The Progressive National Baptist Convention this week marked the 60th anniversary of its founding in the zeal of the civil rights movement, citing its founders as inspiring new calls for racial justice, against voter suppression, and for critical racial theory.
The historically black denomination held a virtual annual congress with a series of church services, panel discussions and votes on political decisions.
It condemned voting restrictions approved in several Republican-run state houses and, in a resolution, compared these efforts to the earlier suppression of the black vote.
“There is no problem with voter fraud in the United States,” the resolution said, refuting the commonly used justification for restrictive electoral laws. “There is a problem of voter suppression in the US.”
The denomination also advocated critical racial theory, which was a target of religious and political conservatives.
The contested resolution claims that the theory is taught even in elementary and secondary schools, and says that it is primarily a college-level topic.
However, the resolution states that the theory is valuable in focusing on how “systemic, institutional racism has been at work in every aspect of American life since the nation was founded.”
Another resolution called for the passage of a long-pending bill in Congress that requires an investigation into the issue of redress for African Americans based on the effects of slavery and discrimination.
And a resolution declared that gentrification – where poorer residents are often priced out of their neighborhoods after wealthier people and businesses move in – amounts to “a state of emergency in Black America that requires a sincere agenda of action,” including private and government funding Counteract effects.
The convention with churches in the United States, the Caribbean and other countries was founded in 1961 as a spin-off from the larger National Baptist Convention USA.
Its founders included Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his supporters, who wanted their denomination to fully support the civil rights movement.
The Progressive National Baptist Convention “was born as a freedom struggle movement,” said Rev. Frederick Haynes, co-chair of its Social Justice Commission and senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas. “It was born to seek justice.”
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