hesitates when the question of race comes up and not ready and willing to be bold and name evil where it exists.
Several positive steps we’ve made toward a diverse and unified body of believers and churches this year could be undone by this one huge misstep in stating clearly and unequivocally what we actually believe. In my 20/20 hindsight, I could write a list of things we should have done. But suffice it to say that sometimes getting it right in the end is not good enough. We have to do better!
Southern Baptists should be leading a lost world in racial unity and biblical reconciliation. Instead, we are once again caught flat-footed, communicating to the world that we just don’t get it and communicating to our fellow brothers and sisters of color that we don’t really care.