Wendell Griffen, the Little Rock Baptist preacher and judge, has written an article for Baptist News reflecting on the 65th anniversary Friday of the Brown v. Board of Education decision ending legal school segregation, the feelings of Baptists then against integration and feelings now about modern politics including the abortion ban adopted this week in Alabama.
There’s much to take in as Griffen thunders. In 1954, he wrote:
They preached, studied and sang about God’s love for the world each week. Meanwhile, they systematically, deliberately and cold-heartedly refused to treat black people as equals. In many congregations, white Baptists even misconstrued Scripture in their attempt to justify their racism, white supremacy and the blatant discrimination inflicted on people like me.
I think about May 17, 1954, because white male state legislators and a white female governor in Alabama who claim to be followers of Jesus acted this week to outlaw abortions, even for cases involving rape and incest, and subject persons who perform abortions to prison sentences of up to 99 years. Many of those persons are Baptists.
I think about May 17, 1954, because white voters who say they are followers of Jesus voted in 2016 to elect a known misogynist, bigot and corporate cheat who boasted about refusing to pay taxes to support public services such as national defense, protection of the environment, highways, education, civil rights and justice in the workplace. Many of those persons are Baptists.
I think about May 17, 1954, because white voters who preach, sing and pray about the love of God and the gospel of Jesus rail against granting asylum to immigrants who seek safety in the United States from war, natural disasters and other threats to their lives. Many of those persons are Baptists.
I think about May 17, 1954, because white Baptists who preach and otherwise affirm that the risen Jesus first appeared to women and commissioned them to tell men about his resurrection continue to endorse barring women from preaching to men, teaching men and leading men in congregations, divinity schools and elsewhere.
On a slightly related note: The conservative “Christians” in the Arkansas legislature, in addition to working to protect Israel from criticism with a gag law, are uniformly opposed to abortion. I wonder how many of them know that abortion is legal in Israel and covered by national health insurance.