By John D. Pierce

Many non-fundamentalist congregations with roots in the Southern Baptist Convention have wrestled for decades with how to navigate the reality that members are divided over whether to retain connections to the SBC or identify with other Baptist groups such as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

One peace-seeking move — that respects the diversity of individual opinions within the church — has been to allow members to direct their gifts as they choose. However, such Baptist-rooted ideas of individual and congregational autonomy don’t sit well with fundamentalist control freaks.

So, to no one’s surprise, the Southern Baptist state convention in Kentucky voted this week to force churches to support them and only them or be removed from affiliation.

Most ministries would welcome support without such exclusive claims — but, then, most ministries aren’t run by power-hungry men with narrowly defined political views of Christianity.

Like many Southern Baptist leaders who’ll go to any degree to express their out-sized hostility toward LGBTQ persons, Kentucky Baptist Convention executive Paul Chitwood cast the decision in terms of calling congregations to “safeguard biblical teaching.”

Of course, some clergy and lay leaders of dually-aligned churches will find this unwelcome, one-sided decision to be troubling and likely divisive. But it is the price to be paid for continuing to relate to a fundamentalist organization while expecting something other than fundamentalism to occur.

What Kentucky Baptists — like other fundamentalist Baptist associations before them — are doing has every mark of an abusive relationship. The behavior is threatening, demanding, domineering and willing to do harm to stay in control. And any resulting blame is cast upon the victim.

As in any abusive situation the answer is always the same: Leave! Go where you are respected.

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