I received an email from someone who was “in the know” relative to some of the decisions that I have been critical of here. I’ll call him Jason Bourne (Obviously, NOT his real name). He responded in a reasoned and forthright way to some of the comments that I (and others) have made here about Dwight McKissic’s motion about racism in the SBC.
It is really important to see all sides of things. Jason gently shared a different perspective than the one I had formed and I learned from it. He has asked that I protect his identity but granted me permission to share some of his thoughts and perspectives as long as I protect his identity. I am going to do that. I will not reveal his identity, but I can tell you that he is someone who knows what he is talking about and his information gives us some insight into the reasons for the decision that was made.
Here are the highlights of what he told me.
We all want to see racism ended.
I agree with much of your post that the SBC must do a better job of: 1) Putting more minorities in leadership positions and committee assignments; 2) Being more sensitive to minority concerns; and 3) Eliminating overt and covert institutional racism in SBC life.
I appreciate that people in positions of authority understand and realize that there is a problem. I do not believe (and I hope I made this clear in my post) that the EC or any others in SBC leadership are intentionally racist. I am sure there are still racists amongst us. I think they are the minority. I think our problem is that we simply don’t understand it from the perspective of people of color and the difficulties they have in Baptist life. We do not understand how they feel marginalized and excluded in SBC life. We just don’t see the extent and seriousness of the problem. Jason agrees that the pace of racial progress in the SBC has been too slow.
This is not an us vs them, good guys vs bad guys thing.
Jason does not agree with the means to the end.
The EC has decided not to recommend that Dwight McKissic’s motion be adopted by the convention. I called that a mistake. This author believes that the motion is unnecessary to accomplish the desired effect.
He gave the following rationale.
1) He thinks that adding racism to Article 3 is unnecessary. Our governing documents allow for any church’s messengers to be challenged and refused on the basis of lack of compliance to the BF&M or other Baptist policy. Article XV of the BF&M targets racism. So, if a church is practicing discrimination, its messengers could be refused and it could be declared not in cooperation with the SBC on the basis of our current governing documents. Essentially, he is arguing that the bylaws change would be unnecessary and redundant.
Of course, that same argument could be made about the homosexuality aspect of Article 3. Our BF&M also would make clear that homosexuality is unacceptable behavior. But if the Article 3 mention of homosexuality is probably largely redundant as well.
Anyway, I see his point. I guess the biggest reason to adopt the motion would be symbolic – for the statement that we would be making. But maybe there is another way to get the job done.
2) He points out the likelihood that if we add racism to the homosexuality article, there will likely be a parade of such motions in the years to come, as people want to spell out sin after sin in Article 3.
Jason’s suggestions for a solution.
1) He agrees with my feelings about some kind of racial quota system. I’ve not heard anyone advocate that. Jason suggests that our various nominating committees be intentional about nominating people of color to serve as trustees and officers. He referenced the Early church’s solution to the problem of unhappy Greek widows.
This is exactly what the Jerusalem church did in Acts 6 when Greek-speaking Jews felt slighted in the daily distribution of food for the widows. The apostles appointed all Greek-speaking Jews as the seven deacons—early church affirmative action “to the extreme.”
The church responded to the dissatisfaction of the Hellenized Jews by appointing Hellenized servants to oversee the ministry to them. That is the kind of intentional solution we need here.
2) I am making a deduction from his statements, but if specific acts of racial discrimination or bigotry come to light, we have a process in place to prosecute those. All it takes is for someone to move that messengers from a particular church not be seated on the basis of their violation of Article XV of the BF&M.
As this discussion has progressed, I have become convinced of one thing. Racism, discrimination and bigotry are not a black problem. (Of course, there are bigoted blacks, but the SBC problem is not with them). The problem is a white problem.
Since the problem is a white problem, so should be the solution. It is not Dwight McKissic’s job to force us to make progress on racial issues. It is our job to end racism and bigotry in our midst.
- It is our job to tell people who discriminate that we consider their actions heinous and a sin against Almighty God.
- It is our job not to laugh at racially insensitive jokes – or to excuse those who tell them.
- It is our job to see that blacks and other people of color are included not only in SBC life but SBC leadership.
While “Jason Bourne” does not agree with what I said about the motion that was referred to the EC, he agrees with almost everything I said.
- He agrees that racism is a heinous sin and real problem in SBC life.
- He agrees that progress must be made and that it has not been adequate to this point.
- He agrees that we need to be intentional about our efforts to deal with racism.
So, here is my question:
What can we do that will turn the tide? What can we do to effectively deal with the problem of racial injustice in the SBC?