A large number of reporters from various religion and secular news outlets participated in an opening media conference this afternoon (Jan.30) moderated by former President Jimmy Carter. He and other organizers of the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant discussed the origins, purpose and plans for the big gathering.
The question — answered repeatedly since the event was announced, but one that keeps coming up — is whether the event has a secret secular political purpose.
Suspicion is accelerated by the hot political climate leading into the Super Tuesday primaries and the presence of some politicians in and around the meeting.
For example, at a gathering of the four major National Baptist conventions, meeting prior to and in the same facilities as the Celebration, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama (via video) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (in person) addressed the historic gathering of Black Baptist leaders.
Dr. William Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., said all presidential candidates from both parties were invited to speak at the “Joint Winter Board Meeting of the National Baptist Conventions in America.”
That separate meeting was scheduled to precede the Celebration in hopes of attracting more National Baptists to the larger gathering.
During the press conference, Dr. Shaw said, again: “This time was set without any reference to political calendars whatsoever.”
Mercer University President Bill Underwood, who along with Pres. Carter conceived the idea for the Celebration, added: “We found a date, on late notice, when this facility was available.”
But don’t think for a minute that the political motive question will not be asked again, and again, and again, and again.

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