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An African-American Southern Baptist Pastor Navigates Race, Faith And Politics

Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church
Terry Turner is pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church and former president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. His latest book is "God's Amazing Race: Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families."

Terry Turner lives at the intersection of religion, history and politics. The pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church comes out of the deep traditions of the African-American church, and he's past president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Turner sat down with KERA for the second in our series of Friday Conversations about faith and politics.

Interview Highlights

On balancing African-American history with conservative theology: "As an African-American Southern Baptist pastor, it gets difficult sometimes, simply because we find in our society, racism is still very prevalent. But I can say that knowing that we're working on the race relationship in all areas of life has made a difference for me. We've not arrived yet, but we're working at it."

On whether he talks politics in church: "Not really. I talk social issues. I draw that line based upon my biblical principals. When I look at a social issue that violates the rights of any person, I then deal with it from the pulpit."

On how he saw President Obama: "Obama was difficult for the evangelicals; Trump is not difficult. I was happy to see [Obama] get elected, because I never thought I'd see a black man become president. And yet it broke my heart."

On how he sees President Trump: "I can look at President Trump and say he's promoting a great agenda when it comes to biblical morality. But I don't know if he's saved or not. I think when it comes down to abortion and the same-sex marriage issues that he's coming out against, evangelicals love that aspect of him, but they won't deal with him when it comes to his lack of knowledge, maybe, concerning the racial climate that he's promoting in society."

On Southern Baptists and politics: "Southern Baptists find themselves, right now, losing credibility simply because they can't define themselves without a [political] party. As long as they stay with the Bible, they're fine. They don't stay with the Bible on every issue. It's a thin line."  


Miguel Perez is an assistant producer at KERA. He produces local content for Morning Edition and KERA News. He also produces The Friday Conversation, a weekly interview series with North Texas newsmakers.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.