American Fascists The Radical Christian Right

By Chris Hedges

The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger

Truthdig collage based on a White House photo by Pete Souza

By Chris Hedges

(The following is from truthdig)

Tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement known as the Christian right, have begun to dismantle the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment. They are creating a theocratic state based on “biblical law,” and shutting out all those they define as the enemy. This movement, veering closer and closer to traditional fascism, seeks to force a recalcitrant world to submit before an imperial America. It champions the eradication of social deviants, beginning with homosexuals, and moving on to immigrants, secular humanists, feminists, Jews, Muslims and those they dismiss as “nominal Christians”—meaning Christians who do not embrace their perverted and heretical interpretation of the Bible. Those who defy the mass movement are condemned as posing a threat to the health and hygiene of the country and the family. All will be purged.

The followers of deviant faiths, from Judaism to Islam, must be converted or repressed. The deviant media, the deviant public schools, the deviant entertainment industry, the deviant secular humanist government and judiciary and the deviant churches will be reformed or closed. There will be a relentless promotion of Christian “values,” already under way on Christian radio and television and in Christian schools, as information and facts are replaced with overt forms of indoctrination. The march toward this terrifying dystopia has begun. It is taking place on the streets of Arizona, on cable news channels, at tea party rallies, in the Texas public schools, among militia members and within a Republican Party that is being hijacked by this lunatic fringe.

Elizabeth Dilling, who wrote “The Red Network” and was a Nazi sympathizer, is touted as required reading by trash-talk television hosts like Glenn Beck. Thomas Jefferson, who favored separation of church and state, is ignored in Christian schools and soon will be ignored in Texas public school textbooks. The Christian right hails the “significant contributions” of the Confederacy. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who led the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, has been rehabilitated, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is defined as part of the worldwide battle against Islamic terror. Legislation like the new Jim Crow laws of Arizona is being considered by 17 other states.

The rise of this Christian fascism, a rise we ignore at our peril, is being fueled by an ineffectual and bankrupt liberal class that has proved to be unable to roll back surging unemployment, protect us from speculators on Wall Street, or save our dispossessed working class from foreclosures, bankruptcies and misery. The liberal class has proved useless in combating the largest environmental disaster in our history, ending costly and futile imperial wars or stopping the corporate plundering of the nation. And the gutlessness of the liberal class has left it, and the values it represents, reviled and hated.

The Democrats have refused to repeal the gross violations of international and domestic law codified by the Bush administration. This means that Christian fascists who achieve power will have the “legal” tools to spy on, arrest, deny habeas corpus to, and torture or assassinate American citizens—as does the Obama administration.

Those who remain in a reality-based world often dismiss these malcontents as buffoons and simpletons. They do not take seriously those, like Beck, who pander to the primitive yearnings for vengeance, new glory and moral renewal. Critics of the movement continue to employ the tools of reason, research and fact to challenge the absurdities propagated by creationists who think they will float naked into the heavens when Jesus returns to Earth. The magical thinking, the flagrant distortion in interpreting the Bible, the contradictions that abound within the movement’s belief system and the laughable pseudoscience, however, are impervious to reason. We cannot convince those in the movement to wake up. It is we who are asleep.

Those who embrace this movement see life as an epic battle against forces of evil and Satanism. The world is black and white. They need to feel, even if they are not, that they are victims surrounded by dark and sinister groups bent on their destruction. They need to believe they know the will of God and can fulfill it, especially through violence. They need to sanctify their rage, a rage that lies at the core of the ideology. They seek total cultural and political domination. They are using the space within the open society to destroy it. These movements work within the confining rules of the secular state because they have no choice. The intolerance they promote is muted in the public assurances of their slickest operators. Given enough power, and they are working hard to get it, any such cooperation will vanish. The demand for total control and for a Christian nation and the refusal to permit any dissent are on display within their inner sanctums. These pastors have established within their churches tiny, despotic fiefdoms, and they seek to replicate these little tyrannies on a larger scale.

Many of the tens of millions within the Christian right live on the edge of poverty. The Bible, interpreted for them by pastors whose connection with God means they cannot be questioned, is their handbook for daily life. The rigidity and simplicity of their belief are potent weapons in the fight against their own demons and the struggle to keep their lives on track. The reality-based world, one where Satan, miracles, destiny, angels and magic did not exist, battered them like driftwood. It took their jobs and destroyed their future. It rotted their communities. It flooded their lives with alcohol, drugs, physical violence, deprivation and despair. And then they discovered that God has a plan for them. God will save them. God intervenes in their lives to promote and protect them. The emotional distance they have traveled from the real world to the world of Christian fantasy is immense. And the rational, secular forces, those that speak in the language of fact and evidence, are hated and ultimately feared, for they seek to pull believers back into “the culture of death” that nearly destroyed them.

There are wild contradictions within this belief system. Personal independence is celebrated alongside an abject subservience to leaders who claim to speak for God. The movement says it defends the sanctity of life and advocates the death penalty, militarism, war and righteous genocide. It speaks of love and promotes fear of damnation and hate. There is a terrifying cognitive dissonance in every word they utter.

The movement is, for many, an emotional life raft. It is all that holds them together. But the ideology, while it regiments and orders lives, is merciless. Those who deviate from the ideology, including “backsliders” who leave these church organizations, are branded as heretics and subjected to little inquisitions, which are the natural outgrowth of messianic movements. If the Christian right seizes the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, these little inquisitions will become big inquisitions.

The cult of masculinity pervades the movement. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a muscular man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and castigating the corrupt. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is deeply appealing to those who feel disempowered and humiliated. It vents the rage that drove many people into the arms of the movement. It encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is stoked through bizarre conspiracy theories, many championed in books such as Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order,” a xenophobic rant that includes attacks on liberals and democratic institutions.

The obsession with violence pervades the popular novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. In their apocalyptic novel, “Glorious Appearing,” based on LaHaye’s interpretation of biblical prophecies about the Second Coming, Christ returns and eviscerates the flesh of millions of nonbelievers with the sound of his voice. There are long descriptions of horror and blood, of how “the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin.” Eyes disintegrate. Tongues melt. Flesh dissolves. The Left Behind series, of which this novel is a part, contains the best-selling adult novels in the country.

Violence must be used to cleanse the world. These Christian fascists are called to a perpetual state of war. “Any teaching of peace prior to [Christ’s] return is heresy…” says televangelist James Robinson.

Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, instability in Israel and even the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seen as glorious signposts. The war in Iraq is predicted, believers insist, in the ninth chapter of the Book of Revelations, where four angels “which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of men.” The march is inevitable and irreversible and requires everyone to be ready to fight, kill and perhaps die. Global war, even nuclear war, is not to be feared, but welcomed as the harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms hundreds of millions of apostates to a horrible and gruesome death.

The Christian right, while embracing a form of primitivism, seeks the imprint of law and science to legitimate its absurd mythologies. Its members seek this imprint because, despite their protestations to the contrary, they are a distinctly modern, totalitarian movement. They seek to co-opt the pillars of the Enlightenment in order to abolish the Enlightenment. Creationism, or “intelligent design,” like eugenics for the Nazis or “Soviet” science for Stalin, must be introduced into the mainstream as a valid scientific discipline—hence the rewriting of textbooks. The Christian right defends itself in the legal and scientific jargon of modernity. Facts and opinions, once they are used “scientifically” to support the irrational, become interchangeable. Reality is no longer based on the gathering of facts and evidence. It is based on ideology. Facts are altered. Lies become true.Hannah Arendt called it “nihilistic relativism,” although a better phrase might be collective insanity.

The Christian right has, for this reason, its own creationist “scientists” who use the language of science to promote anti-science. It has fought successfully to have creationist books sold in national park bookstores at the Grand Canyon and taught in public schools in states such as Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Creationism shapes the worldview of hundreds of thousands of students in Christian schools and colleges. This pseudoscience claims to have proved that all animal species, or at least their progenitors, fit on Noah’s ark. It challenges research in AIDS and pregnancy prevention. It corrupts and discredits the disciplines of biology, astronomy, geology, paleontology and physics.

Once creationists can argue on the same platform as geologists, asserting that the Grand Canyon was not created 6 billion years ago but 6,000 years ago by the great flood that lifted up Noah’s ark, we have lost. The acceptance of mythology as a legitimate alternative to reality is a body blow to the rational, secular state. The destruction of rational and empirically based belief systems is fundamental to the creation of all totalitarian ideologies. Certitude, for those who could not cope with the uncertainty of life, is one of the most powerful appeals of the movement. Dispassionate intellectual inquiry, with its constant readjustments and demand for evidence, threatens certitude. For this reason incertitude must be abolished.

“What convinces masses are not facts,” Arendt wrote in “Origins of Totalitarianism,” “and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system which they are presumably part. Repetition, somewhat overrated in importance because of the common belief in the masses’ inferior capacity to grasp and remember, is important because it convinces them of consistency in time.”

Augustine defined the grace of love as Volo ut sis—I want you to be. There is, he wrote, an affirmation of the mystery of the other in relationships based on love, an affirmation of unexplained and unfathomable differences. Relationships based on love recognize that others have a right to be. These relationships accept the sacredness of difference. This acceptance means that no one individual or belief system captures or espouses an absolute truth. All struggle, in their own way, some outside of religious systems and some within them, to interpret mystery and transcendence.


The sacredness of the other is anathema for the Christian right, which cannot acknowledge the legitimacy of other ways of being and believing. If other belief systems, including atheism, have moral validity, the infallibility of the movement’s doctrine, which constitutes its chief appeal, is shattered. There can be no alternative ways to think or to be. All alternatives must be crushed.

Ideological, theological and political debates are useless with the Christian right. It does not respond to a dialogue. It is impervious to rational thought and discussion. The naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have “values,” only strengthens its legitimacy and weakness our own. If we do not have a right to be, if our very existence is not legitimate in the eyes of God, there can be no dialogue. At this point it is a fight for survival.

Those gathered into the arms of this Christian fascist movement are desperately struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. We failed them; we owe them more: This is their response. The financial dislocations, the struggles with domestic and sexual abuse, the battle against addictions, the poverty and the despair that many in the movement endure are tragic, painful and real. They have a right to their rage and alienation. But they are also being used and manipulated by forces that seek to dismantle what is left of our democracy and abolish the pluralism that was once the hallmark of our society.

The spark that could set this conflagration ablaze could be lying in the hands of a small Islamic terrorist cell. It could be in the hands of greedy Wall Street speculators who gamble with taxpayer money in the elaborate global system of casino capitalism. The next catastrophic attack, or the next economic meltdown, could be our Reichstag fire. It could be the excuse used by these totalitarian forces, this Christian fascism, to extinguish what remains of our open society.

Let us not stand meekly at the open gates of the city waiting passively for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching toward Bethlehem. Let us shake off our complacency and cynicism. Let us openly defy the liberal establishment, which will not save us, to demand and fight for economic reparations for our working class. Let us reincorporate these dispossessed into our economy. Let us give them a reality-based hope for the future. Time is running out. If we do not act, American fascists, clutching Christian crosses, waving American flags and orchestrating mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, will use this rage to snuff us out.

Chris Hedges, who writes a column every Monday for Truthdig and who graduated from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” He was a reporter for many years with The New York Times. His latest book is “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.”

also the following on the Southern Baptist cult:

Southern Baptist Convention

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Southern Baptist Convention
Reaching the world for Christ.
Classification Protestant
Theology Evangelical Baptist
Governance Congregational
Geographical areas United States
Origin May 8–12, 1845
Augusta, Georgia
Separated from Triennial Convention
Separations American Baptist Association,
Alliance of Baptists,
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Congregations 43,669
Members 16.2 million
Official Website
Statistics for 2005[1]

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a United States-based, Christian denomination. It is the world’s largest Baptistdenomination and the largest Protestant body in the US with over 16 million members and more than 42,000 churches.[2]

The word Southern in Southern Baptist Convention stems from its having been founded and rooted in the Southern United States. The SBC became a separate denomination in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, following a regional split with northern Baptists over the issues of slavery. After the American Civil War, another split occurred: most black Baptists in the South separated from white churches and set up their own congregations. Since the 1940s, the SBC has moved away from some of its regional identification.[3] While still heavily concentrated in the US South, the SBC has member churches across the United States and 41 affiliated state conventions.[4][5]

Southern Baptists emphasize the significance of the individual conversion experience, affirmed by a total immersion in water for a believer’s baptism, and rejection of infant baptism.[5] SBC churches are evangelical in doctrine and practice. Specific beliefs based on biblical interpretation can vary somewhat due to the congregational governance system that gives autonomy to individual local Baptist churches.




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Further information: Baptists in the United States

Most early Baptists in the British colonies came from England in the 17th century, when the established Church of Englandpersecuted them for their dissenting religious views. Baptists such as Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke immigrated to New Englandin the 1630s.

The oldest Baptist church in the South, First Baptist Church of CharlestonSouth Carolina, was organized in 1682 under the leadership of Rev. William Screven. A Baptist church was formed in Virginia in 1715 through the preaching of Robert Norden and another in North Carolina in 1727 through the ministry of Paul Palmer. They operated independently of the state-established Anglicanchurches at a time when non-Anglicans were prohibited from holding political office. By 1740, there were about eight Baptist churches in the colonies of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, with an estimated 300-400 members.[6]

New members, both black and white, were converted chiefly by northern Baptist preachers who traveled throughout the South during the First Great Awakening. The early Baptist missionaries promoted equality of men and argued for manumission of slaves and abolition of the institution. Baptists welcomed African Americans, slave and free, to more active roles than did other denominations, allowing them as preachers and equal members in some congregations. As a result, black congregations and churches were founded in South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia before the American Revolution. Some managed to keep their independence even after whites tried to exercise more authority after the Nat Turner Rebellion of the early 19th century.[7]

In Virginia and most southern colonies before the Revolution, the Church of England was the state-established church and was supported by general taxes, as it was in Britain. It opposed the rapid spread of Baptists in the South. Particularly in Virginia, many Baptist preachers were prosecuted for “disturbing the peace” by preaching without licenses from the Anglican Church. Both Patrick Henryand the young attorney James Madison defended Baptist preachers prior to the American Revolution in cases considered significant to the history of religious freedom.[8] In 1779, Thomas Jeffersonwrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, enacted in 1786 by the Virginia General Assembly. Madison later took his own ideas and the ideas encompassed in this document regarding religious freedom to the Constitutional Convention where he ensured they were incorporated into the national constitution.

[edit]Triennial Convention and regional tensions

Main article: Triennial Convention

In 1814, Baptists unified nationally under what became known informally as the Triennial Convention (because it met every three years) based in Philadelphia. It allowed them to join their resources to support missions abroad. The Home Mission Society, affiliated with the Triennial Convention, was established in 1832 to support missions in frontier territories of the United States. By the mid-19th century, numerous social, cultural, economic, and political differences existed among business owners of the North, farmers of the West, and planters of the South. The most divisive conflict was primarily over the deep sectional issues of slavery and secondarily over missions.


Slavery in the 19th century became the most critical moral issue dividing Baptists in the United States. Before the Revolution, Baptist and Methodist evangelicals in the South had promoted the view of the common man’s equality before God, which embraced African Americans. They challenged the hierarchies of class and race and urged planters to abolish slavery. They welcomed slaves as Baptists and accepted them as preachers.[9]

As Baptists struggled to gain a foothold in the South, the next generation of Baptist preachers accommodated themselves to the society. Rather than challenging the gentry on slavery, they began to interpret the Bible as supporting its practice. In the two decades after the Revolution during the Second Great Awakening, preachers abandoned their pleas that slaves be manumitted. They first attracted common planters and yeomen farmers and later began to attract planters among the elite.[10] Many Baptist preachers argued to preserve the rights of ministers to be slaveholders, a class which included prominent Baptist Southerners and planters.[11]The Triennial Convention and the Home Mission Society reaffirmed their neutrality concerning slavery.

In 1844, Basil Manly, Sr., president of the University of Alabama, prominent preacher and a planter who owned 40 slaves, drafted the “Alabama Resolutions” and presented them to the Triennial Convention. These included the demand that slaveholders be eligible for denominational offices to which the Southern associations contributed financially. Georgia Baptists decided to test the claimed neutrality by recommending a slaveholder to the Home Mission Society as a missionary. The Home Mission Society’s board refused to appoint him, noting that missionaries were not allowed to take servants with them (so clearly could not take slaves) and that they would not make a decision that appeared to endorse slavery. Southern Baptists considered this an infringement of their rights to determine their own candidates.[12]

In June 1995 at the 150th Anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention, the SBC adopted a resolution officially denouncing racism and expressing remorse over the role that Southern Baptists have played in the acceptance of racisim in the past. This resolution clearly calls racism a “deplorable sin” and appologises to African Americans for “condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systematic racism.”[13]

[edit]Missions and organization

A secondary issue that disturbed the Southerners was the perception that the American Baptist Home Mission Society did not appoint a proportionate number of missionaries to the southern region of the U.S. This was likely a result of the Society’s not appointing slave owners as missionaries.[14]

Baptists in different regions also preferred different types of denominational organization. Baptists in the North preferred a loosely structured society composed of individuals who paid annual dues, with each society usually focused on a single ministry. Baptists in southern churches preferred a more centralized organization of congregations composed of churches patterned after their associations, with a variety of ministries brought under the direction of one denominational organization.[15]:p.505

[edit]Formation and alienation of black Baptists

The increasing tensions and discontent of Baptists from the South regarding national criticism of slavery and issues over missions led to their withdrawal from the national Baptist organizations.[16] They met at the First Baptist Church of Augusta in May 1845.[17] At this meeting, they formed a new convention, naming it the Southern Baptist Convention. They elected William Bullein Johnson (1782–1862) as the new convention’s first president. He had served as president of the Triennial Convention in 1841.

African Americans gathered in their own churches early on. Some were established after 1800 on the frontier, such as the First African Baptist Church of LexingtonKentucky, which by 1850 had 1,820 members, the largest of any Baptist church in the state. In 1824, it was accepted by the Elkhorn Association.[18] In 1861 it had 2,223 members.[19]

Blacks wanted to practice their form of American Christianity away from racial discrimination and attempts by whites at control. Free blacks in the North founded their own churches independent of white dominated organizations. In Reconstruction Eramissionaries both black-and-white from several northern denominations worked in the South and quickly attracted tens and hundreds of thousands of new members among the millions of freedmen. They attracted the most new members of any denomination.[20] White Southern Baptist churches lost black members to the new denominations, as well as to independent congregations organized by freedmen. In 1866, black Baptists of the South and West combined to form the Consolidated American Baptist Convention.

[edit]Historical controversies

During its history, the Southern Baptist Convention has had several periods of major internal controversy. As the denomination does not have a hierarchical form of government, controversies may develop publicly over internal disagreements.

  • Landmarkism (1850s-1860s), a group of young activists called for a return to certain early practices; other leaders disagreed with their assertions, and the Baptist congregations became split on the issues. Eventually the disagreements led to the formation of Gospel Missions and the American Baptist Association (1924), as well as many unaffiliated independent churches. One historian called the related GravesHowell controversy (1858–1860) the greatest to affect the denomination before that of the late 20th century involving the “fundamentalist-moderate” break.[21]
  • The “Whitsitt controversy” (1896–1899),[15]:pp.446-458 in which Dr. William H. Whitsitt, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, suggested that, contrary to earlier thought, English Baptists did not begin to baptize by immersion until 1641, when some Anabaptists, as they were then called, began to practice immersion. This overturned the idea of immersion as the practice of the earliest Baptists, as some of the Landmarkists contended.
  • The Conservative Resurgence of 1979 was a major internal disagreement that captured national attention.[15]:pp.681ff Russell H. Dilday, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1978 to 1994, described the resurgence as having fragmented Southern Baptist fellowship and as being “far more serious than a controversy”.[22] Dilday described it as being “a self-destructive, contentious, one-sided feud that at times took on combative characteristics”. Since 1979, Southern Baptists had become polarized into two major groups: moderates and conservatives. Reflecting the conservative majority votes of delegates at the 1979 annual meeting of the SBC, the new national organization officers replaced all leaders of Southern Baptist agencies with presumably more conservative people (often dubbed “fundamentalist” by dissenters).[23]

[edit]Recent history


President George W. Bush meets with the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention in the Oval Office at the White House. Pictured with the President are Dr. Morris Chapman, left, Dr. Frank Page and his wife Dayle Page.

The SBC has grown from its regional, sectionalist roots into a major force in American and international Christianity. There are Southern Baptist congregations in every state and territory in the United States, though the greatest numbers remain in the Southern United States, its traditional stronghold.

The national scope of the Convention inspired some members to suggest a name change. In 2005, proposals were made at the SBC Annual Meeting to change the name from the regional-sounding Southern Baptist Convention to a more national-sounding “North American Baptist Convention” or “Scriptural Baptist Convention” (to retain the SBC initials). The proposals were defeated.[24]

In 1995, the Convention voted to adopt a resolution renouncing its racist roots and apologizing for its past defense of slavery.[25][26] This marked the denomination’s first formal acknowledgment that racism played a role in its early history. By the early 21st century, there were increasing numbers of ethnically diverse congregations within the convention. In 2008, almost 20 percent were estimated to be majority African American, Asian or Hispanic. The SBC then had an estimated one million African-American members.[27]

[edit]Theology and practice

The general theological perspective of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention is represented in the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M).[28] The BF&M was first drafted in 1925. It was revised significantly in 1963 and again in 2000, with the latter revision being the subject of much controversy. The BF&M is not considered to be a creed, such as the Nicene Creed. Members are not required to adhere to it. Churches belonging to the SBC are not required to use it as their statement of faith or doctrine, though many do in lieu of creating their own statement. Despite the fact that the BF&M is not a creed, faculty in SBC-owned seminaries and missionaries who apply to serve through the various SBC missionary agencies must affirm that their practices, doctrine, and preaching are consistent with the BF&M.

In addition to the BF&M, the SBC has also issued the following position statements:

  • Autonomy of local church — Affirms the autonomy of the local church.[29]
  • Church and state — Supports a free church in a free state. Neither one should control the affairs of the other.[30]
  • Cooperation — Identifies the Cooperative Program of missions as integral to the Southern Baptist Convention.[31]
  • Creeds and confessions — Statements of belief are revisable in light of Scripture. The Bible is the final word.[32]
  • Missions — Honors the indigenous principle in missions. The SBC does not, however, compromise doctrine or its identity for missional opportunities.[33]
  • Priesthood of all believers — Laypersons have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ’s name.[34]
  • Sanctity of life — At the moment of conception, a new being enters the universe, a human being, a being created in God’s image.[35]
  • Sexuality — Affirms God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy—one man and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a valid alternative lifestyle.[36]
  • Soul competency — Affirms the accountability of each person before God.[37]
  • Women in ministry — Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. The role of pastor, however, is specifically reserved for men.[38]


Main article: Baptist ordinance

Southern Baptists observe two ordinances: the Lord’s Supper and Believer’s baptism.[28] The denomination makes a theological distinction between their ordinances and the more familiar termsacraments. They view the latter as implying a connection to one’s salvation, and they do not believe these are necessary for salvation.

[edit]Lord’s Supper

This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed(May 2010)

Southern Baptists observe the Lord’s Supper with no established frequency. Each local church decides whether it is to be observed monthly, quarterly, etc. Churches tend to use small individual glasses for participants rather than a common cup. Non-alcoholic grape juice is most often served instead of wine. Both leavened and unleavened bread may be served, but the unleavened variety is served most frequently.


Southern Baptists practice Believer’s baptism, also known as credo-baptism (Latin for “I believe”). Southern Baptists maintain the historic Baptist practice of administering baptism only to persons who have reached the “age of accountability“, and candidates must profess belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Furthermore, they hold the historic Baptist belief that immersion is the only valid mode of baptism.

Candidates for membership in an SBC church must already be or become baptized believers. Some SBC congregations will accept previous baptisms by immersion from other denominations which they consider of “like faith and order” as being valid, provided that they were performed after the individual accepted Christ for salvation.

[edit]Gender-based roles

Main article: Complementarianism
Further information: Ordination of women

Beginning in the early 1970s, in response to their perceptions of various “women’s liberation movements”,[39] the Southern Baptist Convention, along with several other historically conservative Baptist groups,[40][41] began corporately asserting the propriety of what it deemed “traditional gender roles”. Specifically, the SBC passed a series of resolutions at its annual meetings affirming a complementarian view of marriage and a patriarchal view of ordained Christian ministry.[42] In 1998, the SBC appended a complementarian understanding of marriage to the 1963 version of the Baptist Faith and Message, with an official amendment: Article XVIII, “The Family”. In 2000, it revised the document to reflect support for a male-only pastorate, the long-standing practice of the great majority of SBC churches.[43] This view was integrated into Article VI on the nature of the church.[44]

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to his people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

– Article XVIII. The Family.

While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

– Article VI. The Church.

The SBC contains no mechanism to trigger the automatic expulsion of congregations that adopt practices or theology contrary to the BF&M. As individual churches affiliated with the SBC are autonomous, local congregations cannot be compelled to adopt a male-only pastorate. But, some SBC churches that have installed women as their pastors have been excluded from membership in their local associations of Baptist churches; a smaller number have been expelled from their state conventions.[45]

This movement towards an increasingly official ban on women in the pastorate is one of the issues that contributed to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship‘s (CBF) decision to break from the SBC in 1991.[46] Their 1900 member churches represent what they believe is a moderate position.

[edit]Worship services

Most Southern Baptists observe a low church form of worship, which is less formal and uses no stated liturgy. Worship services usually include: hymns; prayer; choral music by a choir, soloist, or both; the reading of Scripture; the collection of offerings; a sermon; and an invitation to respond to the sermon. Recently, many churches have incorporated various instruments and styles of music into their worship services (see contemporary worship). People may respond during the “invitation” by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and beginning Christian discipleship, entering into vocational ministry, joining the church, or making some other publicly stated decision.



The SBC claims to have more than 16.6 million members in 44,000 churches throughout the US. One internal study by the SBC shows that on average 38 percent of the membership (6,138,776 members, guests and non-member children) attend their churches’ primary worship services.[47] Southern Baptists do not track church attendance by numbers in the primary worship service; they track attendance through participation in Sunday School, which 4,154,270 Convention members (less than 26 percent of SBC total membership) attend.[48] Sunday School enrollment in the United States decreased by 123,817 members between 2007 and 2008.[49]

Year Membership
1845 350,000
1860 650,000
1875 1,260,000
1890 1,240,000
1905 1,900,000
1920 3,150,000
1935 4,480,000
1950 7,080,000
1965 10,780,000
1980 13,700,000
1995 15,400,000
2000 15,900,000
2005 16,600,000
2006 16,306,246
2007 16,266,920

The SBC has 1,200 local associations and 41 state conventions and fellowships covering all 50 states and territories of the United States. The five states with the highest rates of membership in the SBC are Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee.[52]Texas has the largest number of members, with an estimated 3.5 million. Through their Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists support thousands of missionaries in the United States and worldwide. Although the SBC fielded over 10,000 missionaries in 2005, budget constraints are expected to reduce the number of missionaries by at least 600 in 2010.[53]


Data from church sources and independent surveys indicate that since 1990 membership of SBC churches has declined as a proportion of the American population.[54] Historically, the Convention grew throughout its history until 2007 when membership decreased by a net figure of nearly 40,000 members.[55] Total membership of about 16.2 million was flat over the same period, falling by 38,482, or 0.2 percent. An important indicator for the health of the denomination is new baptisms which have decreased every year for seven of the last eight years, and as of 2008 have reached their lowest levels since 1987.[56]

This decline in membership and baptisms has prompted some SBC researchers to describe the Convention as a “denomination in decline”.[57] Former SBC president Frank Page declared that if current conditions continue half of all SBC churches will close their doors permanently by the year 2030.[58] This assessment is supported by a recent survey of SBC churches which indicated that 70 percent of all SBC churches are declining or are plateaued with regards to their membership.[59] The decline of the SBC became an issue leading up to the June 2008 Annual Convention.[60] Former SBC researcher, Curt Watke noted four reasons for the decline of the Southern Baptist Convention based on his research: increase in immigration, decline in growth among predominantly Anglo (white) churches, the aging of the current membership, and a decrease in the percentage of younger generations participating in church life.[58] A failure to aggressively attract minorities also has been seen as a factor hurting Southern Baptist recruitment numbers.[61]

The actual decline in SBC membership may be more pronounced than these statistics indicate because Baptist churches, unlike United MethodistPresbyterian and Evangelical Lutheran congregations, are not required to remove inactive members from their rolls. In addition, hundreds of large moderate congregations have shifted their primary allegiance to other Baptist groups such as the American Baptist Churches USA or the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship but have continued to remain nominally on the books of the Convention—and their members are thus counted in the SBC’s totals—although these churches no longer participate in the annual SBC meeting or make more than the minimum financial contributions.[62]


Southern Baptists’ typical form of government is congregationalist: each local church is autonomous without formal lines of responsibility to organizational levels of higher authority.

A basic Baptist principle is the autonomy of the local church. The Convention is therefore conceived as a cooperative association by which churches can pool resources rather than as a body with any administrative or ecclesiastical control over local churches. It maintains a central administrative organization in Nashville, Tennessee. The SBC’s Executive Committee exercises authority and control over seminaries and other institutions owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. However, the Executive Committee has no authority over affiliated state conventions, local associations, individual churches or members.

Commitment to the autonomy of local congregations was the primary force behind the Executive Committee’s rejection of a proposal to create a convention-wide database of SBC clergy accused of sexual crimes against congregants or other minors[63] in order to stop the “recurring tide” [64] of clergy sexual abuse within SBC congregations. A 2009 study by Lifeway Christian Resources, the Convention’s research and publishing arm, revealed that one in eight background checks for potential volunteers or workers in SBC churches revealed a history of crime that could have prevented them from working.[65]

The Convention’s confession of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message,[28] technically is not binding on churches or members due to the autonomy of the local church. Politically and culturally, Southern Baptists tend to be conservative. Most oppose the use of alcohol as a beverage, homosexual activity and abortion with few exceptions.[5]

There are four levels of SBC organization: the local congregation, the local association, the state convention, and the national convention.

[edit]Local congregation

Each congregation is independent and autonomous. Thus, each local congregation is free to:

  • Associate with or disassociate from the SBC (and/or any of its affiliates) at any time
  • Determine the level of support which it provides to SBC-affiliated programs and/or other groups, though in order to affiliate with a local association or a state or the national convention some minimum level of giving is required
  • Conduct its own internal affairs, such as hiring and firing, determining its doctrinal statement and membership qualifications, order and format of services, and other matters, without approval from any higher level entity

An exception to the above are certain smaller congregations called mission churches. Mission churches are sponsored by one or more larger congregations or by Baptist associations. The ordinary goal is for each mission church to become self-supporting and thus become an independent and autonomous church. A mission church is often created to reach a particular demographic group, such as residents of a new real estate development, a particular ethnic group, or young families.

[edit]Pastor and deacon

Generally, Baptists recognize only two scriptural offices: pastor-teacher and deacon. According to the Baptist Faith and Message, the office of pastor is limited to men based on certain New Testamentscriptures.[66] The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in the early 1980s recognizing that offices requiring ordination (pastor and deacon) are restricted to men.[67]

Deacons of each church are elected by the congregation. In some congregations, deacons function much like a board of directors or an executive committee authorized to make important decisions. Such congregations typically retain the right to vote on major decisions, such as purchasing or selling property, large spending, and the hiring or firing of pastors and other paid ministers.

In recent decades, some SBC congregations have shifted the role of deacons to less governance and more ministering and nurturing responsibilities.[citation needed] One such model is the Deacon Family Ministry Plan. In this model, the number of families in a local church is divided roughly among the active deacons. Each deacon is assigned responsibility for providing pastoral care and other spiritual guidance and assistance for the families assigned.[68][69][70]

[edit]Local association

Most individual congregations choose to affiliate with Baptist associations which are generally organized within certain defined geographic areas within a state, such as a county. The prior general rule was that only one association existed in a specific geographical area, did not cross state lines (unless a state convention consisted of multiple states), and did not accept churches from outside that area. For many years, particularly within metropolitan areas, numerous associations have existed within the same county.

The primary goal of many associations is evangelism and church planting (i.e., assisting churches in starting mission churches). Even with related ministries, such as food pantries or crisis pregnancy centers, associational volunteers and staff who conduct the ministries often share an evangelistic message along with material and practical assistance.

An association cannot direct the affairs of member churches but can set requirements for continued fellowship. For example, an association may initiate the “dis-fellowshipping” (expulsion) from the association of any church with which the association disagrees, generally in areas of contentious practice or doctrine, such as: charismatic doctrine; a local church’s ordination of women or sanctioning homosexuality (such as through ordination or blessing of same-sex unions); or acceptance of “alien immersion” (baptism with a method, such as sprinkling, not consistent with the typical Baptist requirement of immersion).

Association meetings are generally held annually. The association is free to set the time and place, as well as determining the number of messengers, or delegates, each church may send. Each church is allowed a minimum number; the general practice—at the association level and at the higher levels as well—is that larger churches that provide more financial support are allowed more messengers.

[edit]State conventions

Individual congregations and associations may choose to affiliate with state conventions or fellowships which in turn can affiliate with the SBC. There are 41 affiliated state conventions or fellowships.[4]

[edit]Annual Meeting

The Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting consists of messengers from cooperating churches. In the month of June, they gather to confer and determine the programs, policies, and budget of the SBC. Each church may be represented by up to 10 messengers, the exact number being determined by the church’s number of members and contributions to the national SBC organization.[71]

The following quotation from the SBC Constitution explains the membership and description of messengers to each annual meeting:

Article III. Membership: The Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of missionary Baptist churches cooperating with the Convention as follows:

  1. One messenger from each church which (1) Is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work. Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior; and (2) Has been a bona fide contributor to the Convention’s work during the fiscal year preceding.
  2. One additional messenger from each such church for every two hundred and fifty members; or for each $250.00 paid to the work of the Convention during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting.
  3. The messengers shall be appointed and certified by the churches to the Convention, but no church may appoint more than ten.
  4. Each messenger shall be a member of the church by which he is appointed.

Article IV. Authority: While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, the Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, associations, or convention.– SBC Constitution[72]

[edit]Missions and affiliated organizations

[edit]Cooperative Program

The Cooperative Program (CP) is the SBC’s unified funds collection and distribution program for the support of regional, national and international ministries.[73] The CP is funded by contributions from SBC congregations.[73]

In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, the local congregations of the SBC reported gift receipts of $11.1 billion.[74] From this they sent $548 million, approximately 5 per cent, to their state Baptist conventions through the CP.[74] Of this amount, the state Baptist conventions retained $344 million for their work. $204 million was sent on to the national CP budget for the support of denomination-wide ministries.[74]

[edit]Missions agencies

The Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845 primarily for the purpose of creating a mission board to support the sending of Baptist missionaries. The North American Mission Board, or NAMB, (founded as the Domestic Mission Board, and later the Home Mission Board) in Alpharetta, Georgia serves missionaries involved in evangelism and church planting in the U.S. and Canada, while the International Mission Board, or IMB, (originally the Foreign Mission Board) in Richmond, Virginia sponsors missionaries to the rest of the world.

Among the more visible organizations within the North American Mission Board is Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. In 1967, a small group of Texas Southern Baptist volunteers helped victims ofHurricane Beulah by serving hot food cooked on small “buddy burners.” In 2005, volunteers responded to 166 named disasters, prepared 17,124,738 meals, repaired 7,246 homes, and removed debris from 13,986 yards.[75] Southern Baptist Disaster Relief provides many different types: food, water, child care, communication, showers, laundry, repairs, rebuilding, or other essential tangible items that contribute to the resumption of life following the crisis – and the message of the Gospel. All assistance is provided to individuals and communities free of charge. SBC DR volunteer kitchens prepare much of the food distributed by the Red Cross in major disasters.[76]

[edit]Seminaries and colleges

There are six SBC theological seminaries devoted to religious instruction and ministry preparation.

There are multiple Baptist universities and colleges throughout the United states. See Southern Baptist-related Schools, Colleges, and Universities for further information.

[edit]Other organizations

  • Baptist Men on Mission, formally known as Brotherhood, BMEN is the mission organization for men in Southern Baptist Churches.
  • Baptist Press, the largest Christian news service in the country, was established by the SBC in 1946.
  • Guidestone Financial Resources (formerly called the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and founded in 1918 as the Relief Board of the Southern Baptist Convention) exists to provide insurance, retirement, and investment services to ministers and employees of Southern Baptist churches and agencies. Like many financial institutions during that time period, it underwent a severe financial crisis in the 1930s.
  • LifeWay Christian Resources, founded as the Baptist Sunday School Board in 1891, which is one of the largest Christian publishing houses in America and operates the “LifeWay Christian Stores” chain of bookstores.
  • Woman’s Missionary Union, founded in 1888, is an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention, and helps facilitate two large annual missions offerings: the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
  • Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention that is dedicated to addressing social and moral concerns and their implications on public policy issues from City Hall to Congress. Its mission is “To awaken, inform, energize, equip, and mobilize Christians to be the catalysts for the Biblically-based transformation of their families, churches, communities, and the nation.” The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission was formerly known as the Christian Life Commission of the SBC.

[edit]See also


  1. ^ “Denominational Profile Association of Religion Data Archives”. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
  2. ^ Eileen Lindner, ed. Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches 2010 p. 11; the United Methodist Church is second with 8 million members
  3. ^ “Southern Baptist Convention”The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions.
  4. a b “About Us: Meet the Southern Baptists”. Southern Bapotist Convention. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  5. a b c Reuters (June 10). “FACTBOX: The Southern Baptist Convention”. Retrieved July 6, 2010
  6. ^ Baker, Robert A. “Southern Baptist Beginnings,” 2001 Baptist History and Heritage Society.
  7. ^ Raboteau, Albert J., Slave Religion: The “invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004 (25th anniversary edition), ISBN 0-19-517413-5
  8. ^ Ketcham, Ralph L. James Madison: A Biography, Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971; paperback, 1990, p. 57, ISBN 9780813912653. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
  9. ^ Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery. Greenwood Press, 1997. ISBN 0-275-95799-3, 9780275957995
  10. ^ Christine Leigh Heyrman, Southern Cross: The Beginning of the Bible Belt, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998, pp.10-18, 155
  11. ^ Shurden, Walter B. (January 1, 2002). “The origins of the Southern Baptist Convention: a historiographical study”Baptist History and Heritage 37 (1)
  12. ^ The Baptist Encyclopedia. Ed. William Cathcart. 2 Vols; Rev. ed. Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1883, online at William Carey University, Accessed 04–25–2007 p. 1077
  13. ^
  14. ^ [1]
  15. a b c McBeth, H. Leon. The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness. Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1987.
  16. ^ Baker, Robert A. “Southern Baptist Beginnings.” Baptist History and Heritage Society.
  17. ^ First Baptist Church building landmark restoration
  18. ^ H. E. Nutter, A Brief History of the First Baptist Church (Black) Lexington, Kentucky, 1940, accessed 22 Aug 2010
  19. ^ John H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists: From 1769-1885, Vol. II, Cincinnati, OH: J.R. Baumes private printing, 1886, p. 657, accessed 23 Aug 2010
  20. ^ “The Church in the Southern Black Community”Documenting the South, University of North Carolina, 2004, accessed 15 Jan 2009
  21. ^ James E. Tull and Morris Ashcraft, High-church Baptists in the South: The Origin, Nature, and Influence of Landmarkism, Revised edition, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2000, p. 85, accessed 26 Aug 2010
  22. ^ Dilday, Russell. Higher Ground: A Call for Christian Civility. Macon, Georgia: Smyth and Helwys, 2007. ISBN 1–57312–469–9.
  23. ^ Humphreys, Fisher. The Way We Were: How Southern Baptist Theology Has Changed and What It Means to Us All. Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys, 2002. ISBN 1–57312–376–5. The era of conservative resurgence was accompanied by erosion of more-liberal members (see, e.g.G. Avery Lee).
  24. ^ Southern Baptist Convention Tuesday Evening June 15, 1999
  25. ^
  26. ^ This Side of Heaven: Race, Ethnicity, and Christian Faith. Ed. Robert J. Priest and Alvaro L. Nieves. Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 275 and 339
  27. ^ Salmon, Jacqueline L. “Southern Baptists Diversifying to Survive: Minority Outreach Seen as Key to Crisis”Washington Post, 15 Feb 2008
  28. a b c Comparison of 1925, 1963, 2000 versions
  29. ^ Autonomy of local church. SBC position paper. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  30. ^ Church and state. SBC position paper. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  31. ^ Cooperation. SBC position paper. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  32. ^ Creeds. SBC position paper. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  33. ^ Missions. SBC position paper. August 26, 2010.
  34. ^ Priesthood of all believers. SBC position paper. August 26, 2010.
  35. ^ Sanctity of life. SBC position paper. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  36. ^ Sexuality. SBC position paper. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  37. ^ Soul Competency. SBC position paper. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  38. ^ Women in ministry. SBC position paper. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  39. ^
  40. ^ Aldon D. Morris and Shayne Lee, “The National Baptist Convention: Traditions and Contemporary Challenges”, Northwestern University, pp. 27-38 contain a discussion of attitudes regarding gender and their relationship to ministry. Accessed 07–19–2007
  41. ^ “Baptist General Convention position statement on The Family Unit—Adopted 1973”, Baptist General Convention, Accessed 07–19–2007
  42. ^ [2], Southern Baptist Convention, Accessed 07–31–2009. Note: A search of past SBC resolutions reveals that Conventions meeting in 1973, 1980, 1981, and 1984 passed resolutions which affirmed a complementarian view of marriage, a patriarchal view of ordained ministry, or both. Also, [3][4][5], and [6]
  43. ^ Tammi Reed Ledbetter, “SBC and Women Pastors, Comprehensive Report Does Not Sustain Inflated Statistics (October 2000)”, Baptist 2 Baptist . Retrieved 2007-07-19.
  44. ^ [7]
  45. ^ Kristen Campbell, “Baptist Church Ousted for Hiring Woman Pastor.” Religion News Service. Retrieved 09-26-2007.
  46. ^ Eileen R. Campbell-Reed and Pamela R. Durso, “Assessing Attitudes About Women in Baptist Life (2006)”, Baptist Women in Ministry. Retrieved 07-18-2007.[dead link]
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ [8]
  50. ^ Historical Statistics of the U.S. (1976) series H805 (with 2005 estimate from Convention figures).
  51. ^ Southern Baptist numbers, baptisms drop |
  52. ^ Data from the 2000 Religious Congregations and Membership Study
  53. ^ “Southern Baptist Agency to Cut Missionary Force by 600”Christian Post, 26 Nov 2009
  54. ^{CDA250E8–8866–4236–9A0C-C646DE153446}/RCS_Comparison_1990_2000.pdf
  55. ^
  56. ^,1703,A%3D167523&M%3D201280,00.html
  57. ^
  58. a b
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ Lovan, Dylan T. “Southern Baptists to gather in Kentucky.” The Associated Press, June 19, 2009
  62. ^ McMullen, Cary (17 June). “Any way you count it, fewer Southern Baptists”Paltka Daily News. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
  63. ^ “The Top 10 Everything Of 2008”Time. 2008-11-03. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  64. ^ [9]
  65. ^
  66. ^ 1 Timothy 2:11-141 Timothy 3:1-13, and Titus 1:6-9
  67. ^ ” Can women be pastors or deacons in the SBC?” FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions.
  68. ^ Emerging models of deacon ministry
  69. ^
  70. ^[unreliable source?]
  71. ^ “Becoming A Church Messenger.”
  72. ^ About Us—SBC Constitution
  73. a b “What is the Cooperative Program?”. Southern Baptist Convention. Retrieved 2010-03-21.
  74. a b c Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (June 2009). Annual of the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention. pp. 109–111. Retrieved 2010-03-21.
  75. ^ 3/20/2010)
  76. ^

[edit]Further reading

  • Ammerman, Nancy, Baptist Battles: Social Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention. Rutgers University Press, 1990.
  • Ammerman, Nancy, ed. Southern Baptists Observed University of Tennessee Press, 1993.
  • Baker, Robert. ed. A Baptist Source Book. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1966.
  • Baker, Robert. The Southern Baptist Convention and Its People, 1607–1972. Broadman Press, 1974.
  • Barnes, William. The Southern Baptist Convention, 1845–1953 Broadman Press, 1954.
  • Eighmy, John. Churches in Cultural Captivity: A History of the Social Attitudes of Southern Baptists. University of Tennessee Press, 1972.
  • Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists: Presenting Their History, Doctrine, Polity, Life, Leadership, Organization & WorkKnoxville: Broadman Press, v 1–2 (1958), 1500 pp; 2 supplementary volumes 1958 and 1962; vol 5 = Index, 1984
  • Farnsley II, Arthur Emery, Southern Baptist Politics: Authority and Power in the Restructuring of an American Denomination; Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994
  • Fuller, A. James. Chaplain to the Confederacy: Basil Manly and Baptist Life in the Old South (2002)
  • Gatewood, Willard. Controversy in the 1920s: Fundamentalism, Modernism, and Evolution. Vanderbilt University Press, 1969.
  • Hankins, Barry. Religion and American Culture. Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 2002. Argues that Baptist conservatives see themselves as cultural warriors critiquing a secular and liberal America
  • Harvey, Paul. Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities among Southern Baptists, 1865–1925.University of North Carolina Press, 1997
  • Hill, Samuel, et al. Encyclopedia of Religion in the South (2005)
  • Kell, Carl L. and L. Raymond Camp, In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention.Southern Illinois University Press, 1999
  • Leonard, Bill J. God’s Last and Only Hope: The Fragmentation of the Southern Baptist Convention. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990.
  • Lumpkin, William L. Baptist History in the South: Tracing through the Separates the Influence of the Great Awakening, 1754–1787 (1995)
  • McSwain, Larry L. Loving Beyond Your Theology: The Life and Ministry of Jimmy Raymond Allen (Mercer University Press; 2010) 255 pages. A biography of the Arkansas-born pastor (b. 1927), who was the last moderate president of the SBC
  • Marsden, George. Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of 20th Century Evangelicalism. Oxford University Press, 1980.
  • Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States, 2000. Glenmary Research Center
  • Rosenberg, Ellen. The Southern Baptists: A Subculture in Transition. University of Tennessee Press, 1989.
  • Scales, T. Laine. All That Fits a Woman: Training Southern Baptist Women for Charity and Mission, 1907–1926 Mercer U. Press 2002
  • Smith, Oran P. The Rise of Baptist Republicanism (1997), on recent voting behavior
  • Spain, Rufus B. At Ease in Zion: A Social History of Southern Baptists, 1865–1900 (1961)
  • Sutton, Jerry. The Baptist Reformation: The Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention (2000).
  • Wills, Gregory A. Democratic Religion: Freedom, Authority, and Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785–1900. Oxford University Press, 1997
  • Yarnell III, Malcolm B. The Formation of Christian Doctrine (2007), on Baptist theology

from wikipedia:

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