Over the last decade, Southern Baptists have made little effort to disguise their civil war.

Moderates in the 14.6 million-member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have accused conservatives of waging a battle for political control. Conservatives say their political efforts are necessary due to growing liberalism in the SBC, reflected, they say, by the teachings and writings of some Southern Baptist seminary professors.

The war peaked at the denomination’s 1985 convention in Dallas, where some 45,000 messengers (delegates) showed up to make their voices heard. At that convention, a 22-member peace committee representing both factions was appointed to determine causes of and solutions to the turmoil in the SBC.

Peace Committee Report

Two years in the making, the committee’s report was overwhelmingly approved in June by the more than 25,000 messengers at the SBC convention in St. Louis. In theory at least, acceptance of the report brings the war to an end.

Said Cecil Sherman, a moderate who resigned from the peace committee last year: “One side is whipped and in disorder, but we’re not convinced. We’re not converted. We’ve been overpowered, handled roughly. We are not at peace inwardly.”

Peace Committee Chairman Charles Fuller told messengers the committee’s report was the “best report we can offer to the body as a path to peace.” He emphasized the report’s diversity, stating, “No one got all he or she would want. We found it vital to work together and to come together for peace.” However, spokesmen from both sides of the controversy say the report is far more favorable to conservatives than to moderates.

The report upholds the conservatives’ contention ...

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