Representatives of two black Baptist denominations, the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the National Baptist Convention USA, declared on Tuesday (Oct. 9) that they would stand apart from white liberals and conservatives alike while seeking to address a politically divided nation.
Rejecting the “politics of fear” they say has taken hold in this election season, the pastors assembled at the National Press Club said that race and spirituality should not be ignored as the two sides work to get out the vote.
“As the body of Christ, we do not serve as mere mascots of the liberal left, sent by patronizing paternalists to serve as the point on the head of their ideological spear,” reads a declaration released by PNBC President Timothy Stewart and the Rev. Calvin Butts, the denomination’s social justice chair.
“Nor do we set horses with those of the religious right who hide their rampant racism and hysterical hypocrisy amidst the existential ruins of a morally and theologically bankrupt spirituality.”
The Rev. Matthew V. Johnson Sr., the Birmingham, Ala., pastor who authored the declaration, earlier told Religion News Service that white religious conservatives and liberals have focused on opposite sides of hot-button issues such as abortion and LGBTQ rights while not giving race and racism enough attention.
“It’s not just about black special interests,” said Johnson, vice chair of the PNBC Social Justice Commission. “This is an issue of justice.”
At the news conference, Johnson noted that Democrats and others protesting the nomination of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh showed a lack of concern about the nominee’s record on race issues. Their indifference, Johnson said, is an example of “the problem that we have with the liberal left.”
The PNBC, the denomination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., formed as a breakaway group from the National Baptist Convention in the 1960s after the NBC opposed sit-ins and other civil rights protests. The presence of the Rev. Amos Brown, social justice chair of the NBC, demonstrated his group’s support for the younger denomination’s declaration.
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Source: Religion News Service