The Southern Baptist Convention is one of the largest and most conservative evangelical denominations in the United States. They recently came out with a formal statement on Critical Race Theory (CRT). Their stance? That it’s bad and non-biblical and it’s the official position of the denomination that CRT doesn’t adhere to biblical principles. As such, no aspects of CRT should be taught in SBC seminaries or churches.
What is CRT?
In short, CRT is a set of beliefs and teachings that address the role that institutionalized racism has played and continues to play in America. It’s a way of being able to look at institutionalized structures — like policing, voting, the prison system, schools, finances, etc. — to see how they still operate today with vestiges of racism still in effect.
Recently, our current lame (duck) president formally declared CRT as an anti-American agenda of those very bad radical left-wing radicals. He even issued an executive order banning federal contractors from teaching any kind of racial sensitivity training. (This from the guy who claims to be the least racist person you know.)
CRT vs Evangelicalism
Ever since Trump’s announcement, we’ve seen an increase in members of the conservative evangelical movement publicly come out against CRT. Just this past October, the popular Christian podcast Unbelievable (a favorite of mine as it pits advocates of two diametrically opposed points of view against one another) had a debate on this very topic.
So, why do many conservative Christians (who just coincidentally happen to be predominantly, um, white) have an issue with CRT. According to the official statement put out by the all white council of SBC presidents, while they condemn “racism in any form,” these white males all agree that:
affirmation of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message.
That’s kind of like saying, “While we agree that a constant diet of hydrogenated oils, processed sugars, and fat is bad for you, any kind of teaching or theory about proper dieting and exercise is not compatible with our lifestyle. So screw that!”
It’s no secret that the white church in America does not have the best record for its treatment of Black Americans in the 400+ year history since Africans were brought here as slaves. Their record with the treatment of Native peoples, LGBTQ+ people, Muslims, Jews, and even women, ain’t that great either. So it seems just a tad bit problematic to have a council made up entirely of white, cisgender, straight, Christian men formally denounce CRT. How convenient it must be to have the one demographic that has caused a substantial amount of pain and anguish for a significant percentage of this country’s history, formally denigrate and denounce something designed to address the very oppression caused by that aforementioned demographic.
R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary writes:
The issues of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality have arisen within the last two years as issues of controversy in the larger world, and this controversy has reached into the Southern Baptist Convention. We stand together in stating that we believe that advocating Critical Race Theory or Intersectionality is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message, and that such advocacy has no rightful place within an SBC seminary…We are not to be guided by secular ideologies, but by the Word of God alone and in the love of Christ (emphasis mine). I believe that Southern Baptists are up to this task.
The Christmas Conundrum for Christians
It is December 23 as I write this. Just two days short of Christmas. It is second only to Easter as the most important holiday in the Christian church. I guarantee you that every single one of the SBC members has a Christmas tree (probably even a wreath and garland) will buy presents, and on December 25 will open those presidents in celebration of Jesus’s birthday. Even though each and every one of those time-honored traditions is steeped in and born from a PAGAN holiday and pagan rituals. Heck, I recently learned from “Adam Ruins Christmas” that for about a thousand years, Christmas as a holiday itself was banned by the church because it was associated with debauchery, drunkenness, and violence.
I will also bet you a million dollars most (if not all) of the members of the SBC paint Easter eggs and buy tons of chocolate candy for their little ones. We’ve seen SBC members embrace a president who is categorically and empirically the antithesis of everything Jesus stood for. In fact, Mohler himself, who once criticized Trump in 2016 as “the Great Evangelical Embarrassment,” admitted in a video earlier this year that he would vote for Trump and implored other conservative Christians to do the same. (I cannot stress the diabolical irony of a Southern Baptist Seminary president supposedly denouncing racism, yet standing in support of one of the most racist presidents in recent history. And please, don’t bother debating me in the replies or comments about Trump’s racism. I have neither the time nor desire for any such debates. I’m all debated out on that topic, thank you very much.)
I could go on, but you get the idea.
When it suits members of the SBC (e.g. festive holidays and political expediency) being guided by or adhering to secular ideologies is totally fine.
Over the past few years, there’s been a growing trend of conflating the word “exit” with a group of people leaving some significant group. Brexit refers to Great Britain’s exit from the European Union. Most recently, right-wing Black conservative Candace Owens coined the term #Blexit, which is her campaign for Black people to exit the Democratic party.
Allow me to make my own contribution to the trend with the term #Blaxodus — the exodus of Black people from the SBC (and other largely white denominations). We’re already starting to see it happen as prominent Black pastors publicly denounce the SBC statement and formally pull their churches out of the denomination. Make no mistake that this is a big deal for these men and churches. Many of them get financial aid and networking support from the SBC. They will be cut off financially from now on. So it is not without consequence they do this.
But can you blame them? With a history of racism and political expediency in the evangelical church, for the SBC to make this statement now, in THIS year of all years, makes it painfully clear to so many of us Black Americans where they stand. You can’t openly support an empirically evil man like Donald Trump, then turn around and tell me that for the sake of the gospel you have to turn your back on education that aims to take down the racist structures that to this day literally cost people their lives.
Don’t tell me you justify your support of him because of the judges he appoints that will help you (supposedly) overturn Roe v Wade. You say you care about life, but in so many other ways right-wing political activism literally hurts lives and leads to deaths — not the least of which the over quarter of a million Americans who have died from COVID-19, the lives and families at the borders, the millions who will lose health care should Republican laws repeal the Affordable Care Act, etc. There’s a reason there’s a joke going around that conservative Christians believe life begins at conception and ends at birth. Your actions show that once a baby is born, if that baby doesn’t look and live a certain way, you couldn’t care less what happens to it.
Those of us who have tried to live by the teachings of Jesus for most of our lives are feeling betrayed and let down. The very people who taught us to love our neighbor and show the love of Jesus, support men and policies that look nothing like Jesus. The hypocrisy is painful and has thrust so many of us into existential crises of faith. So much so that #Blaxodus is not just an exit of Black people from the SBC, but you will see a blaxodus from the church itself.
Previously published on medium
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