For a denomination born in defense of slavery and a spiritual haven for the white supremacist movement over the last century, this is I guess progress on one front. (NYT):

The Rev. Fred Luter Jr., 55, a New Orleans pastor who got his start preaching on the streets of the Lower Ninth Ward, is expected to be the only candidate for office on Tuesday when Southern Baptists gather here for their annual meeting.

His anticipated victory is being hailed as a milestone by white and black pastors alike in the convention, a grouping of 51,000 congregations with 16 million members, about a million of them black. Acutely aware of the nation’s changing demographics, the fiercely evangelical Southern Baptists have been working to draw in more black, Hispanic and Asian members, often by starting new churches in ethnically diverse urban areas in the country.

If, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said of the nation’s churches, Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America, the Southern Baptists have carried a special burden, giving added resonance to this week’s election.

“Given the history of the convention, this is absolutely stunning,” said Michael O. Emerson, an expert on race and religion at Rice University.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s move is interesting, since in the 21st century its focus has been on ejecting LGBT-affirming members of its convention, vehemently opposing marriage equality at every turn. The fact that black congregants of a similar mindset would want to worship under the roof of church that based its start on the support of slavery shows just how sad oppression in the name of the Good Book moves on to the next group of human beings without any sense of guilt or even self-reflection.

Watch Rev. Fred Luter Jr. on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

President Jimmy Carter, who favors marriage equality, left the Southern Baptists over its also-regressive stance on women.

What do you say to those who point to certain scriptures that women should not teach men or speak in church? (1 Corinthians 1:14)

I separated from the Southern Baptists when they adopted the discriminatory attitude towards women, because I believe what Paul taught in Galatians that there is no distinction in God’s eyes between men and women, slaves and masters, Jews and non-Jews -– everybody is created equally in the eyes of God.

There are some things that were said back in those days –- Paul also said that women should not be adorned, fix up their hair, put on cosmetics, and that every woman who goes in a place of worship should have her head covered. Paul also said that men should not cut their beards and advocated against people getting married, except if they couldn’t control their sexual urges. Those kinds of things applied to the customs of those days. Every worshipper has to decide if and when they want those particular passages to apply to them and their lives.

A lot of people point to the Bible for reasons why gay people should not be in the church, or accepted in any way.

Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things -– he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.

I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I’m a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs. So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine. If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn’t require them to.

The Southern Baptist Convention is well-aware of its reputation, and Richard Land has been the center of this “new tradition” movement inside the church.

Southern Baptist leaders acknowledge having a lot to answer for. “We were a segregated, virtually all-white denomination as late as the 1960s,” said Richard Land, president of the convention’s policy arm, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Mr. Land is the convention’s most prominent public face, often speaking out pungently on conservative causes like opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and big government.

Mr. Land has been known for seeking racial reconciliation and was one of the authors of a resolution, adopted by the convention in 1995, that apologized for “historic acts of evil such as slavery” and for condoning “racism in our lifetime” and asked forgiveness “from our African-American brothers and sisters.”

It’s transparent that he and the current leadership want to unite, fronting with a multi-racial coalition in order to unite against the social change that is upending the social conservative apple cart — women are too independent (control over their bodies!), and a society overrun by The Homosexual Agenda. It’s the NOM strategy executed from the pulpit.

Fearing a decline if they do not broaden their appeal, the Southern Baptists have worked to attract new members from all regions and from the minority groups that make up a growing share of the population. One in five of the convention’s congregations is mainly black, Hispanic or Asian, but these include many newer, smaller churches.