Messengers adopt racial reconciliation, pro-life resolutions

By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist

Alabama Baptists joined the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and five other state conventions in adopting a resolution condemning racism and white nationalism and promoting racial unity.

Messengers to the Alabama Baptist State Convention (ABSC) passed Resolution No. 7, “On Condemning Racism and Promoting Gospel Unity for All Races and Ethnicities in Alabama,” on Nov. 14. The resolution was modeled on a similar one passed by SBC messengers in June. Alabama joined state Baptist conventions in Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Louisiana, all of whom have passed similar statements condemning groups commonly referred to as the Alt-Right.

Resolution No. 7 states that such groups “are awakening racial and ethnic divisions that seek to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide our people and stir up anger and further separation of races” and have “expressed hatred toward our immigrant and refugee neighbors.”

The statement calls on Alabama Baptists to “denounce and repudiate” racial and ethnic animosity of any kind; to stand up for immigrants, refugees and any who are persecuted and harassed by such groups; and to “prayerfully and urgently seek racial reconciliation in our respective communities across Alabama to show the power of the gospel and to give respect, honor and love to one another … as an expression of the love of Jesus Christ.”

Alan Cross, missional strategist for Montgomery Baptist Association, and author of “When Heaven and Earth Collide: Racism, Southern Evangelicals and the Better Way of Jesus,” was one of several pastors who submitted the ABSC resolution. Cross said they were motivated to take action in response to white nationalist marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Shelbyville, Tennessee, and the growing influence of groups like League of the South, an Alabama-based “Southern nationalist organization for white Gentiles,” according to the group’s president.

A growing effort

Cross and fellow Montgomery pastors, including Terrence Jones, pastor of Strong Tower at Washington Park, and Eric Smith, pastor of Vaughn Forest, held a forum on race and the gospel in September after the Charlottesville march. In August the pastors led a prayer march near the Alabama Capitol to pray for the Church to be a witness to racial unity. The event attracted around 75 participants in Montgomery and more than 45,000 people joined in via Facebook as the event was livestreamed by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).

Cross said the ABSC resolution came out of that work.

“We want to speak into these issues and make sure the gospel is a witness into these divisions emerging in our society,” Cross said. “Now is an important time for Alabama Baptists to repudiate these movements. This is not what we’re for. Jesus brings us all together.”

Resolution No. 4 “On Support of the Biblical and Constitutional Right of the Sanctity of Human Life” also adopted Nov. 14. The statement comes ahead of a statewide constitutional amendment referendum on the November 2018 ballot, according to John Killian, director of missions for Fayette Baptist Association, who submitted the resolution.

The proposed amendment, also known as House Bill 98, seeks to declare that Alabama’s public policy is to “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life.”

Killian said ABSC Resolution No. 4 is not “a generic pro-life statement” but is intended to encourage voters to support the amendment vote next year.

Seven approved in all

Other resolutions passed during ABSC:

Resolution No. 1: On appreciation of Buster Taylor, executive director of Shocco Springs, who will retire Dec. 31.

Resolution No. 2: On appreciation of Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers.

Resolution No. 3: On appreciation to Whitesburg Baptist Church, Madison Baptist Association, other local churches and volunteers who helped with all aspects of the ABSC.

Resolution No. 5: A statement in opposition to a City of Birmingham nondiscrimination ordinance that “infringes on religious liberty by creating an unconstitutional burden on religious freedom for churches, ministries and religious entities … individuals and businesses.”

Resolution No. 6: On affirmation of parents as their children’s primary educators and disciple makers.

Resolution No. 8: On appreciation to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee for preserving the adoption tax credit in current national efforts to overhaul the U.S. tax code and urging national legislators to preserve the credit in the final bill.