EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ll be sharing one of our top ten most popular posts of 2021 every day for the rest of the year. Some of these stories are encouraging, some are infuriating and some are just weird, but hopefully all of them help illuminate a different side of God’s Kingdom and the people in it. Today’s post is our eighth most shared article of the year.
Pastor Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas has a long history of fiercely opposing strains of white nationalism that have poisoned the Southern Baptist Convention. He’s been a vocal critic of a recent statement from the SBC’s White seminary presidents that condemned Critical Race Theory as incompatible with SBC doctrine, and announced that his church would be leaving the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention over its inaction on racist sentiment within the convention. Now, he’s revealed a shockingly racist letter he received from John V. Rutledge after announcing his church’s decision to cut ties.
It’s posted below, but please be aware of some very awful content.
— Kyle J. Howard (@KyleJamesHoward) February 2, 2021
In the letter, Rutledge spins an ugly, fictional yarn about how lucky and grateful Black Americans should feel after everything White people have done for them. “Yet they remain savages;” Rutledge wrote. “They defile and diminish every arena in which they parade: academic, political, corporate, judicial, military, athletic. Seeking another white bastion to badger and beleaguered, they invaded the church.”
“Like two-year-olds, they know only how to whine and throw tantrums,” Rutledge concludes. “The SBC should bid them goodbye and good riddance!”
On Twitter, several Southern Baptists claim to have identified Rutledge as a frequent critic of the SBC who has written two books on the subject. Many others came out in support of McKissic and his work.
This letter proves why Charlie Dates was right to leave the SBC. It proves why Eric Mason, LeCrae, etc. were right to publicly dissociate from evangelicalism. It is culture of conservative evangelicalism & until it Neh 9’s itself, it has no business judging CRT et al. Matt 7:5. https://t.co/s1o7f4BtlZ
— Anthony B. Bradley, PhD (@drantbradley) February 2, 2021
As much as we’ve seen in the last several years and still I cannot wrap my mind around this letter. Dwight, I am horrified by this evil and so sorry.
— Beth Moore (@BethMooreLPM) February 2, 2021
The Southern Baptist Convention thinks fighting Critical Race Theory and Russell Moore are the greatest challenges to the church when it has blatant racism like this on its front doorstep and refuses to denounce it. pic.twitter.com/GXEs5bF5kA
— Melvin E. Edwards (@edwards21228) February 2, 2021
Vile. Utterly vile. And yet six seminary professors still think fighting CRT is the hill to die on when this blatant racism is in their church. Sick.
— Nate Pyle (@NatePyle79) February 2, 2021
Vile and disgusting, indeed. A vivid reminder of the hate that exists in many hearts. Evidently, this hateful man hates the SBC as well. This kind of letter needs to be brought into the light for all to see—lest we think such hatred does not exist.
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) February 2, 2021
Anyone who dismisses Critical Race Theory as a necessary conversation within our society and churches need only see this terribleness.@pastordmack is a good pastor and good man. No one deserves this. https://t.co/zlqHwFrzRx
— Garet Robinson (@garetrobinson) February 2, 2021
The letter comes in the midst of a public and contentious debate within the SBC over Critical Race Theory, which was condemned in a joint letter from all six presidents of the nation’s Southern Baptist seminaries, all of whom are white. Many Black pastors, authors and leaders within the SBC including McKissic led a pushback, arguing for CRT’s value in understanding how white supremacy still operates within the Church.
Critical Race Theory is a lens for interpreting society through striations of power which have been, according to CRT, implemented and often sustained by white supremacy in this country. This theory of white supremacy is distinct from the more common way Americans think about racism, which has to do with individual feelings of racial bias. These two ways of thinking about racism are not mutually exclusive, but the statement from the SBC presidents — a number of whom have condemned Rutledge’s letter — did not make room for any application of CRT that is consistent with SBC teaching.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.