Everything is political.
Soccer jerseys are political.
Chicken sandwiches are political.
Football games are political.
At its annual meeting being held this week in Dallas, Texas, the Southern Baptist Convention had a chance to change that, just for a few days. Instead, they pretty much said, “Hold my beer.”
“Hold my fried chicken leg.”
That’s more like it.
Vice President Mike Pence will be speaking to the convention on Wednesday.
This only further cements the notion that the SBC is a wing of the Republican Party. Now of course, those leaders in the SBC who like the idea of inviting prominent Republican leaders to speak to them would disagree with that assessment. They say things like, failure to show hospitality to those in authority, “would be a bad testimony for Southern Baptists.”
I’ve been a Southern Baptist my whole life.
I can assure you that this “hospitality” would not have been extended to President Obama or Hillary Clinton had she been elected.
And it shouldn’t be. The SBC is not meant to be a platform for the Democratic Party. It’s just too bad that some of the leaders in the SBC can’t see that carrying the water for the GOP is just as foolish. This has nothing to do with Pence or the president he serves. It has to do with a denomination that, coming off a scandalous season of its own, chooses to associate itself with a political party rather than repenting for its recent indiscretions.
The Southern Baptist Convention is being used. This is nothing new. It's happened before when other presidents and political leaders took the stage at the annual convention and in its churches every election cycle.
But our nation has never been more divided as we are now. Now, when the world needs to hear about how Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, the Southern Baptist Convention has settled for picking sides in our culture's ongoing political debate. Rather than being above the nonsense, they're diving in head first. Instead of preaching Christ to all, they're getting dangerously close to just preaching the GOP platform to cultural conservatives.
Perhaps one day those Southern Baptist leaders who continually allow themselves to be used by politicians will see that those politicians do not care about them, their amendments, or where their Cooperative Program dollars go. All they care about is their votes. Some of the SBC power brokers like to pretend like they’re big shots because of their political ties. They’re proud of their seat at the table. In reality, the table they are sitting at is sort of like that card table you got assigned to during the Thanksgiving meal when you were a kid and the message they proclaim has been tainted by what they became and who they ignored in order to earn that coveted seat.
The Southern Baptist Convention does a lot of good. It is filled with good women and men who love both God and neighbor. It has a long history of biblical faithfulness, helping in times of great need, and caring for the least of these. But a few powerful leaders are willing to risk overshadowing all of that for their seat at the table.
Years from now, maybe even sooner, those power-hungry leaders will look out over the landscape of their denomination and wonder what happened. They’ll wonder where everyone went. They might even wonder why they have a hard time reaching women and minorities. And as they continue to shrink, they’ll just tell themselves that its the cost of being faithful to Jesus in a decaying culture.
They’ll be wrong.
In reality, it’ll be the cost of decaying with the culture in an effort to score political capital.
As a Southern Baptist, it hurts me to write this but unless genuine repentance happens, the history books will remember my denomination for locking arms with a political party that they claimed they didn’t belong to while completely ignoring a Savior who they claimed to be serving.