Movement Wants to Make Southern Baptists Conservative Again

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A new network of pastors says it’s trying to unite the SBC. But its critics fear the opposite.

A week before the election, Truett McConnell University president Emir Caner told fellow Southern Baptists, “We are in a battle for the soul of our nation and denomination.”

Over 500 people gathered Tuesday night for a religious liberty event at the university’s campus in Cleveland, Georgia, and within a few days over 10,000 had watched on Facebook. Speakers criticized political correctness and cancel culture, urging believers to focus on biblical justice over social justice. They prayed for bold, biblical preaching and godly leadership for their churches and the country.

Radio host Todd Starnes characterized the gathering as an attempt “to save the nation’s largest denomination from a radical group of Never Trumpers and woke critical race theorists.”

The group responsible for the event is the Conservative Baptist Network. This newly formed coalition of conservative pastors and leaders worry the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is drifting toward more worldly approaches and away from the convictions of millions of everyday churchgoers in the pews (or, in pandemic times, over the screens)—and they believe now’s the time to do something about it.

Their concerns emerged or accelerated over the past four years when, like the rest of the country, Southern Baptists found themselves in disagreement over Donald Trump’s presidency as well as the appropriate response to rising social unrest nationwide.

‘Heartbeat’ to Stay in the SBC

What began as ad hoc meetings in late 2019 grew into a formal network in February of this year, and now the network has 6,000 members and a 54-person steering council made up of influential Southern Baptists: seminary and university presidents, …

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