The 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was always going to be historic. It promised to reveal the pulse of America’s largest Protestant denomination, as well as offer a preview of post-Trump American evangelicalism. The convention indeed delivered a historic moment. But its future remains uncertain—because the tradition of white American evangelicalism itself remains deeply flawed. Can white evangelicalism as a movement sustain the decisions of this moment?
Southern Baptists charted a course toward addressing sexual abuse and racial tensions by electing President Ed Litton. This is historic. But just 556 votes from a total of 13,131 ballots pushed Litton into office over the far-right candidate, Mike Stone. The thin margin shows a fragile, divided house. Either candidate’s victory was expected to trigger an exodus. Now the far-right grapples with that path, while the borders of evangelicalism continue to be redrawn.
Messengers (the voting representatives of Southern Baptist congregations) strengthened the SBC constitution, allowing for removal of churches who harbor abusers or racism. Most notably, the messengers created a task force to investigate convention-wide mishandling of abuse. These are good intentions. But can they be implemented? That depends less on the good will of the moment than on white American evangelicalism as a movement… (finish reading at Current)