Liberal Baptists Meet With Focus on Unity

Conservative SBC group absent from Carter-led gathering
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2008 3:29 PM CST
Former President Clinton is also involved in organizing the meeting. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Organized by Jimmy Carter and other leaders, thousands of Baptists begin a three-day meeting in Atlanta today to show that the denomination encompasses a broad range of viewpoints and can work together despite differences. Social issues are a focus, the Christian Science Monitor reports, though leaders of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention aren't on board at the gathering.

Some SBC members say the meeting is an attempt to "rebrand" Baptists away from its traditionally conservative ideology. Carter ended his longtime tie to the SBC—at 16 million strong, the largest US Protestant denomination, the Monitor reports—after it issued a statement in 2000 banning female pastors and calling on wives to be submissive to their husbands. (Read more Jimmy Carter stories.)