The Washington Post - USA (2020-09-16)

(Antfer) #1



Feds: Pair h acked s ites

after Iranian was killed

Two computer hackers have
been indicted on charges that
they defaced websites across the
United States in retaliation for
the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem
Soleimani, federal prosecutors
said Tuesday.
The men, whom authorities
believe to be living in Iran and the
Palestinian territories, are
accused of hacking into U.S.

websites and replacing their
content with pictures of the top
Iranian general and messages
such as “Down with America,”
officials wrote in documents filed
in Massachusetts federal court in
Behzad Mohammadzadeh,
who is believed to be about 19
years old, and Marwan Abusrour,
who authorities believe is about
25, boasted online about their
actions, prosecutors said.
Mohammadzadeh has publicly
claimed to have plastered pro-
Iranian and pro-hacker messages

on more than 1,100 sites across
the world since 2018, prosecutors
said, while Abusrour has claimed
to have defaced at least 337,
officials said.
The United States killed
Soleimani in an airstrike at
Baghdad’s international airport
in January.
The men are charged with one
count of conspiring to commit
intentional damage to a protected
computer and one count of
intentionally damaging a
protected computer. The FBI
released wanted posters with

their photos and online monikers
— Mrwn007 and Mrb3hz4d —
urging the public to contact the
nearest authorities if they have
information about them.
— Associated Press


Shooting outside court
wounds federal officer

A drive-by shooting wounded a
federal court security officer
Tuesday outside the U.S.
courthouse in downtown

Phoenix, authorities said.
The officer was taken to a
hospital and is expected to
recover, according to city police
and the FBI, which is
investigating. Police also released
a photo of a silver sedan spotted
leaving the area of the
The court security officer
works for the U.S. Marshals
Service and was struck in their
protective vest, a law
enforcement official said.
Court security officers work
under the direction of the U.S.

Marshals Service but generally
are employed by private security
Hours after the shooting, a
street around the courthouse was
closed to traffic, roped off by
yellow tape with police officers
standing on each corner.
The shooting came after the
weekend ambush of two Los
Angeles County deputies who
were sitting in their parked police
vehicle when a man walked up to
the passenger side and fired
multiple rounds.
— Associated Press


Politics & the Nation


Leaders in the Southern Bap-
tist Convention are increasingly
dropping the “Southern” part of
their Baptist name, calling it a
potentially painful reminder of
the convention’s historical role in
support of slavery.
The 50,000 Baptist churches in
the convention are autonomous
and can still choose to refer to
themselves as Southern Baptist or
SBC. But convention president
J.D. Greear said momentum has
been building to adopt the name
“Great Commission Baptists,”
both because of the racial reckon-
ing underway in the United States
and because many have long seen
the Southern Baptist name as too
regional for a global group of
“Our Lord Jesus was not a
White Southerner but a brown-
skinned Middle Eastern refugee,”
said Greear, who this summer
used the phrase “Black lives mat-
ter” in a presidential address and
announced that he would retire a
historic gavel named for an en-
slaver. “Every week we gather to
worship a savior who died for the
whole world, not one part of it.
What we call ourselves should
make that clear.”
The shift is taking place at the
end of a summer of racial unrest,
when Confederate monuments
have been removed, schools have
been renamed and the Washing-
ton football team has dropped its
moniker and is looking for a new
Despite a historic decline in
membership last year, the con-
vention is considered the largest
Protestant denomination in the
United States, with 14.5 million
members. It formed in 1845, split-
ting from Northern Baptists over
Southern support for missionar-
ies who owned enslaved people.
T he convention will continue
to legally operate as the SBC, offi-
cials said, citing the hefty cost and
complexity of a legal name
change. But since August, its web-
site has declared “We Are Great
Commission Baptists,” a refer-
ence to verses in the New Testa-
ment when Jesus commands his
disciples to baptize believers in all
Ronnie Floyd, who heads the
convention’s executive committee
and was on President Trump’s
evangelical advisory council dur-
ing the 2016 campaign, addressed
fellow Baptists in a recent letter as
“Great Commission Baptists.”

Carolina. Southern Baptists dis-
agreed with Northern believers
over several issues, but the final
straw was whether missionaries
could be enslavers.
The Northern Baptists, now
formally called the American Bap-
tist Churches USA, started calling
themselves the “American Baptist
Convention” in 1950, which
caused resentment and provoked
competition among Southern
Baptists, Finn said. That denomi-
nation is now viewed as more
liberal in its theology and culture.
Finn said he was ambivalent
about using a different name for
years until this summer, when he
jumped on board. “I’m not embar-
rassed to be a Southerner,” he said.
“It’s about what that word con-
jures up for people, especially
people of color. They’re saying:
‘That name is a hang-up. When
my people hear that name, they
think slavery.’ God forbid we keep
a name that evokes that.”
In 1995, the convention issued
a formal apology for its complicity
in slavery and racism. Gary Frost,
a Black pastor who is director of
missions for the Steel Valley Bap-
tist Association in Ohio, stood on
the stage of the convention and
accepted the apology. Frost said
he has no problem identifying as a
Southern Baptist now, but he also
thinks the convention is chang-
ing. More people of color have
positions of leadership than 25
years ago.
“We’re not holding on to sym-
bols of the past,” he said. “When
you learn that it’s hurtful and hurt
the spread of the gospel, you have
to be willing to let go of them.”
John Onwuchekwa, an Atlanta-
based pastor, left the convention
this summer, disgusted by the
heavy support for Trump among
Southern Baptists. He said chang-
ing the name forces the conven-
tion to talk about why it identified
as “Southern” in the first place.
“It was never about geography,”
he said. “The convention was one
bad marketing meeting away
from being the ‘Confederate Bap-
tist Convention.’ ”
But Jemar Tisby, author of “The
Color of Compromise: The Truth
About the American Church’s
Complicity in Racism,” said using
a different name could be seen as
duplicitous or misleading. “I don’t
know the denomination as a
whole has done a good job of
teaching its sordid history,” he
said. “Changing the name now
might make that even harder.”

Not ‘Southern,’ just Baptists

More church leaders are dropping the regional identifier, saying it invokes past support of slavery

Greear says hundreds of church
leaders have committed to using
the alternate name as well. On
Monday, he announced that the
theme of next year’s annual gath-
ering for the denomination will be
“We are Great Commission Bap-
Danny Akin, president of
Southeastern Baptist Theological
Seminary in North Carolina, and
Albert Mohler Jr., president of
Louisville’s Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary, said they
both support using “Great Com-
mission Baptist” to describe the
About 80 percent of churches
in the convention are located in
Southern states, according to the
2019 SBC Annual Church Profile.
But Greear said that moving for-
ward, Baptists’ shared evangelis-
tic mission — not Southern cul-
ture — should help shape their
identity. He said 20 percent of

churches in the convention are
led by pastors of color, and 63
percent of churches that were
“planted,” or launched, last year
were led by people of color.
While theology hasn’t changed,
he said, what does need to change
is the culture of the convention:
“We as Baptists want to be defined
by 2025, not by 1845.”

A long time coming
Southern Baptists debated
changing their name for decades.
A recommendation allowing
institutions to call themselves
“Great Commission Baptists” was
narrowly approved by the conven-
tion in 2012, but most leaders
chose not to do so.
Marshal Ausberry, president of
the convention’s National African
American Fellowship, said all 13
pastors on his board were in favor
of adopting “Great Commission

“You’ll have skeptics, with peo-
ple who say, ‘You’re only doing it
because you’re trying to white-
wash history,’ ” said Ausberry,
pastor of Antioch Baptist Church
in Fairfax Station, Va., and first
vice president of the convention.
“But it’s a good time to do it.
There’s a sincerity.”
Marshall Blalock, the White
pastor of First Baptist Church of
Charleston, S.C., said he decided
to adopt the name “Great Com-
mission Baptist” after he met with
Black pastors in Mobile, Ala., in
July in an effort to build bridges.
“I would say, ‘I’m Southern
Baptist,’ and they’d look at me
like, ‘I think I could like you, but
I’m not sure,’ ” Blalock said. He
said he didn’t realize before that
meeting just how many Black
Christians outside Baptist circles
associate the name with the sup-
port of slavery and racial segrega-

Blalock and others are wary of
being perceived as part of a broad-
er politically liberal movement, or
taking actions that could be seen
as aligned with the Black Lives
Matter movement or the Demo-
cratic Party. Still, Blalock said, he
thinks using a different name is
the best way for the convention to
move forward from its past.
“Anybody who knows why
we’re trying to do this knows we’re
not trying to be woke, and we’re
not trying to cover up the past,” he
said. “We need to remove barri-

Origin of ‘ Southern Baptists’
At its inaugural meeting in Au-
gusta, Ga., in 1845, the convention
considered naming itself the
“Southern and South Western
Baptist Convention,” according to
Nathan Finn, a Southern Baptist
historian who is provost of North
Greenville University in South

Southern Baptist Convention churches, like Grace Baptist in Murfreesboro, Tenn., can choose whether to use the traditional name.

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