Religious Freedom: The Contested Core of Baptist Identity

Like mosques today, school prayer once caused Baptists to debate religious freedom [Read more…]

British Christians Debate “Brexit”

In nine days British voters will determine if their country remains a member of the European Union, as it’s been since 1973. (If you’re not familiar with the details of this referendum, the BBC can bring you up to speed.)  Though British Christians are no longer a majority in what prime minister David Cameron insists is a “Christian country,” they may make the difference in a tightly contested campaign [Read More…]

Looking Back to Think Ahead: Baptists and Obergefell v. Hodges

A committed evangelical, today I write out of and to my narrower ecclesiastical tradition (Baptist) as I address the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.  All others are welcome to listen in or ignore me as they see fit.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last Friday (June 26, 2015) should surprise no one who has been paying attention.  In [Read More…]

How Can Southern Baptists Get Their Groove Back?

Last week at The Washington Post, Barry Hankins and I offered three reasons why Southern Baptists are on the decline, and three ways to address it. They include getting serious about evangelism, defeating “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” and making politics secondary. One of the most interesting “pushbacks” I got was against point #2 – aren’t there [Read More…]

Baptists in America: A History

Next Monday marks the formal release date for my new book (with Barry Hankins) Baptists in America: A History. Why should you consider buying a copy, or using it in a college course, or in your adult Sunday School class? Here are four reasons: 1) Baptists in America offers a fresh approach to the history of Baptists [Read More…]

Why Weren’t Baptists More Enthusiastic Patriots?

Today’s post comes from chapter 3 of my new book Baptists in America: A History (Oxford University Press), co-authored with my friend and Baylor colleague Barry Hankins. Baptist pastor James Manning of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote to English Baptist leader John Ryland in November 1776, apprising him of trouble in the American colonies. Two winters before, Providence’s [Read More…]

Ben Carson and Baptist Identity

This week’s column comes from my piece at The Washington Post – “Southern Baptists canceled an event with Ben Carson. Here’s why it matters.” Southern Baptists find themselves in the midst of political controversy again over the upcoming appearance – now canceled – of Dr. Ben Carson at their Pastors’ Conference. Carson is a celebrated [Read More…]

Secularization and Scotland’s Christian Heritage

One of the most immediate differences from America one notices in the U.K. is how secularized the society is (especially compared to Texas!). Polls in Scotland suggest that even nominal adherence to Christianity, and Christian orthodoxy, is in massive decline. Although opinion data is often difficult to interpret with precision, the overall pattern seems clear. [Read More…]

Religious Marketplace, Religious Fragmentation

I am a big fan of religious disestablishment.  I appreciate the tireless advocacy (and agitation) of my Baptist forbears for freedom of conscience in matters of religion.  Over the decades, men such as Thomas Helwys, John Clarke, John Leland, Isaac Backus and the signers of historic Baptist confessions like the First London Confession (1644), The [Read More…]


I recently posted about the sizable and often under-appreciated presence of Welsh people in America. As with many immigrant groups, the relationship between home country and new land was complex and remarkably long-lived. Generally, people did not just up and move to America, immediately losing all interest in their older countries. For one thing, it [Read More…]