Southern Baptists are gathered in Nashville this week for an annual meeting that could prove a turning point, as the faithful square off on an array of divisive issues that some fear could drive a wedge into the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

Tuesday marks the first full day for the event in which the voting members of the Southern Baptist Convention could tackle high-profile issues including racial discrimination, gender inequality, and sexual abuse.

The organization is one of the U.S.'s most politically influential. It has long aligned itself with conservative causes and top evangelicals in the convention enthusiastically backed former President Donald Trump.

This week, the Southern Baptist Convention's voting members will choose a new leader for the group — a decision that could either signal a continuation of the status quo or set the stage for a more conservative ideological shift.

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