The Southern Baptist Convention, America's largest protestant denomination and a historically conservative wing of the Christian church in the United States, is on the verge of falling to organized “progressive” social-justice forces and anti-Trump activists, according to media reports and insiders involved in the battle. One leading opponent of the scheme has even blasted what he described as the “Evangelical Deep State” working to infect the church with unbiblical ideologies.
The goals of these forces, dubbed “neo-Marxist” by some critics, include softening and eventually quashing Christian opposition to homosexuality, normalizing gender confusion in the church, promoting left-wing politics at all levels of government, fueling constant obsession and angst over race and gender, facilitating mass Islamic migration into the United States, and much more.
Most rank-and-file Southern Baptists remain oblivious to what is happening, insiders said. But the implications for the church, the culture, the nation, and politics could be earth-shattering.
Still, the battle is not over. Critics of the controversial progressive effort to take over the SBC are fighting back hard ahead of the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas between June 12 and 13.
Among other tactics, conservatives within the denomination are pushing a resolution that would strongly condemn the “unbiblical” and “Marxist-based” so-called “social justice” movement. According to the text of the measure, “social justice by definition is based on anti-biblical and destructive concepts of Marxist ideology.”
The measure also says social-justice activism “should be considered evil” and represents “a vehicle to promote abortion, homosexuality, gender confusion, and a host of other ideas that are antithetical to the gospel.” The resolution also cites the Methodist and Episcopal denominations as a warning, noting that their membership numbers are collapsing following the embrace of “social justice.”
The resolution, proposed by Pastor Grady Arnold of Calvary Baptist Church in Texas, would represent a devastating blow to the “social justice” forces seeking to hijack the SBC.
The outcome of the battle remains uncertain. But Southern Baptist pastors and leaders are warning that if the progressives succeed, organized conservative Christianity in America may collapse.
“It's not an overstatement to say the progressive movement is on the verge of taking control of the [Southern Baptist] Convention,” Pastor Grady told The New American. “They are very friendly with liberal theology, with feminism, with the LGBTQ movement, and so on. They may not push those views, but they're friendly to them. The next step is to embrace those views — a continual softening until it becomes an embrace.”
While Pastor Arnold is not sure whether his resolution will pass, and suspects there may even be an effort to prevent a vote on it, he said it is already accomplishing part of what he hoped would happen. “Whether it passes or not, the purpose is to wake people up to the fact that this is happening,” he said. “Most of these churches in the heartland, most of these are rural churches and most of them have no idea what's going on.”
He said many of the pastors for smaller rural churches have other jobs, too. They have busy lives, and therefore they are not very involved in the inner workings of the SBC. That has given the highly organized progressive forces a major advantage in terms of furthering their agenda and their power within the denomination. Arnold has been working hard to raise awareness, including appearences on top conservative radio programs such as Janet Mefferd Today.
“My fear is that if progressives get in control of the Southern Baptist Convention — [Summit Church Pastor] J.D. Greear is one of their guys — the people in the heartland are going to start seeing this stuff infiltrating the literature, the bookstores,” Arnold said. “But by then it will be too late, and these progressives will be running the show. At that point the response will be too little too late. We need to let people know now. People didn't know social justice was being pushed in some of our churches; now they know.”
Among other concerns, Arnold noted that the progressive forces in the SBC were pushing divisive far-left narratives such as “white privilege,” “white guilt,” “social justice,” “sexual minorities,” feminism, “liberation theology,” and other anti-Christian ideas. “On the surface, some of these guys can even look conservative,” the Texas pastor continued. “But if you dig down, you'll find something else.”
Arnold also said that the progressives were in the process of destroying the conservatives who stand in their way. “These social justice people, they find somebody they don't like, then they create a narrative, they find a flash-point, and then they attack,” he said, referring to a well-respected longtime SBC leader who has been relentlessly attacked and demonized in recent weeks. “In this case, it has to do with feminism. Feminism was unheard of in the SBC 15 years ago, but now it's infiltrated.”
The vote for president at the upcoming annual meeting will be crucial, Arnold said. Many conservatives and life-long SBC stalwarts are hoping to elect Dr. Ken Hemphill, former Southern Baptist Convention seminary president. “Even people from the progressive side don't have much bad to say about him,” said Arnold, who will be in Dallas for the annual meeting. “It's all going to be about numbers, how many for each side.”
Another one of the SBC leaders working to expose and oppose the progressive agenda is Reverend Thomas Littleton, an outspoken Southern Baptist pastor in Alabama who has spoken and written extensively on the infiltration of LGBT ideology into even conservative Christian circles. “We could not be closer to an entire collapse of the organized Christian right and it is clear that these leaders have been complicit with the powers determined to bring it down,” he told The New American. “In some cases, they are the powers.”
Littleton has also raised national awareness of these issues through his articles and his appearance on top radio programs such as Janet Mefferd's nationally syndicated show. Among other concerns, Littleton says that seminaries and campus ministries under the influence of a network he dubs the “Evangelical Deep State” are becoming saturated with social-justice narratives. In fact, many of these movements are even working on “queering” the Christian faith, he said.
One of the key players he identifies in the move to fundamentally change the Southern Baptist Convention and other historically conservative denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America is the so-called Gospel Coalition. The alliance, which brings together various leaders from ostensibly conservative churches, sounds very conservative — at first glance. But through alliances with controversial groups and affiliations with controversial activists, the “fruit” that is emerging is a major threat to the Christian faith, Littleton argues. “Most people in Gospel Coalition-affiliated churches have no idea what's going on,” he said.
A key individual leader involved in the Gospel Coalition and the effort to inject the “social-justice” agenda into Christian churches and the SBC in particular is Russell Moore, who serves as president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). He is mentioned in Arnold's anti-social justice resolution for bringing the church to a “crisis point” through his promotion of social justice within the SBC for almost a decade now. Moore's record on various issues has also sparked alarm among more than a few conservatives.
“In 2013, Russell Moore took over the ERLC and promptly declared that the culture war was over, and that we lost,” explained Littleton. “Now the social-justice rhetoric is everywhere in the church, on race, on women, on politics, and on everything else. This is dangerous.”
Among other controversies, Moore has been fiercely critical of both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, widely seen as the favorite 2016 Republican presidential candidates by Christians and conservatives. After Trump won the nomination, Moore urged Christians to vote for an independent or third party candidate, a move that was widely perceived as a boost to Hillary Clinton and her self-declared pro-abortion, pro-homosexual “marriage,” pro-open borders, anti-religious liberty agenda. Before going into ministry, Moore worked for a Democrat congressman whose cumulative Freedom Index score was a terrible 51 percent.
Reverend Littleton said that many of the men graduating from ostensibly conservative seminaries these days claim to be conservative, but they are often progressives. He says many of those involved in the Gospel Coalition have also been at the forefront of the “Never Trump” movement among evangelicals. Some openly worked to sabotage former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in his U.S. Senate campaign, even though evidence clearing him of the vile false allegations was coming out every day, Littleton said.
Now, the same playbook the progressives used against Roy Moore has been deployed against Paige Patterson, the widely respected former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary who was recently taken out based on what more than a few experts and insiders say are false allegations. The accusation is that he tried to cover up a sexual assault in 2003 by encouraging a female student not to report an alleged rape to police. But now, evidence, including a letter from the victim, seem to confirm that Patterson was not involved.
Numerous high-profile leaders, including Dr. Alex McFarland, the former president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, have suggested that the take-down of the conservative stalwart may have been driven by ulterior motives. “There are factions [in the SBC] that have political agendas, theological agendas, cultural agendas,” McFarland was quoted as saying. “I would be brokenhearted to think that an opportunity was taken here under the guise of pursuing truth … when in reality it was just an opportunity to leverage this great denomination for political ends.”
According to Littleton, these progressives are now “turning the template they used to destroy Roy Moore and using it against Paige Patterson.” “This is the exact same template,” Littleton said. “What happened to Paige is cruel.”
Even more alarming is the so-called “Revoice” movement, which is working to normalize homosexuality and gender confusion by treating those issues as part of a person's identity. On the Revoice website, the mission is defined as “supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.”
The Revoice conference “takes the whole language of the Gospel Coalition on LGBT to the next level,” explained Littleton. “They hit critical race theory, white privilege, sexual minorities, feminism, the deification of MLK, and so on. Now, just in time for Gay Pride month, Revoice is being promoted by the Gospel Coalition. There are direct links between the Gospel Coalition and Revoice in terms of who is involved in these.”
“This movement was seen as a reformed theological movement,” Littleton said. “The problem is it's highly ecumenical, highly emergent, and it is highly political. While it has been masked as theologically conservative, it is not conservative in any way.”
“This whole movement of dwelling on minorities, the notion that the church is filled with oppressed minorities including sexual minorities, that we need quotas and so on, this is all really nefarious,” he continued. “It's a weird approach that's already embedded in the seminaries and we're starting to see it in our churches. Social justice curricula is already in the seminaries. This stuff was on the fringes for a long time, but it's working its way toward the core, and now it's close to the heart and soul of the last two conservative denominations of any size [SBC and PCA].”
Littleton argued that the Gospel Coalition, or at least parts of it, is really a progressive political movement with a “thin veneer of theology” that is marketed as being theologically conservative. “But the mantra of of the Gospel Coalition is that conservatives have ruined the Gospel by being too conservative and political and waging a culture war,” he said. “Really what Christians are doing is providing a Godly response to a culture war being waged against us. How is it that we're waging a war when all we're doing is responding?”
The other side, meanwhile, is “responding by taking down major figures in the conservative movement.” “Now even I'm being called mentally ill and a conspiracy theorist just for calling this out, and everything I say is documented,” Littleton added. “Any leaders who speak out against this are going to have to count the cost. But this is not the time to hide under our desks, or institutionalized conservative Christianity in America will be gone.”
Already, though, there is some pushback, and it is growing, Littleton said. “There are people within these denominations who really get it,” he explained. And as more and more everyday Christians realize what is taking place, the opposition will continue to grow. Even people outside the churches should be concerned about these developments, he added.
When asked what Christians can do, Pastor Arnold from Texas, the leader behind the SBC resolution to condemn social justice, called for prayer and more. “Certainly pray about this, please, but we need prayer and also action,” he said. “First thing to do is get informed. We're just now organizing, but the bottom line is this: pray, learn about what's going on, and be ready to take action.”
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