Why would Bart Barber, the sitting president of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention, sit for an interview with Anderson Cooper on “60 Minutes,” the long-running CBS news program famous for pitching softballs to liberals and brickbats at conservatives?
Could it be because both Cooper and Barber understand that political affinities these days sometimes run a bit less along partisan lines and a bit more along that border separating Trumpers from all others?
Even though Barber switched from Never Trump to wary Trump voter between 2016 and 2022, he does not share the view of more than 60 percent of the Southern Baptists he serves that the 2020 election was fraught with irregularities and fraud. For Barber and Cooper, but not for a large majority of evangelicals and Baptists, the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s victory is unquestioned.
That shared view secured for Barber a strikingly stress-free interview last week of the sort “60 Minutes” has served up for many a progressive guest across the years.
The millions of Baptists whom Cooper chose not to represent might ask Barber, “Have you read Molly Hemingway’s book ‘Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections‘? If so, what did Hemingway get wrong? If not, why not admit you lack sufficient information to comment on the integrity of the disputed election?” To Cooper’s question about the 2020 election, Barber, without supporting facts, chose to refute on national television the views of the majority of the constituency he was elected to serve.
Barber is the third SBC president in a row who repeatedly speaks and acts in ways contrary to the widely held views of Southern Baptists.
J.D. Greear and his successor Ed Litton were caught in a sermon plagiarism scandal that forced Litton to withdraw his candidacy for the typically perfunctory second one-year term as president of the largest Protestant denomination in America. With LBGT activists marching through the nation’s K-12 schools and Biden defending the parent-uninformed, teacher-facilitated administration of hormone blockers and surgical “sex changes” for freshly identified transgender children, Greear and Litton said that “sexual sin is only whispered in the Bible.”
On the other hand, Greear, Litton and Barber say that deep loyalty to one political party (read: the GOP) smacks of a lapse into idolatry.
Though out of step with rank-and-file Southern Baptists, Barber, Greear and Litton manage to win elections the same way many Democrats do — through the machinations of an establishment class that mobilizes a vast, dependent bureaucracy to show up on Election Day.
Establishment insulation of candidates and sitting SBC presidents from everyday Baptists steers clear of questioners who, unlike Anderson Cooper, share the concerns of the 80+ percent of Baptists who voted twice for Trump and harbor no sympathy for the woke revolution that has engulfed the country.
Just as Biden calls for national unity while launching one divisive rhetorical missile after another, so Barber, on “60 Minutes,” continued to sharpen his “unity rhetoric” deployed to blame conservative Baptists for their partisan loyalties while treating the Democrat-voting minority of Baptists as compassionate champions of social justice.
Cooper accepted Barber’s stated desire to promote unity between establishment and conservative Southern Baptists at face value. But like his predecessors Greear and Litton, Barber participates in many public sit-downs with establishment elites, but never with the conservatives who share the convictions and concerns of rank-and-file Baptist believers.
Lamenting the political divide within the SBC, Barber told Cooper that “blind partisanship destroys everything.” Left unaddressed was the eyes-wide-open refusal of 80+ percent of Baptists to vote for a Democratic Party that now supports abortion at every stage of pregnancy and looks to punish all who refuse to celebrate the taking of unborn human life.
Barber charged Southern Baptists who demur from his own vague notion of moral equivalency between the two major political parties with “just not listening.” Cooper did not probe deeper.
But scratch just below the surface of Barber’s accusation and one discovers a world of “non-listening” by Barber himself. Following the example set by the two establishment presidents who preceded him, Barber protects himself from prominent un-woke, best-selling black Southern Baptist authors Carol Swain and Voddie Baucham. Like Greear and Litton before him, Barber surrounds himself with woke blacks fit to satisfy the virtue-signaling needs of white men who occupy the top spots at high-profile institutions.
Barber’s goal on “60 Minutes” was to present himself as the SBC peacemaker for such a time as this: “We have an opportunity to unite, solve problems, and we pass up those opportunities over and over again to shoot at the other team.” After seven years of elite establishment control, insults to conservatives, and stonewalling, “Physician, heal thyself!” seems an apt response to Barber’s pose as the would-be unifier of Southern Baptists.
We’ll know if and when Barber’s protestations of desired unity become credible.
He’ll turn from the transparently establishment-serving interviews with Democrats on national television and carefully controlled Q&As orchestrated by the like-minded denominational elites who tapped him to protect the progressive SBC cause. We’ll see Barber turn to those with whom he says he wants unity — namely, to the conservatives on the other side.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.