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Pence addresses Southern Baptists after debate over whether he should

Vice President Mike Pence, projected on video screens, references a note given to him by Americans who were detained in North Korea while addressing the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting on June 13, 2018, in Dallas. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

DALLAS (RNS) — Vice President Mike Pence touted President Trump’s meeting with North Korean President Kim Jong Un in a speech before Southern Baptists and urged their continuing prayers as the administration moves ahead with negotiations to seek peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The speech drew cheers from a friendly crowd as Pence tallied accomplishments popular with evangelicals in areas from abortion to aid for persecuted Christians abroad. Concerns raised one day prior about the denomination appearing too cozy with one political party faded to the background when he took the stage.

“While strong American leadership has accomplished much, he and I both know that the effective and fervent prayers of a righteous people availeth much,” Pence said on Wednesday (June 13), referencing the Book of James from the New Testament. “Let’s all pray, pray for peace for the Korean people and the world.”


RELATED: Southern Baptists, in #MeToo age, affirm women, ask for ‘purity’ of leaders


The day before his speech, a messenger, or delegate, requested reconsideration of the plans to welcome Pence. He was overruled.

Pence, in a speech that sometimes resembled a sermon, pulled out of his pocket a small card he said he received on the tarmac of Andrews Air Force Base from the three American hostages who arrived from North Korea a month before Trump’s meeting with Kim. On it they wrote their thanks for the vice president’s prayers and the administration’s efforts to bring them home.

“Then I flipped over the card and looked on the back and they had transcribed a portion of Psalm 126,” he said. “’When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with songs of joy.’”

Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the more than 9,600 messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 13, 2018, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. Photo by Bob Carey via Baptist Press

In his 35 minutes before a packed hall of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Pence ticked off accomplishments and plans of the Trump administration that have particularly appealed to many evangelicals, including Southern Baptists. He cited their continuing efforts to aid religious minorities across the globe and protect religious liberties in the U.S. and the decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Baptists rose to their feet when he proclaimed that Trump was the “most pro-life president in American history.” Pence mentioned that the president’s first act in office was to re-establish the so-called “Mexico City Policy,” which halts government funding of groups that support or conduct abortions overseas, and that Trump acted more recently to prevent Title X family planning funding from going to any domestic programs that provide abortions.

The vice president praised Southern Baptists for their offering aid across the country when disaster strikes. He recalled visiting Sutherland Springs, Texas, after the shootings at a Southern Baptist church in November. He pointed out the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, who he said told him backstage that one of the injured was now leading three Bible studies, including one for nurses who requested he lead one after he was discharged.

“Today, on behalf of the president I want to say thank you, thank you to the Southern Baptist Convention for the essential and irreplaceable role you play in America,” he said. “And I’ll make you a promise: This president, this vice president and our administration will always stand with you.”

On Tuesday, the opening day of the two-day meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, several of the more than 9,000 messengers, or delegates, rose to object to having elected officials, and Pence in particular, speak at annual meetings.

Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting vote on June 12, 2018, during the meeting’s first morning session at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. Messengers defeated the motion to amend the agenda to replace Vice President Mike Pence’s address Wednesday with a time of prayer. Photo by Adam Covington via Baptist Press

Garrett Kell, an Alexandria, Va., pastor, suggested Pence’s time slot should be replaced with a time of prayer.

“For many years we’ve been talking about loving and listening to our minority brothers and sisters,” he said, noting that he was not speaking against Pence personally. “This invitation does nothing to suggest that we’re actually listening. Not only are many of us in this room hurt and bothered by this invitation but also many of our minority brothers and sisters will especially be hurt by this invitation and I fear that it will communicate to many of them that our political associations are more important than our association with them.”

Grant Ethridge, chairman of the meeting’s Committee on the Order of Business, responded that he, too, is concerned about outreach to minorities, having pastored a church once known as an all-white “Republican church” in predominantly black Hampton Roads, Va., but now multiethnic.

“The Southern Baptist Convention aligns itself with no political party,” he said, noting that the White House approached the SBC about a Pence speech. “Our loyalty is to King Jesus, the king of kings and the lord of lords.”

Ethridge said if he had received a similar request from President Obama’s White House, he would have welcomed him.

“As a committee we feel to not show hospitality to those in authority would be a bad testimony for Southern Baptists,” he said, in comments that immediately preceded remarks by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to the meeting.

Kell’s request was voted down but a significant percentage of hands lifted their packet of ballots in agreement.

J.D. Greear, who was elected Tuesday as the next SBC president, told reporters that day that he believes it is important to listen to the views of messengers who want to hear Pence and those who are concerned that his addressing them will be viewed as their endorsement of the administration.

“Those are the two things that need to shape the conversation going forward — it’s empathy and charity in these kinds of things,” Greear, a North Carolina megachurch pastor, said at a news conference.

J.D. Greear, the next SBC president, speaks during the annual meeting in Dallas on June 12, 2018. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

But shortly after Pence’s speech, Greear tweeted a message about “a terribly mixed signal”: “We are grateful for civic leaders who want to speak to our Convention—but make no mistake about it, our identity is in the gospel and our unity is in the Great Commission. Commissioned missionaries, not political platforms, are what we do.”

Though 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump and prominent Southern Baptists have been among his unofficial evangelical advisers, there are times when some evangelicals differ with the administration.

On Tuesday, Baptists adopted a statement that called for immigration reform that includes “maintaining the priority of family unity” while also emphasizing “securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures.”

Alan Cross, a Southern Baptist minister and immigrant advocate from Alabama, said the passage of such a statement, which differs with the administration’s current policy toward undocumented immigrant families, is significant.

“Southern Baptists demonstrated that they want to follow the teachings of Jesus in how people, including vulnerable immigrant children and families, should be treated, even if that puts them at odds with political leaders and parties that they have traditionally supported,” said Cross, Southeast coordinator of Bibles, Badges and Business, a group working on immigration reform. “That is an important declaration and one that should not be taken lightly.”

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

48 Comments

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  • “The affirmation of “the dignity and worth of women” came as the nation’s largest Protestant denomination marked the 100th anniversary of women serving as messengers, even as it held fast to the view that women are equal before God but hold different roles in the church and the home.” Women in the Christian church have separate but equal roles. You want to help women? Get into the Islam farce and protect the women who cannot drive, need to be covered from head to toe because their husband mandates it, or the women who cannot leave the house because their husband mandates it. Fight for people who need help rather than making dirt where there is none

  • Pence is a very smart Veep; he’s got the right idea. This guy is seriously cool.

    Just knock on the door, and if they say “Yes come in”, then express thanks and show up. Then just speak your piece up front, nice and calm, without worrying about assorted Haters, Hotheads and Hooly-Magoo’s.

  • If you are about the Great Commission, i.e. going into all the world and making disciples of every ethnos (people group), where are your churches and Bible colleges and training centers that are making Christian disciples of GLBT people groups in the USA and around the world. There are NONE. At the mere understanding that one of your members is gay or lesbian or transgender you are more likely to kick them out of the congregation and never allow a single one into any kind of training or leadership development. You would first insist that they conform to your own definition of salvation by works and get married, have 2.3 kids and at least pretend to be the kind of straight person you insist they be before you ever give them any opportunity to grow in the church. You totally forget that salvation is by grace and grace alone and not of works. Is it any wonder that certain groups of people never ever want to enter your doors after knowing exactly how you will react to them. You are going totally against the commandment of Christ to make disciples of all people groups. You as a denomination have becomes nothing more than a sounding brass and a clanging cymbal.

  • Sorry. Separate but equal is not a biblical concept. There, the Southern Baptists are still missing the boat. If they want to help raise the standard for women around the world, they need to begin in their own house and within their own denominational administration.

  • I’m guessing that your husband isn’t beating you enough. You need to be more submissive.

  • Sorry I didn’t get those comments on before you realized it. I normally write “edited” but, well, just didn’t.
    “I’m guessing that your husband isn’t beating you enough. You need to be more submissive.” How do you know I don’t like that?

  • If you relished it, then it would be a waste of time as a method for inducing your proper submission. A Godly husband would then need to find a more suitable means of control.

  • I asked a lesbian lady one time, “Okay, what IF, for whatever reason, you decided next week that you were no longer happy with the status quo? What if you simply didn’t want to be a lesbian anymore, and you wanted to seek a way out? Where exactly would you go, what church or counselor or clergy, to explore further?”

    She didn’t know. At the time I didn’t know either. And that’s a problem. Plenty of LGBTQ people want to abandon the LGBTQ life, but where’s the churches? We DO have a Great Commission problem.

    Now I understand that you’re talking about something entirely different. You’re looking for evangelical and conservative churches like SBC, to fully and publicly affirm the LGBTQ self-identity, behaviors, gay marriage, and gay activism, and then train such adherents to become leaders of the church. Part of the Great Commission, you say. But we’ll have to disagree on that. There’s simply NOT a biblical middle ground there.

    But at least it’s now possible to get the info one needs, and begin their extremely important journey using the Internet. Your zip code no longer determines whether you can find help. http://www.restoredhopenetwork.com

  • Re: “You want to help women? Get into the Islam farce and protect the women who cannot drive …”  

    I hope you realize that just because another religion treats women terribly, cannot and will never magically grant Christians permission to mistreat them? To think so is to fall for “two wrongs make a right” thinking. Also, that Christianity treats women less poorly than Islam does, is not something of which Christians ought to be proud. Think about it: A father who beats his kid “only” twice a day is NOT, in any way, a “good” father compared with one who beats his kid three times a day; they’re BOTH child abusers who probably should rot in jail. 

  • “Thank you … Southern Baptist Convention for [your] essential and irreplaceable role”, said the US president’s VP.

    But oh no, what “a terribly mixed signal” that is, that note of appreciation, twitted “the next SBC president …. shortly after Pence’s speech”.

    Nice going there, J.D. Greear. You were just “elected Tuesday” and already you’re Playing The Game.

    “[Y]our identity is in the gospel … not political platforms” – my foot!

  • This article is so funny. Funny, funny, funny!!!!

    For the last 40 years, and that is being generous, the SOuthern Baptists have been pretty much the most political religious group around, outside of ISIS of course. Pence gave a campaign speech. Why should they be surprised? They’ve been GOP’s b***h for 40 years. Why should they be surprised when the Second to the Top Dawg barks at them?

    When you’re too “jingoistic” for the SBC, why that’s crossing a line even Mother wouldn’t allow. Are they just now objecting to the merger of church and state?

    Lie down with Caesar, get up with fleasar.

  • This is a nice story about the utter and complete Trumpian takeover of Evangelical Church. Sure, the SBC is just one denomination. But the hoodoo of the membership in this body is easily repeatable or already repeated with Assemblies of God, LCMS Lutherans, Church of the Nazarene, various Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Bible Churches, thousands of Pastor-owned independent churches (hundreds of them “mega”), you name it. The members of these outfits HAVE TO support Republican lies on virtually all subjects—–and they now do. None of their leaders can or will cross the rhetorical *Trumpian) “line” for sake of the business models. The members do not even have a remote clue what has happened to them. The whole church enterprise is now as fraudulent as Trump University.

  • Mr. Pence is evidently not aware that we are living in the last days of a wicked era (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).

    Because of that fact, God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Matthew 4:17) will soon put an end to and replace all human governments (Daniel 2:44).

    It will then start its loving and peaceful millennial rule over all meek mankind on earth after destroying all wicked ones (Isaiah 11:1-5) by its King, and God’s son, Christ Jesus (Isaiah 9:6,7).

    It will be the only provider of true peace and security to everyone on our planet (Micah 4:3,4), and end all sickness, disease, old age and death on earth (Revelation 21:3,4). No human ruler(s) can ever do all that!

  • Actually, it doesn’t say that.

    “At first glance, (1 Cor. 14:33-35) seems to be a blanket command that women are never allowed to speak at all in the church. However, earlier in the same epistle (1 Cor.11:5), Paul mentions situations where women are allowed to pray and prophesy in the assembled congregation. Therefore, 1 Cor. 14:33–35 must not be an absolute command for women to remain silent at all times in all services. The prohibition must be limited in some way by the context.” — Gotquestions.org .

    Context. The End.

  • That’s your assumption the verse speaks of the woman participating aloud in the assembly. It would seem to be speaking of her participation in silence, with her head covered, since the later verse forbids her vocal participation.

  • They, like conservative white Catholics, put Trump in office. Now they “object”–fruitlessly, and they know it–to Trump’s immigration policies. Pointless pious posturing. They will vote Trump–and people in Congress who support Trump and his immigration policies– back in office.

  • Grow up. People have been predicting the second coming ever since Jesus said “some of those present will not taste death before I return.” Every generation believed they would see Jesus return. Every generation was wrong.

    People were certain Jesus would come in AD1000, with the end of the first millennia. They were certain the Black Death and the death of 1/3 of the population of Europe meant Jesus coming was imminent.

    They were all wrong. Every one. You are not more special than they.

    We are responsible for our world. We are responsible for kindness and mercy toward immigrants. We are responsible for proper care of the planet. We are responsible for demanding honesty and justice from our leaders. We are responsible for creating a society all have access to food, shelter and health care.

  • Nope, that’s a journey to nowhere, floydie.

    The real solution is to leave religion entirely.

  • LOL. Sandi Luckins is trying to leave bible droppings again, but doesn’t know her storybook well enough to find a line that presents the opinion she wants.

  • Pence is a religious fruitcake and Trump toadie, nothing more. Hopefully soon we’ll be rid of both of them.

  • Psssst. Floyd is black. Double the irony. Double the fun. With double cross, double standards, double mint gum!

  • Thanks for the rational response, Lark. Quoting the bible like it’s some sort of proof is so tiresome and pointless. As others have stated, the bible is only the claim, not the proof.

  • Well sure Ben, Floyd is black. Speaking of which, some SBC Christians are black too. One of them even served as SBC President. And here’s a little secret for you and Henry:

    Not one of ’em will endorse gay marriage, nor permit LGBT clergy.

    Black SBC Christians believe the Bible. They believe Christ. They serve God, not Goliath.

  • Actually Jesus said some would not taste death until they saw Him coming in His kingdom. And no doubt most of his listeners were still alive 1-3 years later when He arrived in Jerusalem as the long-awaited Messiah on Palm Sunday, AD 32.

    Most people mistakenly take this verse to refer to Jesus’ second coming, completely forgetting that when He said it His FIRST coming had not technically happened yet.

  • Isn’t it amazing that nothing in this ever is when it appears to be, and there is always an explanation to make it into what it appears to be. 27For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done. 28Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
    His first coming was, you say, not his actual appearance, which any reasonable reader of it would ocnclude, but rather, his entry into Jerusalem. So the events in 27 haven’t happened, either. His second coming hasn’t happened yet, or is it his third? So hard to tell.

    And isn’t it even more amazing that he entered on Palm sunday as the long awaited messiah, and five days later had been rejected as anything? No one said, at least as far as the recorded events go, and not the later glosses, “Hey isn’t that Joe and Mary’s kid? Weren’t there choirs of angels proclaiming him God With Us when he was born?” Short memories or attention span.
    Yes, dear, before you tell me how I am an atheist and don’t know anything, and certainly not what you know, frankly, I don’t agree and I don’t care. I just point out what any reasonable person can see.
    I’ll leave knowing everything about everything to you and BobbyJoeBob.

  • Indeed you’re pointing out what any reasonable person can see who knows next to nothing of the gospels.

    Why would any reasonable person who DOES know the gospels think Jesus repeatedly told His disciples during His ministry not to tell anyone about Him being the Messiah? Answer: Because the Messiah was scheduled to appear in Jerusalem on a certain pre-appointed day. And I’m sure any reasonable person of any variety would have no idea why the hordes in Jerusalem from all over Judea that day would know who Mary and Joseph were or what happened thirty-plus years earlier in Bethlehem as you indicate should be the case.

    “And isn’t it even more amazing…”

    Not particularly, as it was exactly what Daniel said would happen:

    — Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until the prince, the Anointed One, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks [of years]…And after the three score and two weeks, the Anointed One shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. (Daniel 9:25-26)

    Like my grandfather used to say, when you’re talking you’re not learning a d*mnd thing. Good advice for you, Ben.

  • You certainly are getting increasingly snitty as your ship takes on water and sinks below the waves.

    So, how is the “minority rights” project coming?

  • And why would jesus not want to announce the good news, the fulfillment of the prophecies, etc etc etc etc. your answers just create more questions. He was god. This is what he came for. Let’s keep it a secret? And they did so?

    But the absurdity is here: choirs of angels announcingthe birth of the messiah, wisemen from the east, the whole thing. And yet, no one remembers it happening. The massacre of the innocents is presented nowhere else in the records. I once asked you this very same question before, and you replied that everyone knew it, and that’s why they were there. So they both knew it and didn’t know. Which was it? They knew it or they didn’t? It’s like those idiots trying to explain the discrepancies in the women at the tomb. Two people includes 1 person? Please. You can’t keep track of your own explanations..

    Paul apparently knew nothing of the Virgin birth, the choirs of angels, or any of it. Could it be that the gospels were written AFTER Paul, something I’m pretty sure we know already? That’s why he never heard of it? And daniel’s predictions? Just as vague.

    The story makes no sense, and never has. So you can call me an iggerunt idjit when it comes to your bible storiesall you like. But your intellectual ground for doing so is simply that you believe what you believe. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

  • He DID announce the good news from the very beginning — that the kingdom of God was at hand. Probably His disciples did NOT completely keep His identity a secret as they were directed to, but that still doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a divine order and timetable involved. More than once Jesus said that His “hour had not yet come.”

    Who did the choirs of angels appear to? Country shepherds. Why would the population in general know or care about them? What would be unusual about wise men (probably Jews themselves) coming to Judea? Nothing — the Middle East was and still is a crossroads of many trade routes. As for the massacre of the innocents — why would ancient historians make any mention of the slaughter of perhaps twenty children or less in a Judean backwater? Herod murdered three of his own sons and his wife and no mention of it was made in any history other than Josephus — who expressly stated that Herod killed many more people besides the incidents he recorded, which were already numerous.

    The people in Jerusalem waiting for Jesus with palm fronds and songs of praise were there because they knew when the Messiah was due. 483 years is NOT a vague prediction. Much less when followed by the murder of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple soon after.

    It appears to be YOU who is having trouble keeping up. Why don’t you do yourself and everyone else here a favor and simply educate yourself about the scriptures you’re so eager to attack?

  • Merriam Webster
    Definition of tap dance
    1 : a step dance tapped out audibly by means of shoes with hard soles or soles and heels to which taps have been added
    2 : something suggesting a tap dance; especially : an action or discourse intended to rationalize or distract

    Note definition 2.

  • That you would surmise that my comment was intended to rationalize or distract indicates that I am indeed going too fast for you.

    It was intended to correct a misquotation which leads to an incorrect conclusion.

  • Shorter: lots and lots of the same kinds of suppositions you accuse me of engaging in.

    As I said, you believe it. That’s enough for you. Good for you.

  • The favor you want is to stop challenging you. Not going to happen, dear.

    And I notice you ignored THIS, but I remember it quite well. “I once asked you this very same question before, and you replied that everyone knew it, and that’s why they were there. So they both knew it and didn’t know. Which was it? They knew it or they didn’t? It’s like those idiots trying to explain the discrepancies in the women at the tomb. Two people includes 1 person? Please. You can’t keep track of your own explanations.”

  • Claiming that the Bible clearly does not say what the Bible clearly says is an old christian scam, that everyone but christians see right through.

    You are trying to distract attention from the plain meaning and rationalize why Jesus wasn’t actually rather mistaken

    Matt 16
    27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. 28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

    This is a prediction of the end times, but the times just keep plugging along without end. Awkward.

  • Kindly refrain from telling me what I think. As you well know I am not in the least disturbed by a challenge, but I prefer to discuss with people who have a bit more than a mere passing familiarity with the subject matter — or, alternatively, who are interested in actually learning about the subject matter. You are neither.

    What you “remember so well” is so garbled that I have no idea what your “it” refers to at all.

    RNS has a search function. Go pull up the exchange you’re referring to, and we’ll see what exactly you’re confused about.

  • At the time Jesus said that He had not even disclosed to the public that He was the Messiah. The Messiah can not come for the second time without coming to His people the first time.

    The central message of Jesus’ ministry was that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Indeed it was.

    –Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech.9:9).

  • I see. “I forget when I said that.”
    I didn’t forget it. And it doesn’t matter that much to me. You want to find it, YOU can spend hours and hours going through your old comments. But I’ll make it a little easier for you. Our first encounters were back in 2014. So no need to go back further than that.

  • I think you DID forget it, Ben. For have in no way clarified what on earth you’re talking about when you said “you replied that everyone knew it, and that’s why they were there. So they both knew it and didn’t know.”

    I repeat, what exactly is “it” referring to?

    And if you can’t remember, type key words that you DO remember into RNS’ search function. That is how I quite easily found your exchange with Sandi that you misrepresented for about six months straight.

  • Jesus said his followers would be no part of the world, they would not be involved in politics just as Jesus was not involved. He was neutral, even going into the mountains when they tried tried making him king. It is apparent these organizations are not Jesus’s followers, they are very much a part of the world.

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