African American voters are President Obama's largest and steadfast supporters. They are also one of the largest and steadfast opponents of marriage equality. So, when President Obama finally made publicly his support of same- sex marriage, one group wondering how they might parlay their support against him with African American voters are white Southern Baptists—a huge denomination comprising the Christian Right.
For over two decades, white Southern Baptists have been trying to make inroads to the African American community, particularly black urban community, to not only increase their dwindling membership but to also promulgate an aggressive anti-gay agenda.
With just months to the November election, the Southern Baptist Convention's elected Rev. Fred Luter this past Tuesday as president. This may pave the way to their goal of promoting an anti-gay message.
Rev. Fred Luter, a native son of New Orleans, ran unopposed and was unanimously elected. He is the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). But Luter's ascendency to the highest office of the nation's largest Protestant denomination (and the world's largest Baptist denomination) raises the query—is his post a symbol of honorific tokenism? Will he have any real power with a predominately white denomination.
While minorities make-up a new worshipping contingent in a shrinking membership body, it is this group the SBC is wooing. And ministers of color are now the front persons evangelizing for the denomination.
"We cannot expect to reach this do-rag, tattooed, iPod generation with an eight-track ministry. We have to somehow change how we do things," Luter told reporters, expressing shock and utter surprise that his proposed descriptor could be viewed as offensive.
At present the SBC is approximately 20 percent people of color with about 7 percent African-American, 6 percent Latino, 3 percent Asian, 4 percent other. And African-American congregations have grown by 85 percent, up from 1,907 in 1998 to 3,534 in 2010.
The paltry number of people of color in the SBC is rooted in its once upon a time unabashedly racist history. Notoriously known to have filled the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan, Southern Baptists have been vociferous defenders of anti-miscegenation laws, Jim Crows edicts, lynching mob justice, to name a few. The Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845 in defense of slavery.
"We lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from