A Baptist is a Baptist is a…well, maybe not

“I do not deny the virgin birth,” said Baptist Max Wicker, “and I do not affirm it. My mind is still open.” This statement of position did not satisfy the board of the Southern Baptist Church in North Carolina. After a six-hour hearing, the board dismissed from their jobs: Wicker, 39, secretary of the Baptist Student Union at Duke University; the Rev. J. C. Herrin, 29, Baptist Student Union secretary at the University of North Carolina, and the union’s state secretary, the Rev. James W. Ray, 39. Like Wicker, the others had been found too infirm in Baptist fundamentals….

Said one Baptist student: ‘Perhaps we students need to investigate some of our leaders for pettiness and prejudice.’ But most of the 500 Southern Baptists present thought… the young ministers were too ‘interdenominational’ for comfort. ‘I am told,’ said one minister angrily, ‘that a Jewish rabbi has been invited to speak at a Sunday night [student] forum.’ Added another: ‘A man who doesn’t believe in the virgin birth is no more a Baptist than the Pope of Rome.’ ”

— From Time magazine, April 12, 1954