The priesthood of the believer in the public square: Religious conviction, political choice, and fundamentalism in the Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States with 15.8 million members. It has, in the span of two decades, transformed itself into a fundamentalist denomination and become far more politically active. The traditional Baptist principles of priesthood of the believer, congregational autonomy, and commitment to separation of church and state have been significantly compromised as the denomination has embraced religious fundamentalism. I situate the SBC historically in the realms of both Protestant faiths and politics, while including within that analysis the politics internal to the Convention itself. This raises important questions about relationships between church and state, religion and politics. Of these questions, I treat as most consequential those concerning the accommodation of fundamentalist religion within a framework of religious and civil liberties in a pluralist democracy.