Southern Baptists Claim Right to Convert Others
The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, spent much of its annual gathering this week defending the right of evangelicals to proclaim their religion as the only path to salvation.
“There are forces that attempt to silence us, who say, ‘Don’t intrude on our lives,’ ” said the Rev. Jack Graham, the Southern Baptist president. “We cannot resist the love and the call of God to penetrate our world.”
A resolution passed by the conference said, “We remind the international community that religious liberty is not merely the right to remain in the religion of one’s birth, but includes the right of anyone to change his religious loyalties without fear of persecution.”
The conference also approved a resolution denouncing anti-Semitism as “contrary to the teachings of our Messiah and an assault on the revelation of Holy Scripture.”
But that resolution did nothing to mollify Jewish groups that have ardently opposed Southern Baptist campaigns aimed at converting Jews to Christianity.
In a statement, Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, responded, “We have said many times that it is pure arrogance for any one religion to assume that they hold ‘the truth.’ The Southern Baptist leadership clearly has not gotten the message.”
“Unfortunately, at a time when many faiths have moved closer toward mutual respect and understanding, the Southern Baptist leadership continues their backward slide,” the statement said.