Calling the resolution denouncing "alt-right white supremacy" the Southern Baptist Convention's "strongest statement to date" condemning racism, the president of the SBC's fellowship of African American pastors offered to help churches and entities overcome the evil. But after waiting a day due to parliamentary rules, they took up a more narrowly focused motion on Wednesday and passed it with fewer than 10 dissenting votes in a crowd of about 4,000.
"If we had fumbled the ball and kept going without addressing this, it would have been damaging for those from the outside looking in, who could've concluded that the SBC does not care about matters of race", Charles said.
"If this hadn't passed, I wouldn't have been able to come home", Blalock said. In 1995, the convention apologized for its role in sustaining and promoting slavery.
The SBC is overwhelmingly white and has made pointed efforts to apologize for its history-founded in 1845 in the defense of missionaries who owned slaves-and to attract African Americans.
"We can't go back and change that", Blalock said of the denomination's history.
"When we stand together as a convention and speak clearly, we are saying that white supremacy and racist ideologies are unsafe because they oppress our brothers and sisters in Christ", Moore said from a microphone before Wednesday's resolution was overwhelmingly adopted.
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The decision Wednesday was met with a standing ovation as about 5,000 members of the denomination voted to affirm their opposition to the alt-right movement, which seeks a whites-only state. But it was not a decision easily reached. The original resolution denouncing the alt-right was introduced by Dwight McKissic, an SBC pastor from Texas.
"I saw people identifying themselves as Southern Baptist and members of the alt-right, so this is horrifying to me", McKissic said. He was receiving calls from black Southern Baptists threatening to leave the convention. "Please know it wasn't because we don't share your abhorrence of racism and especially the particularly vicious form of racism that has manifested itself in the alt-right movement".
Getting the resolution to pass, however, was an uphill battle, as many members of the convention were unswayed.
After the session, McKissic said he thought Duke's public criticism of his resolution was "unfair" and "inappropriate". The committee was concerned the language of McKissic's resolution could implicate people with conservative views as members of the alt-right movement, he said.
The debate over the resolution highlights the divisions within the denomination.
Debate also underscored ongoing tensions among Southern Baptists whether Donald Trump, a thrice-married casino and real estate mogul, was morally fit to be president. But many evangelicals of color have questioned that support and criticized Trump's policies as harmful to minorities, if not racist.
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Southern Baptist ethics leader Russell Moore, who had spoken in favor of the resolution from the floor, commended the passage of the measure.
The resolution's failure on Tuesday prompted indignation and anger as younger evangelicals, including African-Americans, took to social media to vent their feelings. His resolution repudiated "retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases and racial bigotries of the "alt-right" that seek to subvert our government".
There have been dozens of resolutions on race-at least 32, based on a new book, "Removing the Stain of Racism From the Southern Baptist Convention". It noted how in 2012 it elected its first black president.
"Now suddenly you have this panic", said Alan Cross, a white Southern Baptist minister from Alabama who has written a book on racism.
The new resolution, entitled On The Anti-Gospel Alt-Right White Supremacy, was voted on by the convention.
It was there that Pastor William D. McKissic Sr., a pastor at the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, asked the SBC's Committee on Resolutions to allow the almost 5000-person convention to vote on his resolution to denounce "every form of "nationalism" that violates the biblical teachings with respect to race, justice, and ordered liberty; and be it further resolved, that we reject the retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries of the so-called "Alt-Right" that seek to subvert our government, destabilize society, and infect our political system".
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Rubio says: "If it involved working with Americans, whether wittingly or unwittingly, that needs to be part of" the investigation. There have been multiple news reports and a tweet from Trump himself on Friday that began with: "I am being investigated".
The Southern Baptist Convention of 15.2 million members is the nation's largest Protestant denomination, but its membership is on the decline.
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