Southern Baptists, Stats, and Race: Reflections on Some Unhelpful Remarks

Today’s post at my blog speaks to the dangers of misunderstanding statistics and the need for a continued effort to improve racial relations within the SBC

Here is an excerpt from that post:

Recently a leader in [our] denomination, who has engaged in racial reconciliation efforts in the past, made several regrettable statements that have created an unnecessary controversy in the context of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. These comments included a commentary (in response to a caller on his radio program) that a black man is “statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man.”

As one who gathers and analyzes statistics, and who cares deeply about issues of race, I will share two reasons I believe this comment is unhelpful to our denomination and to the racial conversation in our country. While he did offer an apology there is still reason to consider the wisdom in making this and other statements at all.

First, although this is statistically accurate, as we saw above, some will hear and see a direct relationship between two factors (race and crime). Yet, confounding variables may be part of or the true reason behind the relationship. Thus, the statistic can be true yet incomplete, and as many have shown, such crime statistics do not give the whole story when they do not include variables such as poverty, age, etc.

A second reason this comment is unhelpful is that the Southern Baptist Convention itself has not yet gained the moral authority to speak with full credibility on issues of race– as evidenced by the recent response both outside the denomination and from African American leaders inside. The SBC rightfully apologized nearly two decades ago for our slavery-tinged beginning, and since then we have purposefully and successfully reached out to minority leaders and communities in ways that bridge racial divides…

…It was not long ago when too many Southern Baptists were on the wrong side of the hoses in Birmingham, Alabama. Although individual Southern Baptists have done and continue to do great work in racial reconciliation, and the Convention has made intentional efforts with helpful initiatives, the Southern Baptist Convention still must earn a better reputation for racial inclusion and justice. As such, perhaps SBC denominational leaders are not the best persons to speak into racially charged situations, critiquing the actions of African Americans or African American leaders.

Read the rest at

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  1 Comment

  1. Troy Skora   •  

    Thank you for speaking up!

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