Southern Baptists Elect Fundamentalist

From a Times Staff Writer

A fundamentalist was elected president of the Southern Baptists on Tuesday for the 12th straight year, cementing the archconservatives’ control of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination and raising fears of a church split.

The Rev. Morris Chapman, a pastor from Wichita Falls, Tex., defeated the Rev. Daniel Vestal, a suburban Atlanta pastor, 21,491 to 15,753, at the denomination’s annual convention. Chapman backs the fundamentalist campaign to rid Southern Baptist leadership of anyone unwilling to believe in a “perfect Bible.”

Vestal carried the hopes of moderates in the theologically conservative denomination.