The word conjures feelings, images, epithets, histories.
To put the word out there, just set it on the table by itself, it’s enough to set a room on edge. No, it’s worse than that. Racism sets the house on fire.
We must put out the fire.
Where we stand
I, Baptist Standard Publishing and its board of directors denounce racism in all its forms. We are committed to listening to those among us who experience racism directly and regularly, and to affording them the opportunity to mature the body of Christ through sharing their stories and perspectives. We will engage in the work of racial justice in accord with God’s character and in obedience to the biblical mandate to seek and to enact justice.
The Baptist Standard is committed to publishing news about and opinions and resources by Black men and women and Black churches and ministries. This has not come without a cost to them.
Several appearing in our publication have received explicitly racist letters, vile letters. Two recipients—Senior Pastor Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington and founding Senior Pastor Joseph Fields of New Beginnings Church in Lewisville—posted to Twitter and Facebook their respective letters. McKissic’s post went viral, spawning news articles in two other publications.
The letter writer is no relation to a similarly named retired employee of Baptist Standard Publishing.
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These letters are viewable on McKissic’s and Fields’ social media feeds. The exact content of the letters will not be spelled out here. In summary, though, the letters reject the humanity of Black people; malign their character, motives and behavior; and pour filth and contempt on them.
In response to those assuming the letter writer is part of the SBC, Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, tweeted: “The author of this letter … left the Southern Baptist Convention twenty years ago. … his words and spirit of his letter to [Pastor McKissic] does not represent us at all. It is contradictory to our BF&M and our commitment to human dignity.” Many others have posted similar responses.
Calling it what it is
A Twitter user noted the writer has been published in our “Letters to the Editor” section. This was prior to 2018. He has not been given a platform in our publication since then, however, because of the increasingly racist—as well as misogynistic and otherwise demeaning—content of his letters.
Fields is a member of the Baptist Standard board of directors. In communication with me, he noted he is aware the writer’s words and thoughts do not reflect the beliefs of the body of Christ. He hopes Christians lovingly will hold each other accountable “to ensuring the bond of faith, hope and love.”
Part of doing so is, as Fields noted in his initial Facebook post about the letter he received, “to call right right and wrong wrong regardless of where it comes from.”
If we are to hold each other accountable, we must address the reality that some among us do in fact view Black men and women, boys and girls in the ways—and often the words—the writer expresses in his letters. He may no longer be connected to the SBC or any other Christian group, but that doesn’t mean his ideas aren’t shared by professing Christians. We cannot claim ignorance of this, nor can we continue to explain it away or sweep it under the rug.
Yes, people are being treated with vile contempt every day, whether we see it or not. We need to listen when these grievances are voiced. We need to take them seriously, and we need to work against such contempt.
In addition, some of us need to confess our part in racism and repent of our complacency and complicity.
To our brothers in Christ, Pastor McKissic and Pastor Fields, and the many other Black men and women appearing in our publications who have been dehumanized as you were in the writer’s letters to you, we join you in righteous indignation. You are wronged by such contempt.
To the Black men and women, boys and girls who have been hurt by how your friends and loved ones have been treated by these letters, we grieve with you. We agree it is wrong; it is sin.
Until the destructive fire of racism is extinguished, we will be with you, whatever the cost.