The Southern Baptist Convention is about to reach an important new moment in its history—the election of its first black president. The New York Times tells the story of Rev. Fred Luter, a black pastor from New Orleans who is all but guaranteed to win election to the Convention’s highest seat. This is a major shift for a movement that was entirely dominated by segregationist whites—and possibly the clearest sign of how far we have come since the beginning of the civil rights movement.This is an extremely encouraging sign, one of which all Americans should be proud. Unfortunately many uninformed Americans, among which can be included a very large group of New York Times readers, have little contact with, knowledge about or respect for evangelicals of any color. “Evangelical = Republican = Racist” is one of the core pillars of the Upper West Side worldview. The election of a black president of the Southern Baptists should change that comfortable certainty, but it probably won’t.Years ago I attended Billy Graham’s last New York City revival. The crowd was overwhelmingly non-white. In fact, Evangelical Christianity in the U.S. is much more politically, racially, and culturally diverse than liberal Protestantism. Seen in this light, Rev Luter isn’t a token; he is a sign.
Black Evangelical Shocks Upper West Side