The fundamentalist trend in the Southern Baptist Convention may be at an end as an influential group of moderates is “seeking to move the denomination to become less political,” writes James L. Evans in the e-newsletter Sightings (June 28). For the past three decades the SBC has moved steadily rightward in both doctrine and politics.
While the conservative position has been consolidated as far as theology goes, there is some flux on the SBC’s close identification with the religious right. This can be seen especially in the leadership of Frank Page, a megachurch pastor who is serving his second term as president His appointments to boards and commissions include Baptist leaders “outside the tight inner circle that has virtually dominated convention politics. This year he appears to be doing the same thing about national politics.”
Support from Southern Baptists is crucial for any Republican hopefuls, and the annual conventions have often included addresses by candidates. While Page said he is meeting with candidates, whether Republican or Democrat, he will not endorse any of them. Page said he is talking to Democratic candidates because the “nation‘s leaders need to hear a Christian perspective.” Evans notes that if the Baptists are moving away from Republican loyalty, it could “seriously jeopardize Republican chances of keeping the White House. The margins in the last two elections were razor thin.”