Recent instability hits Southern Baptist Convention

Recent instability hits Southern Baptist Convention

The Southern Baptist Convention has seen some turbulence recently. The SBC, which represents 47,000 congregations and around 14 million members, is the biggest evangelical organization in America.

But in May, it came to light that several of its now-retired officials had for years disregarded hundreds of claims of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches. SBC members chose Bart Barber, a pastor from a tiny Texas town, to lead them when they chose a new president in June.

We weren’t sure he would want to sit down and talk about serious issues of church and state given the ongoing Department of Justice investigation into the abuse scandal and the impending midterm elections, but he did- and as you’re about to hear, Bart Barber has a lot to say about faith, scandal, and the political extremism threatening American democracy.

Barber, Bart Everything is destroyed by blind partisanship, except baseball. I’m a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals (LAUGH) fan, and I won’t change. But there are so many instances in church life and elsewhere when we may work together to solve issues, but we repeatedly miss out on these chances in favor of taking aim at the other side.

Cooper, Anderson You can see that affecting the church, right?

Bart Barber: It’s definitely influencing the way churchgoers who should know better talk to one another about matters that aren’t very religious and occur outside of the church. They’re not listening is the best way to describe them.

Bart Barber has been preaching every Sunday at the First Baptist Church, which has only around 320 members, for 23 years. He lives in Farmersville, Texas, with his wife and two children. He owns some acreage with approximately 12 cows.

Cooper, Anderson What prompted you to pursue the position of SBC chairman?

Barber, Bart The Southern Baptist Convention is now dealing with some unusual issues, in my opinion. I had the impression that God was calling me right now to attempt to provide leadership in order to advance the cause of Southern Baptists.

When Bart Barber was chosen as the SBC’s president in June, it had only been four weeks since an independent investigation had revealed that some former members of the executive committee, which manages the organization’s budget, had ignored hundreds of credible allegations of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches and seminaries for decades, in part out of fear of being held financially liable.

They really retained a record of more than 700 names of those who had been legitimately charged, according to Ryan Burge. But here’s what they said: “Because local churches are free to choose whose pastors they recruit and dismiss, we were unable to deliver that to the congregations. We are unable to forbid them from employing this individual.”

American Baptist minister Ryan Burge works as an assistant professor at Eastern Illinois University. He is one of the top data analyzers in the nation for both politics and religion.

Cooper, Anderson Were they alerting police to the presence of a predator at this church in this state by phoning the police?

The Executive Committee possessed the list, but kept it hidden for more than 10 years, according to Ryan Burge.

Bart Barber: We’re rejecting and moving away from that way of thinking.

Cooper, Anderson Reading that report and the testimonies of others who had the courage to phone the Executive Committee and report abuse only to have their complaints rejected –

That term isn’t strong enough, according to Bart Barber. We didn’t just disregard them. We sometimes questioned their intentions. We sometimes assaulted them. Because our churches disagree with it and have taken steps to change it, I am president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In order to assist churches in locating pedophiles, Bart Barber has formed a new, nine-member task team to address sexual assault and has said that he is collaborating with the Justice Department’s investigation.

Barber, Bart I’m quite passionate about this. It’s not only rage, I’m sorry. Even yet, I’m upset about it. When I was eleven, God called me to be a preacher. I have faith in this. I’m saddened that someone would tarnish this. I’m not trying to achieve any kind of PR goal for us with this. I want to serve God properly, therefore I’m doing this.

That involves upholding his staunchly conservative ideals and views on the 2016 presidential election, according to the incoming SBC president.

Do you think the 2020 election was rigged, Anderson Cooper?

Barber: Not at all.

Cooper, Anderson Do you think Joe Biden is the rightful leader of the country?

Do, Bart Barber. Absolutely. I often pray for him in his capacity as president of the United States. He was properly elected, in my opinion.

Cooper, Anderson According to Bart Barber, he doesn’t think the election was rigged. He accepts that Joe Biden was legitimately chosen to serve as president of the United States.

That’s a significant issue, Ryan Burge said. In 2020, 60% of white evangelicals think the election was rigged. And a huge number of Southern Baptists attend church each Sunday with that belief. Pastors of Southern Baptist churches have been reluctant to discuss it in sermons because they are aware that many congregation members have opposing views.

Cooper, Anderson How many individuals, how many votes — how many people is Bart Barber able to sway?

Randall Burge Today, there are at least 70 million evangelicals. When it comes to who people vote for and why, he may have a significant influence.

According to Ryan Burge, 33% of all votes cast for Donald Trump in 2016 were from evangelicals, although Bart Barber’s vote was not one of them.

Cooper, Anderson You said in 2016 that you felt being a loud supporter of a man whose campaign platform primarily centers on his evilness “hurts the credibility of my testimony.”

Bart Barber: I concur. In 2016, I abstained from voting for President Trump. And it very much explains my justification for that.

Cooper, Anderson What kind of evil did you see?

Bart Barber: His behavior with women, which had already been made public. I mean, I felt that a lot of the rhetoric around immigration was inaccurate. Many Southern Baptists believed that the rhetoric over immigration was incorrect.

Cooper, Anderson You’re bringing up legal immigration, right?

Talking about lawful immigration is Bart Barber.

Is it something you embrace?

I accept it, says Bart Barber. I’m appreciative to those who have immigrated. I’m from Texas. People who have been married into one other’s families are all around me. They improve our neighborhood.

Cooper, Anderson If I’m incorrect, please correct me. You did cast a ballot for Donald Trump in 2020.

Barber, Bart The President’s support for legislation on, uh, sentencing reform, something that really addressed some unfairness that hurt, uh, minority communities, is part of what changed. The President’s continuous advocacy for pro-life causes gave me hope. I did not anticipate that.

Barber did inform us of what transpired on January 6th and how Donald Trump’s involvement in it significantly affected his current impression of the former president.

Bart Barber: I would be pleased to support someone for leadership in our nation who is strong on the principles that important to us and who can do so without endangering the vice president’s life, as would I and I believe many Southern Baptists.

Cooper, Anderson You could find it difficult to support a candidate who endangers the life of his vice president.

Bart Barber: I concur.

Donald Trump did invite, provoke, and urge a crowd of people to march on the Capitol, according to Anderson Cooper.

Barber, Bart Just to be clear, I want to be motivated by the teachings of Jesus Christ. And that excludes the use of mob violence. I don’t support it in any way. I’m less inclined to vote for somebody who does support it because of their support for it.

Cooper, Anderson Would you support Mike Pence in a primary if he ran for office?

Nothing would stop me from supporting Mike Pence in a primary, says Bart Barber.

We questioned Barber about his thoughts on the rising usage of Christian nationalism by certain political politicians, such as Colorado representative Lauren Boebert.

The religion is meant to guide politics, says Lauren Boebert. The church shouldn’t be governed by the government.

Bart Barber: It goes against everything I believe about religious freedom and 400 years of Baptist tradition. I disagree with the notion of Christian or church-based sovereignty over governmental affairs.

Cooper, Anderson Why do you have issue with that?

Kay. Bart Barber Because Jesus said that his kingdom will not be of this world, I, uh, object to it. I disagree with it because historically, each time it was implemented, individuals like me were persecuted. doesn’t only target non-Christians for persecution. In the end, it persecutes those who identify as Christians yet practice Christianity in a manner that differs from the government.

Baptists who endured racial and religious discrimination in England and America in the 1600s saw support for the separation of church and state as a fundamental value. The Southern Baptist Convention was established in 1845, after a rift in the Baptist community over slavery. The SBC supported segregation and subsequently slavery. Over time, the SBC’s opposition to abortion has become more adamant. When there was “the possibility of injury to the mother’s emotional, mental, and physical health,” they were allowed to make an exception in 1971.

But in 1980, they restricted this exemption to circumstances in which the mother’s life was in danger due to pregnancy. Today, according to Bart Barber, he stands by it.

Barber, Bart To regulate everyone’s sexual behavior is not in our interest when it comes to abortion. We are interested in abortion because we think that every human being deserves the chance to life.

Anderson Cooper: Recently, a ten-year-old girl who had been raped was denied the right to an abortion in Ohio. I managed to get one in Indiana. This tiny child has a right to live just like anybody else, after all.

Yes, Bart Barber said.

Cooper, Anderson Do you believe she ought to have the kid even in such scenario?

Do, Bart Barber.

Should she be forced to have the kid, according to Anderson Cooper?

Barber, Bart I don’t want it to seem like I don’t have a lot of sympathy for her and her situation, but I believe. I hope we could put a stop to rapes of 10-year-olds. I’m attempting to fight against the horrifying practice of sexually abusing children.

But you don’t view forcing a ten-year-old kid to have a baby that was born through rape as abusing a child, according to Anderson Cooper.

Bart Barber: I think it’s awful. In my opinion, it is better than murdering another person.

Unsurprisingly, Barber and the SBC are against same-sex unions.

Bart Barber: We firmly believe that gender is a divine given. Men and women should be connected with one another in marriage, according to our firm belief.

Do you still think that homosexual persons can or should be persuaded to change their orientation? Anderson Cooper

Bart Barber: I think that everyone who sins should be converted to become no longer sinners.

How is it possible to be a devout Christian, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, yet homosexual, lesbian, or married to someone of the same sex? Anderson Cooper

Barber: Not at all.

Can a decent Christian vote for Donald Trump in 2024 with no guilt? We lastly inquired about Bart Barber’s vote before we departed.

Barber, Bart I won’t even venture an opinion on it. Who are the other options?

Cooper, Anderson When the 2016 election was approaching, you declared your vote. You declared who you voted for in 2020. You’re not expressing who you would vote for right now,

Barber, Bart That’s accurate.

Someone who sees this will likely say, “Okay, well, that’s,” according to Anderson Cooper.

Why are you hedging now, Bart Barber?

Anderson Cooper: “It’s political, that is.”

Barber, Bart Political calculation is not involved. The fact that in 2016 I had a voice and was solely speaking for myself And today, when I speak, I speak on behalf of 50,000 churches of people I love. Do I now feel the need to be more thoughtful and circumspect in what I say as a result? Certainly, I do.

Anderson Cooper: Have Christians who support Donald Trump sold their souls?

Barber, Bart I believe that we first had to choose among the options that were shown to us. And in our political system, that’s, um, an unavoidable truth.

Cooper, Anderson However, evangelical support for Donald Trump extends much beyond those who just hold their nose and declare, “I guess I have these two options. I’ll vote for this guy, therefore.”

Barber, Bart There is that. I’m telling you, a lot of individuals can also put what I just stated into words. Simply said, I believe that under President Trump, there was less of a tendency to break promises to the public. I do believe that the American people are in need of competent leadership. I believe there is potential for powerful leaders to arise who offer us better options. I really hope for that.

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