Southern Baptists Vote to Leave Baptist World Alliance

June 16, 2004

Source: The Washington Post

On June 16, 2004 The Washington Post reported, "The Southern Baptist Convention voted yesterday to pull out of the Baptist World Alliance, accusing the worldwide organization of a drift toward liberalism that included growing tolerance of homosexuality, support for women in the clergy and 'anti-American' pronouncements. The Baptist World Alliance, which has a 20-member staff at its headquarters in Falls Church, is a loose, voluntary confederation of 211 Baptist groups with more than 46 million members around the globe. Because the alliance has no legislative or judicial power over its member churches, the pullout is far less consequential than the threatened schism over homosexuality in the Episcopal Church. But experts said it symbolizes an increasing polarization among Baptists, who historically have eschewed hierarchy and lived with enormous diversity in beliefs and practices...Formed in 1905, the Baptist World Alliance provides one of the few tenuous links between Baptist groups internationally. It has served as a collective voice for religious freedom in authoritarian countries, coordinated disaster relief efforts and encouraged missionaries. But the overwhelming vote by a show of hands at the Southern Baptists' annual convention in Indianapolis also followed years of rising tensions."