February 16, 2008


Hispanics for Hillary (Robert Novak, 2/16/08, Real Clear Politics)

Reps. Hilda Solis and Lucille Roybal-Allard, Hispanic-American Democrats from California, have been busy on the House floor lobbying uncommitted Democratic super-delegates to support Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama.

Hispanic voters have been the element in the Democratic coalition that has proved most resistant to Obama and faithful to Clinton. They were most responsible for Clinton's win in the Feb. 5 California primary, where non-Hispanic Caucasians broke evenly.

Southern Baptists Diversifying to Survive: Minority Outreach Seen as Key to Crisis (Jacqueline L. Salmon, 2/16/08, Washington Post)
These days, the faith that was once proudly white now touts the fact that almost 20 percent of its congregations are predominantly black, Latino or Asian. Hundreds of minorities serve in leadership posts in its state conventions, seminaries and other organizations.

The SBC Mission Board estimates that the number of black members has doubled to about 1 million since the 1995 apology.

Southern Baptists are starting churches in black communities and, while they insist they don't recruit from predominantly black denominations, the outreach strategy includes welcoming black preachers from those bodies and offering them multi-day "boot camps" -- intensive teaching in starting Southern Baptist churches.

"I wish it was all just spiritual, but some of it is pragmatic as well," said the Rev. Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention. "Our highest growth is coming in ethnic congregations, so it's very important for the growth of our convention . . . If we're going to reach our nation, we're going to need to reach ethnic groups."

The SBC encourages new pastors to network with other black Southern Baptist leaders, offering them names and contact information. A recent publication details African Americans' involvement in the SBC since its founding, although it omits any mention of past racism and the 1995 apology.

Redmond, 40, was a member of the predominantly black Progressive National Baptist Convention and a professor of Bible and theology at Washington Bible College in Lanham when he was asked to fill in as minister at Hillcrest Baptist Church in 2001.

The Progressive and the Southern Baptists are just two of several U.S. Baptist denominations. There are at least four historically black Baptist organizations, five in the evangelical tradition, plus at least one more in the mainline tradition, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Redmond was attracted by the Southern Baptists' theologically and socially conservative stances on abortion and same-sex marriage and the conviction that the Bible is the word of God and entirely without error. Black Baptist preachers generally place a greater emphasis on social justice and activism than their Southern Baptist counterparts.

"For an outsider, we think of the old convention with all its cultural conservatism, separatism and fundamentalism," Redmond said. "But what I found were people that were seeking to be very welcoming to African Americans in particular and to ethnic minorities in general."

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2008 8:58 AM
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