Southern Baptist Convention

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President Donald Trump had promised last week evangelical Christians would “love” his nominee for the Supreme Court.

And in fact, said evangelical author and president of The KAIROS Company Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, “Evangelicals are ecstatic.”

On Jan. 31, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court left by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago.

John Gehring 01-09-2017

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Sessions has long been, in the words of one prominent immigration advocate, the “most anti-immigrant senator in the chamber.” When George W. Bush, a self-styled “compassionate conservative” and born-again Christian, pushed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007 that was supported by many business and law-enforcement officials, Sessions railed against what he called the “no illegal alien left behind bill” and led the charge against the failed effort. “Good fences make good neighbors,” he said at a press conference the year before.

Image via StreetsofWashington/flickr.com

Calvary Baptist Church, a progressive Baptist landmark in the heart of downtown Washington, has named a gay couple as co-pastors.

Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen were presented to the congregation during worship services on Jan. 8 and will begin their new jobs on Feb. 26.

Richard Mouw 12-14-2016

Some of my friends have been talking about giving up the “evangelical” label, because of what it has come to be associated with, in this year’s political campaign. I’m not ready to make that move. I spent a good part of the 1960s trying hard not to be an evangelical, but without success.

When I marched for civil rights during my graduate school years, I helped to organize “ban the bomb” marches and protested the Vietnam War. I was clearly out of step with much of the evangelicalism of the day.

Image via RNS/Jennifer Zdon/The Times-Picayune in New Orleans

Canadian researchers are revisiting a hotly debated sociological question: Why do some churches decline while others succeed?

Since the 1960s, overall membership in mainline Protestant Christian churches has been dropping in both the U.S. and Canada.

But some congregations have continued to grow, and a team of researchers believes it now knows why. It’s the conservative theological beliefs of their members and clergy, according to researchers from Wilfrid Laurier University and Redeemer University College in Ontario.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Segar

As it is, white evangelicals made up a little more than a quarter of those who turned out to cast their ballots. And by winning 81 percent of their vote, Trump was assured the presidency.

Now, evangelicals are expecting much in return from a president-elect who did not mention God in his victory speech, who was “strongly” in favor of abortion rights until he was against them, who has said he does not believe in repentance, who has made lewd comments admitting to sexual assault.

Image via Matt Miller / Baptist Press / RNS

In recent years, Southern Baptists have made racial reconciliation a top priority.

This week, delegates (called “messengers”) to the SBC’s annual meeting in St. Louis overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging Christians to “discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag.”

Image via Adam Covington / Baptist Press / RNS

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.”

Ronnie Floyd (left) with Jerry Young (right). Image via Cross Church / Baptist Press / RNS

Southern Baptists turned a sharp focus on racism during their annual meeting, welcoming the president of a historically black denomination in a rare address to their national gathering.

“Those who would like to suggest that racism is not indeed a problem for the church but rather it is a sociological problem, I would argue it is without question a sin problem,” the Rev. Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, told the predominantly white Southern Baptist Convention on June 14.

REUTERS/Brian Snyder 

The Southern Baptist Convention, born in 1845 in a split over its support for slavery, passed a resolution calling for Christians to quit using the Confederate flag.

“We call our brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters,” reads the resolution adopted Tuesday at the convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis.

Gerald Harris. Image via RNS

Religious freedom is a foundational tenet for Southern Baptists, but apparently one church official in Georgia didn’t get the memo, at least as it applies to Islam.

Now Gerald Harris is facing sharp criticism, but also the prospect of a Ramadan meal with local Muslims who have invited him so he can get to know them better.

The Rev. Frank Page performs a baptism. Image via the Rev. Frank Page / RNS

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the country, but it continues to lose members and baptize fewer people each year.

The latest statistics, compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources from church reports, show membership has dropped by more than 204,000, down 1.3 percent to 15.3 million members in 2015. It’s the ninth year in a row there has been a membership decline.

Image via CatMax Photography / RNS

Pastors Frederick Haynes and George Mason both lead Baptist churches in Dallas, but they had never met until the not-guilty verdict in the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin brought them together in 2013.

Now the two men — one the leader of a predominantly black megachurch, the other of a mostly white congregation — have signed a “covenant of action” spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter.

Russell Moore. Image via Theology147/Wikimedia Commons

Russell Moore may be president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. But don’t call him an evangelical — at least not until the current election cycle ends.

Moore started introducing himself as a “gospel Christian” a few weeks ago. That’s because, he said, “The word ‘evangelical’ has become almost meaningless this year, and in many ways the word itself is at the moment subverting the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

International Mission Board / RNS

International Mission Board President David Platt. Photo via International Mission Board / RNS

The Southern Baptist Convention will cut as many as 800 employees from its overseas missions agency to make up for significant shortfalls in revenue, officials announced Aug. 27.

The International Mission Board anticipates an annual budget shortfall of $21 million this year, following several consecutive years of shortfalls.

The developments are particularly painful for a denomination that was founded as a missionary-sending organization and that prides itself on making Christian converts across the globe.

Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Russell Moore, right, leads a June 9, 2014, panel discussion as David Platt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, listens. Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, is in the spotlight after interviewing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at an evangelical conference in Nashville on Aug. 4. Moore spoke with Religion News Service’s Jonathan Merritt about a range of pressing issues and the message of Moore’s new book, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.

08-05-2015
Rich Koele / Shutterstock.com

Jeb Bush speaks at a public gathering in Sioux City, Iowa on July 13, 2015.

Fighting to allow people to live by their religious convictions, even if those convictions are unpopular or criticized, is a battle Jeb Bush believes the next president must lead.

The former Florida governor and GOP presidential candidate pledged to defend religious liberty in front of an estimated 13,000 evangelical pastors attending a massive Southern Baptist Convention event Aug. 4 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

REUTERS / Hans Deryk / RNS

Photo via REUTERS / Hans Deryk / RNS

When it comes to political partisanship in the 2016 presidential race, it might be said that Southern Baptists have taken one step forward and two steps back.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, announced in a press release that its president Russell Moore would be interviewing Republican candidates Jeb Bush (live) and Marco Rubio (via video) before 13,000 attendees at the denomination’s missions conference on August 4. Leading candidates from each major party were invited, the release states, but only Rubio and Bush accepted.

06-15-2015
As the Supreme Court is poised to rule on same-sex marriage, evangelical Christian leaders are expressing opposing viewpoints, even though polls show a majority of the movement's rank-and-file oppose it.
Heidi Hall 05-19-2015
Photo via Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

Baptism of infant in Orthodox Church. Photo via Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

In April, an influential American Baptist Churches USA pastor performed the rite, which most Baptists believe is reserved for Christians who are able to make a mature confession of faith. Although there are dozens of Baptist denominations in the U.S., the news made instant waves among those who know and understand Baptist teachings.

Before long, a Southern Baptist seminary president compared the notion of Baptists baptizing infants to vegetarians eating steak.

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