A black Southern Baptist has said he is leaving the denomination because be believes it is 'complicit' in the rise of the Trump-supporting 'alt-right' movement.
Rev Lawrence Ware, co-director of the Center for Africana Studies at Oklahoma State University and the diversity coordinator for its philosophy department, wrote in the New York Times yesterday that he had 'had enough'. 'Today I am officially renouncing my ordination in the Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest Protestant body, with about 15 million members, and the world's largest Baptist denomination,' he said.
'My reasoning is simple: As a black scholar of race and a minister who is committed to social justice, I can no longer be part of an organization that is complicit in the disturbing rise of the so-called alt-right, whose members support the abhorrent policies of Donald Trump and whose troubling racial history and current actions reveal a deep commitment to white supremacy.'
Ware refers to the incident at last month's SBC annual meeting at which black pastor Dwight McKissick introduced a resolution denouncing white supremacy, which was initially blocked before being passed after an outcry. He also cites the photograph of five white teachers at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in which they imitated 'gangsta rappers', saying: ' To me, their performance constituted more than bad judgment. Mockingly stereotyping African-Americans revealed the moral bankruptcy of their souls. These men are responsible for preparing ministers for the work of the church, after all.'
Ware notes the Pew survey showing 78 per cent of white evangelicals approve of President Trump, though he acknowledges that some prominent SBC figures, including Russell Moore, criticised him. However, he says: ' But not enough has been done to address the institutional nature of white supremacy in the convention. Many churches are still hostile to the Black Lives Matter movement, and even more were silent during the rise of Mr. Trump and the so-called alt-right. For all of its talk about the love of Jesus Christ, the Southern Baptist Convention's inaction on the issues of racism and homophobia has drowned out its words.'
Ware concludes: 'I love the church, but I love black people more. Black lives matter to me. I am not confident that they matter to the Southern Baptist Convention.'
His article drew criticism from conservative writer Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option, who said a conservative denomination could not endorse the Black Lives Matter movement because of its support for homosexuality and transgender and opposition to the nuclear family. He accused him of 'identity politics', saying: 'Had Ware written, "I love the church, but I love the truth more," that would have been understandable. It sounds like he has apostatized to the Church of Identity Politics. It's a false religion, but an increasingly popular one, alas.'