Southern Baptists Denounce Alt-Right, Greg Laurie Joins SBC, Examining Fatherlessness, SCOTUS Disparages Disparagement

SIGNS AND WONDERS

SBC Denounces Alt-Right. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, denounced “alt-right white supremacy” in a near-unanimous vote at its annual meeting last week. The vote came after the SBC the day before failed to bring a similar resolution out of its Resolutions Committee to the floor for a vote. According to Baptist Press, “It appeared maybe fewer than 10 messengers in the Phoenix Convention Center hall voted in the afternoon session against a resolution on ‘the anti-gospel of alt-right white supremacy.’” But the resolution ultimately passed, and it calls on Southern Baptists to “decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Russell Moore, who leads the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, spoke in favor of the resolution, saying, “Racism and white supremacy are not merely social issues. Racism and white supremacy attack the Gospel itself and the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Greg Laurie Joins Southern Baptists. While we’re on the subject of the SBC: Greg Laurie and his 15,000-member Harvest Christian Fellowship have come into the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition to pastoring a California mega-church, Laurie leads stadium-sized Harvest Crusades around the country, has served on the board of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and has advised President Trump. In a prepared statement, Laurie said, “I’ve invested my life in the Calvary fellowship of churches while working with countless Christians from nearly every other denomination. I’ll continue to do just that, and I also look forward to continuing to build bridges between our communities. I appreciate the SBC’s focus on evangelism, and I look forward to partnering with them and all believers who have a passion for evangelism. The need in our country and the world is so great.”

Examining Fatherlessness. You probably don’t need to be told that we have a fatherhood crisis in this country. According to Kids Count, about 35 percent of American kids are in single-parent homes. In African-American families, that number is 66 percent. These data are not in dispute, but a new study is causing many to wonder if conventional wisdom about why we have so many single-parent homes needs revision. A new study, “Doing The Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City ,” says most absentee dads are not the stereotypical deadbeat dads, but—according to New York Times columnist David Brooks, who summarized the study—they are men “filled with earnest resolve. They begin to take the relationship more seriously and commit to the kid during infancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black single fathers are more involved in their kids’ lives than white single fathers at this stage.” But “Doing the Best I Can” authors Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson say that resolve quickly turns to despair as even the best efforts of these mostly young, mostly uneducated, mostly minority men meet daunting challenges at every turn. Conservatives won’t love every solution they propose, solutions that often include a bigger role for government, but “Doing the Best I Can” is a helpful addition to the conversation about the causes of fatherlessness, and what we can do about it.

A New Slant on Disparagement. The Supreme Court ruled that a rock band called The Slants, made up of Asian-Americans could trademark the name, even though some people might consider the name offensive. The federal government had previously refused the band’s trademark application. However, the Monday decision ruled that the so-called “disparagement clause” in trademark law is unconstitutional. That clause had prohibited trademarks that “may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” The decision was unanimous, and it also had support from groups on all sides of the political spectrum. The liberal American Civil Liberties Union, a lesbian group, and Becket Law (formerly the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) all supported the band. Becket Law’s brief said the disparagement clause could be used to stifle religious expression and would require the government to “adjudicate religious differences.”

Image courtesy of nd3000 at iStockPhoto by Getty Images. Illustration designed by Heidi Allums.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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