Southern Baptists ended their annual convention here with few surprises, few open controversies, and with the fundamentalist faction of the church firmly in control.
As expected, the Rev. Dr. James T. Draper, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Euless, Tex., was reelected to a second one-year term as president of the nation's largest Protestant denomination. While the Texas pastor is clearly identified with the fundamentalist segment, which has controlled the presidency of the denomination for the past four years, he was given high marks for fairness by moderates as well.
The Southern Baptist Convention has been deeply troubled in recent years over the question of Biblical inerrancy. Fundamentalists, who hold that the Bible is literally true, have engaged in a constant struggle with moderates for control of the denomination and its institutions.
This year's convention adopted a resolution on religious liberty that, in part, toned down an action by last year's assembly endorsing the constitutional amendment since offered by President Reagan calling for prayers in public schools.
Messengers, as delegates are called, approved a more general resolution on religious liberty omitting specific reference to the prayer amendment, but reaffirming confidence in the Constitution "as adequate and sufficient guarantees to protect" religious freedom.
The religious liberty resolution opposed "the use of public monies for religious institutions," which was understood to mean aid to parochial schools, and "all unwarranted attempts by government to define "church."
Also opposed were "efforts to use governmental institutions and processes to promote the particular interests of a religious constituency or by favoring those who believe in no religion over those who have a faith commitment."
The convention adopted a mild resolution on peace that criticized the "relentlessly continuing pursuit of the nuclear arms race" and called for "a program of mutually verifiable nuclear disarmament" as long as it "would in no way compromise the security of our nation by being less than fully verifiable." Messengers rejected an amendment supporting an unqualified nuclear freeze.
The convention commended the Reader's Digest for "promoting the word of God" through publication last year of a condensed Bible but added that because all of the Bible is the inspired word of God, "we disapprove the deletion of any of it in a condensation."
A resolution on women praised those women "who serve the Lord as homemakers" and supported "their right to financial security." It also urged "fairness for women in compensation, benefits and opportunities for advancement" for employed women, and urged the church "to continue to explore further opportunities of service for Baptist women."
A proposed amendment, offered by Joyce Rogers of Memphis, whose husband, Adrian, was the first in the present succession of fundamentalist pastor-presidents of the SBC, would have specified that the resolution "should not be interpreted as endorsing the ordination of women."
The Rogers restriction was opposed by the Rev. Dianne Wisemiller, assistant pastor of National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington, D.C., who argued that Baptist tradition left questions of ordination up to the local congregation. In a written ballot, the Rogers amendment was defeated 1,841 to 1,784.
A preconvention session on women ministers reported that women comprise 18 percent of Southern Baptist seminary students, but fewer than half of one percent of the denomination's ordained ministers are women.