Southern Baptists meet as membership, baptism decline continues

In a close vote, members of the Southern Baptist Convention have voted to accept the alternate unofficial name of ``Great Commission Baptists.'' The debate on Tuesday immediately followed the election of the Rev. Fred Luter as the denomination’s first African-American president. RNS photo courtesy Baptist Press
In a close vote, members of the Southern Baptist Convention have voted to accept the alternate unofficial name of ``Great Commission Baptists.'' The debate on Tuesday immediately followed the election of the Rev. Fred Luter as the denomination’s first African-American president. RNS photo courtesy Baptist Press

The Rev. Fred Luter, outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention. RNS photo courtesy of Baptist Press

(RNS) For Southern Baptists, it’s happened again: Another annual report shows the denomination is losing members and baptizing fewer people.

The Rev. Fred Luter, outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention, thinks old-time methods to spread the gospel have met a culture that’s younger, more diverse and doesn’t necessarily see the pew — or even sin — as a priority.

“Our society is just not what it used to be,” said Luter, who admitted he’s discouraged by the reports. “When I grew up there was a challenge by parents in the home that our sons and daughters would be in church. It was a given. … That day and time is gone.”

Luter said he and others will address the issue at this year’s annual meeting, which takes place June 10-11 in Baltimore. But beyond calls for reversing the trend, there’s little sign of agreement on a way forward.

Though some have said the 15.7 million-member denomination needs to be more racially and ethnically inclusive, Luter, its first African-American president, thinks the main reason for decline is that all congregations need to take a role in evangelism.

“We have just not been very active in doing what we can to reach the lost and the unchurched in our nation,” said the 57-year-old New Orleans pastor.

Dennis Kim, pastor of a predominantly Korean-American megachurch in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md. Photo courtesy of Dennis Kim.

Dennis Kim, pastor of a predominantly Korean-American megachurch in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md. Photo courtesy of Dennis Kim

Weeks before the denomination’s annual meeting, a task force charged with helping Southern Baptists “own the problem” released a report that noted these recent signs of trouble:

  • one-quarter of Southern Baptist churches reported “0 baptisms”
  • 60 percent said they had baptized no youth (ages 12-17)
  • 80 percent reported one or fewer young adult baptisms (ages 18-29)

Task force member Dennis Kim is one of the three men who hope to succeed Luter as president.

“When about 1,000 churches close their doors every year, I believe that the need of the hour is an evangelistic tool that is simple enough to train all church members, effective enough to ignite believers’ passion for evangelism, and engaging enough to captivate the hearts of the present generation,” said Kim, 64, pastor of a predominantly Korean-American megachurch in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md.

The Rev. Jared Moore, pastor of a small church in Hustonville, Ky. Photo courtesy of Jared Moore

The Rev. Jared Moore, pastor of a small church in Hustonville, Ky. Photo courtesy of Jared Moore

The Rev. Jared Moore, pastor of a small church in Hustonville, Ky., is not convinced that a special method or a new way of training is the answer.

“It’s not something that any president or any individual can reverse,” he said of the trends that show seven straight years of declining membership. “It’s something that God must bring about.”

He added that “it takes a lot more time, a lot more conversations than it did 50 years ago” to succeed in evangelism when some people don’t consider themselves sinners.

“I think we’ve got to stay the course, continue preaching the gospel, even when the ears of our community is closed,” said Moore.

The Rev. Ronnie Floyd, a former SBC Executive Committee chairman who is considered to be a front-runner for the presidency, said there’s a need for “extraordinary prayer” for another “major spiritual awakening” in America. Photo courtesy Gareth Patterson Photos

The Rev. Ronnie Floyd, a former Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee chairman who is considered to be a front-runner for the SBC presidency, said there’s a need for “extraordinary prayer” for another “major spiritual awakening” in America. Photo courtesy of Gareth Patterson Photos

The Rev. Ronnie Floyd, a former SBC Executive Committee chairman who is considered to be a front-runner for the presidency, said there’s a need for “extraordinary prayer” for another “major spiritual awakening” in America. He said Baptists have determined that the Great Commission — a phrase about the biblical command to convert believers across the world — is the path they are committed to follow.

“Our problem is the pace,” said Floyd, 58, pastor of a multisite megachurch in northwest Arkansas. “We need to return to a commitment of personal evangelism.”

David Roozen, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, said Southern Baptists are facing challenges, both theological — some people don’t see themselves in need of a conversion — and sociological — waning agreement with traditional conservative worldviews.

“It’s a tough world out there at this particular time and there’s not a lot of easy answers,” said Roozen, who said the Southern Baptists are joining mainline Protestants in the hand-wringing about declines. “There’s little fixes but they probably don’t address the root challenges.”


About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.


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  • “We have just not been very active in doing what we can to reach the lost and the unchurched in our nation.”

    “We need to return to a commitment of personal evangelism.”

    “…there’s a need for “extraordinary prayer” for another “major spiritual awakening” in America.”

    They have no clue, do they? Do they know the overall religiosity (not just SB faith) in America has been declining since 1920s? Michael Shermer wrote a great article, “Is God Dying?” for Scientific American magazine. According to him, here are some of the main reasons for the decline of religion and the rise of the “nones”:

    1) The dramatic spread of democracy around the globe over the past half a century; the disentanglement of the sacred from the secular because in religiously pluralistic countries no one can legitimately claim special status by faith membership.

    2) The opening up of economic borders which replaces zero-sum religious tribalism with nonzero financial exchange; socio-economic well-being generally results in a decline in the social significance of religion in society and a decrease in the numbers of people who base their life praxis on religious norms and rules.

    I think I can also add few more details to Shermer’s reasons: advances in science, medicine and technology (especially the Internet) and social progression (attitude changes toward LGBT and other “sinners”). If their theology is based on 2,000 year old book written by the Bronze Age men who didn’t even know the Earth was round, it has no useful purpose in our modern society. We now know too much about our natural world to blindly accept the “God did it” or “You will go to hell!” nonsense they preach.

  • I notice this article says nothing about the SBC’s bigotry towards gays yet the SBC acts like they only need to make cosmetic changes to win converts.

  • The problem for churches:
    Very few people believe in God, nobody needs god and nobody wants God.
    An object which cannot be demonstrated is as good as nonexistent.
    An object for which there is no evidence cannot be a ‘needed’ thing.

    The problem for people:
    The churches take your money and do nothing good with it.

    The problem with religion:
    It is immoral.
    Hell is immoral.
    Prayer is immoral.
    God is nonsense.
    Jesus is immoral.
    Vicarious redemption is immoral.

    Religion is the sponge which sucks all the good out of a community and snuffs it out. If churches converted to Atheistic Humanitarian centers to do outreach in the communities, teach science, teach practical lessons about life and health they would be much more useful.

    Abandon religion. It really is as bad as people say it is.

  • Incorrect. Actually there bible refers to the earth in simplistic terms as round or in some translations a circle. Isa 40:22

  • I live in an area dominated by Southern Baptists. As Liz says, they have no clue.
    They teach the primacy of salvation by belief. For them, personal morality is “an optional extra.” Add lack of respect for the rights of others to have their on view (intolerance,) and a large helping of self righteousness, and you have an unattractive product in a crowded marketplace.

  • Sometimes religious beliefs just become outmoded or irrelevant. Catholics have seen vocations to the priesthood and religious orders almost completely dry up. Civil marriages in Australia have risen from about 11.9% in 1970 to 71.9/% in 2012. Civil funerals, once unheard of, have now become commonplace. A couple of generations ago, women wore hats in church; today few do. Ditto the custom of kneeling to pray. People now seem to prefer to stand rather than kneel.

    Changes in Christian belief are not new. Once Christians rejected usury; now lending money on interest is accepted. Slaughtering witches was once common; it’s now a shameful chapter of history. Slavery was once accepted as being allowed in both the Old and New Testaments; now it’s totally rejected. Divorce was once rejected by most churches, and the few that did accept divorce, only permitted it in the case of adultery; it is now commonplace.

    No-one can tell for sure what the future will bring. However, we can be sure that Christianity will change and adapt as society changes.

  • Oh yes, they will make up new Gods and beliefs as needed. Their invention and promotion of the Virgin Mary, for example. What would Jesus say? (Hi mom?)

  • @Michael Glass,

    Yes, the Cult of Jesus will change.

    As did the Cult of Athena. The Cult of Zeus.
    The Cult of the Hummingbird Wizard.
    The Cult of David Koresh.

    It will fade away.
    The faster the better.

  • Wrong. Isa 40:22 says, “He sits above the circle of the earth.” First, circle is not a ball or sphere. A circle is a flat round surface similar to flat rectangular. Second, even if I accept your argument, Isa 40:22 indicates that the earth is flat. The writers of the Bible still got it wrong.

    Now, let’s look at other parts of the Bible that clearly indicate the earth is flat and even rectangular, definitely not round:

    1) Isa 11:12 and Rev 7:1 – “four corners of the earth”
    2) Job 38:13, Jeremiah 16:19 and Daniel 4:11 – “ends of the earth”

    Nice try, Jay.

  • Max – “Very few people believe in God, nobody needs god and nobody wants God.An object which cannot be demonstrated is as good as nonexistent. An object for which there is no evidence cannot be a ‘needed’ thing.”

    I believe in God, I need God, and I want God. A Being that has demonstrated Himself so clearly in my life is as good as existent. A Being for which there is personal evidence cannot be an “ignored” thing. A lion does not tell the gazelle to fear him, the gazelle becomes ignorant of his presence.

    However, to enjoy the presence of God would be to enjoy the righteousness of God. I don’t know too much about you Max, but I do know that if you chose to capitalize the word “God” as many times as you did, there must have been a previous training that taught you to do so.

    Psalm 16:6 “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

  • “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock and roll or Christianity.” – John Lennon

    Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Jesus is right so far. We are arguing about words that a man stated 2,014 years ago. He was the son of a carpenter, a popper, lived a very short life (33 yrs.), died the death of a criminal, and has had more followers throughout history than any other man on earth, and even today we discuss this “Stranger from Galilee”. Why does this man so infuriate people 2,000 years after His death?

    Logically, it doesn’t make sense. If God is not real than why does anything in the earth matter? Why does this debate matter? Why do our lives matter? Why does morality matter? You must contend that they do matter, but if you do, why?

  • Because people are here and real.

    If you acted moral and polite only because God told you, then you were never moral to begin with. You were a psychopath on a leash.

    Morality matters because we need to interact with other people in a sane and functional matter. Because we are not all psychopathic SOB’s.

    One avoids malicious and harmful acts to others because you don’t want the same returned to you. Also one does not do so because we understand and appreciate people don’t like those things happening to them. We understand the damage it causes and can empathize with people not to do the same to others.

    None of that requires God from on high handing down arbitrary and capricious rules. Just being a normal human being with a conscience.

  • Hi TF
    “Logically, it doesn’t make sense. If God is not real than why does anything in the earth matter? Why does this debate matter? Why do our lives matter? Why does morality matter? You must contend that they do matter, but if you do, why?”
    Easy question. We have life. It is finite. We have abilities- also finite.
    We can choose how to spend the life and abilities that we have. If this situation does not “matter” to you unless it makes “sense” to you, then you are a spoiled child and do not appreciate your opportunities.

  • Southern Baptist Leadership have spent many years being Johnny One-note. “If we just did more evangelism, taught our members a simple way to win the lost.” This has been going on for over 40 years. The fundamentalist took charge of a more moderate SBC and went after the conservative/moderate professors in Baptist Seminaries and university/colleges. They ended or cut funding to social service centers, especially the ones New Orleans which had existed for 50 years or more. Some of the large Baptist related universities were able to disassociate themselves from the new radical
    SBC. As a Chaplain endorsed by the SBC I know they moved Chaplaincy to the evangelism department. They complained against chaplains on the battle field for not baptizing those who sought it, into a SBC church. Simply put there has been an ongoing attempt to place chaplains under their control, thankfully not really possible. Chaplains and pastoral counselors get their own funding or work for an agency.

    Atheist Max
    I hope you are still reading comments, even this one. Sometimes I just list myself as Norm. Brother I appreciate that you write from your heart. I known you have been really hurt or some one close to you hurt by the “church”. I really wish that we could correspond via face book or some more personal way. About me, I have served the mentally ill, physically ill, the criminal in my years as chaplain. I believe personally in God as I understand him/her, I had a faith experience that has stayed with me. I hold revolution to be true, I love to follow the discoveries of science, Jesus is love and fear means to hold Him in Awe. I’m a liberal no longer a Southern Baptist.

  • Hi Norm,
    Your condescending attitude toward poor “hurt” Max is offensive. His attitude may be immoderate, but he certainly does not need counseling by someone who ‘”holds revelation to be ‘true’.” FWIW, Immanuel Kant pointed out that revelation was, by its nature, personal and therefore not transferable or valid for another.
    You are another example of a clueless Baptist.

  • @Chaplain Norman Martin,

    Your work is humanitarian. But I am a humanitarian also
    so I don’t know why you think I am ‘hurt’ somehow.

    Caring about people does not require gods. In fact, you would only damage people if you claimed god as your purpose. You would then have to preach Hell and damnation – which is immoral nonsense.

  • @Think First:

    “but my words shall not pass away.” said Jesus

    Wrong. They are gone. All we have is hearsay and crooked translations.

  • Hello Samuel Johnston and Atheist Max.
    It was good to hear from both of you. Samuel, I checked my comments and I quote myself, “I hold evolution to be true”. Maybe you were in such a hurry to denounce me that you miss-read what I wrote. Well at least you got an opportunity to bring in Kant. There’s a difference between caring and condescending. My work as a psychotherapist and a license professional counselor as well as my own personal experience with hurt and anger inform me that where there is a lot of anger there is usually a lot of hurt.

    Max, it is good to hear from you again. I know you are a caring person with a good conscience. I was impressed with your experience as a life guard. I’m sorry that I may have presumed too much in thinking you are hurting. I’m not too good on hell fire and damnation, tried it didn’t like it. My experience is in a nurturing local church which has many social programs for the poor and those with other needs. “No, they don’t have to accept ‘Jesus’ first. I have all ways been a bit of a maverick, never intended to be but I just am. I do hold to a faith in God that I hold true for me personally. Be blessed.

  • Hi Norm,
    “I hold revolution to be true,” is what is posted above and attributed to you. I assumed it was a typo and was misread your “church speak” way of putting your relationship to a scientific theory. I simply did not see how anyone could “hold” a scientific theory true. You, I, or Kant, have no such standing to hold anything true, least of all a scientific theory.
    Theological training molds the mind to assume some sort of Platonic divine truth exists. Its language assumes it. Science has no such dogma. The repeatable experiment is the verification of theory. No further scientific truth exists.

  • If they are gone, then why do you and other atheists so aggressively debate them?
    If they are gone, then why is the Bible banned and Christians persecuted in nice, friendly, prosperous, atheist countries like North Korea?
    If they are gone, then why do you continue to quote them so maliciously?
    If they are gone, then what are you afraid of?

  • @jim Kennedy,

    North Korea is NOT atheist!
    It is THE MOST Religious state on earth!!!

    You clearly have no idea what religion IS!!

  • @Jim Kennedy

    The fear is not from what Jesus said nor is it from those words which were lost.

    The Fear is from the sadistic, foolish and primitive people who have been taught they are DIVINE!

    “Bring to me those who would not have me as their king and execute them in front of me.” Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    Barbaric nonsense.

  • Try telling the tens-of-millions of babies who have been murdered in America during the past 40 years how caring and “humanitarian” you are. If all the world were as “humanitarian” as you, there would be nobody left on this earth to debate evolution.

  • @Jim Kennedy,

    So let’s unpack what you are suggesting.

    1. Men and women are going to have sex. Even the strictest religious people have show it is impossible to resist this.
    2. Without contraceptives pregnancy is possible.
    3. Religion bans contraceptives.
    4. Pregnancy happens and abortion is banned by religion.

    The dishonesty in your lecture is that that contraception would save everyone the trouble of abortion – including the unborn.
    But religion, especially Catholicism, continues to forbid contraception as it forbids abortion.

    The whole thing is a cynical ploy. The CHURCH KNOWS SEX WILL HAPPEN and they want control over the sexual act. They want to project guilt and shame on sex because this makes the church indispensable to the religious community – like a parasite – sex gives religion a reason to exist.

    Your remedy is a THEOCRACY where the state owns women’s bodies in the name of Jesus Christ and dictates to women that they must incubate their pregnancy regardless of what the women actually want.

    Furthermore the implication of ownership is extended to other aspects of a woman’s body. She is to be checked with invasive procedures to be sure she is not doing the wrong things – aka getting abortions without notifying the husband or father.

    This is disgusting. Women should unite and shut down churches over this nonsense.

    Men would never put up with an equal situation. Ownership over your body by the state would imply that your kidneys could be given to the state as a way to save dying children somewhere – and Christians would have to support it because it is all about right to life. Someday they could harvest the old people’s bodies to give to the young – would that be okay for your mr. holy man?

    I’m disgusted with this religious nonsense. Our women are in danger of losing all of their rights thanks to people like yourself who simply do not understand the implications of your religious tantrums!

    Yes, abortion is extremely unfortunate and sad. I wish it didn’t happen so much – and it would happen less if people would use contraception!

    And that is what Roe vs. Wade was all about! It was an acknowledgment that poor people were disenfranchised by the same rights enjoyed by the rich regarding abortions.

    How dare you beat up the poor people – it is the poor for whom these rights exist! Shame on you.

  • @Chaplain Martin,

    You said, “I’m not too good on hell fire and damnation, tried it didn’t like it. My experience is in a nurturing local church which has many social programs for the poor and those with other needs.”

    I have visited over 300 schools as a visiting author and illustrator and I have read to more than 200,000 children of all ages in small groups. It has been a great joy to be a part of their lives – some of these kids were very poor. My time with them was only one or two days but I gave them instruction on how to write and draw and use the creative process in their writings.

    In those days, 15 years ago, I was not yet an atheist but I learned many things about these kids and I remember many of the parents were teaching them:
    1. Do not think about it too much – just accept Jesus.
    2. Do not doubt – accept Jesus.
    3. Fear God but Love God.
    4. Fear Hell.
    5. Follow Jesus no matter what.

    It adds up to a lot of harm.
    Children who cannot think or trust their doubts cannot grow up to be truly healthy, clear thinking, loving people. One cannot love and fear the same thing! It is the definition of sadomasochism and the Stockholm Syndrome.

    Since I have become an Atheist I have learned that love comes from trust. Not fear. Religion is fear.

    Consider the possibility that religion is more wrong than right.
    Look into it. I’m here to tell you that Atheism is wonderful, more honest and more loving.

  • There is literature going back to the late 20th century on the demographics of religious change that focuses on fertility levels. A well-known essay in the American Journal of Sociology from around 2000 argued that the biggest factor in the shifting proportion of mainline and conservative Protestants after 1950 was differential birthrates: mainline Protestant families had fewer children. And this in turn is largely a function of socioeconomic class: as mainline Protestants became wealthier and more in control of their lives, they chose to have fewer children, and were able to do so.

    The same literature observed that late in the 20th century, conservative Protestants were moving up in terms of socioeconomic class, as conservative Protestantism generally became more mainstream. It predicted that conservative Protestant numbers would plateau and then decline as birthrates fell within conservative Protestant denominations.

    It’s a bit surprising not to see that literature discussed here, particularly since what’s happening in the SBC seems to be a pretty good realization of its predictions.

    The issue of the ‘rise of the nones’ is a more recent development, and I haven’t seen anyone try to integrate the material on fertility rates with the thought that young people are choosing no religious affiliation. I would guess that the contribution made by declining fertility is larger than that made by voluntary church-leaving.

  • Well put Max. Christianity has a one size fits all model. In order to control the the louts, they abuse the sensitive. For Christians, the ends always justify the means, because nothing can be allowed to obstruct “salvation”. My mother would have rather that I was torn to bits by lions for the sake of Jesus, than to live a happy and productive life as a “dammed soul”. I have been asked what is so wrong with Christianity? My reply is that it makes natural human relationships conditional upon weird speculative theology. Only fear can acomplish that.

  • @Andrew,

    I’ve read those studies and they are interesting.

    The emancipation of women – meaning contraception (and access to abortion to a lesser extent) is liberating western society. It is lessening poverty and it is increasing the general health of the populations.

    Everything about religion works against the emancipation of women.
    Yet another reason to oppose religion vigorously and routinely.

  • @SJ,

    “it makes natural human relationships conditional upon weird speculative theology.”

    So sad and so very true.

  • @Atheist Max,

    Well… that’s a bit of a non sequitur, but I can see how commitment to the view you avow would make it seem relevant.

    Try looking up Clergy Consultation Services on abortion.

  • @Andrew,

    Not a non-sequiter at all:

    As you pointed out, “Protestant families had fewer children” – this is not because they had less sex. It likely had to do with the fact that unlike Roman Catholics contraception is not explicitly banned.

    You also said, “as mainline Protestants became wealthier and more in control of their lives, they chose to have fewer children.”
    Having fewer children has increased their wealth. This works both ways.

    Every country which has allowed women the right to get off the breeder wheel has increased the wealth of those families and by extension those countries.

    Unfortunately, the Clergy Consultation Services on abortion was not available to all women and it was an ad hoc service. History shows the wealthier women were more likely to be helped. Roe Vs. Wade was the necessary corrective.
    The issue was always about helping the disadvantaged woman equally as well.

    It should also be noted that whenever clergy acts magnanimously to protect some humanitarian cause it is just that – humanitarianism. People selectively abandon religion whenever a true moral analysis is required.
    And of course that is my beef with religion anyway. It is fake.

    We do not need to refer to ‘higher authorities’ – it always turns out we were the higher authority all along.

  • So, are you saying that humanitarianism is good as long as it is not an inconvenience?
    Are you saying that preventing conception is the same as preventing birth?

  • @Jim,

    I’m saying women should own their bodies.
    And contraception is much better than abortion.

    And being a humanitarian toward a pregnant woman is more important that being a religious zealot.

  • @Atheist Max

    Your position seems to be constructed in such a way that nothing could count as evidence against it. Religious people acting humanely? It must be that they are not acting for religious reasons.

    Are you sure you are comfortable with this position? Do you think it’s a good idea in general for people to handle evidence contrary to their convictions in this way?

  • @Andrew,

    Religion offers PROS and CONS.
    On balance the cons far outweigh pros.
    Look closely.

    We can identify moral behavior:
    Help the sick, encourage someone through a difficult time, visit someone in need, simply listening, make a donation….etc.

    And we can identify Immoral behavior:
    Bullying, stealing, inflicting needless harm, causing pain or grief to someone needlessly…etc.

    People have shown they WILL ACT MORALLY without religion.
    In other words, it is a false worry to think they won’t.

    St. Jude’s Catholic children’s hospital does NOT get more donations than Boston’s Children’s Hospital which has no religious affiliation. People of all religions will do ANYTHING to help children.

    🙁 ….Now look at religion’s harms:

    MASTURBATION: needless guilt and shame on men and women on an epic unimaginable scale over millennia! Yet it is a simply healthy and trivial part of normal human behavior.


    DIVORCE: Countless millions of needless forced marriages of misery and virtual enslavement simply because of religion forbidding dissolution of a bad marriage.

    SLAVERY: God endorses it. Dare we even contemplate the suffering of millions of manacled, chained fathers, children and mothers dying and in agony as ‘property’?

    GENOCIDE: God endorses it.

    VICARIOUS REDEMPTION: the spectacularly immoral idea that your personal anguish and responsibility over your deeply immoral crime against another person can be fully wiped clean and removed by speaking to an invisible air pocket.
    How much evil has been allowed to continue and be perpetrated by forgiving evil in the singular cases of the Catholic Clergy Pedophilia crisis alone?

    WOMEN’S RIGHTS: God’s (supposed) sanction that Fully HALF of the entire population of the world must be relegated to second class status because of the dictates which put men in charge of all decisions. So transparently ‘male created’ that it should be an embarrassment to every religious person worldwide.

    PRAYER: Jesus explicitly promised he would do ‘whatever’ you ask of him. All one needs is the faith the size of a ‘mustard seed’.
    If you have ever prayed over a dying child you understand the supreme immorality of this religion like nobody else – I need not elaborate.

    Need I really go on?
    Religion is a disaster.

    Doctors Without Borders is non-religious
    and they are doing much more good in the world with 22,000 doctors working for free than all of the Catholic Charities combined.

    Thanks to Catholic Missionaries, witch burnings continue in Angola and Nigeria. And Rwanda, the most Catholic country in Africa, will live in infamy for its religiously inspired genocidal bloodbaths (“kill the devil”) which killed almost one million Tutsis.

  • When the SBC repents of its overt misogyny, I may set foot in one of their churches. Until then, it’ll be a cold day in hell…

  • “A Being that has demonstrated Himself so clearly in my life is as good as existent.”

    Be specific with 3 examples:

    Every time a Bible Thumper makes a statement like this, and I demand a list, I hear crickets. So I’ll go ahead and respond to the typical reasons they give: Having things come out the way you want them, warm and fuzzy hormone rushes, and “feeling” presence and/or “hearing” voices is not proof of a deity. It’s proof that your electro-chemical nervous system functions in much the way it does for others. Hands-on “healing” can even “heal” paranoid attacks by grounding out your feedback hysteresis limit cycle, and then reset the natural frequency of your system with theirs. In India, where the primary personal deity is a woman, people “hear” a female deity’s voice.

  • All that will remain is the Flying Spaghetti Monster — hallowed be his noodley appendages!

  • A mature and intelligent family member (60-year-old, law-degreed from a top ten US university) recently sent this letter to the pastor of her former Southern Baptist church, and we both agree the denomination cannot lose membership fast enough (along with all the other misogynist leaders running churches as nominal Christians who have no Holy Spirit informing their oppressive decisions against the female 50% of their congregations):

    Dear [pastor, name redacted];
    This is my thanks for your role by your indirection in showing me to let go as a Christian woman of the Southern Baptist denomination. When I spoke with [your assistant pastoral designee] on 8/19, I was too stunned at his approach to respond that same day. My letter to you afterward expressed my concerns but not my Christian prayer that everyone who follows Jesus would come to the full expression of the Holy Spirit’s gifts as believers, even if their church leadership tries to block or deride their gifts for reasons of female sex. [The assistant pastoral designee had instructed her to stop writing about theology, as she is both a Christian blogger and a popular Disqus-followed commenter, and start visiting shut-ins more.] You as expected never provided the courtesy of a response to my letter.

    Since leaving fellowship at [church, name redacted] to worship elsewhere, I’ve been warmly included and valued for Bible-based theological contributions in co-ed study sessions where male “headship” does not pre-empt the Holy Spirit’s gifts. The current Sunday sermon series is on Habakkuk, an inspired and sustaining choice for our time of Islamic global encroachment against Christians and Jews. I’ve already found women friends who have joyfully shared their phone numbers, their walks with Jesus and their informal witness in the world by reciprocally caring over coffee outside of church. (None of that happened at [church, name redacted], such is the subtly subordinated gender apartheid’s negative effect on females by over-privileging Paulinism and disregarding the Bible’s whole message including the woman who anointed Jesus on the head in the priestly function as did Moses by his anointing of God’s priests under Torah. That is a sermon S. Baptist males never preach from the gospels of Matthew and Mark, even though Jesus specified that wherever the gospel is preached, what she did is to be told in memory of her. Similarly the first missionary who ever spoke the message of Jesus so that others would believe was the woman at the well; also not a sermon S. Baptist men preach.)

    Without the 8/19 conversation with [assistant pastoral designee], I would not have been able to sort it out, such was my own S. Baptist gender apartheid programming from childhood. Thank God, He had a better plan.
    [name redacted]

  • I agree with you in a lot of ways. I think that the best way to be a southern baptist is to be “in like sin” with young people. Love..I can’t say it enough. Be something cool to the young people! I had an uncle that was so filled with love, that when he walked into the room everyone felt his love, and the love that he had for God and each one of us that was in the room. He really was the person that sparked my desire to look more into this Jesus thing. I guess what I’m trying to say is love one another. Really…LOVE each other. This was the message that the Christ the Jews have written about, gave us. Don’t be so fast to judge. Love love love. Show humbleness and compassion. Martin Luther would be proud.

  • You go for a walk and ask God to show you that he is real by showing you proof. look for something or ask him something that only he can tell or show you? You do this and I bet you will be a man of faith in our God we humans love and talk to daily. You don’t be deceived by his enemy which has many many names. The God of love not hate. The creator and not destroyer of souls is whom you must address in your prayer. Go for it ! Enjoy

  • People will not really love each other because Jesus said to do this act. People will love you weather they have read or have heard to do this act by God. They love you because they care about you. It’s in our D.N.A. If you hate and try to tare down love and compassion, you are listening to the enemy of God. This spirit has many many names. This spirit hates it when we brag on each other. Say good things about each other! OOOO! be careful you….God don’t deal in fire insurance. Your’ heart must be in love with each other. Love one another

  • I had an uncle like that too, but he was gay, so my parents forbid us to embrace him fully into the family. Sad.

  • I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. During my time there, the Board of Trustees fired the President, Russell Dilday. Their excuse at the time was that he was too liberal. That decision very nearly cost the seminary it’s accreditation. In my view, it should have. That was on March 9, 1994. Since then, many other professors have left or were dismissed for being too liberal. The story of Sheri Kluda is the most disturbing of them all. I’ll leave it up to you to look that one up.

    The current leadership and nominees for the top post of the SBC are missing the point. David Roozen hit the nail on the head, however, when he pointed out a need for a cultural shift. Personally, I no longer care. I am now agnostic, and I don’t believe anyone can say with any certainty that they have the answer. I now view Jesus as a real historic figure, but a fallible man just the same. I do not believe he was a divine being or even thought of himself that way.

    A greater emphasis on prayer will only console those who pray. A greater emphasis on evangelism will probably only excite those who think they have the answer. In our increasingly diverse culture, however, it is not likely to win new converts unless it is accompanied by a genuine embrace of diversity and tolerance.

    The young people of today accept differences. They have grown up with those differences. When they see predominantly white churches still turning away people who look like their friends and members of their family, they are bound to shun any effort to proselytize them. Under these circumstances, the very best tools of evangelism and a complete commitment by every member of the church is doomed to failure.

    The damage of the last four decades is coming home to roost in the SBC, and I can’t say I’m sorry. The current leadership of that body is responsible for this decline. They ruined many careers and lives. I’m happy to say that they didn’t have the opportunity to ruin mine.

  • There is a grammatical error above in the following sentence: “That decision very nearly cost the seminary it’s accreditation.” It should have been “That decision very nearly cost the seminary its accreditation.” Autocorrect strikes again, and I see no way to edit my original entry on my iPhone.

  • Oh my…. if they really think a new evangelism program is the answer i’m afraid my boyhood denomination isn’t gonna make it. Of course we are all sinners! It’s just that when I became an adult, finished my Masters in Church Music and read the Bible, really for the first time with a thinkiing and spiritually mature mind, I realized that the God of my new understanding is not the same God I hear preached on Sunday Morning and that really irritated me. Southern Baptists keep Christ at such a low class, simplistic level. God is actually bigger and more vast than we have words and He loves ALL people ALL the time. HE REALLY DOES. Got tired of the judging, double standards and cherry picking at the Bible . Last straw: I brought a friend as a guest and afterwards she remarked “For me that was not God, that was a gathering of bitter church people.” After 50 years, I walked out with her. The problem, I firmly and compassionately say, is YOU. “Thank you my Father!”

  • Neither does this article mention women. As a member of a SB church, I can tell you that women are treated like they think we are God’s red-headed step-children” (no offense to red-heads)! I would leave the church, but in my neck of the woods, there aren’t many other places to go. Besides, my husband likes this church and the “2000 Baptist Faith and Message” says that I have to “graciously submit” to my husband. Apparently, women are, once again, considered to be chattel”

  • If you don’t believe in the Southern Baptist ideas about womens’ roles in the Church, i.e. what the Bible says about gender roles in the church, why are you being subservient to your husband? Go ahead and join the United Church or Christ or the Presbyterian Church USA or the episcopal church. Why not even the Unitarian church? If the Bible isn’t your authority, then you can do anything. Maybe Buddhism? You seem a little hypocritical saying you believe something but your husband likes his church, i.e. you don’t want to upset him. If you want to throw out biblical authority, you can even get divorced and marry a Muslim! The possibilities are endless!!!! Get out there and do what you want!!! The Bible, i.e. the word of God, shouldn’t limit you!!!

  • Examples are always helpful. What lies are the “SB’s” telling and please cite your authorities that prove they are “lies,”

  • I look forward to your logical refutation that God created the world or that people will go to hell. Thanks in advance!!!!

    Otherwise, it is just your unsubstantiated opinion. On another note, have you ever thought about counseling for your bigotry?

  • If your argument is so strong, surely you can make it without name-calling and pejorative terms like “Bible thumper” and implying mental illness? BTW – what do you mock those with mental illness? Just a thought. Also, I could give you three reasons, but what is the point? Your comment clearly indicates that your mind is closed and that you would only make fun of me. I guess what the Bible says is true – don’t throw pearls to swine. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  • Can you prove to me what is “moral” because there seems to be a lot of argument about that. Thanks! I look forward to your irrefutable logic on the matter!!!

  • Why should you care about people? Please, no subjective, christian influenced arguments. Thanks!

  • Name calling again? Is that all you have?

    If you don’t believe in the Southern Baptist theology, why do you think they would want you? I would rather my church die out than accept as true that which is not true. If you reject a church’s beliefs and are closed-mined to changing your views, then by all means, stay away. They don’t need you or want you.

  • Examples of cherry picking? Maybe some logic to support your unsupported opinions? BTW – what in the world does your friend’s subjective opinion about the members of a church have to do with the truth? Is that really how you make your decisions about truth?

  • Well the fact that the person has a law degree and graduated from a top 10 university convinced me. Everything he said must be true!!!! BTW – Ted Cruz graduated Princeton and Harvard Law School and George W Bush also graduated from Yale and Harvard. Everything they say must be true!!! And Pat Robertson graduated from Yale!

  • You give no examples of why the school should lose accreditation. Is it because of their theology? Wow, that isn’t a violation of the first amendment, is it. But yeah, you don’t need to tell me. I know you are all for “separation of church and state.” And why in the world is an agnostic trying to tell Christians who to run their institutions? Bill, you obviously did not believe what they believed. It is best that you and the SBC each went your separate ways. I hope you are happy as an agnostic. If you no longer care, why are you advising Christians and reading stories about SBC? Be happy that you have been “liberated.” Quit looking back. Be the superman that Nietzsche talked of!

  • It is impossible to resist sex? ha ha ha. Well I must not be human then!! I have resisted it many times. Maybe you need to rethink your assumptions?

  • I think you didn’t try hard enough to understand because your mind was not open. But hey, that is pretty common among all people.

    Also, do you think that all of the doctors participating in doctors without borders are irreligious too? I doubt it. I am sure some are motivated by their Christian faith. And there are more Christians then just Catholics. You forget about all the Protestants. Are all of your arguments so misleading? I will answer for you – yes they are because you don’t really care about the truth.