Why some evangelicals don't want Pence to speak at their meeting

A conservative Christian as well as longtime culture warrior, Pence shares many of Southern Baptists’ faith commitments as well as some of their political views. With more than 15 million members, Southern Baptists are the country’s largest evangelical denomination, as well as more than 80% of white evangelicals voted for the Trump-Pence ticket.

nevertheless as Pence prepares to address nearly 10,000 delegates — called messengers — at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting here on Wednesday, a modest nevertheless significant slice is actually opposing his appearance.

Younger Southern Baptists in particular — a rising force with the election on Tuesday of J.D. Greear, 45, as the brand-new president of the denomination — are wary of appearing too close to the GOP as well as detracting coming from their main mission: winning souls for Jesus.

“By associating publicly with any administration,” Garrett Kell, lead pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church in Virginia, told his fellow delegates Tuesday morning on the convention floor, “we send a mixed message to our members that will to be faithful to the Gospel is actually to also align with that will administration.”

Kell as well as others said they are also concerned that will Pence’s speech could endanger Southern Baptist missionaries as well as aid workers serving in countries that will oppose the Trump administration. This specific could also harm the denomination’s fragile relationship with racial minorities, he said.

Kell said he “has nothing against Pence personally,” nevertheless he suggested Tuesday that will Southern Baptists essentially disinvite Pence as well as replace his planned speech with time for prayer.

Kell’s motion was soundly defeated, nevertheless that will didn’t stop various other Southern Baptists coming from proposing several similar resolutions, none of which passed.

This specific’s not unusual for national politicians to address church meetings. Barack Obama spoke at national meetings for the United Church of Christ, his own denomination, as well as a gathering of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Southern Baptists have hosted several presidents at their annual gatherings, according to historian Thomas Kidd, including George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford as well as Jimmy Carter, who was himself a Southern Baptist before leaving the denomination for a more liberal one.

A spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention said the White House made the first move on Pence’s speech, reaching out to ask if he could address the annual meeting. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Victor Pollido, a Southern Baptist pastor coming from California, said he believes God has placed officials such as Pence in office. He added that will he is actually not bothered by the vice president’s planned speech.

“This specific’s OK with me,” Pollido said. “Christians need to participate in society, just like Jesus did.”

Mike Turner, pastor of Lexington Baptist Church in South Carolina as well as a delegate to the annual meeting, said he didn’t have a problem, either, with Pence’s speech: “Our conviction is actually that will we should respect the people who are in positions of government leadership.”

nevertheless Turner said he knows many younger Southern Baptists don’t agree.

“Clearly, there’s a brand-new generation coming up who are growing discontent with the Republican Party as well as are more sensitive to the racial ramifications of the decision.”

Indeed Alishah Nemieboka, a delegate to the meeting who lives in Randallstown, Maryland, said she is actually not pleased about Pence’s appearance as well as is actually considering skipping his speech.

“With the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as with us trying to get over that will history as well as unite, Pence coming is actually like one step forward, two steps back,” she said.

The Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845, splitting with its Northern counterparts over slavery.

Nemieboka as well as various other Southern Baptists said they have not heard Pence make harmful statements about race. nevertheless he is actually tainted, Nemieboka said, by his association with President Donald Trump, who has made racially charged statements about Mexicans as well as various other minorities as well as said a white nationalist rally in Virginia included some “very fine people.”

Nate Akin, 37, director of the pastor-led network Baptist21 as well as the son of a Southern Baptist seminary president, said This specific’s too simplistic to paint all older Southern Baptists as pro-GOP as well as younger Southern Baptists as wary of partisan politics. nevertheless there is actually some truth to the generalization, he said.

“There is actually a perception that will Southern Baptists are inside the pocket of the Republican Party,” he said. “nevertheless to be a Great Christian doesn’t mean you have to be a Great Republican — or a Great Democrat, for that will matter.”

Akin looked around the crowded lobby of a hotel adjacent to the convention center where Southern Baptists are meeting.

“There’s people here who would likely disagree with me about that will, nevertheless I think This specific’s true.”

Akin said Pence’s appearance is actually an unwelcome distraction coming from Southern Baptists’ main mission of spreading the Gospel. This specific also potentially makes people of coloring feel less at home inside the Southern Baptist Convention, he said.

“I’m not sure what he could say, unless he comes out as well as disagrees with his boss publicly coming from the convention floor, that will would likely help us with either of those missions,” Akin said.

This specific post has been updated.

Why some evangelicals don't want Pence to speak at their meeting

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