Southern Baptists are usually the first to defend religious freedom. But when it comes to Muslims, some want to draw a line.
At their annual meeting in St. Louis, an Arkansas pastor said Baptists shouldn’t support the right of Muslims to build mosques, especially “when these people threaten our very way of existence as Christians and Americans.”
“They are murdering Christians, beheading Christians, imprisoning Christians all over the world,” said John Wofford of Armorel Baptist Church in Blytheville, Ark., on June 15.
On June 14, Wofford offered a motion calling for the removal from office of SBC leaders who supported the right of Muslims to build mosques. He was referring, among others, to Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which joined a legal document supporting a New Jersey group’s fight to build a mosque.
The chairman of the Committee on Order of Business ruled the motion out of order. And Moore defended his agency’s support for the legal brief.
In other business during the meeting on June 15:
- Memphis-area pastor Steve Gaines was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention after North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear withdrew from the close race. In one ballot, Gaines received nearly 50 percent of the vote and Greear received 48. “We must celebrate the work of God in this pastoral moment,” said outgoing SBC President Ronnie Floyd after Gaines was elected by acclamation.
- Baptists adopted a resolution opposing efforts to register women for the draft. The U.S. Senate passed a measure Tuesday that would require women to register for the Selective Service. “While women have served faithfully and effectively in combat settings as volunteers, the dominant pattern, both historically and biblically, is that men bear responsibility to serve when war is necessary,” the resolution reads.
- Messengers, or delegates, also expressed support for Christian compassion and “strictest security measures” for refugees who enter the U.S. “We affirm that refugees are people loved by God, made in His image, and that Christian love should be extended to them as special objects of God’s mercy in a world that has displaced them from their homelands,” they said.
On June 14, Baptists adopted a historic resolution urging Christians to repudiate the Confederate flag and welcoming the president of the historically black National Baptist Convention, USA, to address the annual meeting.