There is still today a Southern Baptist Church. More than a century and a half after the Civil War, decades after the Methodists and Presbyterians reunited with their Yankee neighbors, America’s largest Protestant denomination remains defined, right down to the name over the door, by an 1845 split over slavery.
Southern states have never supported multi-party politics. From their founding, their white majorities have channeled virtually all “legitimate” political expression through a single, racially-aligned party. Over the past fifty years as the overt defense of white supremacy has become politically problematic, maintaining that monolithic political control has been a greater challenge. Religion has played a critical role in allowing white communities in the South to continue to wage a “culture war” that was lost under a different banner.
In 1956 there may have been no more influential figure in the Southern Baptist Convention than W.A. Criswell, the pastor of the enormous First Baptist Church in Dallas. The Supreme Court had recently struck down racial segregation in schools in the Brown v. Board of Education case. A conflict was building between the Eisenhower Administration and the Governor of Arkansas over a plan to desegregate Little Rock’s public schools. Dr. Martin Luther King was organizing bus boycotts in Montgomery. It was not certain where Baptist congregations would line up on the emerging movement for racial justice. Criswell took the opportunity to clarify the matter.
Read more: https://goplifer.com/2015/01/31/evangelicals-and-white-supremacy/