In a historic move on Tuesday, the Southern Baptist Convention repudiated the Confederate flag and its use with a landslide vote.
Pastor Dwight McKissic Sr. of Texas proposed the controversial Resolution 7 in April, which was eventually led to the vote by the convention committee. The resolution was presented for the vote in a “less strongly worded” form, though strengthened moving on from the floor, notes the Associated Press.
“We call our brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters” states the resolution, passed by a large majority of over 6,000 messengers to the convention.
The proposal was met with many opponents who cited honoring family and Southern heritage as reasons for keeping the flag. Addressing these comments, the pastor expressed his hope that abolishing the flag in the church would make amends for its past.
SBC Religious Liberty and Ethics Commission President Russel Moore stated on Wednesday in a blog post:
The Southern Baptist Convention made history today and made history in the right way. This denomination was founded by people who wrongly defended the sin of human slavery. Today, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination voted to repudiate the Confederate battle flag and it’s time and well past time.
The Confederate flag is a symbol of horrific injustices against our African American brothers and sisters in Christ and has been used as a threat of terrorism against them. Today Southern Baptists affirmed that we are more committed to the gospel than we are to a flag and more committed to the future than we are to the past.
The Southern Baptist church was founded in 1845 as a pro-slavery denomination, separating itself from the pro-liberation North. Today nearly 20 percent of congregations, or 11,000 churches “identify as predominantly non-Anglo” as noted in their composition.
Now the second-largest religious group in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention is also the largest denomination with an African-American majority.
Discussion for the resolution follows the debate on the national level after the shooting at a Charleston, S.C. church last summer.
The convention also dealt with the refugee issue, passing resolution 12 on “refugee ministry,” encouraging church members to host and adopt refugees into their homes in light of the conflict in Syria and the Middle East.