"Ten years ago they were passing constitutional amendments against gay marriage. Now they are watching states approve gay marriage and they have no control over it," Emory's Key said.
Even the Boy Scouts have voted to allow gay members, despite dire warnings from SBC leaders that such a move would be a disaster for an organization with numerous troops sponsored by Southern Baptist churches.
Jonathan Merritt, a faith and culture writer whose father is a former SBC president, remembers watching President George W. Bush address the convention and receive a standing ovation.
"It's very clear the Southern Baptist Convention has lost the cultural cachet it had even 10 years ago," he said.
Today, the U.S. president is a liberal Christian whom many Southern Baptists opposed despite his opponent being Mormon, a religion many Southern Baptists don't consider to be Christian.
Merritt sees the SBC's declining role in divisive partisan politics as an opportunity to expand its focus to a broader array of issues, something that he says is already happening.
Richard Land, the outgoing President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, felt so strongly against Obama, that he broke a long-standing personal pledge last year and endorsed Mitt Romney for president. But incoming President Moore, while politically conservative, is widely considered to be a less polarizing figure than Land.
Merritt noted that the SBC recently has taken more progressive stances on immigration and social justice issues like caring for the poor and vulnerable, including orphans, and Moore has been part of that change.
Also, a recent push within the SBC to expand its ethnic membership has brought political diversity to Southern Baptist churches, Merritt said.
"For a long time the SBC has been a predominantly white denomination with a focus on issues of concern to predominantly white conservative evangelicals," he said. "The question now is whether the SBC will be able to speak to the diversity of issues important to the diversity of people within the SBC."
Last year, the SBC for the first time elected an African-American president. The Rev. Fred Luter Jr. did not publicly announce whether he supported Romney or Obama, leaving open the possibility that the leader of a denomination often viewed as closely aligned with the Republican party could have voted for a Democrat.
"This is the first time in 30 years that we don't know who our president voted for," Key said.