Robert Jeffress introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Friday, October 7, trying to draw a difference between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, by claiming that Romney wasn’t a Christian. Sad that this is a weapon in a Presidential election, but we’ll let that go for now. What really amazes me is Robert Jeffress’ claim later that he can call Mormonism a cult because “that’s been the historic position of evangelical Christianity. The southern Baptist convention, which is the largest protestant denomination in the world, has officially labeled Mormonism as a cult.”
Since “we’re” the largest, we get to define everyone else. Not so fast. Lest you be confused by Robert Jeffress’ claim, let’s go through the statistics on exactly where Southern Baptists are in the line-up of Protestant church denominations.
Southern Baptists, according to a 2007 Annual SBC publication, are at 16.3 million people. Staggering, yes, but certainly not the largest Protestant denomination–not even the majority of Baptists.
Check out the (regular) Baptist denomination in relationship with other Protestant denominations.
Of the Baptist denomination, the SBC is the largest group. Baptists make up 100 million people, but Southern Baptists are only 16.3 % of that denominational figure. That leaves 83.7% of Baptists who are NOT Southern Baptists. While that leaves SBC the top of their denomination, it leaves them, frankly, in a vast minority to the larger groups of Baptists.
And by the way, there are 75 million Lutherans. That’s more than four times the number of Southern Baptists. If SBCers want to get picky about convention vs. denomination, the Evangelical Church in Germany has 24.5 million people– beating Southern Baptists by 8 million people.
There are 75 million Methodists, 75 million Lutherans, 40 million Presbyterians, and a whoppin’ 130 million Pentecostals, which outstrips the Baptists by 30 million, and the Southern Baptists by 114 million! Within that Pentecostal denomination, 60 million are Assemblies of God!
So let’s do this again:
130 Million Pentecostals
100 Million Baptists
75 Million Methodists
75 Million Lutherans
60 Million Assemblies of God
24.5 Million in the Evangelical Church of Germany
16.3 Million in the Southern Baptist Convention
What is true is that in the pond of Baptists–which is a large pond, but not the biggest Protestant denomination–the biggest fish, or church, is Southern Baptist. In the Protestant world, though, Southern Baptists don’t come close to the numbers of any of the other denominations. They are a minority in their own pond–16.3% of 100%…which doesn’t allow them to speak for Baptists, even, let alone other Protestants where Southern Baptists are 3. 8% of the largest of the Protestant package. In terms of all Protestants, get ready…. they are only 2.4%.
Robert Jeffress, Southern Baptists are not the largest Protestant denomination in the World, and though they may be the largest Baptist sub-denomination, they are still terribly small in the pool of Baptists, and microscopic in the pool of Protestants. You speak for very few. This is more the rhetoric of star-Bellied Sneetches than it is of Authority.
Besides, Mr. Jeffress, there are 14.1 Million Mormons…only 2 million more Southern Baptists exist….I wouldn’t be playing a numbers game here.
Mitt Romney, you still stand against gay people–by promising conservative voters that you will stand in opposition to marriage rights for gays. Don’t think that we forget that. My point here is that Southern Baptists don’t speak for anyone but Southern Baptists, but that Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are still dangerously toxic for the LGBT community.
What this means for gay people
The larger message is that, for gay folks, Presbyterians and Lutherans and other affirming Protestant churches are changing–some of their sub-denominations becoming affirming–slowly outweighing those against us, outweighing the messages from those who proclaim to be the “largest” Protestant voice. We’ve discovered here that they are a very very small voice. And even smaller and smaller–if there are 312 million people in the US, and only 16.3 million are Southern Baptists, I feel better. The more people, the more denominations, choose to recognize gay people in loving and affirming ways, the more we wipe out an historical mar on Christ’s message. It’s not over. I didn’t even touch the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world… but don’t let that scare you. 1. 2 billion Catholics are no match for God. *big grin*
Not all churches are anti-gay—but the ones that are happen to be very, very loud. Their messages for gays make the news and turn gays against church altogether. It doesn’t have to be that way. Become an affirming church. Be a loud voice celebrating ALL people.