“Why I support the #SBC19 Resolution 9”
In these series of threads, I offer ten reasons why I support the #SBC19
Resolution 9 on “Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.” As a matter of preface, allow me to make some preliminary remarks before I articulate my ten propositions in favor of Resolution 9. Resolution 9 does not exhibit a worldview and ideology, as many have wrongly interpreted it, but should be construed as a theoretical tool of analysis not a system of thought; as such, it provides a starting point to think conceptually and categorically about the interplay between Christianity and race, the message of the Gospel and the message of the American culture, and the liberating teachings of Christ for the disinherited, the poor, and the vulnerable in our society. Resolution 9 is a much needed instrumental framework to help foster within the SBC community more constructive Gospel-centered conversations on racial (in-) justice concerns and socioeconomic (in-) justice issues that have plagued this nation and the SBC (and to a larger degree American Christianity) for too long—since its birth in May 1845 in Augusta, GA and its eventual split from the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society over the issue of slavery.
Further, Resolution 9 could help the SBC to be a more constructive denomination as well as more mindful and sensitive as a multi-service Christian institution about the economic and health disparities between racial groups, toxic living conditions of the poor, environmental justice issues, the mass incarceration of Black males, the mass abortion in the Black community, the educational underperformance of Black students in public schools, intentional geographic segregation in residential zones, and designed systemic and social segregation that are terribly affecting the Christian experience in America, the American cultural and political fabric, and the intricate experience of both Black and Brown population, both Christians and non-Christians. Some of these problematic issues have deep roots in racial-based economic wealth and distribution, white privilege, white supremacy, racial prejudice and discrimination, the legacy of the segregation system, and the consequences of the racist narrative of this nation supported both by American Christianity and American Evangelicalism.
These problematic matters have produced disastrous impact on the life of contemporary SBC and Evangelical churches and they continue to change the nature of Christian fellowship and interracial relations in Evangelical circles. Finally, the #SBC19 Resolution 9 could help the SBC community to venture optimistically and Christianly toward the project of Christian reconciliation and the possibility of racial unity and reconciliation in its various circles, institutions, and churches.
At this point in our conversation, let us now explore the additional ten reasons that substantiate my underlying claim in supporting the #SBC19 Resolution 9 (I borrow the language and rhetorical expressions from Robert P. Jones’ influential and well-researched book, “The End of White Christian America” (Simon & Schuster, 2016)):
1. “No segment of White Christian American has been more complicit in the nation’s fraught racial history than white evangelical Protestants.
2. And no one group of white evangelical Protestants bears more responsibility than Southern Baptists, who comprise the overwhelming majority of white evangelicals, particularly in the states of the former Confederacy.
3. As the largest Protestant denomination in the country, and the white Christian denomination most concentrated in the South, the SBC is an important bellwether for White Christian America’s progress on race relations.
4. The SBC was, after all, created in the years before the Civil War as a haven for pro-slavery Southern Christians. Baptist churches in the South seceded and formed the Southern Baptist Convention so that members would not have to choose between their slaves and their calling to be missionaries.
5. Following the Civil War, Southern Baptists stood by southern status quo of segregation…Typical white Baptists in the South viewed civil rights as at best irrelevant to the Christian faith and at worst a threat to their culture.
6. The Southern Baptist Convention—known for passing resolutions on even minor matters of concern—largely ignored the early civil rights movement. Their only official race relations resolution during the entire decade of the 1950s was a resolution issued in 1950 recommending the denomination officially invite “Negro churches” to participate in simultaneous (but separate) revival meetings.
7. [W.A.] Criswell’s speech to the South Carolina General Assembly was a potent example of the overtly segregationist faction within the Southern Baptist Convention during the civil rights era.
8. In his popular Separating people of different races through law was not portrayed as a moral evil—in fact, some argued that it was necessary to maintain peace in the South.
9. The individualist flavor of Baptist theology, with its tendency to reduce racial problems to individual sin rather than systematic social discrimination, remained, ensuring that most responses to the race problem by groups like the Southern Baptist Convention were fairly shallow.
10. Early resolutions [i.e.1995] had gone out of their way to minimize Baptists’ complicity in white racism and often simultaneously denounced civil disobedience or destruction of property as legitimate ways to enact social change… The sins of the fathers continue to haunt the SBC’s attempts to deal with race today as they attempt to move from apology to reconciliation” (pp. 147-195).