Much has changed as a result of the Fundamentalist takeover the Southern Baptist Convention that began nearly three decades ago. But one thing has been consistent for a long, long time.
During the SBC annual meeting, anybody can — and often will — go to an open microphone during a “miscellaneous business” session and make a motion.
The motions can range from well-crafted and relevant to venting about something that got stuck in one’s crawl while walking over from the hotel.
The motions are either ruled out of order or referred to committees. A few make their way back to the convention floor for debate and vote.
Two motions this week (that were referred to the SBC Executive Committee) related to throwing out churches.
A pastor from Wendell, N.C., wants a Ft. Worth, Texas, church bounced for being too friendly to gay and lesbian persons. The other calls for booting the few Convention-related churches with female pastors.
Most moderate churches with minimal SBC connections would be done a favor if the Convention tossed them out. It would save them from having to explain again and again to their congregations about the nonsense that permeates that organization.
Give fundamentalists 50 percent plus one and they will gladly impose their agenda on the remaining nearly half of a congregation. But I’ve consistently watched more moderate churches retain minimal relationships with the SBC and state conventions for the sake of a very few members.
For most of these churches, dismissal from the SBC would be as painful as the brier patch was to Brer Rabbit.
Of course, the irony is that the SBC Executive Committee declined a call to create a database of Baptist ministers found guilty of sex crimes. The information could be helpful to congregations searching for a new minister.
The reason given by Executive Committee leaders: local church autonomy.
However, many current Southern Baptist leaders (as evidenced by the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and other actions such as these motions) don’t trust churches with the basic freedom to call their own pastor or minister to all persons as they feel led.