The most powerful evangelical church in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), chose appeasement during its annual gathering which concluded in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, June 18. By bringing Ed Litton, a pastor from Alabama renowned for his taste for consensus, to the presidency of the body which unites more than 45,000 churches and claims more than 14 million faithful, his co-religionists wished to put an end to months controversies fueled by internal scandals and the often blind support given to former President Donald Trump during his tenure.
On several occasions, the doors have slammed within this church. Known for her Bible readings, Beth Moore left the Southern Baptist Convention on March 9 speaking out against blindness “Amazing” leaders of the congregation vis-à-vis the former businessman, as well as their racism and misogyny. In 2019, she had already caused an uproar by suggesting, without using the word, that she would preach in the pulpit on Mother’s Day, a privilege reserved for men. This daring had prompted some of the most conservative pastors to advise him to “Go home”.
Sexual abuse and “blatant racism”
Another prominent Southern Baptist figure, Russell Moore, quit two months later an influential body of the SBC, the Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission. This intellectual had distinguished himself very early on by his mistrust of the former president, judging his personal behavior incompatible with the religious values defended by the Baptists. His resignation was initially interpreted as a victory for the right wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, but the Nashville rally demonstrated the reverse.
Timely published a few days earlier, his resignation letter certainly created an electric shock. In this missive, Russell Moore attacked the “Indisputable debacle” of the SBC leadership, passive in the face of proven accusations of sexual abuse involving ministers of religion. He had also denounced “Blatant racism” expressed in camera and “Reprehensible treatment” African-American members of this evangelical current by some of its white leaders.
This charge weakened the candidacies of two favorites clearly ranked right whose victory would undoubtedly have resulted in the departure of the small African-American minority. Both attacked the Critical Race Theory (CRT), an academic field of study that examines institutionalized forms of racism relegating people of color to the lower echelons of society. It remained very confidential until Donald Trump tackled it in the final months of the presidential campaign.
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