EDITOR, The Tribune
With a membership of approximately 15 million -- 85 percent being Caucasian -- the largest Protestant denomination in the US, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has a checkered past in race relations, which had spanned well over a century since its formation in the mid-nineteenth century. Indeed, the SBC was founded on the issues of slavery and racial discrimination in 1845 by a group of white southerners who would go on to become Confederate sympathisers. These Southern Baptist pioneers were fierce opponents of any legislation aimed at placing African Americans on equal footing with their Caucasian counterparts. The Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr may have had the SBC in mind when he composed his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963.
I believe that black supremacist groups such as the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam and the Hebrew Israelites are the unpaid bills of the SBC and other white evangelical organisations. With the election of African American pastor, Fred Luter of New Orleans, as president of the denomination in 2012, Southern Baptists have demonstrated the willingness to wrestle with the racist ghost of its past, notwithstanding the pushback against the formal repudiation of white nationalism and the Confederate flag. Another step in the right direction was a formal apology to the African American community in 1995 for its culpability in condoning racial discrimination. With its ubiquitous presence in Pelican Point, East Grand Bahama, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, the SBC is demonstrating to wary ethnic minorities its transformation in accepting ethnic minority groups. Current SBC President J D Greear and his executive board should be well aware that over 92 percent of the Bahamian population is of African extraction. Despite this knowledge, the SBC has come to the aid of East Grand Bahamians, whose community had been pummelled by Dorian. I commend the SBC for at least attempting to mend racial fences in The Bahamas.
January 14, 2020