The soul of the SBC

For decades, the Southern Baptist Convention has been very conservative. Think Jerry Falwell.

Since bonding with Donald Trump, the SBC has lost not only moderately conservative members, but entire congregations, mostly consisting of both white and people of color congregants.

They will be electing a new president this summer, who will determine whether the SBC stays politically pro Trump, or leave behind politics and focus on bringing people’s of all colors and cultures into Christ.

The article discusses both sides. Some insisting Christ wasn’t woke, while the other side confirms hearing racial epithets.

The battle is big and ugly. It will likely lead to a bigger schism.

Contrast this to the Latter-day Saints. No elections. There are no big divisions among the leadership. They stay politically neutral. They warn about abortion and sexual ain, but also insist that “black lives matter is an eternal principle.” Pres Oaks and others teach that a person can prayerfully belong to almost any political party and be in good standing. IOW, abortion is an important issue, but not the only issue.

While the entire SBC is possibly on the verge of secession, our leadership is united, Yes, we have many hyperpolitical members who judge those who vote for/against Trump/immigration/abortion, etc. Hopefully most of our members watch the living prophets and emulate them.

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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery ( He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

12 thoughts on “The soul of the SBC

  1. The SBC has been infighting for a while now.
    A lot of churches have this going on…conservative members are confused by the wokeness they are hearing from the pulpit, seeing in their private religious schools etc. But I never cease to be amazed at the whipping boy Trump has become. This persistent notion that he alone rots the world…It’s as if the last 50 years of cultural disintegration doesn’t exist.

    Look- I don’t like the guy either, but Trump isn’t a causation, he’s a result. Those continuing to act like getting rid of him solves the cultural cliff-dive just ends productive conversation.

    I didn’t hear Pres. Oaks talk mention the importance of the issue of abortion when it comes to voting, so I can’t say “in other words” on his behalf.
    I did hear Elder Anderson’s words:
    “What is happening to our appreciation of the sanctity of human life? Abortion is an evil, stark and real and repugnant, which is sweeping over the earth.” He then shared a sister’s bittersweet sweet testimony of repentance and forgiveness.
    It’s was kind of like a religious version of the Democrats former position coined by President Clinton: “abortion should be safe, legal and rare”.

    The culture has been abused, distorted and in some parts simply abandoned for too long.
    I do believe that studying the words of the prophets and trying to emulate our Savior’s teachings is our only path forward.

  2. NotThatMeg,
    I agree that Trump is a symptom and not the reason/causation of the current struggles. That said, his techniques to sow chaos and division in order to gain the upper hand has rippled through society, causing even more division and chaos. This is true in both major political parties, as we’ve now seen riots by both Democrats and Republicans.

    As Nephi taught, the tools of Satan are to either lull people into a sense of security, where they ignore the real problems in the world and so look the other way, or to stir them up to anger. When one group has its way, it ignores the problems of the oppressed.

    We have groups that want to tear down Confederate statues that honor slave owners, while others that insist it is honoring culture. We have some that insist there is no systemic racism, while others (including Pres Oaks) state that systemic racism still occurs.

    We see some who kneel during the national anthem to give recognition to the continual problems out there, while the other side deflects the real issue by making it an insult to our military to kneel during the national anthem (I’m retired military – it isn’t an insult).

    One side wants complete access to abortion, while the other side wants to completely shut it down regardless of reason.

    This division in the SBC, which was formed back in Civil War days when the Baptist Church broke into two as a result of religion supporting or rejecting slavery.

    Much of today’s issue for the SBC still is on the same subject: the issues of race. In my lifetime, the SBC supported Jim Crow Laws, thinking that it was God’s will to separate the races. They only apologized for slavery 25 years ago. They still are dealing with racism, just as the Latter-day Saints are. The difference is, Latter-day Saint prophets and apostles are united against it, while SBC leaders are divided.

    There is no risk of any major divisions breaking apart the LDS Church (Denver Snuffer, notwithstanding). There is a big chance that the SBC breaks in half.

  3. Gerald Smith-
    As a long time reader here (albeit an infrequent commenter) I am of the opinion that you generally posit your opinions with examples from the cream of “your side” against the dregs of the “other side”. I am sorry if you think that an unfair assessment but I mean no disrespect by it – I believe it human nature to do so.

    I am also of the opinion that the “sides” are not spilt evenly 50-50, nor in 100% agreement with each other even amongst themselves. The nuanced territory,
    where most of the country lives, is fertile ground for “all or nothing conversations” as well as “opinion is fact” arguments which pervade our culture. Without civility (and other helps) we are subject to the fringe of either side. I believe most citizens are tired of having to pick between the dregs of their own side.

    Having said that, you addressed me directly and I kindly reply the following thoughts before being still again.

    You say- “We have groups that want to tear down Confederate statues that honor slave owners, while others that insist it is honoring culture. We have some that insist there is no systemic racism, while others (including Pres Oaks) state that systemic racism still occurs.”

    Dangerous ground here but I am going to explain a nuance there as I see it.
    There is a difference in history and culture. I believe our history needs to be preserved and our culture…addressed. Unfortunately, (in my estimation), there are those that have stated that it is necessary for us to “change” both. History teaches both what to do and what not to do. Slavery, evil and still in practice today around the world, was thankfully abolished in the US, expectedly, and as predicted, with a high payment of blood and sacrifice. The generations who could not do it in their time knew the future generations would. The statues you speak of, here comes the nuance, were they built to honor slavery? To honor the person for being a slave-holder? To honor the accomplishments of someone who also owned slaves? Do they contribute to repeating or learning from our past? Some will say none of these questions matter. Some will say they do. So what is to be done?

    No groups should be “tearing down” anything. We have processes to address concerns and grievances. Council meetings, petitions etc… The final decision may not initially, or ever, go your way, but there are times and places where issues of confusing culture and history can be addressed, civil debate had, and decisions rendered. No accelerants, bricks, paint or molotovs needed.

    The same issues can be illustrated with the buzzword “systemic racism”, a definition of which is hard to agree on because of the agenda it supports. Of course, racism exists because humans exist. Are there still places where hard hearts have conspired to keep their fellow man down? Of course. But thankfully, in my opinion, and there’s the rub, that is not even close to a majority of the country, nor is it in such a proportion that it needs to be reckoned with violence and murder. But what I am to do about the people who have a different opinion than me? And just as important, what are they to do about me?

    (A side note- what is to be done about the “systematic racism” which routinely silences the voices of Booker T. Washington, Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Ben Carson, Walter Williams… ?)

    You also use the illustration of kneeling for the anthem. You imply the sides are divided cleanly and evenly again, and that’s simply not the case. Those who began in protest their opinions of “continual problems” were very public in explaining to everyone what their continued kneeling was to represent. They spoke loudly for themselves, no speculation or twisting needed by either side: their stated reasons included anything from yes, the military, to America as a country, to LGBT rights, to BLM Inc., etc. It’s not as clean as simply lumping “continual problems” into the cream for your argument. And just because you say as former military (thank you for your service, sincerely) that kneeling for the anthem is not offensive to you, doesn’t mean it may not be incredibly offensive to someone else. So what is to be done?

    The reality is we were not sent here to never be offended and to right every wrong. It’s impossible to live in this fallen experience and expect anything less. But we aren’t here to build Utopia. We need to build Zion and they are very different places.

    You focus on Pres. Oaks and his mention of the systemic racism but that was only a small portion of his speech. And in context it needs to be applied to his focus from Churchill that “If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” The prophets and apostles will be able to stand united. It remains to be seen if our congregations can.

  4. Racism may be what is breaking apart the SBC but it is certainly not because of Pres. Trump. Blaming Trump for racism is like blaming Jesus Christ for the hatred of the Jewish leadership that led to them wanting to kill him. A man tells the truth and upholds the law/constitution and he is hated! (By those who hate the constitution and want to turn the USA into a socialist hellhole like Venuzuela.) And all bad things are blamed on him.
    The SBC is falling apart over the division of those who want to accept Critical Race Theory and those who want to fight against Marxist/Socialist/Communist influences.
    Dr. Voddie Baucham explains it all in his most recent book “fault lines[sic] The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Crisis.”
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints won’t fall apart over the same fight, but there will probably be many in the US who will leave the church over it.
    Racism is an individual heart problem, not a systemic, institutionalized problem. The USA is the least racist of any country on earth!

  5. NotThatMeg and Roxy,
    I never said the division was 50/50. Read what I say. Don’t read your world view into my words.

    I also never blamed the problem on Trump. He is a symptom, not a cause. As it is, Trump is neither conservative nor a Constitutionalist. He is Trump. As with most people, he defines conservativism in his own way (very differently than Goldwater or Reagan). Real conservatives would not spend $8 trillion in deficit spending in 8 years, ban bump stocks, or increase tariffs. Trump did.

    He succeeded in transforming the SBC from a conservative movement to a highly divided group today. Those who see SBC as becoming too political are being called liberal or socialist, when they’ve been conservative all along.

    You both are missing the point of my post. The divided conservative movement, Reagan Republicans vs Trump Republicans is dividing religions.

    Two decades ago, the Anglican/Episcopalian Church was divided when some moved strongly to the left. We see it now happening on the right.

    BTW Roxy, it is systemic. Laws tend to prosecute people of color harsher than whites. I’ve written on it several times before here. As it is, the First presidency recognized systemic racism in several talks over the past year, which I also previously noted in prior posts.

    I see many leaving the LDS church, because they’re not ready to accept these important truths. Black lives matter IS an eternal principle. Those who believe otherwise or attempt derailing the principle are on the wrong path. I’m not justifying CRT. I am saying the truth is in the middle, but many are moved so far to the fringe, they cannot hear what is actually said.
    This will physically divide the SBC. This will cause many LDS Trump conservatives to question the living prophets, as we’ve seen with Denver Snuffer and others.

  6. “I never said the division was 50/50. Read what I say. Don’t read your world view into my words.”

    Goodness. Can I can ask the same of you?
    I didn’t say you say you said that.
    In fact, what I said was speaking for myself: “I am also of the opinion that the “sides” are not spilt evenly 50-50, nor in 100% agreement with each other even amongst themselves.”

    I did say your writing implied a simple and clean divide of one side or the other.
    That’s it. One side. The other. Even in your response you continued to propose only “this” or “that” positions. Nuance and perspective is lost. You want to continue the idea that the Republicans have a split…have you taken a look at the Democrats lately? These splits are not R and D. They aren’t “with us” or “against us”. These are real Americans trying to figure out where they stand and it’s not as simple as you imply. (Is that not one of the points of Elder Oaks’ recent Constitution talk? All the answers are not going to found on merely one side or the other. There will places of disagreement and times we have to choose a lesser evil in our mind. Individual responsibility for each issue, not group think or “us” or “them”.)

    If that’s not what you are trying to say, you are right – I missed the point of your writing and offer my apology. But as you didn’t address the actual questions I posed, which you are under no obligation to do, I must assume you were not looking for actual exchange of thoughts, you just wanted to post your perspective. Fair enough.

    In closing, everything ever read is read from the reader’s world view into the author’s world view. There’s no way to demand it not be.

  7. Before you correct me, you do say, “I’m not justifying CRT. I am saying the truth is in the middle, but many are moved so far to the fringe, they cannot hear what is actually said.”

    If you could tell me how to compromise with evil to get to the middle I would be grateful. I am being completely serious. Is all opposition to evil “the fringe”? What would compromise look like?

    I apologize for being outside the scope of the religious aspect of this post, thank you for your time, and respectfully bow out.

  8. PC, specifically the watering down and even inversion of Christian doctrine has been destorying all Protestantism for nigh on to about 45 years … at least.

    On the Left, the stated reasons are never the real reasons. They are cover stories, or stalking horses.

    The left wants to destroy Christianity. Politics, racism, CRT are all fake reasons. No matter how much actual truth is in the accusations about race etc.

    This is the left’s essential modus operandi: “you’re splitting us up (being divisive) because you don’t agree with us.”

    Ram, you know better than to believe the mainstream media on these issues: They are in the tank for one side. You’ve got to go to the sources to unravel it.

    I’ve been following the Anglican issue. The left split them up from the inside. The traditionalist ACNA split off from the liberal Episcopalian Church. Now, the left-most faction of ACNA is fomenting a split.

    Anyone been following RLDS/CoC ? A lot of splits and branch-offs there.

    This is now happening to the SBC. And it’s not about politics. It’s not about racism. One side wants to just rewrite doctrine, and taking direct cues from Marx and Alinsky, they are blaming the other side before their own sins become too widely known.

    Confounding factor: Some in the conservative leadership of SBC are accused of covering up sexual abuse. Since literally all sides are against sexual abuse, don’t you think they could remedy that, kick out or defrock the guilty parties, and continue on without a split?

    This whole kerfuffle is really about the standard leftist destruction of family and churches and religion.

    Going religiously liberal/modernist in terms of doctrine has never saved a modern church from decline. Only the churches who are preaching strong family doctrines, and strict biblical morality are growing or even maintaining membership.

    The PC/woke side is NOT trying to keep the SBC together. they are working to destroy that denomination as they did other major denominations.

  9. From the article, it seems that the SBC’s problems go far beyond the single issue of Donald Trump. Even without him, given slowing or even negative growth and current cultural conditions—it is natural that some opportunists would start shrieking about how the situation could be reversed if the church would only do a little more sniveling to our rightful, leftist lords and masters. (Never mind the experiences of the Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, et al. who are hemorrhaging members even faster!) We certainly see that dynamic in our own church as well; though as Gerald notes, we seem to be uniquely blessed with a remarkable degree of unity amongst our leadership. (It’s also worth noting that while the Mormon left fawns over seemingly intellectual or even left-leaning GAs like Elders Uchtdorf or Renlund or Christofferson; they are quick to throw those same leaders under the bus when they say or do anything remotely conventional—Elder when as a member of the First Presidency he was party to the November 2015 baptism ban, Renlund when he compared sin to a virus earlier this year, Christofferson when he used the phrase “bitter fruits” in relation to unwed parenthood.)

    That said: I think there is a fundamental disconnect between old-guard institutionalist, process-oriented Republicans who still want to fight (and think they can win) under the old rules; versus Trump followers who believe that traditional America is in a war for its very survival and that to some degree the ends justify the means (even if it means rejecting old values like politeness or collaboration, or breaking old political taboos about occupying federal buildings or publicly besmirching election results, or setting aside moral/religious taboos like—say—lying and self-dealing). As the Republican Party grapples with increasing riotousness, dishonesty, financial
    profligacy, paranoia, and closed-mindedness within its own ranks while also becoming increasingly unable or unwilling to articulate the intellectual argument against the traditional covetousness and libertinism of the baby-killing Democrats; the choice between the two parties is not quite as stark as it used to be. That, of course, leaves an opening that leftists can and do exploit.

    But ultimately, regardless of political affiliation—either you’re committed to Zion, or you’re not; and the “nots” tend to sort themselves out sooner or later.

  10. The reality is, folks, is there are both right and wrong things in both major parties. Sadly, politics is taking over many religions and members of our own Church.

    I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I am Libertarian. I don’t have any reason to defend either major party, unlike others. As for the MSM, yes they exist. But so does the Fox News Network/blogs/radio talk shows/etc that comprise those on the right. I see both as equally suspicious. No, Bookslinger, I do look at the sources, and I comment accordingly. My world view is different than yours, where I don’t just have suspicion for one side and fully trust the other.

    I called myself moderate in these fights, but perhaps I would use a Buddhist term: non-attached. I am not attached to either of the major parties, therefore I am free to praise or condemn different things in each. I believe “black lives matter” without having to embrace CRT or the organization Black Lives Matter. I believe in the 2A, without having to justify any of it for Biden or Trump (who banned bump stocks). I believe there is systemic racism, though I do see that the racist claims are often overused and abused.

    The split in the SBC has everything to do with politics. Those currently in power are not doing anything different than our own prophets are doing: embrace people, while not condoning sin. However, when many churches and people embraced Trump, he became an important part of their religion. The SBC is fighting for its soul between Reagan and Trump – Reagan pushed the Constitution and Freedom, while Trump pushes the deal, whatever gets him reelected. This explains why he continues lying about winning the election, and will be reinstated in a couple months.

    We are to build Zion. Yet, we cannot do that by quibbling over certain rules, laws, beliefs. We cannot do it if we are divided, as are the Republicans and the SBC. Yes, there has always been a division, but the chasm has grown enormous during the past 4 years, as Trump thrives on chaos to destabilize others.

    Yet, he is just a symptom of the overall problem. While there were many Constitutionalists available for election in 2016, Republicans voted for him. They were willing to change many of their views from the past, such as hating Clinton over Monica Lewinsky and other issues, to embrace Trump who did the same things.

    For me character still matters, which is why I left the Republican party and won’t vote for either major party until there is a major change. That said, politics and religion need to be separate things. One should not impact the other to the extent it does today. Such is driving many people away from faith in God and religion.

    Someone noted that the left loves Christofferson and Renlund for being to the left, but attack them when they speak out about the left’s favorite sins. I see the same thing with many on the right. Pres Nelson and Oaks spoke on racism and black lives matter, and I saw/heard many members on the right grumble about it.

    I haven’t had a problem with what the prophets teach, because I follow their lead, rather than Trump’s or Biden’s lead. Fundamentalism on either fringe causes division and strife. This is Satan’s main tool for conquering humans.

    My point on my original post, which several posters took this WAY off course, is that the world is struggling in chaos right now, much do to fanaticism. However, our prophets have shown us a better and higher path, if we will listen. They generally are united as one voice. Whether Latter-day Saints are conservative, liberal, Reagan followers, Trump followers, Biden followers, whatever, they must not allow political differences to divide them. LDS liberals or conservatives cannot allow wrong thinking to decide that the other side is evil.

    That many in the SBC want to move away from stringency on certain issues, much developed during the Trump years, does not mean they are embracing sin – any more than the LDS Church softening its tones towards LGBTQIA+.

    As for my views, I am for limited abortions – rather than the extreme fringes on the left/right who want all or nothing. I am for letting people live peacefully as they wish – unlike liberals and conservatives who condemn each other as Nazis or Communists. I support the Blue Line, but also support an end to systemic racism.

    I am for freedom and free will. I don’t see that so much in the big parties anymore. And many churches also have gone far left or right, wagging fingers at the other side. Because politics has become religion for many, the two are hard to separate for most.

    I half jokingly ask myself sometimes, “Are you Democrat, Republican or Latter-day Saint?”

    We are fighting Satan, not Democrats nor Trump. If, instead of talking past one another, we were to actually listen to the other side, we may find a middle ground. This is the Church’s stance on abortion: allowed, but limited to rape, incest, health reasons, etc. This is the Church’s stance on politics: they don’t recommend any party nor person, but will occasionally speak out on issues of religious importance (religious freedom is a recent one).

    My main point is that unity is of God. Division and chaos are of Satan. We see Satan impacting politics, religion, etc. He is impacting both major parties. He is reaching into homes and causing divisions that separate spouses, parents from children, siblings. He is destroying faith, replacing it with judgment and hatred.

    I’ve seen a lot of that division on this list over the years, and it seems to grow. Guess which posts get the most comments? The ones that question people’s politics. The ones where the prophets say something that is unpopular to this generally conservative group.

    While our prophets are united, the members are not. I hear seething hatred from the left and right against one another. Heck, as a Libertarian, I’ve had members angry with me for not voting for Trump, because I was helping the left to win, according to their logic. On this post, my brief mention of Trump brought out a bunch of his defenders, as well as those who defend anything they deem as sacrosanct. Clearly, all of us (including me) have some pondering to do about our stance in Zion – for we cannot stay there if we are at extreme odds with our brothers and sisters. And Zion will not be built upon conservative concepts, but on a celestial foundation, where love is the main law.

  11. Not that it matters, but for what it’s worth, I agree with a lot of your last comment.

    However your writing leaves me with more questions than answers and you have illustrated you are not interested in honest conversation. I can think of “conservative concepts” that have a high probability of being a part of Zion, but if you say they won’t be, I guess that’s the end. Your preference appears to be making blanket statements that are just meant to be.

    What is a Trump supporter/defender? If you are a true Libertarian, then you must have been pleased, perhaps even relieved, with several of Trump’s actions and decisions. Does this make you a Trump supporter/defender?

    What is love and how will it look being enforced as the main law of Zion?

    Just more questions…

    I wish the bloggers and readers here all the best. We have got to find a way to noodle this out and have these conversations and M* is one of the last frontiers. My sincere thanks for the opportunity to participate in the forum.

  12. NotThatMeg,

    I support the Constitution and freedom. When Trump did something good, I applauded it, like 2 very good justices. However, I strongly opposed his big spending, bump stock bans, and many other things.
    Trump followers supported him regardless of what he said and did. There are people who insist Jan 6 was peaceful and Trump sent them to rally there.

    Sorry, but Trump creates as much fake news as he complains the MSM creates.

    That said, I hold Biden to the same level. Praise him when he supports the Constitution and freedom, strongly disagree when he doesn’t.

    In all of this, I have to separate the child of God from policies implemented by the person. I have to learn to love Trump, Obama, Biden, Hitler and everyone else, so I can be a Zion person.

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