Baptist leaders tackle gun violence, racism, immigration at Atlanta meeting

The Progressive National Baptist Convention has never shied away from hot-button issues.

Voter registration, reparations, immigration, climate change, health and gun control were among the topics discussed during the 58th annual session at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta this week.

The meeting ends on Friday.

On  Wednesday, the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church; civil rights leader, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.; the Rev. Timothy Stewart, president of PNBC and others held a press conference to address the recent mass shootings and the rise of hate crimes, bigotry and white supremacy. They also spoke out in favor of gun control.

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“If ever there was a time you need to organize, strategize and take action,” it is now, said Stewart. “With the rise of white nationalism, there is a urgent need for moral Christian voices to lead the way and speak truth to power, condemning the divisive language that has helped create the current climate of hate.”

The press conference was streamed on the organization’s Facebook page.

Formed in 1961, the PNBC today has a membership of 1,500 churches.

Warnock said the soul of America is in danger.

“Our democracy is in a 911 state of emergency,” he said.

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The question is, he said, who will answer the call to “remind us of who we are at our best and save us from who we are at our worst.”

He said Christians must speak with a clear voice against racism and bigotry.

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The meeting comes on the heels of two mass shootings in which 31 people were killed in El Paso and Dayton.

Most of the victims were Latino or African American. The shooters were white men.

Jackson, president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said white nationalism is a “threat to a multi-cultural society.”

He also discussed the 2020 presidential election and the need to fight voter suppression.

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