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Southern Baptists vote to decry 'alt-right white supremacy' after heated dispute

On Tuesday, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting approved statements condemning gambling and Planned Parenthood, and approving public officials who demonstrate "consistent moral character" and "choose not to meet privately with members of the opposite sex who are not their spouse," but they did not get a chance to vote on a resolution rejecting "the retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries of the so-called 'Alt-Right.'" That resolution, introduced by black Texas pastor Rev. Dwight McKissic, was "too open-ended," explained Barrett Duke, chairman of the resolutions committee, which declined to put forward McKissic's resolution.

That changed on Wednesday, after a strident backlash on social media and from some SBC delegates, when Southern Baptist leaders introduced a new resolution that stripped out some of McKissic's language but affirms that Southern Baptists "decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ" and "denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil." The delegates, or messengers, overwhelmingly approved that resolution then gave a rousing ovation after its passage.

Duke apologized to the delegates for "the pain and the confusion that we created for you and the watching world when we decided not to report out a resolution on alt-right racism," saying he shares his coreligionists' abhorrence of the "particularly vicious form of racism that has manifested itself in the alt-right movement." Duke's 10-member resolutions committee has one black member; the SBC is 85 percent white and only 6 percent black, according to Pew.

"I saw people identifying themselves as Southern Baptist and members of the alt-right, so this is horrifying to me," McKissic explained. "I wanted the Southern Baptist Convention to make it very clear we have no relationship to them." When the convention did not move forward on the resolution, that upset a lot of younger and minority SBC delegates, and McKissic said he was disappointed, too. "I thought it would be a slam dunk, but I misread Southern Baptists apparently," he said. But it turns out lots of white Southern Baptists were riled up, too. "I don't think they anticipated how white people would get upset about this and demand something be done," McKissic said. "I'm encouraged and heartened by this. It was the white people who said, no we will not take this sitting down. We don't want this association with the convention."