In 1995, Sam Francis excoriated the Southern Baptist Convention for apologizing for slavery, and in the process quoted Oswald Spengler’s famous dictum: “Christian theology is the grandmother of Bolshevism.” In a column surprisingly published by the Washington Times, Francis declared:
The contrition of the Southern Baptists for slavery and racism is a bit more than a politically fashionable gesture intended to massage race relations. It’s a radical split from their own church traditions as well as from their determination to let the modern world go to hell by itself. Now that they’ve decided to join the parade toward that destination, we can expect them to adopt some even more modern resolutions that will pave the road for them.
Twenty years later, the Southern Baptist Convention has only confirmed Francis’s prediction. The “conservative” congregation is now calling upon its churches to further integrate so they can help make America more amenable to multiracialism.
The Rev. Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is one of several white leaders calling for multiethnic congregations in the wake of the unrest spurred by the killings of black men by white police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.
“In the church, a black Christian and a white Christian are brothers and sisters,” Moore wrote recently. “We care what happens to the other, because when one part of the Body hurts, the whole Body hurts. … When we know one another as brothers and sisters, we will start to stand up and speak up for one another.”
The effort has taken on particular urgency for Moore and other Southern Baptist leaders who have been working to overcome the denomination’s history. The convention was formed in 1845 in a split with other Baptists when Southern Baptists resolved to continue allowing slave owners to become missionaries.
During the civil rights movement, Southern Baptists were largely silent or actively opposed ending segregation. The denomination eventually declared racism a sin, and in 2011 renewed efforts to reach out to Latinos, African-Americans and others. The next year, the denomination elected its first African-American president, the Rev. Fred Luter, Jr.
Moore’s commission has also organized a leadership summit called “The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation” to be held this spring.
Moore said he has two goals for the summit. He wants to spur churches to work for racial reconciliation by articulating it as a Gospel demand. And he wants to facilitate personal relationships between Southern Baptists of different races.
In case you’re hoping the older Church is any better, a Catholic diocese proscribed a priest last week for speaking at a PEGIDA rally. According to the offended bishop, the Church “cannot and will not tolerate” such behavior, and “right-wing ideologies, xenophobia and a conflict of religions have no place in the Catholic Church.”
And these two actions come from the most “conservative” branches of Christianity. It looks like the grandmother is now trying to catch up with its progeny.