Two Prominent Pastors Break With SBC After Critical Race Theory Statement

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Charlie Dates and Ralph D. West spoke out in response to a controversial statement released by seminary presidents.

The leaders of two majority-black megachurches in major cities announced this week that they will no longer affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention.

In op-eds announcing their decisions to leave, Charlie Dates of Chicago’s Progressive Baptist Church and Ralph D. West of Houston’s The Church Without Walls both criticized SBC seminary presidents’ declaration that critical race theory was “incompatible” with the denomination’s statement of faith.

The two pastors brought up recognizing the reality of systemic racism alongside the truth and authority of Scripture. Last month, in a joint statement and individual remarks, the six presidents of SBC seminaries called critical race theory “unbiblical” and instead emphasized the need to turn to Christian teachings alone, not secular ideas, to confront racism.

“How did they, who in 2020 still don’t have a single Black denominational entity head, reject once and for all a theory that helps to frame the real race problems we face?” Dates wrote in an op-ed Friday for the Religion News Service.

The recent departures caught the attention of Southern Baptist leaders who were disappointed to see them go, particularly fellow African Americans. The head of the SBC’s National African American Fellowship, which had raised concerns about the critical race theory statement a week ago, said he was “saddened” by the announcements.

“They are good men who are sending a big message to the SBC,” said Marshal Ausberry.

Dates’s 100-year-old congregation only began affiliating with the SBC last year, joining as a dual affiliate …

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