Although Baptists have been in America since colonial days, it was not until 1845 that a group of males from what would become the Confederate States organized the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Augusta, Georgia. They split from other Baptists over cultural issues, most notably slavery, and subsequently grew to become the largest protestant Christian denomination in the United States composed of some 42,000 churches and over 16 million members in local congregations. The Southern Baptist Convention is both more and less than a religious denomination: more in that it represents the bureaucratic agencies, staff, and media of the denomination and less in that Baptist doctrine bestows autonomy on the local church. Recent annual meetings of the SBC have been marred by very public doctrinal ...

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