Ascol on SBC: Leftward drift key issue but good man elected president

Ascol on SBC: Leftward drift key issue but good man elected president

Bart Barber, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, talks to reporters in Anaheim, California. 

Ascol on SBC: Leftward drift key issue but good man elected president

The Southern Baptist Convention has new leadership after meeting in Southern California last week after several days of debate and disagreement, and a losing candidate for president says there are unresolved issues but a promising new leader.

The sex abuse scandal took up most of the oxygen in the room but several other issues were simmering just under the surface when the SBC messengers took their seats in Anaheim, California. What to do after a well-known church ordained three women pastors? Has the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission gone soft on the life issue? How should Christians address Critical Race Theory, which was never really resolved three years ago.

According to Pastor Tom Ascol, who lost a bid to lead the denomination, he and many others are raising concerns the denomination is being pulled farther and farther to the left.

“We have concerns and we try to raise those,” he recently told American Family Radio. “Some of us have done those privately and not been given the kinds of responses we could've pushed for, or have been told, ‘Yes, we agree with you, but because of my position we can't see anything publicly.’”

Speaking on the AFR program “The Core,” Ascol alleged there was naked politics at play when some messengers attempted to bring back the issue of Critical Race Theory, which was first raised in 2019. The controversial Marxist-based theory, which is basically a household word now, was relatively unknown when a pastor demanded the SBC denounce it but a committee instead rewrote his words behind closed doors to skirt around the issue.

This year, according to Ascol, the SBC resolutions committee refused to acknowledge the topic when it was submitted again and again. 

Ascol, Tom Ascol

During the key election for SBC president, Ascol lost his bid to Pastor Bart Barber, whom Ascol calls a friend. In a runoff, Barber handily defeated Ascol 61%-39%.

Barber’s win was viewed as “win” for the effort by the SBC to address sexual abuse in the denomination.

"Predators have realized the vulnerabilities of our system," Barber stated during a press conference. "It's time for Southern Baptists to realize how nimble and resilient our Baptist polity can be to put sexual predators on notice that Southern Baptist churches are a dangerous place for them."

“I think we will certainly be led better by Bart this year than we have the last three or four years, just because of who he is,” Ascol told the radio program. “But Bart does not see these concerns as clearly or as seriously as I do.”

In a left-leaning commentary at liberal website Baptist News Global, writer Mark Wingfield suggests Barber brings “extremely conservative credentials” to the office of SBC president.

That description is not meant as a compliment. Barber “staunchly opposes abortion, believes the pastorate is reserved for men, advocates for an interpretation of religious liberty that privileges evangelicals, opposes Critical Race Theory, and takes a strong stand against LGBTQ identity and inclusion," Wingfield complains.

Editor's Note: American Family Radio is a division of the American Family Association, the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.