Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney walks to his campaign plane with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), second left, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), second right, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), far right, after a campaign rally in Tampa, Fla., on October 31, 2012. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Brian Snyder *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-BAPTISTS-POLITICS, originally transmitted on August 3, 2015.

Younger Southern Baptists seek a less partisan approach to political engagement

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney walks to his campaign plane with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), second left, U.S. Representative Connie Mack (R-FL), second right, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R), far right, after a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida on October 31, 2012. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Brian Snyder *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-BAPTISTS-POLITICS, originally transmitted on August 3, 2015.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney walks to his campaign plane with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), second left, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), second right, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), far right, after a campaign rally in Tampa, Fla., on October 31, 2012. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Brian Snyder
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-BAPTISTS-POLITICS, originally transmitted on August 3, 2015.


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

(RNS) As Southern Baptists prepare to interview Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday (Aug. 4), a group of mostly younger pastors is challenging the methods used by the old religious right and urging a broader agenda and more qualified support for the Republican Party.

“There’s a whole generation of guys coming up saying we’re tired of being the lapdogs of the GOP and, worse than that, being tossed away like a Kleenex after the election is over,” said Ryan Abernathy, 40, teaching pastor at West Metro Community Church in Yukon, Okla.

“I know a ton of people saying we should no longer be blindly giving our allegiance to one political party.”

Ryan Abernathy, Teaching Pastor, West Metro Community Church. Photo courtesy of Ryan Abernathy

Ryan Abernathy, Teaching Pastor, West Metro Community Church. Photo courtesy of Ryan Abernathy


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.


READ: Russell Moore: Pope Francis for evangelicals?


The group is fledgling and includes few prominent names, but it made itself known in June when bloggers successfully pressured Southern Baptist leaders to cancel a speech that Republican presidential contender and Seventh-day Adventist Dr. Ben Carson was to make at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual pastors' conference.

To be sure, political firefights and name-calling aren’t generally the style for young pastors, but on this issue they feel they have an important case to make.

"Religious right methods rested on the idea that evangelicals were part of an American moral majority, and often came across as triumphalist,” said Matt Capps, 33, senior pastor of Fairview Baptist in Apex, N.C. "In contrast many evangelicals under 30 see themselves as representing 'kingdom outposts in a broken world.'”

One reason these younger pastors are backing away from partisan engagement is because of social media, said Bart Barber, 45, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas.

"It’s no longer possible to talk about people as though they aren’t there. You have to speak as though they are in the same room with you, because they are,” he said. "Anything you say is likely to end up on social media and be commented on by a whole army of bloggers."


READ: ‘Ambushed’ officer: God told me to put on ballistics vest


Russell Moore, president of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, was forced to defend his decision to host interviews with presidential contenders Bush and Rubio at the Send North America Conference, which began Monday (Aug 3).

“I look forward to having conversations with all the candidates, of both parties,” Moore responded. The commission invited only those leading in the polls when invitations were issued in May. Scott Walker and Hillary Clinton were also invited to speak to the crowd of 13,000 evangelicals but declined to participate.

Moore, who is himself part of a younger generation of Southern Baptist ministers, is looked up to by the group precisely because he has been willing to re-examine the denomination's combative, and some would say, defensive approach to public issues.

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, right, leads a June 9, 2014, panel discussion as David Platt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board, listens. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, right, leads a June 9, 2014, panel discussion as David Platt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board, listens. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

In 2013, after Moore met with President Obama to support bipartisanship in immigration reform, he promised to pray for Obama and said that he loved him, despite their disagreements on many issues.

More recently he called for South Carolina to take down the Confederate flag that flew over state Capitol grounds, which also made a lot of people mad, said Barber.


READ: Dear Hillary: Advice on faith outreach for ’16


While the pastors generally supported Moore on the issue of inviting presidential candidates, they wondered if he'd picked the right forum.

“People coming for church planning aren’t coming to listen to politicians. They’re coming for best strategies for reaching people for Jesus,” said Abernathy.

Others questioned how hard Southern Baptists tried to reach out to other candidates.

Leaving out other conservative candidates was “inexcusable,” Don Hinkle, editor of “The Pathway,” the official newspaper of the Missouri Baptists, told CBN’s David Brody.

"There is an appearance of favoritism and a lot of people are asking, why do such a thing 15 months before a general election?”

These pastors would like to see more emphasis on issues and actions that might not commonly be seen as Republican or conservative evangelical concerns.

When immigrant children began to flood across the border in 2014, Daniel Darling, a staff member at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote that evangelicals should apply their "pro-life convictions" to children being called aliens, invaders, even lepers.

“My hope is that followers of Jesus begin to see immigrants as less of a threat to their way of life and more of an opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission and be a part of God's sovereign plan to gather a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue,” he wrote in The Huffington Post.


READ: 5 faith facts about Jim Gilmore: Staunch supporter of ‘Christian values’


Capps believes cooperating with groups outside evangelical circles on issues such as justice, the sanctity of human life, and environmental protection could be a good idea. Abernathy, a bivocational pastor who works with a poverty relief organization, deplores GOP policies that support inequity.

Ben Carson signs his “One Nation” book in the exhibit hall of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Baltimore on June 11, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

Ben Carson signs his “One Nation” book in the exhibit hall of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Baltimore on June 11, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

At the same time, many of the young pastors are more theologically exacting than their elders. Some felt Carson was an inappropriate speaker to preach at the pastor’s conference because his Seventh-day Adventist faith is considered a cult by some.

Barber was equally unhappy over evangelicals’ embrace of Mormon Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. When the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association took Mormonism off its cult list weeks before the election, Barber wrote that, “(W)alking away from the GOP in this election may be the only way to save the gospel from the pragmatic branch of evangelicalism that never met a doctrine it wouldn't throw under the bus for the right price.

“I want to make sure that politics is the servant of our spiritual message rather than the other way around,” said Barber.

The new methods don’t mean giving up opposition to issues such as abortion.

“But we’ve elected all these pro-life people and nothing has changed,” said Abernathy. “Maybe we need to get to the root causes. We may not be able to change the law of the land, but maybe we can change some peoples’ hearts.”

Like a lot of Southern Baptists who are struggling to keep believers and attract new ones, Capps would like to see a “convictional kindness,” an approach that's more winsome than confrontational.

“This generation is not going to be known for standing outside abortion clinics with picket signs,” he said. “I want us to be the generation that says, ‘We will adopt these children or we’ll stand beside you and help you raise those children.’“

YS/AMB END WICKER

Comments

  1. “Moore, who is himself part of a younger generation of Southern Baptist ministers, is looked up to by the group precisely because he has been willing to re-examine the denomination’s combative, and some would say, defensive approach to public issues.”

    Yes, if by “re-examine” you mean “find new strategies for selling the same divisive theology,” sure.

  2. Some revealing comments from the fresh-faced young turks who are allegedly full of hope and change:

    “I want to make sure that politics is the servant of our spiritual message rather than the other way around,” said Barber.

    “It’s no longer possible to talk about people as though they aren’t there. You have to speak as though they are in the same room with you, because they are,” he said. “Anything you say is likely to end up on social media and be commented on by a whole army of bloggers.”

    “There’s a whole generation of guys coming up saying we’re tired of being the lapdogs of the GOP and, worse than that, being tossed away like a Kleenex after the election is over,” said Ryan Abernathy, teaching pastor at West Metro Community Church in Yukon, Okla.”

    Translation: if we still had political pull, we’d happily toe the GOP line and use them to impose our theology on the nation, but since we don’t run things anymore, we have to be more careful about what we say in public.

  3. Yeah, um, angry evangelicals having been throwing bible verses at people for decades. How’s that working out for you?

  4. But only the mother carries all the burden of a pregnancy. Unless the father or a bible thumping anti-abortion pundit can take custody of a fetus, its the mother’s decision and hers alone.

  5. And to the issue of abortion once again to show why there are so many unplanned pregnancies:

    WHICH Birth control METHODS DO WOMEN (men?) USE?
    • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice contraception use reversible methods, such as oral contraceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]
    FIRST-YEAR CONTRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES – Guttmacher Institute)
    Percentage of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)
    Some examples
    Method……………..Typical
    Pill (combined)……… 8.7 (resulting in ~one millon unplanned pregnancies)
    Tubal sterilization ……0.7
    Male condom ……….17.4 (resulting in ~one million unplanned pregnancies)
    Vasectomy…………… 0.2
    Implant…………………1.0
    IUD (Copper-T)……….1.0
    (Masturbation mono or dual)………. 0
    (Abstinence) 0

    And the abortion rate in the USA? ~one million/year

  6. And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day as per the written instruction on the box or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the “Stupid Majority”?) (30-43 million women have had abortions since R vs. W).

  7. And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day as per the written instruction on the box or men fail to use a co-ndom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the “St-upid Majority”?) (30-43 million women have had abortions since R vs. W).

    Some hyphenation used to defeat an obvious word filter.

  8. Her decision to murder her unborn child. You left that part out.

    You conveniently left that part out Larry.

  9. “Yeah, um, angry evangelicals having been throwing bible verses at people for decades. How’s that working out for you?”

    Angry Evangelicals? Will the mind-control spew never stop? They are preaching the same Gospel as did the real Apostles.

    So “how’s that working?” The same way it did for the real Christians at the beginning of the real Church.

  10. Once a place has a word filter to deny oppositional free speech, you know it is too late for the proprietors of the place. We are dealing with the blind helping out Larry and his atheist and g – ay ilk per – secute Christians.

  11. You know, if you put on a foil helmet, they won’t be able to control your minds!

  12. Um, I’d suggest you go back to the sources. The Apostles preached the Gospel, but I’m not so sure it lines up with what you call the stuff you put out. Some of the words are the same, but then again, didn’t OLJC say “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “

  13. You dishonor and disrespect the Christians who are ACTUALLY SUFFERING persecution throughout the world, especially in the Middle East (Palestine, Iraq, Syria) and Africa. The former is mostly a result of our government’s action if you care at all. I will help you clarify this again — you are lamenting the loss of privilege of Christianity in our culture. That is NOT persecution. Persecution is having a sign spraypainted on your wall and told you must forsake Christ, or pay a tax for being a Christian, or die. Persecution is seeing your daughters sold into slavery. Persecution is being beheaded with fellow believers at the coast of the Mediterranean sea. And you know what sir, this nation’s military action destabilized the region where this has happened — ultimately creating the circumstances that have led to the destruction of the OLDEST Christian communities in the world. Americans are what’s bad for Christianity.

  14. Why do the SBC Young Turks look askance at the clearly-stated but heretical views of Romney and Carson, but give a pass to the hopelessly muddled Cathobaptlicanism of Rubio and Bush? #ismarcorubiocatholic

  15. Actually, Cranmer, persecuted Christians are a tiny minority of Christians worldwide. For the most part, it has been the Christians doing the persecuting of others, especially over past centuries. But don’t let reality stand in the way of your delusions.

  16. Stu​pid is as stu​pid does indeed. So use that co​ndom.

  17. So what.

    I didn’t ask you whether you thought it was a good decision or the right one. The point is nobody has to. Its not your business.

    Its still her decision, since its in her body. You don’t have to like it. Your input is neither required nor asked for. Unless you are pregnant and its your body, you have no say in the process.

  18. “Angry Evangelicals? Will the mind-control spew never stop? They are preaching the same Gospel as did the real Apostles.”

    Thanks for the making my point for me.

  19. Russell Moore in his interview with Jonathan Merrit:
    “I don’t think the issue is refusing service, but participating in a wedding that is a moral violation of their conscience. ”

    Yeah right, American Christians are being persecuted in being prevented from persecuting others. Yep discrimination is still considered an expression of religious faith to the SBC. The church founded and supported for decades on the notion of giving bigotry power of law.

  20. Why are you and people who think like you not pushing any and all forms of FREE contraception?

  21. And what did the “unreal” Apostles preach?

  22. Make the men the first responders: have a vascectomy if you are going to have sex and don’t want to step up and be a father.

    Just like in the dance it takes two to tango.

  23. But according to literally every poll ever taken on abortion, Larry, most women disagree with your extremist position……most are not for unrestricted abortion all the way to birth, and most strongly welcome support from men on their stance.

    Thus you’re being a boor yet again…..this time claiming to speak for an entire population of women who not only disagree with what you’re saying but never gave you permission to speak for them in the first place.

  24. Voting on theology and not issues is a completely upside-down way of applying one’s faith to politics.

    It sounds like these “me-too-me-too” Southern Baptists are quite confused.

  25. Hey Jack, got some links for the dubious data you’re slinging around? Otherwise maybe YOU should stop trying to speak for half of the population. Especially when you try to make them say only things you agree with.

  26. “being tossed away like a Kleenex after the election is over”

    Toilet paper might have been a more apt analogy.

  27. An interesting side note on failure rates: contraception is less effective in areas where education on them is poor or non existent. Where education is high, failure rate is low.

    Another stat not mentioned, or deceptively referred to is abstinence. The failure rate of refraining from sex is zero, but the failure rate of abstinence only education is high. In this context abstinence is not a contraceptive, because it implies that people are having sex yet somehow this category is zero. Some people on the pill for other reasons also aren’t having sex… The highest rates of unplanned pregnancies are in areas where comprehensive education is rare or absent, where abstinence is the only method taught.

  28. See “Paul”. The man never met Jesus in life, but found a way to put himself on the same stature as those who hung out with him. He is as unreal an Apostle as one gets.

  29. Eric, google it. Most men and most women have always opposed late-term abortions. All polls which actually ask the question show it — and have shown it from the beginning.

    Americans are in between the following two positions: first, opposing abortion except for mother’s life in danger, rape, incest, and some health issues, and second, favoring abortion for the first trimester and part of the second, but no farther.

    Neither of these positions is anything close to favoring abortion all the way to birth.

  30. Nice try, Larry, but Peter matter-of-factly reveals Paul’s high stature among the original 12 apostles in one of Peter’s epistles. And unless you view the Acts 15 council as fictitious, Paul not only met the leading original apostles, but convinced them to take a stance that Gentiles didn’t have to convert to Judaism to be right with God. This was probably the most momentous decision ever made by the first-century church — one which has influenced every generation since, for the past 20 centuries.

    Put another way, there’s no way that Paul would have had the same stature as the leading original apostles without their consent.

  31. Larry, if you honestly don’t know the difference between refusing to a particular request by a customer and refusing service altogether to that customer because of who or what they are, you’re pretty dense.

    You seem awfully confused between First Amendment issues and civil rights issues.

  32. Jack No-facts strikes again with assertions he is unable to back up. Maybe it can be followed up on why it would be relevant in the first place, other than making a bandwagon fallacy argument.

  33. People refusing “particular requests” aren’t the ones running afoul of anti-discrimination laws and bleating about their religious freedom in an dishonest fashion like Moore.

    Somehow that “particular request” from those Bible thumping Christians means serving a gay person any and all goods and services normally provided by a company to the general public in open public. Nobody is fooled by such weaselwording and euphemisms. You seem awfully willing to lie in service of what is clearly a demand for legalized discrimination.

  34. Not actually refuting what I said. He never met Jesus in life and ingratiated himself to the level of the Apostles.

    “And unless you view the Acts 15 council as fictitious”

    Well there isn’t any kind of objective corroboration. So at best you have to take its existence as an act of faith.

    “but convinced them to take a stance that Gentiles didn’t have to convert to Judaism to be right with God”

    And allegedly started the bipolar attitude Christians have towards the Old Testament to this day. Invoked when they want to sound tough, repudiated when they want to sound compassionate. Excuses made for such contradictory and hypocritical behavior as old as the faith itself.

  35. Here you go, lazy slugs Eric and Larry….it took me literally 5 seconds to find this:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/Abortion.aspx

    It’s such common knowledge, like Barack Obama being the current president or Washington being the nation’s capital, it’s pointless to try to deny it.

  36. What are you talking about, Larry? The issue is not denial of service because of who or what one is, but denial of a particular request, in this case to put a gay-wedding inscription on a cake.

    If two men or two women walk into a bakery and for whatever reason make it clear they are gay, that bakery should serve them like it does everybody. But like everybody else, that bakery does not have to fulfill literally every conceivable request. It certainly should not be required to fulfill a request which requires an obvious violation of conscience for the bakery — if for example the owner opposes gay marriage for religious reasons and doesn’t want to write an inscription on the cake which celebrates that which he opposes.

  37. You don’t understand how historians work. It is not the absence of corroboration but the presence of contradiction that refutes a document.

    It’s similar to how legal evidence works. Documents are to historical evidence as witnesses are to legal evidence. Witnesses are presumed not to be lying until proven otherwise — by material contradictions either within their own testimony or with outside testimony or known facts. Corroboration helps, of course, but it is unnecessary. It is up to cross examiners to impeach the testimony……if they can’t, the testimony stands even if nobody else has said what the witness said. Again, it is the presence of contradiction, not the absence of corroboration, that is required for successful refutation.

    Thus, so long as nothing refutes the account in Acts 15 of a meeting between the leading apostles and Paul, there is no reason to doubt it, unless you’re a conspiracy nut, in which case rules don’t matter.

  38. Thus, Larry, based on the rules of historical evidence, since one of Peter’s letters acknowledges Paul’s status and Acts 15 records a meeting which puts him in the same room with the apostles, with the apostles taking his advice, the burden is on you to prove none of this happened, not on me to prove it did.

    Why? Again…..it is the presence of contradiction, not the absence of corroboration, which is needed to refute a document’s assertion.

    And BTW, this is how conspiracy theories, from Holocaust denial to 9/11 truthers, are weaved. They’re all based on a hyper-skepticism which trashes the normal rules of historical evidence regarding documents and legal evidence regarding witnesses. They rely on people’s ignorance of what constitutes evidence.

  39. Larry, on Old Testament vs. New Testament, it sounds like you’ve bought into the anti-Jewish view that the Old Testament God is a tough God of vengeance while the New Testament God is a tender God of mercy.

    In reality, God in both testaments is both just and merciful. There is plenty in the Old Testament that points to God’s mercy and compassion….and likewise, let’s not forget all the references to Hell of which Jesus spoke.

    Both testaments are both tough and tender……tough on sin but tender on confession and repentance.

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