Southern Baptist Head Admits “Black Lives Matter”… But What Will He Do Now? June 10, 2020

Southern Baptist Head Admits “Black Lives Matter”… But What Will He Do Now?

How bad is systemic racism in this country? So bad that even conservative Christians, whose views typically all in lock-step with the Republican Party, are speaking out against it in the aftermath of George Floyd‘s murder.

Some of those voices are rather surprising. J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently released a video in which he denounced the saying “All Lives Matter” and claimed that #BlackLivesMatter is a gospel issue:

Black lives matter, he says, because we are seeing evidence of injustice that our “black brothers and sisters and friends have been telling us about for years.” That’s good. That’s important to say out loud. That’s no small thing from the head of a group that makes up a sizable voter base for conservatives.

The full address can be seen here:

But what’s missing from the video is any suggestion of what his tribe can start doing differently in order to break the strongholds of racism — both in the country as well as within their own denomination. Remember, the Southern Baptists assembled over the perceived God-given right to own slaves. Greear can’t effectively lecture anybody about how Black Lives Matter without admitting that his denomination’s religious ancestors were wrong. That’s not even getting into the current members who hold similarly racist mindsets.

Even Greear himself undercut his speech by denouncing some of the demands made by protesters:

“I think saying bold things like ‘defund the police’ is unhelpful, and deeply disrespectful to many public servants who bravely put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect us,” he said.

He didn’t bother explaining what the three-word catchphrase even means, which suggests he doesn’t really understand it.

Other Twitter users pointed out that Greear basically offered the bare minimum. He doesn’t deserve praise for saying what ought to be common sense to any decent person.

As researchers have pointed out, 86% of Southern Baptist voters picked Donald Trump in 2016. Whatever the number is now, it probably not too far from that. How can the denomination seriously pretend to care about racism when members had no qualms about voting for a candidate who was openly racist during his campaign and has continued to fan the flames of bigotry during his time in office?

That’s not to say Greear should endorse Joe Biden. That’s not his job. But saying people should care about racism isn’t the same as pointing out how Southern Baptists (specifically) have fallen short, what issues they should fight for with their power, and what member churches will change moving forward.

It’s just hollow speech for now. It’s a first step on a very long journey.


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