ST. LOUIS (BP) — Messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention
renounced display of the Confederate battle flag in a historic, overwhelming vote Tuesday (June 14).
The convention adopted late in its afternoon session a resolution that urged “brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole body of Christ, including our African American brothers and sisters.”
The resolution was one of seven adopted by messengers, but time for the report concluded before five other measures from the Resolutions Committee were able to be considered. The convention is to act on the remaining resolutions during Wednesday morning’s session.
The Confederate battle flag resolution was another step in the convention’s effort to address its past actions regarding slavery and racism. The SBC, which began in 1845 in part in support of slaveholding missionaries, approved a resolution in 1995 repenting of racism and asking for forgiveness from African American Christians.
It also has acted in a variety of ways in an attempt to bring about racial reconciliation and involve African Americans and other minorities in leadership roles in the convention.
The Resolutions Committee brought a proposal to the messengers calling for “sensitivity and unity” regarding display of the Confederate battle flag. Its resolution called for Christians who display the flag “to consider prayerfully whether to limit, or even more so, discontinue its display” because of the “undeniably painful impact of the flag’s symbolism on others.”
After two messengers spoke against the resolution, former SBC President James Merritt offered an amendment that went beyond the committee’s proposed language. His two-fold amendment deleted a paragraph that said the flag “serves for some not as a symbol of hatred, bigotry, and racism, but as a memorial to their loved ones who died in the Civil War, and an emblem to honor their loved ones’ valor.” It also removed language about prayerful consideration and called for a halt to displaying the flag.
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