A decade on, Southern Baptists adapt to new role

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A decade ago, the Southern Baptist Convention was riding high.

The president was a conservative evangelical Christian who personally addressed the group's annual meetings, either by satellite or video, at least four times in two terms. Southern Baptist leaders were feeling their influence at the highest levels of government.

Ten years later, the nation's largest Protestant denomination is in flux heading into its annual meeting in Houston beginning Tuesday.

It has less influence in government and a growing diversity that may diminish its role as a partisan political player.

Some Southern Baptists are also worried about changing cultural forces like growing acceptance of gay marriage and government intrusion in requiring some religious institutions to provide contraception coverage.

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