Two pastors of Black megachurches have announced they are splitting from the Southern Baptist Convention.
Charlie Dates of Chicago’s Progressive Baptist Church and Ralph D. West of Houston’s The Church Without Walls said their decision comes after SBC seminary presidents’ declaration that critical race theory was “incompatible” with the denomination’s statement of faith.
Dates and West announced the split in an opinion piece for Religion News Service.
“How did they, who in 2020 still don’t have a single Black denominational entity head, reject once and for all a theory that helps to frame the real race problems we face?” Dates wrote.
In November, the six presidents of SBC seminaries released a joint statement calling critical race theory “unbiblical” and “incompatible” with SBC beliefs.
Marshal Ausberry, the head of the SBC’s National African American Fellowship, said he had concerns about the November SBC declaration but was “saddened” by the announcements from Dates and West.
“Yes, I am saddened to see two well-known African American Pastors announce their exits from the SBC,” he said. “They are good men who are sending a big message to the SBC.”
Ausberry, who serves as the SBC’s first vice president and head of the denomination’s National African American Fellowship, had also voiced criticism of the statement from the SBC, saying that “systemic racism exists” and “there are theories and constructs that help us to see and discover otherwise undetected, systemic racism in institutions and in ourselves.”
Dates’s congregation began affiliating with the SBC in 2019, joining as a dual affiliate with the Progressive National Baptist Convention, a mainline, African American denomination
He said he joined in hopes of making mission partnerships.
West’s church is among the 100 largest in the country and averages about 9,000 people each week. West said he will be withdrawing from Southwestern for his doctoral studies.
“Their stand against racism rings hollow when in their next breath they reject theories that have been helpful in framing the problem of racism,” he said.
“The statement on critical race theory and intersectionality has soiled that good faith.”
Photo courtesy: Charlie Dates Facebook
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.