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William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

April 23, 2012


There are three questions that have surfaced to the top in response to my Richard Land “Repudiation” Post that I want to address in this article:  (1) Do I believe Richard Land is a racist? (2) Should Richard Land’s entire career be judged by fifteen minutes of commentary? (3) How do we resolve the “Land-mine” and the racial divide surrounding this issue?

How the SBC responds to the Land racial comments–not the election of Dr. Luter—may determine whether or not Blacks are attracted to the SBC, remain coy, or even be repelled by the SBC. Whatever gains that may grow out of the rightful election of Dr. Fred Luter as president—not on the basis of race, but on the basis of qualification—have already been neutralized, if not nullified, by the Land racial comments.

In recent years the SBC has been discussing and sometimes debating a name change; a Great Commission resurgence; and the renewal/revitalization of a declining denomination. The answers or solutions to these discussion/debates may all be wrapped up in the SBC’s response to the Land controversy.

I.  Do I Believe Richard Land Is a Racist?

No! I have absolutely no reason to believe that. Do I believe Richard Land is racial in his outlook and interpretation of matters? Yes! And so am I. If Richard Land is a racist, so am I and the vast majority of America, Black, Hispanic, Asian and White.

I make a distinction between being racist and racial. A racist is intentional, unashamedly and foundationally, comfortable viewing persons of other races as being fundamentally and inherently flawed or less than.  A racist prejudge or relate to other persons based on their foundational outlook. A person who is racial in their outlook—and most of us are—are simply products of the fact that we were born into a racial construct and society, and we observed or were taught certain things about race that shapes or form our world view. We sometimes think, write, talk and act out of the racial world view from which we basically inherited. This sometimes conflicts with a kingdom or biblical view of race. I do not believe Richard Land or most Southern Baptists are racist—but racial. The National Baptist Convention—of which I’m also a member—likewise is not racist, but clearly racial. As a matter of fact, the Southern Baptist Convention in many regards, are doing a better job than the National Baptists Convention to reach across the racial divide and bridge the gap. National Baptists generally view the SBC with suspicion and distrust because of comments like the ones Dr. Land made, the belief he reflects and the belief that his comments reflect majority Southern Baptist thought. Given that suspicion National Baptists rarely reach out to bridge the racial divide. When the moderates were in charge of the SBC race relations were actually far better between Southern Baptists and National Baptists then and now. The Conservatives who are now in charge really need to do some soul searching on that question.

Most Blacks who are a part of the SBC are members because someone in the SBC reached out and made us feel wanted and welcome as pastors, parishioners and participants; but the jury is still out as to whether or not we are welcome to occupy seats of power. In many instances the SBC entities provided resources and support that we could not or didn’t receive from the National Baptists. For that I applaud and appreciate the SBC. The issue before the SBC now is, will the Convention accept Blacks not just as members and participants, but will you accept Blacks as partners and share equal power? The ERLC that Land leads has twenty-one full-time employees and not one Black. There are about thirty persons on my staff at present and only one part-time White. Neither Dr. Land nor I are racist, but our hiring has been racial.

The Land racial remarks threaten the reservoir of goodwill in our convention regarding race that Dr. Land helped to establish, I’m told. Please read the Baptist Twenty One blog post where this young African American named Walter Strickland, whose spiritual DNA is SBC as opposed to NBC, clearly articulated the pressure and problem the Land remarks poses for us who are dually aligned or singularly aligned with the SBC. Ed Stetzer posted the best response to date by an Anglo SBC leader to the Land problem. Land’s racial statements, unchallenged, cause those of us who remain in the SBC be looked upon by other African Americans as “Uncle Toms.”  I appreciate Walter Strickland for expressing the huge problem Dr. Land has caused us. By far, this is the best African American response to the Land controversy. He expresses his viewpoint in a much more gentle tone than I do, which is good. We are addressing the same pain and crying for help from the SBC to heal the wounds and repair the breach.

The racist in the SBC are those churches that don’t allow non-Anglo members, refuse to baptize African Americans, officially or unofficially will not employ African American staff members (except custodians), reject African Americans as guest preachers (this happen to Dr. Luter in Louisiana in the 90’s) reject inter-racial marriages (currently know of an Anglo SBC church where this is an issue) and I could go on. Dr. Land would not support any of these practices; therefore, I don’t believe he is a racist. Succinctly stated, racism–I believe–is intentional. Being racial is accidental and unintentional. I do not believe Dr. Land’s remarks were intended to hurt or do harm. I don’t think he would have spoken these words had he known it would create a racial fire storm and deepen the racial divide in the SBC. To that extent, he has apologized; and I accept it. However, we are still waiting on him and the SBC to own and then disown his words.

As a matter of fact, seven to nine years ago, I recall reading in a Baptist publication, the fact that Dr. Land had a burden against modern day slavery in Sudan. He was addressing that issue with words and work, as I recall. I was impressed with what he was saying and doing based on what I read. I invited him to our church to preach on that issue. He accepted my invitation and he did a very fine job. Subsequently, our church responded to his message with prayer for the Sudan situation; and, as best I recall, we raised funds and supported a ministry that was addressing the situation.

I was experiencing personal pain over a personal situation that I was dealing with when Dr. Land came to preach. I shared with him my pain. He listened and ministered to me mightily, for which I will always be grateful. No! I do not believe Richard Land is racist. I do believe his word-view and words are sometimes racial and reflect a Euro-centric or secular, conservative, political, sociological outlook—as opposed to a biblio-centric, Christo-centric, and Kingdom of God oriented outlook. His Trayvon Martin comments reflected the racial construct in which he was born, not a biblio-centric outlook that says, “for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”  (1 Samuel 16:7). By most accounts, Dr. Land has a history of racial reconciliation work that is positive and long-standing.

II.    Should the SBC Repudiate a Man’s Life-long Work Over Fifteen Minutes of Commentary?

Dr. Bart Barber, echoed by David Brumbelow, raised this valid and compassionate question. First of all, I do not suggest that we repudiate his life-long work; only the controversial Trayvon Martin comments and particularly, the racial profiling justification commentary. I agree with Dr. Barber and David Brumbelow:  It would be non-Christian to repudiate a man’s life-time work over those fifteen minutes. Therefore, I am not, would not, and never have proposed that.

In The Tennessean article, dated April 14, 2012, Travis Loller reports:  

Land, who is white, said in an interview that he has no regrets. And he defended the idea that people are justified in seeing young black men as threatening: A black man is ‘statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man.’”

I appeal to Brother Bart and Brother David, to please try and understand that if the profile quote goes unchallenged, un-repented of, and not repudiated by the SBC or Dr. Land, then it forever becomes the official position and attitude of the SBC regarding racial profiling. Do we really want that statement to go unchallenged? If so, that statement would be far worse unchallenged than the curse of Ham teaching, that was taught by Dr. Criswell and most SBC preachers before him. That’s where he learned in from. And no one would deny that W.A. Criswell was the single most influential pastor/preacher in the past fifty years in SBC life; Although, Dr. Adrian Rogers would be an honorable mention in the same sentence with Criswell, when it comes to influence and impact upon the SBC over the past fifty years.

The reason that Dr. Land’s profile statement must be recanted is because, it approves of viewing Black men with suspicion, sanctioned by the SBC. Land’s profile statement places my freedom, job opportunities, goodwill with all men, life and ultimately my destiny at risk—to those who with SBC approval believe it is permissible to profile me based on statistics and skin color. Why in heaven’s name would the SBC place God’s kingdom agenda, the Great Commission, race relations and the future growth of our convention at stake—to uphold a secular worldview racial profiling posture. I can assure you, if this comment stands, it will greatly hinder the conventions outreach to African Americans. Why would I want to be a part of a convention that the chief ethics officer says that it is justifiable and understandable to view me as a suspect? This is a serious matter that must be addressed. YES! This portion of the fifteen-minute commentary at the very least must be resolved, because of the influence and impact it has over so many.

III.  How do we resolve the Land Mine and the racial divide surrounding this issue?

There are three ways to view the Martin/Zimmerman matter: (1) The White view; (2) The Black View (3) The Kingdom View. If the SBC embraces and adopt the Kingdom View, I believe that at least internally, we can resolve the crisis within our convention, so that we can celebrate the election of Dr. Luter, without any racial baggage associated with this case hindering it.

A. The White view of the Martin/Zimmerman case is basically:

  1. Let’s not rush to judgment.
  2. Zimmerman had a right to defend himself in a fight, even to the point of shooting and killing Martin.
  3. President Obama should not have commented on this case (although other presidents have commented on other national issue cases)
  4. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton should not have responded to the request of Martin’s family to get involved.
  5. There should not have been rallies and protests in the streets.
  6. The forty-five days it took to arrest Zimmerman was perfectly fine.
  7. The Black Panthers who put out the bounty should have been immediately arrested.

 B.  The Black view of this case is:

  1. Zimmerman should have been arrested that very night; in part because of the evidence and the recommendation of the investigator on the scene that night that Zimmerman be arrested. There is also a knowledge in the Black community that immediately that night, had it been a Black on Black shooting, or a Black on a mixed-race shooting, the Black man would have been—without question—arrested that very night, particularly with the investigating officer recommending arrests.
  2. Zimmerman was the aggressor and the profiler. He disobeyed the instruction of the 911 dispatcher regarding following Trayvon. Had Zimmerman stayed in the car, there would not have been a murder that night. Trayvon was not breaking any laws or posing a danger to anyone—had he been left alone. Therefore, Zimmerman is the guilty party here.
  3. If Zimmerman had been arrested that night—again, like a Black man surely would have been—the Black panthers nor Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or President Obama would not have been involved.
  4. The Black Panthers were absolutely and unequivocally wrong biblically and morally to offer a bounty for Zimmerman. I simply don’t know enough about the law on this matter, to know whether or not they violated the law. Vigilante justice is wrong whether practiced by Zimmerman or the Black Panthers.
  5. It is very common and expected from parishioners and the community for Black ministers to get involved, when requested by the family or community leaders. This is a historic role black preachers have played. Community organizers may be frowned upon in the White community, but they are highly respected in the Black community. Parenthetically, that’s why it was a tactical error by the Republicans to make light of candidate Obama being a “community organizer.” The disparaging of Mr. Obama as a community organizer, enraged Black people. After all, Martin Luther King in addition to being a pastor was viewed as a community organizer as leader of the S.C.L.C. the attacks and criticisms of Sharpton and Jackson after supporting Trayvon’s family are simply coming from person who don’t understand this has been an always I suspect will be the case that Black ministers got involved in these type of situations. They would face for more criticism, if they didn’t get involve. The criticism against Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for their involvement is viewed identical to the criticism that Southern Baptists and White evangelicals leveled toward Martin Luther King. He was called a trouble maker and in effect a race hustler. Therefore Black people by and large dismiss these criticisms.

 C.  The Kingdom View:  As a Kingdom citizen (Philippians 3:20), with a Kingdom world view, I don’t know if we can or should fully embrace the White view or the Black view, we must embrace a Kingdom view of this matter. This was modeled well in my judgment by the Sanford pastors, Jack Hayford and John Piper. Unfortunately, no major SBC pastor that I’m aware of stepped up and spoke a Kingdom view. Where is the Kingdom view, Southern Baptist voice on the Martin/Zimmerman case? Southern Baptist may drop Southern from their name as a way of distancing themselves from their racist past. But when they remain silent on this issue or speak from Richard Land’s perspective which is largely viewed as anti-Black and pro-Zimmerman, it doesn’t matter what the SBC name themselves—trust has been lost. The question now is how trust can be regained. Again, the only ray of Southern Baptist hope that I’ve seen on this matter is the Ed Stetzer brilliant and gutsy piece entitled, “Southern Baptist, Stats, and Race: Reflections on Some Unhelpful Remarks.”

What is the Kingdom view? Based on Amos 5:24, Genesis 9:6, Proverbs 18:17, we should have come together across racial lines as pastors and cried out immediately for justice for Trayvon Martin and his family and due process for Zimmerman and his family. We want patience, peace and respect for law and order to prevail while we trust God and the authorities to adjudicate this matter. Had Dr. Land taken this position, we wouldn’t have the plagiarism investigation and the deepening racial divide between the SBC and the Black community.

So, what is our way out? How do we resolve this crisis within the SBC? If Dr. Land, President Bryant Wright and two-three African American preachers agree and release a statement similar to the following, I believe it will immediately reduce tension, consternation and frustration among Black SBC pastors and parishioners:

“Racial profiling is not a biblical concept. As a matter of fact, Scripture cautions against racial profiling (1 Samuel 16:7). We reject the notion of viewing persons of other races with suspicion based on statistics or racial classifications. The SBC does not believe in, support or practice racial profiling. Dr. Richard Land regrets that he made statements in support of racial profiling. Furthermore, he regrets the damage, offense and hurt that these statements caused. And he asks your forgiveness.”

If a statement similar to this is made, it would be widely and readily accepted by all of good will and kingdom-minded. We could then put this crisis behind us and go on to NOLA to elect Fred Luter as president, which could be the dawning of a new day is the life of the SBC. Could it be we are where we are, at this point, because this is a Divine test? Our convention could be hanging on the balance, based on our response.



William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

April 18, 2012

Richard Land’s racial remarks against the backdrop of the Trayvon Martin tragedy are the most damaging, alienating, and offensive words about race that I’ve read or heard, rendered by a SBC personality, in the twenty-eight years that I’ve served as a SBC church planter/pastor.

The pain that Richard Land inflicted upon Blacks in the SBC is a pain that would be only felt greater by the pain inflicted upon Trayvon Martin’s family by George Zimmerman. In his non apology—apology, he blames those of us who responded to his racial views, for the pain we felt. The opening line in his letter of apology, dated April 16, 2012, says, “I am writing to express my deep regret for any hurt or misunderstanding my comments about the Trayvon Martin case have generated.” He then blames his readers and listeners for not being “progressive” enough to be on the same page with him racially:

“Clearly, I overestimated the progress that has been made in slaying the ugly racist ghosts of the past in our history. I also clearly underestimated the extent to which we must go out of our way not to be misunderstood when we speak to issues where race is a factor…Please know that I apologize to any and all who were hurt or offended by my comments.”

 Note carefully that he never acknowledges that the problem was caused by the substance of his words but rather by the misunderstanding of his words. He begins and ends by telling us that the problem was the response to his words and the lack of progress in the public square as it relates to understanding or accepting his words. This is a huge problem for the President of the Ethics Division of the SBC to attempt to pass this on as a genuine apology. However, I accept his apology simply because he asked; and therefore, feel biblically constrained to do so (Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 5:23-25).

 I remain appalled at his unrepentant words. And since Dr. Land will not repent of his words, I feel compelled to ask the SBC by way of resolution to repudiate and renounce the racially offensive, biblically unjustifiable and factually incorrect words of Dr. Richard Land. He spoke these words as an official of the SBC; therefore, the SBC must take ownership and responsibility for Dr. Land’s words. I could not with a good conscience attend a SBC meeting in the post Luter years, or increase giving to the Cooperative Program as long as Land’s words remain un-repented of. To do so would be to engage in self-hatred; the exercise and practice of low self-esteem; to support Land’s view of racial profiling and his flawed racial reasoning.

What was even more troubling to me than Land’s remarks, was his assertion that the vast majority of Southern Baptists agree with his racial views. If he is accurate in his assessment, it confirms the suspicion that many Black Baptists have held for years regarding Southern Baptists; and that is many Southern Baptists, if not the majority, inherently and instinctively don’t honestly respect, relate to or view Blacks with a mindset of mutual respect, equality and understanding. Blacks are primarily viewed as mission projects, not as mission partners. Inadvertently, Dr. Land opened to us the window of his heart and showed us this painful reality (Mark 7:20-23). The question now is, did Richard Land show us the heart of the entirety of the SBC?

To read Land’s initial comments and his apology is painful, shameful and heartbreaking for many of us. Now the SBC must take ownership of Dr. Land’s words, because according to Dr. Land, his words reflect the views of his constituency. There are three reasons why I believe the SBC must repudiate Dr. Land’s remarks; or I, for one, will remove myself from SBC gatherings.

I.                    Dr. Land’s Racial Comments Are Factually Incorrect

Land owes President Obama an apology for assigning a racial motive to the POTUS Trayvon Martin remarks without any factual evidence to support his claim. President Obama said, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin.” President Obama was expressing Christian compassion, parental affirmation and support, and heartfelt identification with the grief and pain the family was suffering. For Dr. Land or anyone else to read anything else into the POTUS statement, they would have to do what theologians call “isogete” (reading into), rather than “exegeting” (taking out of). Land Says President Obama was “pouring gasoline on racialist fires” when he made the above statement. Dr. Land is simply factually incorrect.

 Dr. Land falsely accused President Obama again, “It was Mr. Obama who turned this tragedy into a national issue.” Again, that’s simply not true. When the Samford Police Department took forty plus days to arrest George Zimmerman and the national media began to report this fairly early on, that’s what turned this story into a national issue. Again, Dr. Land owes the President an apology.

 Dr. Land referred to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “race hustlers” and “ambulance chasers” with respect to their role in the Trayvon Martin case. I happened to hear an interview where Trayvon’s mom and dad said that they called and asked Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton—both Baptist Ministers—to come and support them in the aftermath of Trayvon’s death. It is simply factually inaccurate and unkind to say to ministers who have been requested by a family to support them that they are “race hustlers” and “ambulance chasers” for fulfilling a ministry responsibility. Dr. Land owes these two men an apology. I know for a fact they were simply responding to the requests of Trayvon’s family. This is an unethical accusation coming from the chief ethics officers of the SBC. Shameful!

Dr. Land, speaking of Rev. Jackson, Rev. Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan says, “In their eyes segregation has never been truly repealed; it has just become invisible…They need Trayvon Martin’s to continue perpetuating their central myth:  America is a racist and an evil nation. For them, is always Selma Alabama, circa 1965.” Dr. Land would be surprised to learn that if he has accurately summarized the beliefs of Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan with regard to “segregation,” this may be the only true statement he made; the vast majority of African Americans would agree with the “In their eyes…” statement. Land has to look no further than the Annual SBC meeting, the SBC Executive Offices and Sunday morning in most SBC churches to see the kind of segregation he described. Dr. Land’s comments are not only factually incorrect, they are biblically unjustifiable.

II.                  Land’s Comments Are Biblically Unjustifiable

As I’ve listened to Black Baptists discuss Land’s comments, I believe his most offensive remark related to his belief in justified racial profiling. The SBC must repudiate the profiling comment, if nothing else. According to the prosecutor and investigators in Florida, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed because of Zimmerman’s profiling. Land’s comments gives ecclesiastical license from the SBC for this kind of profiling. Land’s racial profiling comments are analogous to what the major SBC pastors and theologians said about Black people for many years—for which they have never repented of—and that is, Black people were cursed by God. Land’s “justifiable profiling” doctrine is virtually identical and analogous to the SBC “curse of Ham” doctrine. Land just presented the 21st Century version of the “curse of Ham” doctrine, financed with Cooperative Program dollars. This is an egregious offense. Black SBC churches only give 1% to the Cooperative Program. Nevertheless, our churches helped to finance Richard Land’s communicating to all of America that racial profiling is justifiable.  It was the justifiable profiling doctrine that led the SBC to conclude that slavery and segregation were biblically permissible. Land has revived that doctrine. According to Dr. Land, persons like me are worthy of being profiled.

Dr. Land’s position on racial profiling is contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Bible. In Malachi 2:10, the prophet said:

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?”

In Acts 10:34, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.”

 In Acts 17:26, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”

 In Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

 Dr. Land’s most serious racially offensive statement was the “profiling” remark. This is the statement that would make me a suspect if a crime occurred at the annual SBC meeting while I’m in attendance. Now that I know how Dr. Land feels about profiling, I no longer feel welcome at a SBC gathering, especially if the majority of the SBC agrees with Dr. Land.

 Why would Dr. Land speak out on the Trayvon Martin case, while he remained silent about a litany of racial atrocities in SBC life? ( (  Why does Dr. Land remain silent about the fact that the majority of persons incarcerated are Caucasian? Why does Dr. Land remain silent about approximately 70% of all arrests in 2008 were Whites being arrested according to Royce West, Jr., a criminal justice professor and practicing attorney at the University of Texas at Arlington? (For more information and statistics concerning the U.S. Prison System, please see Marty Duren’s articles—“Our Comfortable Injustice, Part 1: Christians, Race and the U. S. Legal System” and Our Comfortable Injustice, Part2: Incarceration for Profit—at  If Dr. Land were balanced or fair, he would have to also look at statistics and argue for the justifiable criminal profiling of Whites. I don’t think we need to profile anyone and neither do I appreciate the Chief Ethics Officer of the SBC advocating profiling. Racial profiling resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin. It is no small matter that the SBC is now embracing racial profiling.

 III.                Land’s Comments Are Racially Offensive and Balanced in Favor of Zimmerman

 Dr. Land said:

 “It turns out that alleged shooter George Zimmerman is hardly some kind of white supremacist. He’s Hispanic on his mother’s side. His mother is Peruvian. He has black family members. He has mentored black children and is a registered Democrat.

And Martin isn’t exactly a saint.  He’d been suspended three times for vandalism, truancy and carrying a baggie with pot residue.”

Dr. Land owes Trayvon’s parents an apology for this unfair and unbalanced assault on the character of a dead man, whose life was cut short by a man who shares Land’s profiling doctrine. George Zimmerman has been arrested for assaulting a police officer, domestic battery arrests and alcohol related arrests. Dr. Land mentions none of Zimmerman’s “unsaintly” history, but yet he attempts to paint Trayvon as a person worthy of profiling and, consequently, death. The SBC owes Trayvon’s parents an apology for helping to finance this unfair and unbalanced assault on a dead man paid for by the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of our actions in this regard.

Richard Land has about as much business being in charge of the ethics of the SBC as I have being in charge of the physically-fit society or George Zimmerman being in charge of a battered women’s shelter and the temperance society. I trust and pray that Dr. Land will repent of his racially and attitudinally flawed words. If he doesn’t, I pray that the SBC will have the courage and character to hold him accountable by repudiating his remarks and dismissing him from an office that he no longer has the credibility to hold.

The real test of the SBC racial progress is not electing a man of color to a two-year position, but rather demonstrating respect and equality toward people of color eternally. There is not a person of color in the SBC today who serves as an entity head and manages a budget. Unfortunately, that will remain true even after Dr. Luter is elected president. Why would Dr. Land address the Trayvon Martin matter, when he has not addressed the current lack of racial inclusion and empowerment in SBC life? The SBC casts the wrong votes about slavery and segregation in the past. The question now is will the SBC cast the right votes regarding the repudiation of the Land racial remarks?





The largest animal the Jews knew in biblical times was a camel, as the gnat was the smallest. Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! …Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24)

 “Straining out a gnat” describes the custom of the strictest sect of Pharisees who strained everything they drank for fear of swallowing an insect that was considered unclean. “Swallowing a camel” intentionally introduces an exaggerated figure of speech in order to demonstrate the Pharisee’s propensity to major on minors and to minor on majors. Jesus was saying to the Pharisees, you take care to strain the smallest insect out of your drink, but you are like people who swallow a camel without even knowing it. The German Common language version translates this phrase as “but you swallow a camel without seeing it.” It was characteristic of the scribes and Pharisees to strain out the gnat and yet to swallow the camel. The Southern Baptist Convention is “swallowing a camel” without seeing it.

The church where I serve as pastor joined the SBC at our inception in 1983. For the past thirty five years, as a college, seminary student and church planter/pastor, I have observed SBC life. I can honestly say that during these years the major focus, impact and effectiveness of the SBC has been where it should have been; and that is on exaltation, evangelism, edification and the elevation of society. Indeed my life, family, congregation and society as a whole are far better off because of the witness, work, word and worship of the SBC.

Whatever strength that our church enjoys, the roots of that strength can be traced back to the church planting and discipleship efforts of the SBC. For this I shall be eternally grateful.

During my thirty five year pilgrimage in SBC life, I’ve noticed periodic and intermittent intervals, where many in the SBC, and often the gatekeepers, have reminded me of the words of Jesus, “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.” In recent days, I’ve noticed that this periodic and intermittent tendency continues.

The recent flap over Jamar Jones, a pianist at The Potters House where Bishop T.D. Jakes serve as pastor, is one of many examples that I want to address of the SBC, “straining out a gnat, while swallowing a camel.”

Todd Littleton has addressed this subject in a factual, historical, scriptural and kingdom minded manner. I commend him for his great post. Todd is correct! “It seems there is nothing that T.D. Jakes can do that will answer his Southern Baptist critics.” Suffice it to say that no SBC personality has provided any evidence that Bishop Jakes is a modalist. As a matter of fact, as Todd so ably pointed out, there is evidence to the contrary. Yet, I’ve recently learned that Jamar Jones has voluntarily removed himself from the role of playing the piano at the SBC Pastors’ Conference because of his desire to be helpful to the Kingdom and Southern Baptists, rather than a hindrance. The truth of the matter is that Bishop Jakes was the target; Jamar Jones is a casualty of not so friendly fire from fellow Kingdom soldiers. It is tragic, sinful and shameful that Southern Baptist missed an opportunity to bridge an obvious racial divide and to fellowship with a Kingdom saint who is not of the SBC fold, simply because the SBC periodically and intermittingly choose to “strain out gnats and swallow camels.”

About twelve-fifteen years ago, I was asked to be a guest on TBN; and I was informed that Bishop Jakes would be the host. I initially hesitated accepting the TBN invitation because of all the hoopla about Bishop Jakes being an alleged modalist; and at the time I had not researched the matter. I consulted with a professor at SWBTS (that I will not name) and a highly respected, well known pastor with a doctorate degree in systematic theology (that I also will not name). Both informed me that they viewed Bishop Jakes’ view of the Trinity as “technically incorrect, but not cultic.” Now that more light has been shed on his views, I don’t believe either the professor or the pastor would view Bishop Jakes’ view as “technically incorrect.” They both encouraged me to accept the TBN invitation because they viewed Bishop Jakes as a genuine Christian. Upon their recommendations, I accepted the invitation and had a wonderful experience.

If Bishop Jakes is going to be rejected by Southern Baptists because he uses the word “manifestations” to describe the Trinity, if Southern Baptists are to be consistent as Todd Littleton points out—they would also have to reject Hershel Hobbs—a revered, renown SBC pastor/theologian who also used the word “manifestations” to describe the Trinity. He too probably would be labeled “technically incorrect, but not cultic” by the pastor and professor. Since that time, Bishop Jakes has used the word “persons” to describe the Trinity; but this still does not satisfy his SBC critics, because periodically and intermittingly the SBC simply chooses to “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” One would be hard pressed to find one Black SBC pastor, let alone ten, who would publicly or privately state that Jamar Jones should not play the piano at the Pastors’ Conference because he is associated with Bishop Jakes. I pray that the Father forgive the SBC for they know not what they do. The SBC views every evangelical denomination as having some views that are “incorrect but not cultic.”

I must admit that I’m not surprised by the Jamar Jones treatment, because I watched the SBC dismiss a great number of missionaries, simply because they would not sign the 2000 B, F, and M, although they signed up as missionaries under the 1963 B, F and M. If the SBC would dismiss experienced, successful missionaries for superfluous reasons under the guise of doctrinal purity, it stands to reason that they would castigate a pianist who belongs to a church that many in the SBC consider doctrinally suspect—without one iota of evidence. Here is another example of “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.” The very reason that the SBC had to recently lay off six hundred missionaries due to a lack of funding is because of this bizarre propensity to “strain out gnats, while swallowing camels.” The SBC/IMB/NAMB policy of firing and not funding missionaries who pray in tongues in private is another example of the SBC “straining out a gnat, while swallowing a camel.”

Our church has baptized over 2000 souls since 1983. Had the SBC questioned me about my views and practice as it relates to praying in tongues in private, these 2000 souls would not be credited on SBC records, nor would I have been able to serve as President of the SBTC Pastors’ Conference or preach at SEBTS and many other places. The SBC “swallowed” me, because they did not know me.

In the 2008 presidential election, I was shocked that SBC pastors, by and large, did not rally behind Mike Huckabee. The reason Huckabee did not get SBC support is because he was reportedly sympathetic and cooperative to the “moderates” while president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. I publicly endorsed Mike Huckabee. Had Southern Baptists wholeheartedly and enthusiastically embraced Huckabee, he perhaps would be President today. Consequently, same-sex marriages, the Mexico policy, the Health Care policy that funds abortions and bailouts would not be moving into the mainstream and becoming public policy. But because of the SBC’s propensity to “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel,” we are now faced with these policy initiatives that most SBC pastors and pew-sitters disagree with.

Southern Baptists have watched women in the SBC be denied opportunities to teach Hebrew and Church History and serve as an IMB vice president, because of this periodic and intermittingly bent toward “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.” Female seminary graduates are denied positions as chaplains endorsed by our convention because of our pettiness and unscriptural views toward women. God forgive us. Male pastors and staff members who have violated and abused women and girls in our churches will not even be given the dignity and respect of having convicted persons’ names registered in SBC life because of the SBC’s long bent toward chauvinism. Women like Christa Brown and others who express valid and legitimate concerns about sexual abuse at the hands of clergyman in SBC life are often disrespected, disregarded and once again violated by males because they simply point out the truth and make an effort to protect females in our pews by identifying documented abusers. The SBC deny women all kinds of ministry opportunities and affirmation that is not restricted by the Scripture—yet they allow women to be abused and violated even further by not exposing abusers. I agree with the late African American Southern Baptist pastor, Dr. George McCalep, who said, “The SBC views and practices regarding women are driven by testosterone more so than by biblical doctrine.” Once again, our treatment toward women in our quest for doctrinal purity is simply “straining out a gnat, while swallowing a camel.”

A few years ago, an African American was being considered to serve as an entity head. When he was questioned about his views on women in ministry, he expressed a view in keeping with the B, F & M 2000 and remains in SBC employ; however, his view of women in ministry was still to expansive for the decision makers; therefore, he was not offered the entity head position. The good news is he was not rejected because of his race. The bad news is he was rejected because he did not express a hard-line position against women in ministry. Once again, the SBC drifted toward their tendency to “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.”

The very reason Vance Pittman is President of the Pastors’ Conference and not Troy Gramlin is because the doctrinal purist in the SBC disliked Gramlin’s affirmation of women in ministry. His views and practices are within the boundaries of the B, F, and M 2000 Statement and the Bible, or else he would have been dis-fellowshipped by his Association, State Convention and the SBC. Nevertheless, he was rejected in favor of Vance Pittman because the SBC loves to “strain out gnats and swallow camels.” All the dissension and dissatisfaction registered in the blogosphere over the Pastors’ Conference is in my opinion—poetic justice—because of the ill, malicious treatment by many toward Troy Gramlin.

The only reason that the SBC include a statement in their constitution making it clear that they will not seat messengers from a church that affirms homosexuality, but they refuse to and artfully and hypocritically dodged voting on an amendment to the constitution to not seat churches that affirm racism, is simply because the SBC has a higher tolerance for racism than they do homosexuality. The stated reason at the Orlando Convention for not allowing a vote on the racial discrimination amendment was simply to give the lawyers a chance to vet the amendment. However, the messengers were assured that the executive committee was sympathetic to this motion and would be supporting it. The response to my motion could be a case study in dishonesty and deception.

The “camel” that the SBC has been swallowing from her inception until this very hour is racism, sexism and factionalism—“they are not one of us mentality.”

One of the objections that some have raised regarding the racism amendment is that it would be hard to prove. This simply is not true. All of the excuses used to object to the racial discrimination amendment, remind me of all the excuses that were used to deny Blacks equality, fairness and justice across the years.

In the 90’s I served on the missions funding committee of the BGCT and discovered at that time that all Black churches were required to pay 6% interest on loans and low income White, and Hispanic churches paid 0% interest. This can be documented and verified. They changed their practice after I objected to this in three consecutive meetings. The persons and churches that supported this policy should not have been seated as messengers.

In the 90’s a cemetery owned by an SBC congregation in Georgia would not bury a child of an interracial couple, because the deceased baby was half-Black. This church’s messengers should not have been seated. Interracial couples have joined many African American churches because they were made to feel unwelcome, or in some cases, the pastor refused to perform their wedding ceremony. Messengers from these churches should not be seated.

Black ministerial students at Samford University were sent out along with Anglo ministerial students to preach in SBC churches in Alabama in the late 90’s or early 2000. Some Baptist papers reported this. When some of the Anglo churches discovered Black students would be preaching, they canceled engagements. Messengers from these churches should not have been seated.

Black SBC denomination employees have expressed to me that they have been invited by virtue of their positions to speak at Anglo SBC churches. However, like the Samford students, when it was discovered that they were Black, the invitations to speak were withdrawn. The messengers from these churches should not be seated. Black SBC employees have also informed me that when Black churches or ministries rent certain SBC facilities they are charged a higher rate than Anglo churches. This reminds me of the BGCT practice; therefore, I find it believable. Churches and messengers who support this practice should not be seated.

I heard with my own ears, Mrs. Criswell teaching on the radio on a Sunday Morning embracing the view the Africans were cursed because of their descent from Ham in the mid 90’s. I purchased a copy of the tape/CD. The messengers of FBC Dallas should not have been seated at the Convention, unless Mrs. Criswell repented. The Vice President of Criswell College repented a couple of years ago of calling Hispanics “wetbacks.” Had he not repented, the messengers of FBC should not have been seated.

An SBC church in Louisiana, dis-invited an IMB Anglo missionary couple from speaking at their church within the past three years as reported by the ABP. Why? This couple adopted native African children. This church’s messengers should not be seated. As a matter of fact, it was my reading about this church that in part inspired my proposed racial discrimination amendment.

Dave Miller, a man I have tremendous respect for, talks about being denied a raise by his predominately Anglo SBC congregation. Why? He allowed Blacks to play basketball on the church parking lot. If that was the basis for the decision, this church’s messengers should not have been seated.

Tim Rogers saw a local SBC church in North Carolina, where Dr. and Mrs. Patterson were members at the time vote to fire their pastor because African Americans were baptized in the baptistery. To their credit, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson announced he would not be back because he could not support a church that would take that kind of action. Neither should the SBC seat the messengers from this church.

William Thornton of Georgia, an SBC pastor, stated, “I once supplied at a church who had in their statement of beliefs an article that they believed, ‘God has ordained the segregation of the races…'” This SBC church had this printed on the back of their weekly bulletin, right along with the deity of Christ! Certainly, the messengers from this SBC church referenced by Pastor Thornton should not be seated.

Persons from churches who hold these views and practices are eligible to and sometime serve on SBC boards and committees. Are you expecting us to believe the persons who make personnel and policy decisions from these churches for the SBC do not take race into account in their decisions? If these churches will not allow interracial marriages, people of color to be baptized in their church or play basketball on their church parking lot, are you really expecting us to believe they will objectively make a fair hiring decision about African Americans as an entity head? Could it be that people from these churches decided that we don’t need a racial discrimination policy in the SBC Constitution? This is unbelievable.

In the early 90’s two Black SBC churches including the church where I pastor traveled on a 15-day mission trip to South Africa to construct a small church edifice. The two African American churches heavily funded this trip. The trip was coordinated by a non IMB, SBC related mission’s group based in Tennessee. At lunch time, we noticed that volunteer South African Anglo workers were invited to eat lunch with the mission’s crew from America. The native Black South African volunteer workers were not invited to eat lunch with the American Mission’s team. When I questioned this, they explained to me that this was simply the custom and tradition in South Africa. I vehemently objected to this practice because it was blatantly racist. The missions group that coordinated this trip were all members of an Anglo SBC church. Messengers from an SBC church that engage in such racist mission practices should not be seated at the SBC annual session.

I’ve been told numerous stories of this kind by many Anglo SBC pastors. The EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IS SIMPLY IN DENIAL. Bart Barber, another SBC pastor that I respect greatly but often disagree with, has acknowledged in the blogosphere the fact that racism exists in the SBC. Dr. Russell Moore at Southern Seminary has also addressed the historic racism among conservatives in the SBC, and the tentacles of that admitted racism is visible today. Ironically, moderates did not swallow racism. Unfortunately, in some instances, they would sometimes swallow liberalism.

While attending the African American Banquet at the Orlando SBC, I was stunned as I heard the newly elected president, James Dixon, state, “The pink elephant in the room at the SBC is racism, and nobody wants to deal with it.” A Baptist Press reporter was sitting there. I knew she would report this, but not one word. I regard James Dixon highly. I’m convinced that he will address these issues during his tenure as President. It is doubtful that you could find one African American pastor who could not share with you a story of racism that they have experienced in SBC life.

A guest singing group at SWBTS wanted to display a Confederate flag at their appearance. Dr. Paige Patterson rightfully stopped them. This would have been offensive to many African American and Anglo students. The University of Texas removed a picture of one of their former law professors from the wall because he was a Klansman. Several pictures hanging on the wall of former presidents at SWBTS were slave holders and Klansmen. Their pictures should be removed. We cannot let the world have a higher standard than the Church.

While serving as a trustee at SWBTS, I was going to have to cast a vote regarding investing a substantial portion of seminary funds. I asked a fellow SBC pastor to research this matter for me in order to be able to cast an intelligent vote. This pastor discovered that the investment company leadership had a jaded history. Therefore, I decided that I could not, with a clear conscience, vote to invest SWBTS funds with this company. Unfortunately, my SBC pastor friend posted this information on his blog, and the seminary then decided not to hold a vote on this matter. I was then accused by a trustee committee of breeching a non-existent confidentiality policy. Furthermore, they recommended to the SBC that I be dismissed as a trustee. They later withdrew this request after I held a heart-to-heart talk with Dr. Patterson. Lest you think I hold any ill feelings toward Southwestern, I led my congregation to donate the cost of a chair in the new chapel at the seminary, after I resigned as a trustee. The seminary was asking for $4000 per chair.

Interestingly, before Claude Thomas could assume the role of seminary chaplain, one of the trustees circulated “confidential” information that led to the seminary withdrawing the offer of the Chaplain’s position to Brother Claude. My question is, if two trustees both exposed “confidential” information, why wasn’t the other trustee recommended to the SBC for dismissal and publicly humiliated as the Seminary attempted to humiliate me?

Southern Seminary was the SBC seminary of choice for African Americans in the 60’s – 90’s. Something happened. I’m not sure what. The Black student population of Southern has significantly declined. I attended a Black Church Conference at Southern in the mid seventies. Never in my life had I witnessed twenty plus Black PhD’s in religion, assembled in one place at one time. Martin Luther King spoke at Southern in the early sixties. In talking to Black Southern graduates, I’m told that the SBC and Southern’s shift to FUNDAMENTALISM, REPUBLICANISM, CHAUVANISM, and CESSATIONISM caused the Seminary to be less popular with Blacks. All four of these “isms” are generally rejected by African American SBC churches. I’ve visited Southern’s campus twice. I can say that I was treated with the utmost respect and cordiality while there. Russell Moore and Hershel York went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I was there engaged in independent study. I was not an invited guest of the seminary, but I was treated to lunch by Dr. York; and Dr. Moore went out of his way to find me in the library and made all the resources of the library available to me. Without compromising their theological convictions, Southern need to recapture their ability that they once had to attract Blacks in major numbers. I do not know Dr. Mohler personally. I owe him royalties for teaching the men of Cornerstone, his teaching on manhood almost verbatim. I did give him credit. When he was critical of Rick Warren for praying at President Obama’s inauguration and indicated that he would not have accepted that invitation, I was disappointed. Why? The message sent to all of his students, red, yellow, black and white, is that if you are not in political/theological agreement with a politician, you shouldn’t pray at their gatherings. I attended the inauguration and happened to meet and briefly visit Rick Warren there. But how do you say to students by written word and example that you shouldn’t pray at the President’s inauguration? This defies the clear teaching of Scripture (1 Timothy 2:1-8). Rick Warren did not compromise in his prayer. I commend Rick Warren for his prayer for our nation’s new President; but, I question why Dr. Mohler would object. If invited, Dr. Mohler could have prayed at the inauguration; however, he felt led and set a good example for his students. I believe that is one among other reasons that have made Blacks less attracted to Southern.

The Life Action Revival Team based in Michigan has conducted two very successful two-week revivals at the church where I pastor. Life Action is a predominately Anglo revival team of about twenty persons who are housed with church members or live in trailers on the church parking lot. I have nothing but praise for Life Action. Perhaps the greatest spiritual impact of any revival effort in the history of our church was led by Life Action and they were all Anglo, but one singer. Life Action leaders normally attend the SBC.

The only racial or cultural question that came up during their time with us was when I heard them practicing “Dixie” during the day, preparing to sing it that night. I hurriedly informed the Life Action team leader that “Dixie” is a reviled song to Black people. “Dixie” celebrates the ante-bellum South that is a very distasteful period for Black people. I told Bro. Steve Canfield, a great preacher by the way, that if they sang that song that night, I would be fired. He graciously asked the team not to sing “Dixie” at Cornerstone and I was certainly glad. However, we were the first African American congregation that Life Action had ever conducted a revival in. They sang this horrible song in SBC churches everywhere they go—not realizing how offensive this song is to African Americans. I am not suggesting that the SBC churches where Life Action leaders are members should not be seated, but I am suggesting that this is one among several cultural issues that I could name that keep the racial divide in the SBC alive.

The SBC is experiencing numerical, morale and spiritual decline in part because they don’t know how to diversify. The gnat they keep straining out is diversity. The camel they keep swallowing is racism, sexism and factionalism. However, if this convention is to grow and move forward, we must look past the gnat that have plagued us and we must reject the camels that have hindered us and pray for and embrace an eagle that can lift us to higher heights above the gnats and camels that have thwarted us.

I’m praying for President Bryant Wright as he leads us. I’m praying and believing that in New Orleans in 2012 the SBC will make a major step in the right direction and elect an African American as president. If the Lord says the same I plan to attend the New Orleans Convention, so that I can vote for our first African American president. When the SBC appoints a Black and other minorities to one of our entity heads, then I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that racial healing and progress in the SBC will have moved forward into the new millennium. Until such time we are operating under the old paradigm that Blacks in the SBC are a mission project—not mission partners. The fact that African Americans were overlooked as members of the original GCTF underscores the point that Blacks are viewed by the SBC as mission projects—not mission partners.  This must change.

Consequently, Black SBC churches give slightly less than 1% to the Cooperative Program. Anglo SBC churches give 6%. Why is it that Black SBC churches give less than 1%? The answer is simple. They feel disenfranchised and unrepresented. Many Black SBC churches are like our Church that faithfully tithe 10% to missions, year after year, but recognize that under the current practices of the SBC racially, to give 10% to the Cooperative program would be an exercise in self-hatred and the financing of institutional and systemic racism. The camel swallowers have made it impossible to give to the cooperative program without supporting racism, chauvinism, and cessationism. Many would add to that list, Republicanism. In order for any church to give liberally to the cooperative program, they would have to overlook these issues in order to give. It is difficult to give, in our case, over $400,000 a year to an organization that has allowed Blacks to be members for over sixty years, but has never elected one African American or any minority as an entity head. Again, this is tragic, sinful and shameful. However, we swallow this camel—hook, line and sinker—while we strain out the gnat of diversity. God help us!

When Dr. W.A. Criswell, the patriarch of the conservative resurgence, spoke so eloquently and powerfully regarding, “The Curse of Liberalism,” at the San Antonio Convention in the mid 80’s, we saw, “The way of an eagle in the air.”

When Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler, the architects of the conservative resurgence led our convention back to a place where we, without hesitation or reservation, declare that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God, we saw, “The way of eagle[s] in the air.”

When Dr. Adrian Rodgers preached so powerfully and persuasively for the need of our convention to appoint to boards and committee’s persons committed to the inerrant Word of God, we saw, “The way of an eagle in the air.”

When Wade Burleson risked it all and put everything on the line in a gallant effort to protect the right of missionaries to pray in private in accordance with their conscience and biblical convictions, that led to a modification of the controversial policy and perhaps saved the job of Dr. Jerry Rankin, who admittedly prayed in tongues in private, we saw, “The way of an eagle in the air.”

When one looks at the racial divide in the SBC that is very apparent at every annual session, what we need now is an eagle who will arise that can bridge this gap. I’m convinced that Frank Page’s and Bryant Wright’s hearts are in the right place on this racial divide. James Dixon’s, the able, efficient and eloquent leader of the SBC African American Fellowship, heart is in the right place. My prayer is that God will anoint one of these men or the next president to be an eagle and help our convention to heal the racial divide, so that the SBC will begin to look like the Kingdom of God.

Vance Pittman’s commitment to diversity is excellent. He is greatly respected by Las Vegas’ Black pastors because of his commitment to diversity. Pittman’s worship leader at his church is an African American that he pays a very generous salary and encourages him to be true to himself and his heritage as he leads worship. Consequently, there are many Blacks who are attracted to Pittman’s church. The SBC can learn from him. I’m impressed with his lineup of speakers for the Pastors’ Conference. If I have one concern, it is that I don’t see an African American Southern Baptist pastor in the lineup. Pittman’s commitment to diversity is what’s causing the backlash. Diversity without doctrinal compromise is what the SBC needs. Pittman has managed to do a good job with this. I commend him. From what I’ve heard about him, he may be the eagle that can help bridge the racial divide. However, I regret that he accepted Jamar Jones’ voluntary withdrawal from the SBC Pastors Conference. I respect the fact that Jamar Jones was Kingdom minded and concerned about the unity of the SBC; therefore, he decided to withdraw. In doing so, he displayed a greater commitment to Kingdom unity and demonstrated Christian maturity at a higher level than his critics. Pittman’s commitment to diversity is the “gnat” that many in the SBC want to strain out. If the SBC continues to behave like this, they will do so to their own peril.

While Bradd Whitt, Ed Stetzer, Nathan Finn, Bart Barber, Peter Lumpkins and others celebrate or bemoan the personalities at the Pastors Conference, I wonder if they have paused to realize that last year and this year—not one African American Southern Baptist pastor preached at the Pastors’ Conference. What you all are doing is “straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel.”

If I attend the Phoenix SBC, it will be to support James Dixon and his leadership of the African American SBC Fellowship. If Dave Miller and others choose to bring the racial discrimination amendment to the floor, I would like to be there to simply vote in favor. However, at this point, I’m ready to join the hundreds, or perhaps, thousands of other African American SBC who usually do not attend the convention, even if they are in town because to do so, you have to “swallow the camel” of the very noticeable absence of Black leadership and visibility of Black and minority platform personalities. I’ve decided that this is a camel that I can no longer swallow.

The excellent Annuity Board benefits, church planting and mission endeavors, seminary training, discipleship resources and Sunday school materials are reasons why Blacks join and remain with the SBC. Admittedly, the SBC provides a higher quality of these services much stronger than the National Baptist Convention. Therefore, many of us are committed to being a part of the SBC. However, if the SBC wants greater financial support and convention attendance from Black churches and pastors, they will need to be intentional regarding the inclusion and empowerment of Blacks at every level or nothing will change.

How could the SBC not see that the platform is generally all White at the annual session? How could the SBC not see that all of her entity heads are White? How could the SBC not see the potential for a major increase in giving to the cooperative program if they were intentional in empowering minorities? How could the SBC not see that if the Pastors’ Conference went two consecutive years without an Anglo SBC preacher preaching, there would be a revolt; yet they are blind to the fact that this is what African American SBC preachers are being asked to endure. The SBC is swallowing a camel without seeing it.

IT IS ASTOUNDING TO ME THAT SBC persons would say that we cannot document racism in the SBC and we don’t need a racial discrimination amendment in the constitution. The truth of the matter is that the SBC is simply not sincerely and seriously opposed to racism to the extent that they seriously oppose homosexuality. Any other explanation is simply whitewashing a very serious issue.

The Bible says “The way of an eagle in the air” is a wonderful thing (Prov. 30:18, 19). If there is hope for the SBC, I pray that God will raise up an eagle among us who can help us soar to higher heights.

What African Americans in the SBC want is simply, Democracy. I close with this poem by the African American poet, Langston Hughes:


Democracy will not come today,

This year nor ever through compromise and fear.

I have as much right as the other fellow has

To stand on my two feet and own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,

Let things take their course. Tomorrow is another day.

I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.

I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

Freedom is a strong seed planted in a great need.

I live here, too. I want freedom just as you.

The Southern Baptist Convention needs to call a solemn assembly and repent for passive and intentional acts of racism in SBC life since the ‘95 apology statement.

I coincidently happened to see Frank Page at the Louisville Airport in June ’09 at the close of the Annual SBC meeting. This gave me an opportunity to respectfully point out to him that not one Black person was appointed to the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force at the Louisville Convention. Dr. Page assured me that this was an unintentional oversight by President Johnny Hunt. Frank Page contacted Dr. Hunt and he quickly appointed an African American Pastor from Georgia to the GCRTF.  I applaud Johnny Hunt for immediately rectifying this situation.

Is Johnny Hunt racist? Absolutely not. His unintentional oversight is just symptomatic of the problem. Systemic, institutional and individual racism in SBC life is usually passive, not intentional. Yet, it exists. Therefore, it must be biblically addressed by our leaders if we are serious about the Great Commission. 

Dr. Danny Akin prophetically, positively, and profoundly addressed the race issue in his signature message in chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, concerning the Great Commission Resurgence. Rarely, do we hear of this type of statesmanship and leadership on this issue from anyone in SBC life. Much respect to you, Dr. Akin. I wish the GCR report to the annual meeting in Orlando would include Dr. Akin’s initial remarks on this subject.

For years I’ve asked many of my Black Baptists and evangelical Pastor friends, who would not question one word of the B, F, and M, 2000, why won’t you join the SBC? Their response would be, because it is “southern and racial”. Note: not racist, but “racial”- meaning, the DNA of the SBC is White, and geographically and culturally southern oriented. Therefore, it cannot comfortably or willingly accommodate or assimilate as equals, African American Baptists input, involvement and influence. For years I’ve disagreed with my friends’ analysis. But I’ve since reached the conclusion, they are right.

Ten years after the ’95 racial reconciliation and apology statement, there has not been one African American appointed to a position as the Chief Executive Officer of a SBC entity. There are three entity executive positions currently vacant. I pray that a qualified African American will be appointed to one of them.

If you think I’m unnecessarily fixated on race, tell me how you would you feel if you were a part of a convention that claimed to be inclusive of all people groups, yet without exception, all executive level cabinet positions are occupied by males of only one people group? Would you think that’s fair? You watch the full GCR report and none of the four presenters ethnically resemble any of the people groups that the report is challenging us to reach except for Anglo males. Do you agree with that approach?

One of the objections that I’ve often heard from minorities concerning SBC missions efforts is that the approach is paternalistic rather than a partnership approach. Viewing it from the perspective of a minority, that’s how the GCR report came across, paternalistic. Nevertheless, I plan to vote for it because I have huge respect for the GCRTF members that I’m acquainted with.

Is the GCR report racist because none of the presenters are persons of color? No! It does mean that persons of color were once again an oversight, which again is symptomatic of the problem. I trust that when the GCRTF report is made in Orlando, representatives from other ethnic groups will share in the reporting.

In February, I attended the Southern Baptists of Texas Evangelism Conference where the SBC Evangelist Jimmy Davis, preached a message comparing President Obama to the wicked King Manasseh. Davis clearly communicated that President Obama was not a Christian, being fully aware that the President claims to be a Christian. He challenged the conference to pray for the President’s salvation. As Davis sees it, if the President doesn’t repent of certain social policy positions and his spiritual condition, then he encouraged the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention to “pray that God providentially remove President Obama from office”.

On the heels of Davis’ message I called him to make sure I understood his message correctly. Not only did he make it clear that I understood his message correctly, he further added his belief that President Obama is the “most wicked President in the history of the United States”. Evangelist Davis, at the conclusion of his message, asked the audience to join him on his knees and they did. He then prayed for the President’s salvation and that he be “providentially” removed from office if he doesn’t repent.

The picture of hundreds of Anglo Southern Baptists on their knees praying that God “providentially” remove the first African American President of the United States from office is not a pretty picture to African American Southern Baptists or biblio-centric fair minded Americans of any color. It’s a horrible witness to the world and a poor testimony of Southern Baptists. The SBTC officials are very much aware of this message and have remained publicly silent. Does silence equal consent? If Evangelist Davis’ remarks and prayer that God “providentially” remove President Obama is not repudiated by SBC and SBTC officials, Wiley Drake is owed and apology (2010 Empower Evangelism Conference, Southern Baptists of Texas , February 15-17, 2010). I’m publicly asking Dr. Jim Richards and Johnny Hunt to publicly disavow and repudiate the portion of Evangelist Davis’ message that dealt with President Obama.

Read this Baptist Deacon’s comment about President Obama posted on his blog:

“In a year, two at the most, the government will collapse on itself with no outside assistance due to a shortage of taxpayers. When that happens, China will sue for possession to recoup its losses in the World Court and win. Since no one trusts a liar, the Chinese will not permit Barack, the Tragic Negro, or congress to remain in power. Few will be willing to shed their blood to protect and defend Obama’s America”.     [Bill Fortner, Tuesday, March 30, 2010, Picayune Poltroons]


This Anglo Baptist deacon has a right to his political opinions. However, to refer to the President of the United States as, “the Tragic Negro”, is clearly racist and beyond the pale. Our convention will never experience genuine racial reconciliation and ethnic church growth as long as Baptists harbor and air views like Evangelist Davis and Deacon Bill Fortner.

A Black Baptist Arkansas Pastor who disassociated himself from the SBC in recent years visited our church this past March. I asked him why he was no longer Southern Baptist. He reported to me that his congregation went on a missions trip to Mexico with an Anglo Southern Baptist congregation. During this trip his people heard one of the Anglo mission team members use racial slurs toward their pastor. When he confronted the Anglo who allegedly made the slurs, he didn’t deny it nor did he apologize. Consequently, he left the convention.

Ergun Caner made condescending and stereotypical remarks concerning the Black Church in a sermon preached at First Baptist of Jacksonville, FL. Caner’s observation certainly would not be true of the Black church that I pastor and the majority of Black churches that I’m aware of. Yet, his remarks were met with approving laughter. I don’t believe that he would have made those same remarks in a Black church. Caner essentially said Black churches do not put the preacher up to preach until about 1:00 p.m. That’s not true. Black churches, according to Caner, take up “twelve offerings”. That’s untrue. Caner further stated:

“… you go to a Black church gentlemen, you are not going to have on a blue suit, you are going to have blue shoes to match, and your handkerchief is going to match your tie, and your whole outfit is going to match your car. It’s BEAUTIFUL. And ladies: when we talk about black church, we’re talkin’ about hats. And I’m not just talkin’ Easter hats as some of you may wear, I’m talkin’ ’bout satellite dish hats. [laughter]. Big enough to receive a signal, with a curtain rod goin’ down the front that you can just pull the curtain across”.   [Ergun Caner, The Warrior Church, June 14, 2009]


By the grace of God, I’ve been privileged to preach over the past thirty six years in twenty seven states, at least seventy five cities, and in over one hundred and eighty pulpits or public venues across the length and breadth of America. The vast majority of those preaching assignments were in Black Baptist pulpits. My point is, Ergun Caner may have had a better opportunity to judge the social mores of the Black church more so than I, but it’s doubtful. I can truly say that what Ergun Caner stated is simply, generally not true. As a matter of fact, I’ve never witnessed what he described. If I stated that White preachers preached in Hawaiian shirts and encouraged married couples in their churches to have sex seven straight days, and wore toupees; that may be true in isolated cases but it would be unfair, inaccurate, and racially stereotypical, without foundation, for to me make such a claim.

This is what Caner has done and he owes FBC Jacksonville an apology. I honestly don’t believe Caner meant any harm. I think that he was simply speaking off the cuff and exaggerated grossly. Most public speakers, including myself, have made similar mistakes. However, his remarks were damaging to the reputation of the Black church in the minds and hearts of his hearers. One would expect better than this from a Seminary President. This caricature must be corrected. Jim Richards, Richard Land, Wade Burleson, Ronnie Floyd, and Tim Rogers have all preached in my pulpit. They know Caner’s description of the Black church is absolutely false. It is certainly not the norm. I know Mac Brunson personally. I have great respect for him. Mac owes it to his people to set the record straight.  

An Anglo SBC church in Louisiana refused to let Anglo missionaries whom had adopted children of color speak in their church because of the color of their children. This church should be investigated and disciplined by the SBC just as the churches that reportedly are affirming and welcoming of homosexuals. Although the SBC claims thousands of African American members, the highest ranking Black at the SBC Executive headquarters is the head custodian. This is certainly reminiscent of the Antebellum South.

All of the above incidents took place since 1995. The SBC needs to hold a Great Repentance Resurgence that precedes a Great Commission Resurgence, so that we can be cleansed of unbiblical and ungodly attitudes toward women and race. Unfortunately, my pastor friends who refuse to join the SBC are right. The SBC is “southern and racial” and this must change if God is to breathe on our Great Commission Resurgence.

I personally like changing the name of the SBC to THE INTERNATIONAL BAPTIST CONVENTION. A new name gives us an opportunity for a new start in a new millennium. It’s an idea we truly ought to consider.



Jeremiah Wright and Rush Limbaugh quotes regarding race were used in efforts to thwart a presidential campaign and the purchase of an NFL team.  Responses to the Wright and Limbaugh quotes reveal the fact that Blacks and Whites are miles apart with regard to racial understanding.  Blacks and Whites often live in the same neighborhoods, work on the same jobs, sometimes go to the same churches and schools, and their children play on the same teams- we really don’t know, understand or fully appreciate each other beyond a surface level.  Therefore, we need to get together in an   organized and orchestrated fashion and seriously talk about the pink elephant in the room-race.

When Blacks have a discussion about race, usually there are no Whites present, so an important perspective is missing and the reverse is also true.  Consequently, when the discussion spills over to our television sets and newspapers surrounding some major incident such as the recent presidential campaign and Limbaugh’s attempted NFL purchase bid, we discover that Blacks and Whites are often miles apart when it comes to agreeing on the legitimacy of racist statements or incidents.  We vicariously talk to each other through quotes and sound bites, but not with each other in honest and sincere dialogue.

The recent highly publicized Limbaugh quotes surrounding his failed NFL purchase bid and the Wright quotes surrounding Obama’s presidential campaign, demonstrate that racial quotes can be damaging, divisive and detrimental to effective communication.  Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hanity used Rev. Wright’s words toward an effort to convince the American public that they should not elect Barack Obama as president.  Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson used Limbaugh’s words to convince the NFL that Limbaugh should not be allowed to be an owner of an NFL team.  What do the Wright and Limbaugh incidents have in common?

Wright and Limbaugh are not viewed as racist, extremist or polarizing figures in their communities and among their constituencies, but obviously, they are viewed in this manner among outsiders. Limbaugh and Wright supporters believe that their quotes were exploited, taken out of context, unfairly politicized, or if they were allowed to explain themselves to an objective audience their comments would not be viewed as offensive.

In Limbaugh’s and Wright’s worlds their remarks would be rationale, reasonable, justifiable, factual and non-racist.  Anybody who would think otherwise would simply be mistaken.  The problem is Limbaugh and Wright, live, function and communicate in different worlds that are miles apart.  Therefore, if America is to avoid a race war, Wright and Limbaugh’s two worlds must come together and dialogue.

Perhaps, out of their shared pain, Limbaugh and Wright can host or spawn a series of dialogues across the country under the banner, RACIAL REASONING AND HEALING IN THE AGE OF OBAMA. Both men know what it’s like to be fairly or unfairly quoted or misquoted, depending upon one’s politics, perspectives or process reasoning. Obviously, an open, honest conversation about race is perhaps the most difficult conversation to hold, but it is one that America desperately needs to have. Black people and White people are still to distant from one another.  We need to come together and dialogue.  “Come, let us reason, together.”

Respect the Office of the President

Even if you don’t respect the man or the woman in the office.


Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

A request to President Johnny Hunt and Dr. Richard Land of the SBC to ask Laura Ingraham for an apology or to boycott her sponsors if she refuses.

While listening to talk radio on Monday evening, September 28, 2009, I heard conservative commentator, Laura Ingraham refer to President Barrack Obama as “YOU FOOL”. Shock, disbelief and utter amazement are the only words I know to describe my emotions upon hearing those words.  Later, I asked one of my research assistants to listen to the archived recording of Ingraham’s show to determine if I had  heard correctly, and I did. Referring to President Obama’s visit to the Olympic committee, Ingraham stated: “He doesn’t have time to speak to his General in Afghanistan, but he has time to fly to Copenhagen and push for Chicago. This is an exercise in egotism, pure egotism period…..The news over the weekend is that Colin Powell is being consulted as President Obama rethinks his Afghanistan strategy…By the way the president is getting personal on his outreach on this issue.  Why doesn’t he just call all the Generals? Why doesn’t he just talk to his own General? [General McChrystal in Afghanistan] He is going to old generals like Colin Powel.  Talk to the one who is actually in Afghanistan you fool.”

Referring to the President of the United States as “You fool” brings to memory the Joe Wilson  bellicose statement, “You lie”.  At the very least these actions violate the biblical and conservative principle of respect for authority, set a poor example for the people who listen to them -including children- and for some, raises the question of racism.

President Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle, have been called by Tammy Bruce, a guest host on Laura Ingraham’s show as, “trash in the White House”. Rusty Depass, a South Carolina Republican activist referred to an escaped gorilla as, “just one of Michelle’s ancestors”.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  It is time for the church of the living God to take a stand.  In as much as Laura Ingraham called the president a fool publicly, I’m going to ask her to apologize to him and all her listeners who were offended publicly.  Morever, I’m asking that the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Johnny Hunt and the president of the Christian Life Commission, Dr. Richard Land, join me in repudiating  Ingraham’s and Joe Wilson’s remarks on the grounds of being disrespectful to the office of the President of the United States.

I am not accusing Ingraham or Wilson of being a racist-but clearly disrespectful.  However, we must acknowledge that many Americans of all colors and political persuasions believe that these actions have a racist underpinning.  Therefore, I am asking the Southern Baptist convention to address this issue.

As a fellow Southern Baptist, I need your help.  I alone cannot influence the culture to refrain from disrespecting the President.  But, if my Baptist brethren would sound the alarm it would go a long way toward furthering the biblical command to “honor the king” (I Peter 2:17). This is another opportunity to put teeth in the ’95 apology.

The Southern Baptist Convention sat on the sidelines during the civil rights movement and watched hoses sprayed on Black people, dogs barking and biting Black people buoyed on by Bull Connors bullhorn, and bombs blowing up Black churches, while Black girls sat in Sunday school, reading the Bible. Please, don’t sit by and allow this president to suffer these kind of indignities and disrespect while the church sits idly by.  Please do not repeat the sins of your fathers.  Step forward and boldly denounce and condemn this disrespectful, unbiblical and possibly racially insensitive rhetoric for the kingdom of heaven sake and the Great Commission sake.

Lest I be misunderstood, my appeal is not that that persons restrain from speaking the truth as they see it, but to not dishonor and disrespect the office of the President as they critique him.

Finally, if Laura Ingraham refuses to apologize for calling the president a “fool” I’m requesting that the SBC call for a boycott of her sponsors, just as  the SBC called for  called for a boycott of Disney World for supporting behavior that violates scripture.

As the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools”.

Conservative columnist, Mark Davis, who often host the Rush Limbaugh show acknowledges that, “among Obama’s detractors are some folks who just don’t like black people.”  Therefore, the convention needs to raise a prophetic voice and speak to the fringe element of the Obama opposition that is rooted in race.  Surely “ you lie”, “you fool” and “gorilla” ought to move you to action as did the gay friendly polices at Disney World and rightfully so.



September 17, 2009

My response to Mark Davis Dallas Morning News September 16, 2009 Opinion Editorial Concerning the Arlington ISD’s President Obama/President Bush Cancelled Education Speeches. (“A Missed Teachable Moment”)

While reading the Star-Telegram editorial on Friday,  September 4, regarding the Arlington schools denying the students an opportunity to hear President Obama’s proposed education speech scheduled for Tuesday, September 8, 2009, I found myself in full agreement with the entire editorial entitled, “Teaching Students to Fear Obama’s Speech Is the Wrong lesson.”  The closing statement of this op-ed speech resonated deeply with me and drove me to deploy my spirit and resources into action to create the opportunity for the students to hear President Obama’s speech:  “For the first U.S. president of African-American heritage to tell students-especially those who get a different message from other sources- that they should take responsibility for their futures, well that’s not leftist or socialist or propagandistic. It’s a message worth listening to and applauding.”

My wife, Vera McKissic, who is a former AISD teacher and Minister of Education at our church, later informed me that when she taught in the Arlington classroom they were allowed to show students presidential speeches delivered on television by President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W. Bush.  Upon learning this, I asked myself, why wouldn’t the ASID allow President Obama to speak?

After consulting with staff members at my church and being assured that we were technologically capable of presenting President Obama’s speech, I decided Friday morning, September 4, that we would show the President’s speech at our church on Tuesday, September 8, so that any student who wanted to hear it could experience it live with the vast majority of American students.

I left a message on Superintendent Jerry McCullough’s home phone on Friday evening, September 4, after 6:00 p.m., requesting that he return my call.   Mr. McCullough promptly returned my call after arriving home from a local high school football game.  We held a brief conversation, mutually cordial and respectful.  I requested that he give the students an excused absence if they chose to attend the Obama speech the following Tuesday.  Mr. McCullough without hesitation said, “Yes,” provided the parents contact the school and make the request.  I thanked Superintendent McCullough and hung up the phone with a deep sense of relief, appreciation and respect for him, because I internally questioned whether or not he would oblige my request.

In my conversation with Mr. McCullough, I never introduced the thought of him reversing his public position of not showing the Obama speech, realizing at that late hour, even if he were so inclined to change his mind, it would have been logistically, technologically and virtually impossible for him to reverse his course.  Now in hindsight I regret not asking him to consider showing the speech within the school district, which was an option I had pondered sharing with him.

We released a press statement over the September 5, weekend inviting students to attend the speech the following Tuesday and announced it in our church, Sunday morning September 6, 2009.  Approximately one hundred fifty students showed up and fifty parents.  We were surprised and pleased with the 10-12 media outlets present to cover the story.   The students and parents were thoroughly engaged and inspired by the Obama speech.  I sensed it had a strong impact on the students and the parents.  Our church provided 130 free box lunches to the students and some parents.

Because I was scheduled to be out of town, and she is more qualified than I to address education issues, I asked my wife to host the gathering and handle any media inquires.  Initially I was scheduled to be in Memphis, Tenn. attending the National Baptist Convention on Tuesday,  September 8.

However, I delayed my trip to later that evening, so that I could be here to affirm and encourage the students who wanted to hear the Obama speech. Mrs. McKissic still hosted and presided over the Tuesday gathering and handled the vast majority of the media requests.  I refused all interviews asked of me except two.

Monday night, September 7, I learned that the AISD had planned to bus the 5th grade students to the Cowboy Stadium to hear President Bush on September 21, 2009.  I must admit that I was completely baffled and disappointed when I learned this news.  I was not disappointed because the students were going to hear President Bush- I proudly voted for George Bush twice, therefore I had no problem with them hearing him. However, this added to my bewilderment over why the students would not be permitted to view the Obama speech.     My trepidation was that if I granted interviews to the media I would express too vigorously my disappointment regarding the Obama speech, risking injury to the cause of Christ and the ministry of   our church.  However, when Chris Hawes a news reporter with Channel 8 in Dallas and a KCBI radio reporter asked for interviews, my positive history with these two media outlets, gave way to my concerns and I granted them interviews. In these interviews, I clearly expressed my disappointment that the AISD saw the Bush speech as a great opportunity while denying the Obama speech.  I was merely seeking an explanation.

Mark Davis in an op-ed piece in the Dallas Morning News, Wednesday, September 16 stated, “The good reverend [ speaking of me] apparently viewed the AISD decision as an affront to black people, curable only by apology and atonement “ Mr. Davis further states that   I “ basked” in the apology  Mr. McCullough later made regarding the hurt caused by his decisions. From Mr. Davis perspective, it was hard explaining the differences between the Obama speech and Bush speech to “people unwilling to hear it, for whom the only issue is black Democrat vs. white Republican”

Mr. Davis is wrong on several counts.  I have never mentioned race in any statement regarding this matter, nor has my wife.  I don’t consider the speech matter and “affront to black people.”  I consider this a matter of right and wrong.  It would have been right for the students to hear President Obama as Mr. McCullough now agrees.  It would have also been right for them to hear President Bush as Mark Davis agrees.  It would be wrong to be able to hear one and not the other.  Moreover, my position has nothing to do with color or party affiliation. I forgive Mark Davis for making this false allegation against me without him asking for forgiveness.

I did not “bask” in Mr. McCullough’s apology, I was surprised, but I did think it was the right thing to do and I admire and appreciate him for doing so.

Mr. Davis this is not an issue of “black Democrat vs. white Republican”. Again, this is a matter of right and wrong.

Since Mark Davis introduced the subject of race in this discussion, I will be glad to oblige him. I have more in common with a White man who loves Jesus, than I do with a Black man who does not know Jesus.  I believe Jerry McCullough is a genuine Christian.  I respect the humility and sincerity he displayed in apologizing and attempting to right a wrong.  The apology and the cancellation of the Bush speech were never discussed with Mr. McCullough prior to his decision.  The decisions to apologize and cancel the Bush speech as far as I know were his and his alone. I provided no input relative to either decision. I departed from my meeting with Mr. McCullough believing that he was sincere and a Christian brother.  I bond with people who love Jesus, regardless of color.

My wife and I have voted Republican in presidential elections consistently since 1984.   We did not vote for President Obama. Vera and I proudly attended President Obama’s inaugural in order to witness and celebrate this historic milestone in American history.

We support the Republicans party commitment to pro-life, pro family (marriage between a man and a woman) strong defense, low taxes, personal responsibility and limited government. These are non-negotiable issues for us.  I must admit that I believe the Democrats are better at social and economic justice, racial sensitivity and inclusiveness and the equality of women in the workplace.  These are important issues to Black people.  Moreover, some would consider these issues equally important as the same sex marriage and abortion issues that drive Christian Republican voting.

Americans are incensed at the disrespect shown to the president most recently in the halls of congress. With the likes of outspoken Republicans like, Joe Wilson, Rush Limbaugh, and SBC minister Wiley Drake pleading and praying for the failure of the Obama administration and openly disrespecting him, my wife and I are finding it increasingly difficult identifying with the Republican Party.  We are beginning to feel we have no place in a party, which could treat any president with the kind of disrespect, and disdain that President Obama has encountered.  I spoke at a gathering of Republicans in Arlington where President Obama was referred to as “our teen-age president” — which is the 21st century version of “boy.”  Never before have, I heard of any President referred to by that kind of language.

When Michael Steele, African American and Chairman of the

Republican Party and a man I highly respect, felt compelled by his party to grovel at the feet of Rush Limbaugh to remain in the good graces of the party, I knew then that the Republican Party effort to reach many Blacks would be largely unsuccessful.  Why, because Black men with a back bone and strong convictions can not and will not  respect a party  requiring its leader to cringe at the feet of a radio and talk show personality. Not with standing that this “entertainer” has boldly and unashamedly wished for the failure of The President of the United States and his administration.

Finally, Mark Davis, do you really believe that the AISD students should miss school to hear Troy Aikman and Emmit Smith, but not President Obama?  Go figure!

God help me! Here I stand!

Resolution on racial reconciliation and

the election of Barack Hussein Obama


Submitted by Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

Cornerstone Baptist Church

Arlington, TX

Submitted to the Messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention

June 24, 2009

Louisville, Kentucky

WHEREAS, the American colonists declared their independence from the British

crown on July 4, 1776, by recognizing as self-evident that “all men are created

equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,

[and] that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;” and


WHEREAS, at the time of the nation’s founding and for nearly a century

thereafter, the American principle of liberty coexisted perfidiously with the evil

institution of chattel slavery whereby, in the words of President Abraham

Lincoln, men dared “to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from

the sweat of other men’s faces;” and


WHEREAS, President Lincoln – with undaunted and unparalleled courage – issued

the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, to declare that “all

persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State . . . shall be,

thenceforward, and forever free;” and


WHEREAS, from that time forward there grew efforts – both political and cultural

– to recognize the equality of all human persons and vouchsafe the civil rights of

all American citizens regardless of race; and


WHEREAS, among these advances in racial equality and civil rights are: The

adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery in the United States

(1865); the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to guarantee due process and

equal protection under the law to all U.S. citizens (1868); the Fifteenth

Amendment to ensure the right to vote for all U.S. citizens (1870); President

Truman’s executive order to desegregate the United States armed services

(1948); the landmark decisions of the United States Supreme Court in Brown v.

Board of Education to end racial segregation in public schools (1954) and Bailey

v. Patterson to declare segregation in transportation facilities as unconstitutional

(1962); the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination in voting,

federal-assistance programs and public accommodations, facilities and education;

the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited discriminatory voting practices

nationwide; and the landmark Loving v. Virginia decision of the Unites States

Supreme Court to strike down racially discriminatory marriage laws; and


WHEREAS, in 1868, John Willis Menard (R-LA) was the first African American to

take the oath of office to serve in the United States House of Representatives, and

has been followed by 115 other African Americans in the nation’s history;


WHEREAS, in 1870, Hiram Revels (R-MS) was the first African American to take

the oath of office to serve in the United States Senate, and has been followed by

only five other African Americans in the nation’s history; and


WHEREAS, in 1967, Justice Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first African

American to serve on the United States Supreme Court, and has been followed by

only one other African American in the nation’s history; and


WHEREAS, since 1937 the Southern Baptist Convention has formally rejected

every vestige of racial discrimination that remained from its founding in 1845 by

the adoption of resolutions denouncing racial prejudice, lynching, church

desecrations, segregation and the Ku Klux Klan; and


WHEREAS, on its 150th anniversary, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted “A

Resolution on Racial Reconciliation” that recognized the failures of some

Southern Baptists to affirm the dignity, worth, and equal rights of African

Americans, apologized and sought forgiveness for these injustices and purposed

to “eradicate in all its forms;” and


WHEREAS, during our 1996 annual meeting in New Orleans, Southern Baptists

demonstrated a renewed commitment to racial equality and justice by electing

Rev. Fred Luter as the first African American to serve as the convention’s second

vice president, and in 2001 selected him to be the first African American to

deliver the annual convention sermon; and


WHEREAS, on November 4, 2008, Barack Hussein Obama was elected as the first

African American to serve as the President of the United States of America; and


WHEREAS, this tremendous moment in our nation’s history provides a new

opportunity for people of faith to facilitate racial reconciliation and heal the

wounds and scars of the past; and


WHEREAS, President Barack Hussein Obama – while pursuing numerous social,

political and economic policies that are in fundamental opposition to the values

for which our convention and our churches have stood – has yet demonstrated

commendable efforts to include the perspective of Southern Baptists by

appointing our former convention president, Dr. Frank Page of South Carolina, to

advise his administration concerning issues of faith and public policy; and


WHEREAS, it is the sacred responsibility of God’s people to pray for their leaders

and render them appropriate honor and due respect in accord with the principles

of Holy Scripture; now


BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in

Louisville, KY, on June 24, 2009, celebrates the historic nature of the election of

President Barack Hussein Obama as a significant contribution to the ongoing

cause of racial reconciliation in the United States; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we earnestly pray that President Barrack

Hussein Obama will use the constitutional authority assigned to his office to

promote liberty and justice for all people, including the unborn; and


BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that we will join hands with President Obama and his

administration to advance causes of racial justice insofar as those efforts are

consistent with biblical principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


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