It is the largest non-Catholic Christian denomination in the U.S., with churches in every state. And when convention delegates vote next week in New Orleans, the Southern Baptist Convention is set to get its first black leader since it was created 167 years ago.
This is a huge step for a church that was founded by advocates for slavery and that, until as recently as the 1970s, maintained segregated congregations. This is the same church that fought integration during the Civil Rights era and praised the ideals of white supremacy.
Fred Luter is not exactly typical of the Southern Baptist Convention. His preaching style was developed in New Orleans on the street corners of the Lower Ninth Ward. Did he ever imagine that he'd come to lead a church whose very name was once a byword for racism in the Deep South?