Southern Baptist Convention votes to condemn racism amidst controversy

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - America's largest Protestant denomination denounced the alt-right movement in the midst of controversy during the 160th annual convention, which was held in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Southern Baptist Convention moved to publicly condemn the "alt-right" White Nationalist Movement, as well as every form of racism on Wednesday night. But, that was only after a revised version of the resolution was brought up for a vote.

It was only after a social media backlash that pastors at the convention chose to address the White Nationalist movement. Before social media outcry, the pastors had chosen not to address the alt-right movement.

The controversy arose after some leaders pushed to have the 'Curse of Ham' condemned.

Texas pastor Dwight McKissic called for the convention to formally condemn the movement. The motion was overwhelmingly rejected Tuesday with pastors and leaders calling it poorly written with inappropriate language. The social media outcry prompted a revised version of the resolution to be brought up and voted on by members Wednesday.

The Curse of Ham was a predominant theological argument taught in the Southern Baptist Church in the 19th century to justify slavery. It's based on the Bible story taken from Genesis 9:20-27 where Noah (Ham's father) placed a curse on Ham's youngest son.

Despite the theology's history in promoting and supporting slavery, many leaders pushed to keep the Curse of Ham as part of the history and to not have it removed.

Bellevue Baptist Church Pastor Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, addressed people at the convention and said the only thing that will take care of racism in America is Jesus Christ, according to Baptist Press.

According to Baptist Press, Gaines told those in attendance "I want to say this, I will tell you what will take care of the race issues in America - the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one race, the human race. God loves us all and God has created us all in His image."

Many pastors who are not members of the Southern Baptist Convention followed the controversy closely, including New Olivet Baptist Church pastor Kenneth Whalum.

"It's just surprising that one clause would have prevented them from approving the resolution," Whalum said.

He is referring to the last line of the original resolution that asked the convention to reject the Curse of Ham theory.

"To address the root cause of White Supremacy, white privilege, would have been a great thing on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention," Whalum said.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.