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Southern Baptists Narrowly Head Off Conservative Takeover

The most anticipated moment of the day was the election of a new president.

But messengers also looked at a number of resolutions on racial issues, abortion, and the Equality Act, a sweeping law in Congress that would expand protection of civil rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity while undermining some protections of religious freedom. A resolution on “Christian citizenship” contained an indictment against “the Capitol Uprising of January 6, 2021”.

The most controversial topic of the meeting was critical racial theory, an academic lens for analyzing racism in society and institutions that has captured the imagination of American Conservatives. Republican-controlled state lawmakers have passed measures against the perceived influence of CRT in public schools.

On Tuesday afternoon, messengers passed a resolution that the denomination, formed in defense of slavery prior to the Civil War, reiterated its 1995 apology for systemic racism, but also rejects “any theory or belief” that denies that racial discrimination is rooted in sin is. At their 2019 annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, messengers confirmed that critical racial theory could be harnessed by loyal Baptists, a moment many Nashville Conservatives have described as invigorating.

In the months leading up to Congress, there were a number of high profile departures and unusually venomous clashes by an organization that prides itself on the unity of essentially faith.

Russell Moore, the denomination leader in ethics and public order, left the denomination on June 1. In two letters leaked after his departure, he accused the denominational executive committee of having a pattern of intimidation against survivors of sexual abuse and “spiritual and psychological abuse”. Meanwhile, the conservative wing of the denomination has angrily accused some leaders of drifting to the left.

Many Baptists hoped that after months of savage sniping on the Internet, the gathering in the same room would have a calming effect. But the Nashville meeting included several moments of unusually direct confrontation.

On Monday afternoon, Mr. Mohler was approached in the congress center by a young messenger who loudly accused him of admitting critical racial theories into the seminar he was leading. Mr. Mohler, probably the most famous face within the denomination, was holding his little grandchild in his arms when the angry man approached him. He left the scene “more than a little shaken,” he said later.

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