Southern Religion

Drop the ‘God’ excuses and tell the truth

Southern Baptist Convention political lobbyist Richard Land is in great part the creation of two Southern Baptist allies of the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R,NC), both of whom ran spectacularly afoul of the law in ways that seem to defy Christian ethics:

  • Former U.S. Attorney, N.C. Superior Court Judge, Republican Party chairman and Helms aid Sam Currin who was released from prison recently after serving half of a six-year sentence for money laundering and obstruction. At his sentencing in 2007, Currin admitted to laundering $1.3 million on behalf of David A. Hagen. Hagen was convicted of securities fraud and money laundering “in what authorities said was one of the most prolific spamming operations in the world.”
  • Late Baptist State Convention of North Carolina director, president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Cabarrus County commissioner and retired Baptist minister Coy Privette, who in 2007 pleaded guilty to six counts of soliciting a prostitute.

Enid, Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson summarizes today the history of Currin’s and Privette’s work toward creation of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) during the conservative takeover of the SBC, and toward Land’s installation as president of that new organization.

Burleson’s blog is a warning against the endless description such secular goals as somehow “God’s will.”

Burleson writes:

I’ve gone back and read as many quotes I could find from Sam Currin and Coy Privette regarding the merging of the two Southern Baptist entities [the Southern Baptist Public Affairs Committee and the Christian Life Commission] into the ERLC and Dr. Richard Land’s election as President.

Not one time did I read either of these men publicly acknowledge that they had an agenda to merge the two institutions and get their friend and like-minded ideologue Richard Land elected as President.

The language was all “The Lord has directed. . .” or “We are grateful to God for His leadership . . . ” or “This historic day is part of God’s plan . . .” etc… One of the reasons the world has such a hard time with Christians, particularly when we Christians end up getting caught in scandals on par with Currin’s and Privette’s, is that we have spiritualized our language and our actions–attaching God to just about everything we do.

Burleson instead recommends honesty and as a part of that, publication of appropriate corrections by the Baptist press. He gives as an example a recent correction published in Arkansas Baptist News:

In the Oct. 8 issue of the Arkansas Baptist News we reported that Chuck McAlister had resigned as pastor of the Church at Crossgate Center to devote full time to his Adventure Bound Outdoors ministry because he felt torn between two ministries that each needed to be full time. Since publishing the article, we have learned he was as one of four defendants in a breach of contract civil lawsuit against a real estate development corporation of which McAlister was a vice president. In a follow-up phone conversation with McAlister, he acknowledged that circumstances regarding the suit factored into his decision, but said he has realized for more than a year that he needed to devote full time to outdoor men’s ministries.

If such honesty were to truly take hold, there would be more than correctives to write. Enlightening new stories would emerge. Someone in the Baptist press would find themselves acknowledging, for example, that Currin’s activism was more than simply Southern Baptist. The Southern Poverty Law Center details Currin’s involvement in efforts by political right extremists to take over the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

It would be refreshing indeed to see professional Baptist journalists with knowledge, sources and access detailing the tangle of faith, politics and other agendas.

That would be in faithful keeping with the injunction of former Biblical Recorder Editor R.G. Puckett: “Tell the truth and trust the people.”

October 19, 2009 - Posted by | Cultural, Politics, SBC |

1 Comment

  1. […] Associated Baptist Press wrote about the apology, but the official SBC news service has yet to tell anyone who relies on it the simple truth about the […]

    Pingback by SBC’s Baptist Press silent about Land’s apology [Addendum] « BaptistPlanet | October 23, 2009

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