Southern Baptists denounce Confederate flag

Religion | Delegates to the denomination’s annual convention urge members not to fly what many consider a racist symbol
by Leigh Jones
Posted 6/15/16, 04:22 pm

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, overwhelmingly approved a resolution Tuesday calling on their 15.3 million members to stop displaying the Confederate flag.

SBC president Ronnie Floyd urged delegates to the denomination’s annual convention in St. Louis to think about the issue from a spiritual perspective.

“I believe the issue of racism is from Satan and his demonic forces of hell,” he said. “It is an assault on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Despite support among SBC leaders for the change in wording, some convention-goers expressed surprise at how many delegates agreed.

“It was the most wonderful surprise, a complete denunciation of the flag because of what it represents and because of the Southern symbol that it is to African-American brothers and sisters in Christ,” Alan Cross, a Southern Baptist minister from Alabama, told Religion News Service.

As part of the resolution, delegates also approved removing a sentence from an earlier version that said some people choose to fly the flag as a memorial to ancestors who died during the Civil War.

Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, cheered the change.

“The Southern Baptist Convention made history today and made history in the right way,” he said following Tuesday’s vote. “This denomination was founded by people who wrongly defended the sin of human slavery. Today, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination voted to repudiate the Confederate battle flag, and it’s time and well past time.”

Although long considered divisive and racist, the Confederate flag finally fell out of favor last year after accused mass-murderer Dylann Roof posted to social media a photo of himself posing in front of it. Roof faces the death penalty for killing nine parishioners at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, 2015, in a racially motivated rampage. After the shooting, South Carolina lawmakers voted to remove the flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbia. Other Southern institutions and organizations followed suit.

Former SBC president James Merritt helped draft the denomination’s resolution and said it had nothing to do with political correctness, as some critics claimed.

“This flag is a stumbling block to many African-American souls to our witness,” he said. “And I rise to say that all the Confederate flags in the world are not worth one soul of any race.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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  •  LowFreq's picture
    Posted: Wed, 06/15/2016 06:10 pm

    “This flag is a stumbling block to many African-American souls to our witness,” he said. “And I rise to say that all the Confederate flags in the world are not worth one soul of any race.”

    As a Christian that is where any earthly symbols worth should end. We have been called to a Great Commission! If we have been called to minister and witness to the nations about Jesus Christ, then what Paul said in first Corinthians 8:9 would certainly apply "But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."
    And before someone uses the term "weak" to justify in their strength they can "handle" the Confederate flag and it is a weaker Christian that can't, Paul was talking about people who were "weakened" by their past to eating meat sacrificed to idols, idols who were nothing to Paul and so he could eat it with a clean conscience, but he would not do that if it would cause a brother to stumble. He had a strength to withstand the thoughts associated with meat sacrificed to idols because his past was different than others. He was not weak in that area; he was in others, but not in that one. So then compassion takes over not condemnation. I don't struggle with alcohol but I have brothers that do or have...that is their weakness and in love I would not have a drink in front of them. Understanding that the Confederate flag is just a earthly symbol with no eternal value (just as the U.S. flag is or any flag), if someone struggles with it, or a whole people group made in the image of our Father, then why would we for the sake of a temporal symbol cause my witness of Christ to be steamrolled by that very symbol?
    If I am a missionary and I make a big deal about the U.S. flag instead of the cross of Christ, I will probably convert the person into an American and/or drive them away from Christ.
    I pray this brings about healing and reconciliation that Jesus Christ so loves to see in His followers. It may have taken some time, but good job SBC. May the grace, humility, compassion and empathy of Jesus Christ be magnified.

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Wed, 06/15/2016 08:26 pm

    Kudos to the Southern Baptists! They have done what needed to be done. It is rare for any organization to admit and repent of sin the way that the Southern Baptists have.

  •  William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Wed, 06/15/2016 10:34 pm

    Kudo's to the SBC for taking a stand against these horrible men of the south, especially Robert E. Lee. I pray his statue gets taken down everyone. It would also make sense to revoke the charter of Washington & Lee, until such time as they remove all vestiges of Southern history. To continue with this purging of evil symbols, esteemed SBC should advocate removing the Lincoln monument. After all Lincoln was a tyrant, plain and simple.

    Per LowFreq, no Christian should make a big deal about the US Flag. Let's remove the US flag as well - remember Waco TX ? Ruby Ridge ? Tulsa Ok (1921, 300 killed many blacks SHOT), Wounded Knee, etc. The Red White and Blue has red for a reason. I'm waiting for the SBC to do the right thing and ask all of their members to stop supporting a nation who's committed such horrors. And considering the DHS purging of Islamic threats from their d.b., this is actually not a bad idea.

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Wed, 06/15/2016 11:14 pm

    "​Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor." (Prov 3:34, ESV2011)

  •  SleeperSRT10's picture
    Posted: Thu, 06/16/2016 02:07 pm

    Seriously?  I guess the PC police are still hard at work... 

  •  CaptTee's picture
    Posted: Fri, 06/17/2016 12:47 pm

    Considering that the Southern Baptist Convention was founded as the result of a dispute over whether good Christians could be slave owners, this is a big deal!

    I grew up calling the "Confederate Flag" the "Rebel Flag", so to me it has always been more a sign of rebellion than anything else.  Christians should pray long and hard about associating with anything associated with rebellion!  

    When General Lee (an honorable man) surrendered, there was no more right to fly the Confederate Flag and doing so does him dishonor!

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sat, 06/18/2016 10:00 am

    Yes, the Confederate flag is part of history, and it certainly deserves a place in the museums. As far as people flying it now, I think they have a right to, but I agree with the Southern Baptists' decision that it isn't a wise thing for Christians to do. Here's why: That flag stands for quite a lot of things, some of them good and worth honoring, and some of them downright terrible. Without any knowledge of what you mean by flying it, people are likely to assume the worst. They probably shouldn't, but is it really worth that risk? What does it look like to be "all things to all men" here?