Religion: Battling Over the Bible

At a huge Southern Baptist assembly, Fundamentalists win big

Driving all night in their cars, riding by chartered or scheduled bus, by plane, on foot, they came. And came. The 45,431 voters, known as "messengers," spilled over from a convention center in Dallas to fill two other amphitheaters, all of the halls linked by closed-circuit TV for the biggest church business meeting in U.S. history.* The issue was momentous: ideological control of the country's largest Protestant denomination, the 14.4 million-member Southern Baptist Convention.

At stake was the one-year presidency of the 140-yearold S.B.C., a rich denomination (1984 revenues: $3.7 billion) with 36,740 congregations across the U.S. The contenders for S.B.C.'s...

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