The statement marks a significant change in the Southern Baptist outlook, but does not affect their stance against same-sex marriage.
Conservative politics and Southern Baptist Convention are synonymous. However, in its yearly meeting, the nation's biggest denomination of Protestants are showing that its concerns are increasingly getting more and more diverse along with the membership. About 7,000 delegates attended the St. Louis meeting of this Nashville headquartered denomination.
For Baptists, the change is striking. The same religious group 20 years ago voted in its convention to boycott Disney for the company's alleged actions to promote homosexuality. On June 14, the delegates passed the resolution of extending compassion and love to victims of shooting at the gay night club in Orlando. The resolution also requested Southern Baptists for blood donation along with other kinds of support.
Racism was condemned in the 2016 convention. Delegates voted en masse to stall the Confederate battle flag display. There were actually a vote to give credence to the language used in the resolution given to them, where a sentence was deleted.
The said sentence said that the flag is seen by a few members as a kind of memorial for their ancestors. This stance led to a flood of racist and angry comments directed towards the convention on social media.
The African-American Reverend K. Marshall Williams later said that Christians should not pray exclusively for issues like marriage and abortion, but also for serious issues concerning young black men, like ending the school to prison pipeline.
Other prominent speakers included Jamal Bishara, who is the pastor of Arizona's First Arabic Baptist Church. He opposed the resolution to support Israel which criticized divestment, sanctions and boycott movement. Although the resolution was passed, his speech was well received.
During George W. Bush's two term tenure, he gave speeches at the annual meeting about four times. Russell Moore, the present day ethics leader of the Southern Baptists regularly denounced Donald Trump, the presumed presidential nominee of the Republican Party. The former described the latter as a person who has no Christian values.
Even as Donald Trump advocated a Muslim ban on entering the US, Southern Baptists passed the resolution of encouraging the Southern Baptist churches to welcome and also adopt the refugees. Church members and their families were also encouraged to do the same.
Moore was challenged by a lone pastor who criticized his actions saying that how the former could support Muslims' rights when Islamists were trying to snuff out the existence of Christians and also Americans. In response, Moore emphasized religious liberty to be at the heart of every Baptist.