The Hollowness of the Southern Baptists’ New Racism and Sexual Abuse Amendments

Bless their hearts. Earlier this week, some 8,000 delegates representing the denomination that ordained me some 25 years ago gathered in Birmingham, Alabama, to hold their annual conference. Faced with a history of racism, patriarchy, and sexual abuse, they came together to put into words what they continuously fail to enact in deeds. The Southern Baptist Convention amended their governing documents on June 11 to explicitly state that churches mishandling cases of sexual abuse or racial discrimination will no longer be permitted to remain in fellowship with the Convention.

Pleased with themselves, SBC Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd told the delegates that their proclamation provided “a clear signal not only about what we believe about sexual abuse, but we also stand against all ethnic discrimination in the United States and around the world.” One would think that such a declaration would taste sweet as honey in the mouths of those who have lived a lifetime of racial or sexual abuse in the hands of multiple Southern Baptist churches. But the taste quickly turned bitter due to the disingenuousness of pronouncements that contradict everything the Convention continues to support. If they were to fully and meaningfully implement this policy, I doubt that the Convention would be left with any churches as members, for they all remain complicit with racist and sexist structures that rob many of us of our very humanity.

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20 Years for Giving Water to Migrants? A Religious Freedom Case of Little Interest to ‘Religious Freedom’ Industry

While the “religious freedom” industry is busy protecting discriminatory bakeries and pharmacists who refuse to do their job, a humanitarian faces a hefty prison sentence for providing food and water to migrants in the desert.

This country has an odd way of defining “religious freedom.” Refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple or refusing to sell contraception at a pharmacy are defined as a religious right by self-professing Christians and safeguarded under the banner of protecting “religious freedom.” And while these are obvious examples of the abuse of the term, our religious freedoms, nonetheless, are indeed under assault by the federal government. Actual violations of religious freedoms are being ignored because they threaten and challenge the power and privilege of cisgender white men who get to define what does (and what does not) qualify as a “religious freedom” issue.

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