Robert Parham has been one of the leading critics of the perceived relationship between the SBC leadership and the Republican Party. It seems that he has changed his perspective since Carter and Clinton called for, and helped organize the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant (NBC) to meet in Atlanta at the end of January.
Parham said, “In the wisdom of hindsight, I should have challenged Huckabee to consider the benefits from being on a high-profile program only a few days before the Georgia presidential primary. I should have urged him to be a Daniel in the midst of lions, or a lion in the midst of Daniels. I should have said that the NBC leaders ought immediately to ask him to reconsider his withdrawal.”
So much for the NBC not turning into a political event. I take it this is confirmation that the timing of the celebration was planned to coincide with the Georgia primary.
Parham goes on to say, “Given the predicted attendance of 20,000 Baptists in the Georgia World Congress Center and the nature of politicians to find a crowd, does anyone really think that Democratic presidential candidates will not bleed over to the NBC meeting? Of course, they will. What a splendid opportunity for them to press the flesh”
Well, actually, that is precisely what I did think, what many other Baptists also think, but when I ventured to mention this on several other occasions, including at the BGCT, I was told by NBC apologists that this was definitely not the case, and that I, and those who were critical of the potential political outcome of the gathering needed to focus on the social justice issues that would be addressed. It wasn’t about politics at all, we were told. Now, here comes Robert Parham, telling us that is is unreasonable to expect that, with a big Baptist meeting going on coincidentally just before the Georgia primary, and also, coincidentally at the same exact time, in the same exact location, that the Georgia Democratic Party happens to be having its annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant would not become a place for Democratic politicians to “press the flesh.” Coincidentally, of course. Too bad Huckabee decided not to come and join the party, and do some flesh-pressing of his own. At least he had the opportunity, which justifies everything that weighs this gathering heavily on the side of secular, Democratic party politics.
My position on secular politics and politicians mixing with Baptist conventions and organizations remains the same, regardless of the party affiliation or the denomination or convention, and I am just as opposed to Richard Land and the SBC’s ERLC mixing with and endorsing Republican politicians as I am to the Democrats and their involvement in the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. Parham’s admission simply confirms what I have said before, as well as my own decision to stay away from the NBC gathering. Noting that the Jefferson-Jackson dinner is being held in the same building at the same time is just icing on that cake. I doubt that there is any coincidence involved in planning the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant to begin on the same date that virtually all of the Democratic presidential contenders, and most notably Hillary Clinton, will be gathering for a dinner in the same facility. You might get away with “Well, we invited other Republicans but they turned us down,” though I don’t think that cuts it, but you can’t overlook such intricate advanced planning as this.