Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dwight McKissick's motion on racism and bigotry

Sorry for the length of this...

Dwight McKissick (blog article on the motion here), the most prominent black pastor in the SBC, brought a motion at the SBC annual meeting on racial discrimination. The motion would amend the SBC constitution as follows:

I hereby move to amend Article III, Section 1 of the SBC Constitution to read: “1. One (1) messenger from each church which: (1) Is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work. Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior or racial discrimination and bigotry in any form.

As is the usual practice, the motion was among a number referred to the Executive Committee who will look at it and recommend what to do with it.

So…where’s this going?

It is difficult for me to imagine that the EC would recommend against incorporation of that wording, although pinning down “racial discrimination and bigotry in any form” might be difficult.

What constitutes such? We know it when we see it?

Who identifies such?

A few questions:

Presumably, action against churches would start with complaints to the EC after which someone there would make a preliminary determination if there is possible cause for actions, after which an investigation would be conducted followed by a motion at the next annual meeting to withdraw fellowship.

This is about what happened with Broadway Baptist over the homosexual issue.

If the same is applied to McKissick’s motion, any SBC churches who have members who affirm, approve, or endorse racial discrimination or bigotry in any form should be kicked out.

An EC member quoted over Broadway/homosexual: “
In Broadway’s case … the church was in effect saying that it was OK to have members who are open homosexuals,” Wilson told Baptist Press.

To be clear about this case, the EC spokesperson indicated that action was taken because the church condoned members who were open homosexuals. Should a church that condones members who are open racists or bigots likewise be kicked out? It's hard to see how consistency would not demand the same treatment.

So, do SBC churches harbor racists and bigots. Most certainly. Well, let’s be pragmatic and examine a few questions. Should these churches be kicked out?

1. I once supplied at a church who had in their statement of beliefs an article that they believed “God has ordained the segregation of the races…” (I’m going from memory but the church had it printed on the back of their weekly bulletin, right along with the deity of Christ.)

2. How about a church whose pastor preaches that interracial marriage is unbiblical?

3. A church whose student minister teaches young people that interracial marriage, while not unbiblical, should be avoided because of the difficulties such a marriage would face?

4. How about a church that has a member who uses the “N” word, unrepentantly?

5. How about a church that has never had a minority deacon, staff member, or any person in leadership position. Is this de facto racism?

I'm certain that one can move from hypotheticals to real examples quite easily. It should be noted that McKissick, when commenting on his motion, assailed even “latent” racism in SBC churches.

I don’t know what the EC will do and while I’ve never met an SBC pastor or denominational employee that wouldn’t wholeheartedly condemn racism and bigotry, these are present in the SBC. Honesty would force most pastors to admit that they now have members in their churches who were to some degree racist.

So what will we end up with if the motion is successful? I offer three possibilities. There are others.

1. Some feel-good wording in our constitution but nothing that will actively be ‘enforced’?

2. A crusade to root out racist members from our churches,

3. Some sort of SBC investigatory movement to handle complaints and take action.

If we have the wording, someone, McKissick or others, will be a conduit for accusations. These will have to be addressed and the results will be public.

Speculation at this stage but I would like to hear the discussion of this motion when the EC takes it up.

By earlier adding the clause that singled out homosexuals, the SBC opened up somewhat of a can of worms.


Bob Allen said...


The last time a motion asked the Executive Committee to consider amending the constitution was in 2008, when a motion was referred to add churches with female senior pastors to those not in "friendly cooperation." The way they handled it then was to affirm the constitutional ban on churches that promote homosexuality but adding that it would set a bad precedent to start adding a laundry list of moral principles to the constitution that are already addressed elsewhere, such as the Baptist Faith and Message.

William Thornton said...

I had forgotted about that one. Maybe they will decline to recommend this one to the convention. I would like to hear the EC meeting to discuss this.

foxofbama said...

As for race, maybe the David Mamet discussion with Charlie Rose last night on PBS may help not only Dwight McKissic, but the the NC CBF focus this fall in Charlotte and Wilmington.
I think it is
2nd half with Joan Rivers is worthwhile too.