At the annual Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, the denomination's leaders reportedly advocated for more moderate positions on racism and gay rights.
More than 7,000 delegates attended the two-day convention, which began on June 14. While the meeting is usually closely associated with conservative politics, resolutions were passed with more moderate stances on issues like extending compassion to gay victims of the recent Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooting and the display of the confederate flag, according to the Associated Press.
While the Southern Baptists have a history of condemning gay rights, this year their stance reportedly became less strict.
In 1997, leaders at the convention voted to boycott Disney for what it called an "anti-Christian and anti-family direction," related to the company's stance on gay issues, according to a CNN report at the time. The denomination objected to the company's policy of giving health benefits to employees' same-sex partners, among other issues including films that the company had released.
At the 2016 convention, however, the tone on gay issues was noticeably different. The group passed a resolution urging compassion for the victims of the June shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, the AP reports. The resolution also called for Southern Baptists to donate blood for victims if they could.
However, leaders in the denomination said Southern Baptists still haven't changed their belief that sex between same-sex couples is a sin, as well as their opposition to same-sex marriage.
The convention also touched on issues of racism, with delegates voting against the display of the Confederate flag. They also voted to strengthen the language of that resolution, removing a sentence that said some people saw the flag as a memorial to their ancestors.
The decision to oppose the display of the Confederate flag garnered a large number of angry and racially-charged responses on Twitter, according to the AP. Some critics of the move reportedly believe the resolution is a concession to political correctness.
Racism is an issue that hits close to home for the Southern Baptist Convention - it began because of a division with northern Baptists over slavery in 1845. The 15.3 million member denomination is still 80 to 90 percent white. In 1995, the convention passed a resolution apologizing for its past defense of slavery and segregation, according to SBC.net.
During the 2016 convention, Southern Baptist ethics leader Russell Moore also criticized presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, saying that he lacked Christian values, the AP reports. When asked by a pastor how he could support the rights of Muslims, Moore responded that religious liberty was at the heart of being Baptist.