Exit Polls, Trees Falling in the Forest, and Southern Baptists



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PAUL HARVEY


What if they didn't give an exit poll when everybody came? In today's New York Times, Peter Steinfels asks, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a born-again Christian votes in a Democratic primary and no exit poll records it, does it matter?"
Meanwhile, moderate Baptists of all stripes are trying to get their groove back -- this time in the New Baptist Covenant. My college buddy Bill Underwood, current president of Mercer University, was there, along with notable recent Baptist presidents Clinton and Carter and representatives from a variety of black Baptist denominations and the North American Baptist fellowship. See also 30 Baptist Groups Build Bridge Toward Unity.

In recent years, moderate Baptists have been like the scrawny kid at school who keeps getting beaten up by the big boys. This one appears to have more promise, as "recovering" Southern Baptists seemed to have moved on from an obsession with "the controversy" and gotten on with the business of creating coalitions beyond the historic divisions:

Historian Walter Shurden, recently retired director of the Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University and one of the early organizers of the convocation, said the event could become "a major step in racial reconciliation and gender recognition of Baptists in North America."

"It's the most significant Baptist meeting in my life, after playing in the Baptist yard 55 years or so," he said. "I've never been to a Baptist meeting where there was the equality as well as the presence" of multi-racial, multi-gender participation. "It bears the marks of the ministry of Jesus."

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