A group of ethnically diverse Baptist leaders gathered in Franklin Wednesday to make a public statement about the rallies organized by the League of the South and allied groups.
“We don’t call press conferences very often but we believe it is impossible to stand silently by while the white supremacy movement plans to invade our state and perpetrate its evil Saturday (Oct. 28) in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
The League of the South has said it is demonstrating “to call attention to the continuing influx of African immigrants/refugees into middle Tennessee, and to protest the recent black-on-white church shooting in Antioch.”
Davis said that “we are not making making a political statement today. That is not our intent. We are, however, prayerful that our governmental leaders will write laws that both offer security to America and are fair to all who seek shelter within her borders.”
Davis challenged the idea that evangelicals are racists, saying that evangelical churches “are full of compassionate, loving people who are quite the opposite of the hate-filled rhetoric dominating the public square. In fact, Tennessee Baptists are currently serving people of all races and ethnicities who were ravaged by hurricanes in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico.”
Jay Wells, African-American pastor emeritus of Simeon Baptist Church in Antioch and a director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said he’s glad that Tennessee is a diverse state with people from more than 145 nationalities living here. “Diversity is good,” he said, “because it is God’s idea, not ours.”
Thi Mitsamphanh, pastor of International Community Church in Smyrna, said that “now is the time for the church to stand in unity for the gospel and against this evil and hateful agenda.”
Mitsamphanh said he and his family were welcomed by Tennessee Baptists when they came to the U.S. from Laos.
“May Tennessee Baptists continue to show love, compassion, and the gospel of Christ to the nations whom God is sending to us,” he said.
Additional Baptist and other Christian leaders in Tennessee released a statement Friday denouncing today’s rallies.