Bud Kennedy

Preaching social justice is 'evil,' a Southern Baptist pastor in Texas says

Saying the whole idea of justice and equality is way too liberal, the Rev. Grady Arnold of Cuero has filed a resolution calling for the denomination to reject social justice as “evil.”
Saying the whole idea of justice and equality is way too liberal, the Rev. Grady Arnold of Cuero has filed a resolution calling for the denomination to reject social justice as “evil.” Courtesy photo

A Southern Baptist pastor in South Texas says the church has a problem: too much talk about justice.

Racial justice, social justice, global justice — you name it. He's heard enough.

He's against all this justice. Not only that, but he wants Southern Baptist Convention churches to stop preaching about it.

Saying the whole idea of justice and equality is way too liberal, the Rev. Grady Arnold of Cuero has filed a resolution calling for the denomination to reject social justice as “evil.”

Saying social justice is based on “Marxist ideology,” he decries it as not about rights and compassion but about “liberal theology” and compassion for “groups they deem as 'victims.'”

The Southern Baptist's upset with local seminary President Paige Patterson's comments about women and abuse victims, for example.

“He's been unjustly accused,” Arnold, 55, said Tuesday by phone: “He actually hasn't laid a finger on anybody.”

Besides the 3,000-plus Southern Baptist women plus a few men signing a letter of protest, Arnold also is concerned about all this talk of racial justice.

His resolution cites Bible verses to say Baptists should be resilient and endure trials, not “stoke discontentment.”

Pastor Frederick Douglass Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas led a group of about 300 who knelt during the anthem outside AT&T Stadium Sunday night.

Pastor Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, a leading conservative voice for civil rights, called it “the most divisive resolution ever proposed in the 40 years” he's been part of SBC.

“This resolution denigrates the entire civil rights, abolitionist, equal pay for equal work and suffrage movements,” McKissic wrote. “This resolution spits on the grave of Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Mary Bethune, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington. … It will make a statement to women and minorities to 'stay in your place.'

“I was taken aback that somebody wrote that in 2018,” McKissic said by phone Tuesday.

“The words 'justice' and 'righteousness' are inseparable in scripture. … They're trying to demonize that term. When Jesus talked to the poor about the gospel, he was talking about justice.”

Southern Baptists appear headed for a rocky convention June 12-13 in Dallas. There's tension over equality, Patterson, the politicking of Dallas' Rev. Robert Jeffress and the racial justice work of Baptists' ethics leader, the Rev. Russell Moore.

“This social justice is creeping down into local churches,” Arnold said, as if that were a bad thing.

Bet you guessed what's coming next: the slippery slope.

“If we start down this road today,” he asked, “where will it end?”

More justice?

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