“Vicious Infighting” May Fracture Southern Baptists

The New York Times reports:

Next week more than 16,000 Southern Baptist pastors and leaders will descend on Nashville for their first annual meeting of the post-Trump era. It is their most high-profile gathering in years, with attendance more than double the most recent meeting in 2019, after a pandemic cancellation last year. It caps months of vicious infighting over every cultural and political division facing the country, particularly after the murder of George Floyd.

The outcome has the potential to permanently split an already divided evangelical America. An event that has historically been compared to a family reunion may look more like a brawl. In the past several weeks, Baptists have pored over leaked bombshell letters and whistle-blower recordings, and traded accusations of racism, apostasy and sexual abuse cover-ups. Leaders have taken barbed potshots at each other. Others have headed for the door.

The Washington Post reports:

Russell Moore [photo], who previously led the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, recently left his position and his church for a new position at Christianity Today magazine. On his way out, two letters he sent to SBC leadership were leaked to media, in which Moore described a culture of racism and mishandling of sexual abuse claims.

Since Moore’s letters were leaked, several leaders have called for a third-party investigation into how the SBC leadership has responded to the issue of sexual abuse within its churches.

The letters also exposed how many institutional leaders are unable to speak openly about what is taking place inside the convention without committing professional suicide within the SBC.