In the picture above, all eyes are on former President Clinton as T. DeWitt Smith, President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, recounts how impressed his son was to learn that his father would be meeting with the man that he considers "the first African-American president."
Southern Baptist leaders, however, found little humorous about the meeting of New Baptist Covenant leaders. Morris Chapman, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, attacked the credibility of former President Carter saying:
"He has been one of the most vocal critics of Southern Baptists, using 'fundamentalist' as a pejorative and drawing a caustic comparison between Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power in Iran and the resurgence of conservative leadership being elected in the SBC," Chapman wrote to Baptist Press.
Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary, launched a broadside against Baptists associating with Bill Clinton:
Come to think of it, President Clinton's involvement might be just what the Baptist left needs. After all, for years they've been trying to convince Baptist churches that they represent "traditional Baptist" beliefs . . . They've been a lot of things, but never slick. Perhaps they needed all along someone to teach them how to triangulate more skillfully. Is Jesus the only way to the Father? Is an unborn fetus a baby worthy of protection? It depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.
Richard Land, President of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, had a more moderate tone to his comments. He said:
Land cautioned that the North American Baptist Fellowship will have to work hard to make its January 2008 meeting not be seen as "overly political" during a presidential election year.
"Had I been invited I could have come, but I couldn't come to this meeting because I was meeting with Jews and Muslims and Christians searching for common ground," Land said. "It's easy to write a covenant and sign it and easy to hold a meeting. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating thereof. We'll see who represents Baptist views."