8. Southern Baptists and Racial Reconciliation
The nation's largest Protestant denomination continued in 2016 to make inroads on the hot-button issues of racial reconciliation.
Former Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd continued his work to bridge the gap between his denomination and historically African-American churches.
At the SBC's annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri in June, Floyd led a panel on the topic of racial reconciliation in the United States.
"The sin of racism is a spiritual stronghold in this nation and now is the time this wall must come down," said Floyd in advance of the panel.
"As we repent of it personally, repent of it in our churches, and repent of it in our nation, we will perhaps see the next great spiritual awakening in our generation."
At their annual meeting in June, SBC messengers voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution discouraging the display of the Confederate battle flag.
James Merritt, lead pastor of Cross Pointe Church who said he was descended from two Confederate veterans, explained that he supported the resolution for the sake of the Gospel.
"This is not a matter of political correctness. It is a matter of spiritual conviction and biblical compassion," said Merritt. "Southern Baptists are not a people of any flag. We march under the banner of the Cross of Jesus and the Grace of God.
"This flag is a stumbling block to many African-American souls to our witness. And I rise to say that all the Confederate flags in the world are not worth one soul of any race."
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore also called upon white evangelicals to recognize the structural problems undergirding racially-charged police-involved shootings.
"If it seems that your church ignored the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, then it may well be that the struggles of black lives are invisible to your people; speak to that," wrote Moore in a blog post from July.