On Wednesday, 5,000 members of the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution condemning the alt-right, a measure that wasn’t as easy as it sounds on the surface.
After the convention passed resolutions condemning Planned Parenthood, denouncing gambling, and advocating “consistent moral character” (including “those leaders who choose not to meet privately with members of the opposite sex who are not their spouse”), Dwight McKissic, a black Baptist pastor from Texas, introduced a resolution against the alt-right.
Seems like it would be an easy resolution to adopt, right? Not so fast, as the Washington Post reports:
…when the resolution on the alt-right failed to move forward because of objections to some of the wording, many younger members and evangelicals of color became upset. “I thought it would be a slam dunk, but I misread Southern Baptists apparently,” McKissic said.
Barrett Duke, chairman of the SBC’s resolutions committee, told Religion News Service that the committee’s decision to not bring the resolution forward for a vote on Tuesday was “not an endorsement of the alt-right.” He said the initial resolution did not clearly define who the alt-right is.
And then, on Wednesday:
Just before the proposal was passed, one member asked Southern Baptist leaders whether a study of the “alt right and the alt left” could be done this year. But then several Southern Baptists stood before the convention urging the convention to adopt the resolution before it passed.
In the end, the resolution did pass:
“Racism and white supremacy are, sadly, not extinct but present all over the world in various white supremacist movements, sometimes known as ‘white nationalism’ or ‘alt-right,’ ” the resolution states. Southern Baptists “decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and “we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil.”
But I can’t help but wonder something: if so many prominent Southern Baptists (and other evangelicals, to be perfectly honest) hadn’t gone all in for Donald Trump throughout the election season, would a resolution condemning the alt-right be necessary? Or would it at least have been a no-brainer the first time around?
To be fair, the alt-right was but a tiny fringe of Trump’s supporters, but his candidacy brought them to light. And – fairly or not – the Trump candidacy wound up walking around with the stink of white nationalism stuck to its shoes because of the alt-right’s . Unfortunately, that odor haunts Christians who hopped on the “Trump Train” to some extent.
Let’s face it: would it have been necessary to go on record condemning an execrable philosophy that so few people adhere to had men like Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell, Jr. not supported Trump so vocally? The American church has dealt with the specter of racism for generations – often admirably – but this fight could’ve been unnecessary had Christians approached the 2016 election a little differently.