Jun 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Southern Baptists reject push from right to elect Ed Litton as president

Evangelist Mary Clement holds her Bible in her hands while waiting.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) rejected a push from the right in a divisive vote on Tuesday, electing a president who has prioritized racial reconciliation and approving a measure that rejects any view of racism as "anything other than sin," AP reports.

Why it matters: Ed Litton, as the new SBC president, will have the power to determine committee appointments, which can set the tone for the country's largest Protestant denomination. The SBC is comprised of 14 million members.

  • Over 15,000 delegates attended Tuesday's meeting, the SBC's largest gathering in decades, per AP.

The big picture: Litton is a white pastor from Alabama who was nominated by Fred Luter, the only Black pastor to serve as SBC president. Litton narrowly defeated Mike Stone, a Georgia pastor backed by the far right, according to Washington Post.

  • Stone supported a push for the convention to denounce critical race theory, the belief that systemic racism has been baked into legal and other institutions to maintain white power. The measure did not pass on Tuesday.

Worth noting: Delegates also affirmed a 1995 resolution apologizing for "condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime" as well as the denomination's history of support for slavery, per the AP.

Yes, but: "Several Black pastors have voiced frustration over such debates playing out in the SBC instead of the denomination confronting systemic racism itself," AP writes.

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