It was late May, but Denny Burk’s mind was on June. A professor of biblical studies at Boyce College in Kentucky and an associate pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church—both institutions affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest organization of evangelical Protestant churches in the U.S.—Burk was being sent as one of his church’s delegates, or “messengers,” to the SBC’s annual meeting, that year in Nashville, Tennessee. The June 2021 meeting was only weeks away, and there were important things to be done, or rather undone.
At the 2019 annual meeting, SBC messengers had passed “Resolution 9” to address critical race theory (CRT), an academic school of thought that emphasizes how racism becomes embedded in social structures. The resolution included warnings about CRT’s potential misuse, but it also included language indicating that the theory could be used by evangelical scholars if handled carefully. Burk was sure that suggesting there was any legitimate role for CRT in the church was a mistake that needed to be corrected.
He was far from alone. Almost as soon as the resolution had been adopted, there were calls to rescind it. Florida pastor Tom Ascol, a leader among the SBC’s “conservative opposition,” called Resolution 9 “infamous” and a “disaster.” Ascol was upset not only with the resolution’s content but also with how it had been adopted. Initially, the proposal that gave rise to Resolution 9 was submitted by California pastor Stephen Feinstein, who said he’d become “alarmed” by stories of parishioners who sent their children off to Bible college, only to have them return concerned about “white privilege.” To Feinstein, it represented “the proliferation of toxic, divisive, and satanic rhetoric designed to divide humanity and facilitate constant opposition in our society.” After Feinstein attended a conference at which evangelical leaders he respected were divided on how to handle the issue, he decided to “propose a resolution denouncing critical race theory.” When the SBC’s Committee on Resolutions considered Feinstein’s proposal, they retained warnings against abuse of CRT, but they also added statements allowing for its legitimate use if handled properly. In so doing, Ascol charged, the committee fundamentally changed Feinstein’s resolution from a condemnation to an affirmation of CRT.
In November 2020, after Fox News coverage and a Trump administration order banning racial sensitivity training among federal contractors made CRT a conservative focus, the presidents of the SBC’s six seminaries issued a statement condemning CRT as contrary to the Baptist Faith and Message, the SBC’s statement of faith. The statement also reminded seminary faculty that they “must agree to teach in accordance with and not contrary to the Baptist Faith & Message.” In June, Burk hoped the entire SBC would complete what the seminary presidents had begun. “We won’t leave Nashville,” his May 28 blog predicted, “without a strong resolution against Critical Race Theory.”
Three weeks later, the messengers approved Resolution 2, “On the Sufficiency of Scripture for Race and Racial Reconciliation,” but it came up short of what Burk had wanted. Resolution 2 could be interpreted as a rejection of CRT, but it didn’t explicitly condemn the theory. The resolution seemed intended to strike a balance between satisfying CRT critics like Burk without further alienating Black pastors and congregations. Several Black pastors had already left the SBC after the seminary presidents’ statement, with others, like prominent Texas pastor Dwight McKissic, vowing to leave if a resolution condemning CRT was adopted in Nashville.
Discomfort among White Southern Baptists over efforts to secure racial justice is nothing new. Most White evangelicals, including Southern Baptists, opposed the Civil Rights Movement, and the same habits of thought that drove opposition to Civil Rights in the past have lead many White Southern Baptists to oppose CRT in the present. For Black members of the Convention, the uproar over CRT raises serious questions about whether the modern SBC really is committed to racial justice, or whether the Convention’s loyalty is as much to White power as to the power of Christ.
The SBC’s Racial Sins, Past and Present
The debates over CRT are part of an ongoing discussion about race within the modern SBC. At the denomination’s 1995 annual meeting, delegates adopted the “Resolution on Racial Reconciliation.” The resolution acknowledges that “many of our Southern Baptist forbears defended the right to own slaves, and either participated in, supported, or acquiesced in the particularly inhumane nature of American slavery.” Similarly, the resolution confesses, “in later years Southern Baptists failed, in many cases, to support, and in some cases opposed, legitimate initiatives to secure the civil rights of African-Americans.” Moving forward, the messengers resolved that they “unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin” and “apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty.”
In 2000, the SBC followed this up by including racism in the list of sins that Christians should oppose, and in 2012, New Orleans pastor Fred Luter became the SBC’s first Black president. Four years later, a resolution was adopted discouraging display of the Confederate battle flag. Some commentators saw these moves as an effort on the part of SBC leadership to make the Convention more welcoming to minorities amid stagnating membership numbers. If that was the strategy, it seemed to be paying dividends. Between 2000 and 2018, the number of majority-Black SBC congregations nearly doubled to over 3,000.
Efforts to lay to rest the denomination’s racist past continued in 2018 with the release of a study from the SBC’s oldest seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, detailing the institution’s racist past. The report contains, as seminary president Al Mohler wrote, “candid acknowledgement of the legacy of this school in the horrifying realities of American slavery, Jim Crow segregation, racism, and even the avowal of white racial supremacy.” McKissic praised the report, tweeting that it was “refreshing to get an honest, insightful, and helpful historical overview of race/slavery. Truth that you acknowledge & act upon will set [you] free.”
One White Southern Baptist acting upon the lessons taught by history was Russell Moore, who served from 2013-2021 as head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), the public policy arm of the SBC. Responding to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in 2014, Moore warned that “the old zombie of Jim Crow still moves about,” and called on Christians to “start listening to our African American brothers and sisters … when they tell us they are experiencing a problem.” He challenged White Christians to “live out the gospel … by standing up and speaking out for one another.” Moore hit on similar themes in 2018 when he delivered the opening keynote of the MLK50 Conference co-hosted by the ERLC commemorating the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination.
Not all in the SBC, however, were as interested in acting on the lessons of history. In 2020, Moore wrote to the ERLC Board of Trustees describing pressure from SBC leadership to stop speaking out about race along with “constant threats from white nationalists and white supremacists, including within our convention.” The next year, Moore resigned as head of the ERLC and left the SBC. The forces behind Moore’s resignation represent another element within the SBC, common among White parishioners who fill most SBC pews and leaders who either sympathize with or feel pressure to align with their views. To them, discussion of ongoing systemic racism is at best a waste of resources and at worst a divisive undermining of the church. This perspective is reflected in the seminary presidents’ position against the study of CRT and in three proposals condemning use of CRT sent to the SBC’s Resolutions Committee prior to the 2021 annual meeting.
For a deeper understanding of SBC opposition to CRT, some historical perspective is helpful. Many of the habits of thought that led White Southern Baptists and other White evangelicals to oppose the Civil Rights movement 60 years ago are also behind opposition to CRT today. This can be seen by comparing the three anti-CRT proposed resolutions mentioned above to a sermon preached in 1960 by segregationist Bob Jones Sr. entitled “Is Segregation Scriptural?” (Jones’ answer was yes, it is). Jones was not a Southern Baptist and was independent of the SBC; however, like Southern Baptists, he was in the evangelical tradition. The habits of thought considered below are common to White evangelicals generally, and many of the arguments made by Jones were also put forward by Southern Baptists at the time.
Evangelical Religion, Civil Rights, and CRT
White evangelicals, sociologists Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith argue, tend to have an individualistic view of sin that makes it difficult for them to recognize how “sin” can infect economic systems, legal codes, and other social structures. They account for racial injustice by invoking the choices of individuals to treat people of another race poorly due to a lack of charity, and “they often find structural explanations irrelevant or even wrongheaded.” This same tendency to focus on individual factors (whether an individual works hard, acts responsibly, etc.) to the exclusion of structural factors also provides White evangelicals with an explanation for racial inequality that they find convincing. The result is that White evangelicals often don’t recognize racism; when they do, their proposed solutions “are profoundly individualistic and interpersonal: become a Christian, love your individual neighbors, establish a cross-race friendship,” and so on.
Another factor that prevents White evangelicals from recognizing the impacts of structural racism is a belief-focused understanding of religion. Evangelicals tend, philosopher James K.A. Smith argues, “to construe Christianity as a set of beliefs to be affirmed,” making “saying ‘yes’ to a list of beliefs central to the faith.” If holding the right beliefs is central to being a true Christian, and being a Christian is central to one’s identity (as it is for many evangelicals), then what one believes is central to one’s identity. By this logic, Smith points out “to be a racist … is to believe X, Y and Z about a group of people. And if I can confidently assert that I don’t believe X, Y or Z, then I can also comfort myself with ‘not being a racist,’” regardless of any implicit biases one might have or how one’s choices may actually affect people of color.
These twin tendencies to focus on individual sin and personal belief when considering racism are clearly present in both Jones’ well-known sermon in 1960 and modern SBC statements condemning CRT. As Jones railed against the evils of desegregation, he took pains to emphasize that he didn’t harbor hatred for anyone nor did he view any race as inferior. People “talk about a superior race and an inferior race and all that kind of situation,” Jones said. “Wait a minute. No race is inferior in the will of God. Get that clear. If a race is in the will of God, it is not inferior. It is a superior race.” Because Jones bears no ill will toward Blacks and does not view Blacks as inferior, he is sure that he cannot be guilty of supporting racism when he speaks in defense of segregation.
As he tells it, in fact, racism is not at the root of mistreatment of African Americans at all. “‘Well,’ you say, ‘The colored folks have not been treated right.’ I agree with you. Neither have the poor white people been treated right… . Any man who would mistreat a colored man would mistreat a white man. If he is mean enough to mistreat one man, he is mean enough to mistreat another.” The solution is not structural reform to dismantle racist systems like segregation but rather changing the hearts of “mean” people. “A born-again white man and a born-again colored man can settle any differences they have. God is their Father. They are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.” In fact, among true Christians in the South there is no racial tension because there is no racial injustice. “All you white people know your colored friends. We have some of [them], and we would not let anybody mistreat them if we could help it; and they would not let anybody mistreat us. It has always been that way in the South.”
Like Jones’ sermon, contemporary SBC statements opposing CRT are eager to affirm that their authors are not racist, and they do so using a similar definition of racists: as individuals who have malicious intentions toward people of other races. One proposal complains that CRT redefines racism as referring to something other than “personal animosity towards another based upon race,” while another criticizes CRT for “focusing upon collective guilt as opposed to the emphasis on individual responsibility in The Baptist Faith and Message.” This definition of racism has the advantage of allowing opponents of CRT to insulate themselves from charges of racism, as Jones had done before them, by disavowing racist attitudes or intentions. The seminary presidents preface their 2020 denunciation of CRT by assuring readers that they “stand together on historic Southern Baptist condemnations of racism in any form.” One of the proposed 2021 resolutions to disavow CRT affirms this sentiment, citing the seminary presidents’ statement. Another proposal affirms that “every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love,” and the authors “reaffirm [their] agreement with historic, biblically-faithful Southern Baptist condemnations of racism in any and all forms.” Because the anti-CRT proposals, like Jones’ sermons, focus on racism as a problem of individual animosity, their proposed remedy to racism, like Jones’, is to convert people’s hearts from hate to love through Christ. The SBC should, one proposal advises, “commit ourselves anew to proclaiming biblical truth regarding the … transforming power of the Holy Spirit as the remedy for all bigotry, hatred, prejudice, and unjust actions.”
For both Jones and the anti-CRT wing of the modern SBC, it is the mistaken beliefs or malicious intentions of ‘bad apples’ that need to be reformed, not social, economic, or legal structures. This intellectualized and individualized understanding of racism allowed Jones to support a system perpetuating brutalizing racial injustice with a clean conscience. Similarly, Arkansas pastor Wendell Griffen points out, it allows the six White men who lead the SBC seminaries to decry “racism in any form” while simultaneously decreeing that “the views of white Southern Baptist men about religious faith, public policy and social justice cannot be questioned, let alone critiqued or challenged, by people of color.” Thus, and with no apparent awareness of the irony, in the very act of barring study of CRT, “the SBC presidents presented themselves as textbook examples of white supremacy and the analytical usefulness of CRT.”
Mythic History, Anti-Intellectualism, and Unreflective Biblicism
The parallels between SBC criticisms of CRT today and arguments used to support segregation in 1960 could give opponents of CRT pause. “Modern day evangelicals would do well,” historian Curtis Evans advises, “to heed some of the lessons from their own history.” This, however, is unlikely, since evangelicals’ interest in U.S. history tends to be, in the words of church historian Mark Noll, “ritualistic and mythic,” not focused on understanding the history of the nation but intended instead to stir emotions and elicit feelings.
With this approach to history, past sins may be confessed, but such confession is rarely done with an eye toward learning from mistakes. In his radio sermon, Jones acknowledged that “slavery was not right,” but this recognition had no discernible impact on his consideration of the legitimacy of segregation in his own day. Similarly, the report issued by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2018 has the feel of a ritualistic confession meant to purge the guilt of past sins rather than to shed light on the present. This is reflected in the fact that the report’s detailed analysis ends in the 1960s, and was driven home in 2020 when Mohler, who commissioned the report, joined the other seminary presidents in rejecting the study of CRT. In other cases, the mythic approach can mean simply rewriting history to create a past more in line with the perceived needs of the present. An example of this type of “history” is a sermon by Southern Baptist pastor and Christian nationalist Robert Jeffress entitled, “America Is a Christian Nation.” The sermon is very popular among White evangelicals despite the fact that it is, as historian John Fea points out, filled with “false and problematic claims” based on arguments that have been “debunked by nearly every serious American historian.”
This mythic approach to history reflects a strong current of anti-intellectualism that runs through evangelicalism. Evangelicals tend to avoid careful, critical study in part due to a conviction that what really matters is a personal relationship between the individual and God – “heart knowledge” that takes precedence over “head knowledge.” Many evangelicals also share a concern that critical reflection can lead to “questioning the divine” and possibly rejecting evangelical beliefs.
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, and many capable scholars are also evangelicals. Yet serious scholars, even evangelical scholars, have little impact on the views of the typical American evangelical. Rather than relying on careful analysis, academic study, or expert opinion, most evangelicals are confident in their ability to intuitively grasp what are taken to be the plain meanings of biblical texts and common sense understandings of reality. Reflecting on, for example, how one’s cultural context or the power dynamics of one’s community might influence one’s reading of scripture is a temptation drawing Christians away from adherence to the simple truth of God’s Word.
Bob Jones exemplified this type of unreflective appeal to scripture in attempting to prove that segregation was “God’s established order.” “Every good, substantial, Bible-believing, intelligent, orthodox Christian,” he assured listeners, “can read the Word of God and know that what is happening in the South now”—the Civil Rights movement—“is not of God.” The legitimacy of segregation was obvious because “the Bible is perfectly clear on races—just as clear as it can be.”
In these passages, Jones merely implies an ability to read the Bible in accord with the text’s plain meaning, apart from biases or other influences that might impact one’s interpretation. The authors of the anti-CRT proposals are not so shy. A problematic aspect of CRT, according to one proposed resolution, is that it “challenges claims of ‘objectivity,’ ‘neutrality,’ and ‘colorblindness’” and “undermines the perspicuity of Scripture to all people.” Another proposal concludes with a rather breathtaking statement of the authors’ “absolute conviction that a proper interpretation of the Holy Scriptures—apart from any worldly ideology, any personal identity trait, or any lived experience—is sufficient to serve as the sole standard by which our faith and practice are to be measured.” Of course, denying the influence of external factors on one’s interpretation of the Bible does not make that influence go away. On the contrary, it reinforces the power of biases by discouraging readers from questioning their interpretations or considering alternative interpretations offered by people whose experiences differ. To borrow a phrase from C. S. Lewis, it allows the influence of one’s background and experiences on interpretation to remain “silent, uninspected, and operative” every time scripture is read.
Ironically, Jones’ sermon and the anti-CRT proposals together provide an example of how culture influences biblical interpretation. Jones’ certainty that segregation is God’s will rests on one biblical verse, Acts 17:26, which reads, “[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth… and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” Jones focuses on the second half of this verse, asserting that “God Almighty did not make of the human race one race in the sense that He did not fix the bounds of their habitation.” And thus, “racially we have separation in the Bible.”
By contrast, the authors of one anti-CRT proposal focused on the first half of Acts 17:26 to support an opposing claim. They assert “the Bible instructs Christians not to separate ourselves into groups based upon ethnicity, socio-economic status, or gender (Gal 3:28 and James 2:1, 9), teaching instead that all men and women are created equal in the image of God (Gen 1:25-27),have descended from Adam and Eve, the biological progenitors of the whole human race (Acts 17:26), and are all sinners (Rom 3:23); and The Baptist Faith and Message declares that ‘only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God’ (Article III).” A White Christian raised in the segregated South interpreting the same verse differently than a White Christian raised in a culture that has repudiated legal segregation is neither surprising nor remarkable. It does, however, illustrate how claims to interpret scripture apart from the influence of culture, identity, or lived experience, are as unrealistic as they sound.
Realistic or not, reliance on direct insight into truth through the plain meaning of scripture or the intuitions of common sense underlies much evangelical social and political thought. Modern evangelicals’ “most visible forms of political reflection have,” Noll points out, “been intuitive – carried on without serious recourse to self-conscious theological construction, systematic moral philosophy, thorough historical analysis, or careful social scientific research.” These tendencies help to make sense of Southern Baptist opposition to CRT. People committed to plain meanings, intuitive certainty, and common sense don’t feel the need to look at data or consult expert analysis when they think about racial justice, because they already know in their hearts that they are not part of the problem.
Whose SBC? Which Evangelicalism?
In addition to calling attention to continuities in White evangelicals’ attitudes toward racial justice over time, the uproar over CRT also highlights ambiguity surrounding what it means to be an evangelical in America today, which can help in understanding divisions within the SBC. The classic definition of an “evangelical” was provided in the late 1980s by David Bebbington, a leading scholar of evangelicalism, who defined it according to members’ adherence to four beliefs famously summarized in Bebbington’s “quadrilateral”:
- Conversionism: The centrality of an emotionally powerful conversion experience in the life of a true Christian.
- Activism: A focus on missionary activity, particularly fostering conversions in people who had not yet had the experience.
- Biblicism: An emphasis on the special authority of the Bible.
- Crucicentrism: An emphasis on Christ’s atoning death as key to salvation.
In America, however, the term “evangelical” has taken on a number of ethnic and political connotations over the last few decades, both among people who self-identify as evangelical and in the eyes of the broader public. To understand the significance of “evangelical” in America today, historian Michael Hamilton has proposed a new “white evangelical political quadrilateral” as an update to Bebbington’s definition:
- Christian nationalism: Belief that God intends the United States to be a “Christian nation,” “controlled and dominated by white male Christians.”
- Christian tribalism: Belief that White evangelicals form a distinctive, victimized group that needs to assert its group identity.
- Political moralism: Belief that “government should enforce Christian morality [as defined by White evangelicals] by punishing immoral behavior.”
- Antistatism: Belief that the role of government is to maintain order by punishing evildoers rather than to provide for the needs of citizens.
Combining the insights of Bebbington and Hamilton, we can distinguish three types of evangelicals in America today: ‘traditional’ (Bebbington) evangelicals, ‘political’ (Hamilton) evangelicals, and people who align with both quadrilaterals – call them ‘traditional/political’ evangelicals. It seems likely that most active SBC members embrace traditional evangelical beliefs, but the furor over CRT and recent voting patterns suggest that many Southern Baptists, particularly in the conservative opposition, are most accurately identified as traditional/political evangelicals.
The Christian tribalism to which Hamilton refers is reflected in the SBC presidents’ rejection of CRT as a move to protect Christian truth “in the face of an increasingly hostile secular culture.” Acceptance of de facto White supremacy in the SBC is reflected in the fact that many SBC members seem to be fine with six White men unilaterally declaring what can and cannot be said about racism in America at SBC seminaries. Like Bob Jones before them, opponents of CRT in the modern SBC express clear opposition to racism but also argue that racism should be understood and addressed in ways that do not make White people uncomfortable. To do otherwise, Jones and the anti-CRT statements agree, merely causes “confusion” and “divisions.” The limitations of such an approach to addressing racism are readily apparent to Black leaders. “I find it deeply offensive,” Florida minister Maina Mwaura wrote in response to the seminary presidents’ statement, “that people would speak for the SBC on race when they themselves have never worn Black skin; never dealt with its historical and cultural inequities; nor had any firsthand experience of navigating the tensions of race in today’s world.”
Tension within the SBC as a multiethnic church seeking to retain the loyalty of both traditional evangelicals and traditional/political evangelicals is reflected in the explanations offered by present and former Black SBC pastors for why they have chosen to leave or stay. Those who stay focus on personal connections and traditional elements of evangelicalism while putting so-called “political” issues to the side. Fred Luter, the former SBC president, says that he has no intention of leaving. “I looked at our stance at the Bible, on mission, on giving, on planting churches,” Luter explained when asked why he remains in the SBC. “Are we a perfect convention? No we’re not, but I believe we are doing all we can to reach the generations according to the word of God.” Terry Turner, a Dallas area pastor, concurred, citing the resources and opportunities SBC membership makes available supporting missionary activity, hunger relief, and disaster relief.
By contrast, Black leaders who have left the SBC see traditional/political evangelicals as ascendant within the convention. “I can’t sit by and continue to support or even loosely affiliate with an entity that is pitching its tent with white supremacy,” explained Louisville pastor Joel Bowman in response to the seminary presidents’ statement. “I had to tell my church I was wrong,” admitted Charlie Dates, who had reassured concerned members of his Chicago area church that racial animus was the past, not the future of the SBC. “Conservatism is, and has always been, the god of the SBC.”
Where the tipping point comes that leads a pastor to leave behind the personal and institutional ties—as well as the financial benefits—of SBC affiliation varies. For Atlanta pastor John Onwuchekwa, “the straw that broke the camel’s back” had already come by mid-2020, spurred by the SBC’s lack of urgency dealing with issues of racial justice and most SBC members’ ongoing support for Trump despite his blatant racism. For Bowman and Dates, the tipping point was the seminary presidents’ statement, and for others it is yet to come. Dwight McKissic, the Black Texas pastor who had threatened to leave the SBC if 2019’s Resolution 9 was “gutted or rescinded,” appears to be remaining in the Convention for now. The actions at the 2021 annual meeting related to CRT earned McKissic’s praise. Taking into account the decision neither to rescind Resolution 9 nor to adopt a resolution explicitly condemning use of CRT, McKissic tweeted that “The SBC resolutions committee has responded correctly twice to CRT resolutions. The convention voted correctly twice. The council of seminary presidents are still way off base, with their CRT position & response. I’m grateful that the SBC position trumps the [seminary presidents’] position on CRT.”
It remains to be seen how debates over racial justice will play out in the SBC. Individualized preconceptions of sin make it hard for many White evangelicals to recognize structural racism, and anti-intellectualism makes such preconceptions difficult to dislodge. The Christian scriptures provide plenty of resources to oppose structural racism, but unreflective biblicism makes such passages largely unavailable to many evangelicals. Ironically, engagement with CRT could help White evangelicals overcome limitations that blind them to structural sins, but the very factors that make CRT so potentially valuable for traditional/political evangelicals also make them less likely to engage it.
Despite the challenges that continue to face people who, like Russell Moore, would try to rally White evangelicals in support of racial justice, traditional/political evangelical ideas are not without opposition in today’s SBC. In Nashville in 2021, the three anti-CRT proposals considered above were all rejected by the Resolutions Committee in favor of a resolution that leaves room for engagement with CRT. Ed Litton, an Alabama pastor known for his commitment to racial reconciliation, was elected president, beating out conservative Georgia pastor Mike Stone, who was a sponsor of one of the anti-CRT proposals.
Yet the SBC’s conservative faction, with its traditional/political evangelical agenda, remains a potent force. Stone lost by fewer than 600 votes out of more than 13,000 cast, and conservative leaders are organizing to orchestrate a takeover at the 2022 annual meeting. Commenting on the adoption of Resolution 2, Denny Burk expressed confidence that conservative voices calling for condemnation of CRT will eventually prevail in the SBC. Perhaps, as McKissic hopes, Burk is mistaken, and the seminary presidents’ condemnation of CRT will fall by the wayside rather than being the prelude to a more thoroughgoing repudiation of CRT by SBC leadership. Perhaps Burk is correct, and conservatives will mount a takeover of the SBC that will purge it of the “woke” gospel of “racial reconciliation” and of members not sufficiently committed to traditional/political evangelicalism. Or perhaps the conservative faction will break off to create a separate church more consistently committed to traditional/political evangelical principles. If either of the latter two possibilities does occur, and a church arises in which traditional/political evangelical voices dominate, it will almost certainly be a church that is smaller and significantly less diverse than the current SBC.
 Denny Burk, “Dealing with Resolution 9 at the SBC,” Denny Burk, May 28, 2021, www.dennyburk.com/dealing-with-resolution-9-at-the-sbc/.
 Dalia Fahmy, “7 Facts about Southern Baptists,” Pew Research Center, June 7, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/07/7-facts-about-southern-baptists/.
 An accessible introduction to CRT is available at Janel George, “A Lesson on Critical Race Theory,” American Bar Association, January 11, 2021, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/civil-rights-reimagining-policing/a-lesson-on-critical-race-theory/. In some circles, CRT is used to refer to just about any discussion of race, the result of efforts by CRT opponents to “intentionally [use] the term to describe a range of race-related topics and conjure a negative association.” Marisa Iati, “What is critical race theory, and why do Republicans want to ban it in schools?” Washington Post, May 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2021/05/29/critical-race-theory-bans-schools/. And no, CRT is not being taught in primary and secondary schools. Jess Clark, “Fact Check: 3 Common Claims About Critical Race Theory,” 89.3 WFPL, July 9, 2021, https://wfpl.org/fact-check-3-common-claims-about-critical-race-theory/. See also: Jasmine Banks, “Sowing the Seeds of White Supremacy Through Education,” Political Research Associates, October 21, 2021, https://politicalresearch.org/2021/10/21/sowing-seeds-white-supremacy-through-education.
 Mark Silk, “The SBC’s Critical Race Theory Debacle,” Religion News Service, December 29, 2020, https://religionnews.com/2020/12/29/the-sbcs-critical-race-theory-debacle/.
 Tom Ascol, “Resolution 9 and the Southern Baptist Convention 2019,” Founders Ministries, https://founders.org/2019/06/15/resolution-9-and-the-southern-baptist-convention-2019/.
 Stephen Feinstein, ” SBC19 Resolution #9 on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” Soli Deo Gloria, June 13, 2019, http://sovereignway.blogspot.com/2019/06/sbc19-resolution-9-on-critical-race.html.
 Tom Ascol, “Resolution 9 and the Southern Baptist Convention 2019,” Founders Ministries, June 15, 2019, https://founders.org/2019/06/15/resolution-9-and-the-southern-baptist-convention-2019/
 Fabiola Cineas, “Critical Race Theory, and Trump’s War on It, Explained,” Vox, September 24, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/9/24/21451220/critical-race-theory-diversity-training-trump
 The statement can be found at George Schroeder, “Seminary Presidents Reaffirm BFM, Declare CRT Incompatible,” Baptist Press, November 30, 2020, www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/seminary-presidents-reaffirm-bfm-declare-crt-incompatible/
 Burk, “Dealing with Resolution 9.”
 Denny Burk, “Dealing with Resolution 9… or Not,”Denny Burk, , June 16, 2021, www.dennyburk.com/dealing-with-resolution-9-or-not/. A copy of Resolution 2 is available at https://www.sbc.net/resource-library/resolutions/on-the-sufficiency-of-scripture-for-race-and-racial-reconciliation/
 Dwight McKissic, “Why I Will Leave the SBC If They Rescind Resolution 9, Affirming Limited Beneficial Aspects of Critical Race Theory,” SBC Voices, June 9, 2021, https://sbcvoices.com/why-i-will-leave-the-sbc-if-they-rescind-resolution-9-affirming-limited-beneficial-aspects-of-critical-race-theory/
 See Curtis Evans, “White Evangelical Protestant Responses to the Civil Rights Movement” in Harvard Theological Review, 102.2 (2009): 245-273; Justin Taylor, “A Conversation with Four Historians on the Response of White Evangelicals to the Civil Rights Movement,” The Gospel Coalition, July 1, 2016, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/evangelical-history/a-conversation-with-four-historians-on-the-response-of-white-evangelicals-to-the-civil-rights-movement/; Mark Newman, Getting Right with God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1995 (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2001).
 “Resolution on Race and Racial Reconciliation on the 150th Anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Southern Baptist Convention, June 1, 1995, https://www.sbc.net/resource-library/resolutions/resolution-on-racial-reconciliation-on-the-150th-anniversary-of-the-southern-baptist-convention/.
 “Baptist Faith and Message 2000,” Southern Baptist Convention, https://bfm.sbc.net/bfm2000/.
 “On Sensitivity and Unity Regarding the Confederate Battle Flag,” Southern Baptist Convention, June 1, 2016, https://www.sbc.net/resource-library/resolutions/on-sensitivity-and-unity-regarding-the-confederate-battle-flag/.
 Emma Green, “Southern Baptists and the Sin of Racism,” The Atlantic, April 7, 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/southern-baptists-wrestle-with-the-sin-of-racism/389808/.
 David Roach, “Why Black Pastors Still Stay Southern Baptist,” Christianity Today, April 7, 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/april/why-black-pastors-still-stay-southern-baptist.html.
 The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” 2. The report is available at Racism-and-the-Legacy-of-Slavery-Report-v4.pdf (sbts-wordpress-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com).
 Quoted in David Roach, “SBTS Slavery & Racism Report Stirs Media Flurry,” Baptist Press, December 21, 2018, https://www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/sbts-slavery-racism-report-stirs-media-flurry/.
 Russell Moore, “Ferguson and the Path to Peace,” Russell Moore, November 24, 2014, https://www.russellmoore.com/2014/11/24/ferguson-and-the-path-to-peace/.
 Elizabeth Bristow, “ERLC’s Russell Moore Responds to Eric Garner Case,” Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, December 3, 2014, https://erlc.com/resource-library/press-releases/erlcs-russell-moore-responds-to-eric-garner-case/.
 Bristow, “ERLC’s Russell Moore Responds.”
 Russell Moore, “Racial Justice and the Uneasy Conscience of American Christianity,” Russell Moore, April 10, 2018, https://www.russellmoore.com/2018/04/10/king-and-kingdom-racial-justice-and-the-uneasy-conscience-of-american-christianity/.
 Religion News Service, “Russell Moore to ERLC Trustees: ‘They Want Me to Live in Psychological Terror,’” Religion News Service, June 2, 2021, https://religionnews.com/2021/06/02/russell-moore-to-erlc-trustees-they-want-me-to-live-in-psychological-terror/.
 Peter Wehner, “The Scandal Rocking the Evangelical World,” The Atlantic, June 7, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/06/russell-moore-sbc/619122/.
 See Janell Ross, “Southern Baptist report on slavery ties includes no reflection on racial equality today,” NBC News, December 16, 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/southern-baptist-report-slavery-ties-includes-no-reflection-racial-equality-n948396..
 The anti-CRT proposed resolutions are: John LaRue, “Resolution on the Rejection of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality as Compatible with the Baptist Faith and Message,” May 27, 2021 (This post has since been removed from Facebook. Please contact PRA for a copy of the proposed resolution); Mike Stone et. al„ “Resolution on the Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality with The Baptist Faith and Message,” Southern Baptists Against Racism, https://southernbaptistsagainstracism.org; Stephen Feinstein, “New Resolution Proposal on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” Soli Deo Gloria, May 26, 2021, http://sovereignway.blogspot.com/2021/05/new-resolution-proposal-on-critical.html .
 Bob Jones, Sr., “Is Segregation Scriptural?” (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University, 1960), 27. An online reprint of the sermon is also available at Camille Lewis, “‘Is Segregation Scriptural?’ by Bob Jones Sr, 1960,” A Time To Laugh, March 15, 2013, https://www.drslewis.org/camille/2013/03/15/is-segregation-scriptural-by-bob-jones-sr-1960/.
 “Bob Jones: He Bridged a Great Gap,” Christianity Today, February 2, 1968: 50, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1968/february-2/bob-jones-he-bridged-great-gap.html.
 See Mark Newman, Getting Right with God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1995 (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2001), 50-57.
 Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). See chapters 3 and 4, especially pp. 66-68, 76-80; quotation at 78. See also Justin Taylor, “A Conversation with Four Historians on the Response of White Evangelicals to the Civil Rights Movement,” The Gospel Coalition, July 1, 2016, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/evangelical-history/a-conversation-with-four-historians-on-the-response-of-white-evangelicals-to-the-civil-rights-movement/
 Emerson and Smith, ch . 5.
 Emerson and Smith, ch. 6, quotation at p. 130.
 James Smith, “What White Evangelical Christians Can’t See When They See Racism,” Religion News Service, August 6, 2020, https://religionnews.com/2020/08/06/what-white-evangelical-christians-cant-see-when-they-see-racism/.
 Jones, Is Segregation Scriptural? 8.
 Jones, Is Segregation Scriptural? 12.
 Jones, Is Segregation Scriptural? 11.
 Jones, Is Segregation Scriptural? 21.
 LaRue, “Resolution on the Rejection of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.”
 “Resolution on the Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” Southern Baptists Against Racism.
 Quoted in George Schroeder, “Seminary Presidents Reaffirm BFM, Declare CRT Incompatible,” Baptist Press, November 30, 2020, https://www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/seminary-presidents-reaffirm-bfm-declare-crt-incompatible/.
 LaRue, “Resolution on the Rejection of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.”
 “Resolution on the Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” Southern Baptists Against Racism.
 LaRue, “Resolution on the Rejection of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.”
 Wendell Griffen, “Why Are SBC Seminary Presidents Rejecting Critical Race Theory If They Teach about Jesus and the Prophets Who Denounced Injustice?” Baptist News Global, December 16, 2020, https://baptistnews.com/article/why-are-sbc-seminary-presidents-rejecting-critical-race-theory-if-they-teach-about-jesus-and-the-prophets-who-denounced-injustice/#.YQQl6Y5Kg2w. See also Miguel de la Torre, “I Agree: Critical Race Theory Is Indeed Incompatible with Southern Baptist Convention’s ‘Faith and Message,’” Religion Dispatches, December 14, 2020, https://religiondispatches.org/i-agree-critical-race-theory-is-indeed-incompatible-with-southern-baptist-conventions-faith-and-message/.
 Curtis Evans, “White Evangelical Protestant Responses to the Civil Rights Movement” in Harvard Theological Review, 102.2 (2009): 251.
 Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 158.
 Jones, “Is Segregation Scriptural?,” 16, 22. This is despite the romanticized vision of slavery that he presents.
 “Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Racism-and-the-Legacy-of-Slavery-Report-v4.pdf (sbts-wordpress-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com), 70. Consideration of ongoing racial injustice is limited to noting that “in the decades after the civil rights movement, the seminary continued to struggle with the legacy of slavery and racism.”
 John Fea, Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018), 161-162; see 159-165.
 Mark Ward, “‘Knowledge Puffs Up’: The Evangelical Culture of Anti-Intellectualism as a Local Strategy,” Sermon Studies, 4, no. 1 (2020): 10.
 Gretchen Ruecker Hoog, “The Liberal University and Its Perpetuation of Evangelical Anti-intellectualism,” Seattle University Law Review, 33, no. 3 (2010): 691. For more detail and historical perspective, see Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1964), ch. 5.
 See Noll, Scandal; Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, ch. 1-5; Fred Clark, “The ‘Weird’ Fringe Is the Biggest Part of White Evangelicalism,” in Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be, edited by Mark Noll, David Bebbington, and George Marsden (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans: 2019), 241-244.
 Jones, “Is Segregation Scriptural?” 10, among other places.
 Jones, ”Is Segregation Scriptural?” 18.
 Jones, ”Is Segregation Scriptural?” 4.
 Feinstein, “New Resolution Proposal on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.”.
 “Resolution on the Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” Southern Baptists Against Racism.
 C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: MacMillan, 1948), 108 (letter 21).
 Jones, “Is Segregation Scriptural?” 6. This, the translation Jones uses, although somewhat archaic, captures the essential meaning of the verse.
 Jones, “Is Segregation Scriptural?” 6-7.
 Jones, “Is Segregation Scriptural?” 21.
 “Resolution on the Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” Southern Baptists Against Racism. The statement refers to the broader category of “ethnicity,” thus condemning recognition of distinctions including, but not limited to, distinctions based on race. See “The Difference between ‘Race’ and ‘Ethnicity’: How They Differ and Overlap,” Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/difference-between-race-and-ethnicity
 Noll, 169.
 David Bebbington, “The Nature of Evangelical Religion,” in Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be, edited by Mark Noll, David Bebbington, and George Marsden (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019), 34-55.
 This discussion is limited to American evangelicals. I do not intend to imply anything about the extent to which similar shifts in meaning of the term ‘evangelical’ may or may not have occurred elsewhere.
 Michael Hamilton, “A Strange Love? Or: How White Evangelicals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Donald,” in Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be, edited by Mark Noll, David Bebbington, and George Marsden (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019), 221-226; quotations at 221, 222, 224. See also Thomas Kidd, “Is the Term ‘Evangelical’ Redeemable?” in Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be, edited by Mark Noll, David Bebbington, and George Marsden (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019), 247-250. This understanding of the term can explain why, although “African Americans are the ethnic group most likely to hold [traditional] evangelical beliefs… . African Americans … steer away from the term ‘evangelical’ itself, since it comes with so much ethnic and political baggage.” Kidd, 249-250.
 Polling confirms this overlap between political and traditional evangelicals. See Hamilton, 218-219; “Notional Christians: The Big Election Story in 2016,” Barna, December 1, 2016, https://www.barna.com/research/notional-christians-big-election-story-2016/; Bob Smietana, “Many Who Call Themselves Evangelical Don’t Actually Hold Evangelical Beliefs,” Lifeway Research, December 6, 2017, https://lifewayresearch.com/2017/12/06/many-evangelicals-dont-hold-evangelical-beliefs/; “Political Ideology among Members of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Pew Research Center, https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/religious-denomination/southern-baptist-convention/political-ideology/. See also Mary Worthen, “Idols of the Trump Era” in Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be, edited by Mark Noll, David Bebbington, and George Marsden (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019), 256-258.
 Quoted in George Schroeder, “Seminary Presidents Reaffirm BFM, Declare CRT Incompatible,” Baptist Press, November 30, 2020, www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/seminary-presidents-reaffirm-bfm-declare-crt-incompatible/.
 @pastordmack, “The practical impact of the council of seminary presidents CRT/BFM2K Incompatibility policy, is to metaphorically stick a gun to the head of any AA professor who dare discuss race in a manner that any White SBC person finds unacceptable. Same holds true for a “woke” Anglo prof,” Twitter, January 10, 2021, https://twitter.com/pastordmack/status/1348247701356470272.
According to McKissic, the practical impact of the presidents’ statement “is to metaphorically stick a gun to the head of any AA [African American] professor who dare[s] discuss race in a manner that any white SBC person finds unacceptable.”.
 LaRue, “Resolution on the Rejection of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,”; “Resolution on the Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” Southern Baptist Against Racism;; Jones, 8, 11, 31; see also 15, 24, 30.
 Maina Mwaura, “Six White Men Shouldn’t Decide Southern Baptist Position on Race,” Religion News Service, December 8, 2020, https://religionnews.com/2020/12/08/six-white-men-shouldnt-decide-the-southern-baptists-position-on-race/
 Kate Shellnutt, “While Southern Baptists Debate Critical Race Theory, Black Pastors Keep Hoping for Change,” Christianity Today, June 29, 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/june/black-pastor-southern-baptist-naaf-frank-williams-crt-churc.html; David Roach, “Why Black Pastors Still Stay Southern Baptist,” Christianity Today, April 7, 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/april/why-black-pastors-still-stay-southern-baptist.html
 Quoted Shellnutt, “While Southern Baptists Debate Critical Race Theory.”
 Roach, “Why Black Pastors Still Stay Southern Baptist.”
 Quoted in Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Michelle Boorstein, “Several Black Pastors Break with the Southern Baptist Convention over a Statement on Race,” Washington Post, December 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/12/23/black-pastors-break-southern-baptist-critical-race-theory/.
 Charlie Dates, “‘We Out’: Charlie Dates on Why His Church Is Leaving the SBC over Rejection of Critical Race Theory,” Religion News Service, December 18, 2020, https://religionnews.com/2020/12/18/we-out-charlie-dates-on-why-his-church-is-leaving-the-sbc-over-rejection-of-critical-race-theory/.
 Quoted in Maina Mwaura, “Why John Onwuchekwa, a Black Pastor and Rising Star, Gave Up on Southern Baptists,” Religion News Service, July 15, 2020, https://religionnews.com/2020/07/15/why-john-onwuchekwa-a-black-pastor-and-rising-star-gave-up-on-southern-baptists/. Regarding this lack of concern about racial justice, Hamilton points out that “despite frequent resolutions urging government action on issues like abortion or same-sex marriage, the SBC never advocates for government action to curb racial discrimination.” Hamilton, 226. Evans notes that White evangelicals opposed using government power to promote racial justice by stressing the need to change hearts. At the same time, he argues, “Evangelicals have selectively applied an individualist ethic primarily to social practices with which they have disagreed… . [E]vangelicals invoked a ‘spiritual solution’ or personal conversion (in general) to social problems … when it appeared that government support of such positions would challenge evangelical conceptions of the proper social order.” Evans, 250; see also 259.
 McKissic, “Why I Will Leave the SBC.”
 Quoted in Mark Wingfield, “Southern Baptists are still obsessed with Critical Race Theory,” Baptist News Global, June 18, 2021, https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptists-are-still-obsessed-with-critical-race-theory/#.YheYj_7MKUk; @pastordmack, “The SBC resolutions committee has responded correctly twice to CRT resolutions. The convention voted correctly twice. The council of seminary presidents are still way of base, with their CRT position & response. I’m grateful that the SBC position trumps the csp position, on CRT,” Twitter, June 16, 2021, https://twitter.com/pastordmack/status/1405203489358237697.
 Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Jason Koon, “The Problem with the SBC’s New Resolution on Racism,” Word & Way, June 21, 2021, https://wordandway.org/2021/06/21/the-problem-with-the-sbcs-new-resolution-on-racism/. Emerson and Smith note that “much in Christian scripture and tradition points to the influence of social structures on individuals.” Nevertheless, “the stress on individualism has been so complete for such a long time in white American evangelical culture that such tools are nearly unavailable.” Emerson and Smith, 78-79. Similarly, Jason Koon argues that ignoring structural sins is “as biblically unfaithful as it is socially irresponsible.”.
 See Caroline Matas, “New Patriarch, Same Patriarchy: Despite Glowing Praise for New SBC President, There’s Just One Problem,” Religion Dispatches, June 25, 2021, https://religiondispatches.org/new-patriarch-same-patriarchy-despite-glowing-praise-for-new-sbc-president-theres-just-one-problem/.
 Katherine Burgess, “Conservative Baptist Network Meets in Cordova, Warns of ‘Woke’ Seminaries, Blasts Ed Litton,” Memphis Commercial Appeal, November 19, 2021, https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2021/11/19/conservative-baptist-network-meets-cordova-warns-woke-seminaries/8687080002/.
 Denny Burk, “Dealing with Resolution 9… or Not,” Denny Burk, June 16, 2021, www.dennyburk.com/dealing-with-resolution-9-or-not/.
 Burgess, “Conservative Baptist Network Meets in Cordova.”
 See Eliza Griswold, “The Fight for the Heart of the Southern Baptist Convention,” The New Yorker, June 10, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/on-religion/the-fight-for-the-heart-of-the-southern-baptist-convention.