MLK50: An SBC Rorschach Test – A Conversation with Alan Cross

Martin Luther King Jr. is something of a Rorschach Test for Southern Baptists. Enter the recent MLK50 event co-sponsored by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC as evidence.

On the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Ethics and Religious Liberty co-sponsored the MLK50 event. Here is a link to the Conference – Main Sessions and Break Out Sessions too.

If you are unfamiliar with the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, this is a big deal. Big. Deal.

What Does Immigration Have to Do with Race?

Just. About. Everything.

Alan Cross returns to the podcast to talk about the MLK50 event. Alan works for the Evangelical Immigration Table. He is the author of When Heaven and Earth Collide: Racism, Southern Evangelicals, and the Better Way of Jesus. Alan offers a sometimes podcast by the same title.

Joined by Travis Wussow and Rondell Trevino for a workshop titled, Immigration, Refugees, and Ministry to the Vulnerable, Alan drew on his experience as a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama and the research for his book to invite participants to think about the ways Christians might serve those at risk in our Country.

Why a Rorschach Test?

Those who place a high emphasis on personal responsibility often find it hard to understand the idea of systemic issues. Poverty, for example, is often understood as a result of laziness. Those of us who insist on aid for the working poor know full well this is a horrible fallacy. My friend Ryan Abernathy, who works with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, regularly pounds the table when legislators assert that those on the margins are there based solely on their poor choices.

Martin Luther King Jr. serves as a sort of Rorschach Test for Southern Baptists, and most Southern Christians. Imagine criticism for the MLK50 event where Conservative Evangelicals gathered to listen and consider how to continue to overcome the long history of racism propped up by a variety of institutions including the church. Yes. It happened.

Some questioned King’s faith. Others dismissed him as a Liberal. More only know what someone else told them to think about King. How one responded to this event was largely predicated on where they line up in their view of King.

I am told there were event tensions at the event related to how quickly to move. For some the exhortation was to move slowly, that is let things continue to progress naturally. Others insisted the issues are too great. There is need to work harder and do more now, not later.

Dr. B is Still Ringing in My Ears

If you have followed the blog and the podcast since it was rebranded as patheological, then you have read about Dr. B. Dr. B is shorthand for Dr. Barbara Holmes. Those of you may be new here. I heard Dr. B at an event a couple of years ago where an older gentleman raised his hand. When called on he said, “I need you to come tell my people these stories [so they will understand racism].” Dr. Holmes response has stuck with me. She said, “You go tell your people.”

Congregations need to hear from their pastors and leaders that there is an issue and how the Way of Jesus calls us to be and do differently. This is another of my attempts to do just that.

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.