The results of the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) presidential election may be one indicator of which direction the denomination is going.
Dr. Ed Litton, the moderate, beat conservative Mike Stone by four points. It might have gone the other way had it not been for some letters Stone says contained baseless accusations against him that were leaked to the press the week before the vote.
Stone is not saying who is responsible, but he suspects the letters probably came from their author, Russell Moore, the recently-departed head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
"Those letters are really just a parting Molotov cocktail from a disgruntled former employee," said Stone. "But there's no question that they had some of their intended effect."
He says he had strong and broad support, and for the end result to be 52%-48%, "with the full weight of the SBC machinery and the elite mainstream media against our candidacy – I think shows that there are a lot of very dissatisfied people within the SBC."
Nonetheless, he decides he had a good run as the first-ever candidate backed by the fledgling Conservative Baptist Network.
"It's as if we got into the Super Bowl the first year of our existence and lost by a field goal, but Lucy was the one holding the football for that final kick," he said.
CRT in the SBC
The outcome of the denomination's presidential election amounts to what some say is a lukewarm statement on critical race theory (CRT). The committee in charge of resolutions knew it had to address the SBC's endorsement of the movement back in 2019. Some churches were threatening to withhold their contributions to the Cooperative Fund if it was kept; others threatened to leave if it was dropped. The ultimate solution was to repudiate the ideas behind CRT without actually calling it critical race theory.
"If we do not have the courage to call a skunk a skunk, let's not say anything," Kevin Apperson, a messenger from North Las Vegas, commented.
"If some people were as passionate about the gospel as they were about critical race theory, we'd win this world to Christ tomorrow," a committee member responded.
Pastor Stone says it was a swing and a miss.
"Resolution 2 was definitely a middle-of-the-road position, and I think the only thing that stays for a long time in the middle of the road is roadkill," he states. "If there is an issue that has been problematic by name, I think that we need to deal with it and call it by its first name."
He hopes the SBC will have another chance to address the issue before the movement seriously damages the denomination.
"Despite the fact that thousands of messengers came, I believe, to Nashville this year for the purpose of addressing CRT and intersectionality, they were not heard," Stone laments. "They were not listened to, and I think, therefore, that this challenge, this issue is not going to go away."