Southern Baptists' Historic Presidential Vote Near
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The nation's largest Protestant denomination is set to take its biggest step yet toward resolving its troubled racial past.
On Tuesday, the Southern Baptist Convention plans to vote on whether to elect an African-American president for the first time in the denomination's 167-year history. The Reverend Fred Luter Jr. is so-far unopposed for the position.
Seventeen years ago, Luter was one of the authors of an SBC resolution that apologized to African-Americans for perpetuating racism and resolved to strive for racial reconciliation.
Since that gesture, the denomination has grown its non-white congregations from only 5 percent in 1990 to 20 percent in 2010.
But SBC leadership has not diversified as rapidly as membership, and some leaders say the denomination needs to be more deliberate about that goal.
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