Southern Baptists Vote to Discontinue Display of Confederate Flag

By Tom Gilson Published on June 14, 2016

The Southern Baptist Convention in a national meeting today in St. Louis approved a resolution calling upon “brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flat as a sign of solidarityy of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters.”

The resolution, whose full text may be found here, was approved following a “trailblazing” inter-racial panel discussion on the opening morning of this year’s annual Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) meeting. The nine-member panel included African-American, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian pastors, according to a Southern Baptist web source. SBC president Ronnie Floyd and panel member Jerry Young, USA president of the historically black National Baptist Convention, “have collaborated for months to put talk into action and actually achieve racial reconciliation in a racially troubled America,” according to the same source.

According to the AP, the resolution originally presented to the convention floor was less strongly worded, but “delegates voted by a wide margin to strengthen the language,” removing “conciliatory” references to the flag’s being viewed by some as a memorial to lives lost in the Civil War. and deleting the moderating words “to consider prayerfully whether to limit, or even more so discontinue” the flag’s display.

Besides making a strong and definite call to discontinue the use of the Confederate flag, the resolution’s final wording recognizes the “desperate hour” during which Southern Baptists are being called to “rise up and cry out against racism that still exists in our nations and churches” and “replace these evils with the beauty of grace and love.”

Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, responded to the vote with an article acknowledging the SBC’s historical roots: the denomination was formed in 1845 when Baptists split over a controversy concerning the appointment of slaveholders as missionaries. “The SBC of 1845, and for many years after, was in open sin against a holy God, and against those who bear his image,” writes Moore, adding that “Today, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention … decided the cross was more important than the flag.”

At the same meeting, reports the AP, delegates adopted a resolution supporting religious freedom for Christians who oppose same-sex marriage or transgender bathroom access.

The Southern Baptist Convention is an association of independent local churches. National-level resolutions are an expression of the delegates opinions and beliefs, but are not binding on individual congregations.

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