Southern Baptist Convention Elects Ed Litton as New President

Southern Baptist Convention Elects Ed Litton as New President

The day’s most anticipated moment was the election of a new president.

But messengers also tackled a slate of resolutions on racial issues, abortion and the Equality Act, a sweeping piece of legislation in Congress that would extend civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity while eroding some religious liberty protections. A resolution on “Christian citizenship” included a denunciation of “the Capitol insurrection of January 6, 2021.”

The most contentious topic heading into the meeting was critical race theory, an academic lens for analyzing racism in society and institutions that has swept the imagination of American conservatives. Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed measures against the perceived influence of C.R.T. in public schools.

On Tuesday afternoon, messengers passed a resolution that the denomination, which was founded before the Civil War in defense of slavery, reaffirm its 1995 apology for systemic racism but also reject “any theory or worldview” that denies that racial discrimination is rooted in sin. At its 2019 annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala., messengers affirmed that critical race theory could be used by faithful Baptists, a moment that many conservatives in Nashville characterized as galvanizing.

The months leading up to the convention have seen a series of high-profile departures and unusually poisonous clashes by an organization that prides itself on unity in the essentials of the faith.

Russell Moore, the denomination’s head of ethics and public policy, left on June 1. In two letters that leaked after his departure, he accused the denomination’s executive committee of a pattern of intimidation against sexual abuse survivors and “spiritual and psychological abuse.” The denomination’s conservative wing, meanwhile, has angrily accused some leaders of drifting leftward.

Many Baptists hoped that after months of savage sniping online, the act of gathering in the same room would have a soothing effect. But the meeting in Nashville has included several moments of unusually direct confrontations.

On Monday afternoon, Mr. Mohler was accosted inside the convention center by a young messenger who loudly accused him of allowing critical race theory into the seminary he leads. Mr. Mohler, arguably the most well-known face within the denomination, was holding his young grandchild in his arms when the angry man approached him. He left the scene “more than a little shaken,” he said later.

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