Southern Baptists Defend America

In 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention withdrew from the World Baptist Alliance (which it helped to found in 1905), accusing the loose global federation of anti-American bias and (even worse) liberalism. The Louisville Courier-Journal found a few Kentucky Baptists who don't agree with the SBC, and plan to attend the Alliance's conference for its 100th anniversary:

"We looked at the same information and came to a very different conclusion," said the Rev. Leslie Hollon, pastor of St. Matthews Baptist Church. He is among 12 members of his church heading to the conference.

"Given our dangerous world conditions, a unified Christian witness among Baptists is more important than ever," Hollon said, adding that the alliance also will show solidarity with Great Britain in the wake of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London.

The rupture between the SBC and the global organization was the culmination of years of tension, as Southern Baptists grew increasingly critical of the "anti-capitalist," "anti-American," and "gay-friendly" World Baptist Alliance. According to the Washington Post,

[Alliance general secretary Denton] Lotz said the charge of anti-Americanism resulted from his visits to Cuba in 1988 and 2002, which he said were aimed at persuading Fidel Castro to allow the importation of Bibles and to grant more freedom to churches.

But the real kicker, according to Lotz, came in July 2003 when the Alliance admitted the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a group of moderate former Southern Baptists who split off from the SBC in 1991. The über-patriotic SBC couldn't handle the acceptance of a group of fellow American Baptists. "Right after that," Lotz told the Post, "the Southern Baptist leadership said, 'If they're in, we're out.'"