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The Southern Baptist Church, according to reports, is considering a name change. President of the church, Bryant Wright, said on Monday that the church is setting up a task force to look at the proposal.

Though the Southern Baptists remain the largest Protestant group in the United States, there has been in recent times a significant decline in baptisms, attendance at church services and membership.

The Southern Baptists broke away from the other Baptist churches in America before the civil war over disagreement on slave-holding, and not till 1995 did the Southern Baptists officially offer an apology to African-Americans on slavery. It has been noted, however, that significant elements of ethno-racist attitudes persist in the church, especially in relation to foreign missions, with field missionaries using demeaning and strongly ethnocentric language in describing the cultures of what they term UUPGS, that is, unengaged, unreached people groups.

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The attitude is reflected by Terry Lassiter, in charge of IMB strategy for evangelizing American peoples. Terry Lassiter, in a shocking display of ethnocentric condescension, recently described the spiritual lives of indigenous tribal people who have not been reached by the gospel as a “new level of darkness”  which  “should break the hearts of any Christian” because if the gospel does not reach a group before it is exterminated they are lost forever and “don’t have the hope of salvation.” Many tribal people, according to Lassiter, live in “the darkness of the evil one for their entire existence.”

There have been several failed attempts to change the name of the church in the past. A name change for the church would seem appropriate because of the historical connections of the name with slavery.

According to the Baptist Press, the task force appointed to look at the proposal of name change will be asking itself four questions: 1) Is it a good idea, that is, is there value in considering a name change? 2) If so, what would be a good name to suggest? 3) What would be the potential legal ramifications of a name change? 4) What would be the potential financial implications?”

Source: Urban Christian News

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