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Dr. Wayne Flynt visits campus as keynote speaker for conference

Dr. Wayne Flynt visits campus as keynote speaker for conference

 

How important is the Baptist vote in shaping American politics? This question and many others were addressed Oct. 12 and 13 at the conference “Baptists and the Shaping of American Culture,” sponsored by the UMHB Center for Baptist Studies and College of Christian Studies.

Keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Wayne Flynt, emeritus professor of history at Auburn University. Speaking on “Baptists and the Shaping of Modern American Politics,” Flynt recalled that Baptists joined with other evangelicals to form the Moral Majority and the American Christian Coalition in reaction to the secularization of American culture in the 1960s. The influence of those groups has declined over time, he said, because evangelical groups are not unilateral in their beliefs. “Baptists don’t even share a common political identity within their own denomination,” Flynt said, adding that we may join together to oppose a common threat, but over time our differences lead us to vote our conscience in different ways.

Flynt hypothesized that the 2012 elections could prove to be “the last gasp of the religious right” as a unified force in U.S. politics. He said political strategists are slowly learning that “Southern evangelicals are not dumb, uneducated, or unsophisticated; neither do they always agree with each other or vote in the same way.”