Southern Religion

Don’t talk to writers from non-SBC publications?

North Carolina pastor Tim Rogers recently counseled fellow Southern Baptist Convention pastors to decline comment to non-SBC publications. He did so in he context of an internecine debate over an SBC-funded pastor’s conference. Rogers wrote:

Dr. Vance Pitman has responded to various questions and concerns raised by Southern Baptist Pastors regarding the upcoming Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference (SBPC) in Phoenix, Arizona. You can see various questions and concerns here here and here. The medium Brother Pitman chooses to give his response is the Associated Baptist Press (ABP), the news agency started by disgruntled former Southern Baptist because the Executive Committee (EC) terminated Baptist Press (BP) editors. This news agency is controlled and maintained by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) the group that would not affirm the inerrancy of Scripture and splintered from the Southern Baptist Convention to form their own Fellowship denomination. You can read the ABP article which contains Brother Pitman’s interview here.

Rogers goes on to give explicit advice about how SBC pastors should handle calls from reporters who do not work for SBC publications:

Once he found out the reporter was out side of the SBC the proper way to respond would have been to politely dismiss the call with a promise to get back.

Thus he advises putting non-SBC reporters off with a fib.

Odd. And the specific reporter to whom Pittman Rogers refers in this case is Norman Jameson, clearly identified at the conclusion of the ABP article as “former editor of the North Carolina Biblical Recorder.”

The North Carolina Biblical Recorder is a Southern Baptist newspaper, which like its peers is declining toward oblivion.

Srsly then. Doesn’t keeping debate “in the family” still mean keeping it quiet? Suppressing it. The way cults do.

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Publications, SBC | , , , , , | 3 Comments

George Baptist Convention faithfully follows the SBC path toward decline

The retro-innovative Georgia Baptist Convention voted at its Nov. 15-16 to disfellowship Druid Hills Baptist Church “because its co-pastor is a woman.” As expected and repeating the pattern of action taken last year against First Baptist Church Decatur.

The decision is in keeping with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and arguably self-destructive. As Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press wrote:

Carey Charles, a deacon and fourth-generation member at Druid Hills, described the church’s goal to messengers as “first and foremost missional.”

“When Baptist churches are closing their doors inside the I-285 perimeter [the freeway that surrounds the central part of the Atlanta area] today at a historically rapid pace, and that [what was] once 166 Baptist churches are now down to a mere 39, we at Druid Hills Baptist have deliberately chosen to stay and bear a testimony as stated in our core values — to love God, to share Christ, to serve others and grow in faith,” Charles said.

“In staying, we recognize that we must ask tough questions, missional questions; not something that unifies only our church, but also that unifies our church in our neighborhood, city and world immediately surrounding us,” he said. “Therefore we chose the Walkers, both of whom have been recognized as partners in mission by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention for 12 years of service in the Philippines, who deeply share our passion for what is now a growing mission field inside Atlanta.”

That makes the action twice the opposite of progress. After the GBC executive committee recommended that change at its March 16 meeting, Shelia M. Poole of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote:

“It seems sad that they decided to go backwards in time,” said the 52-year-old Mimi Walker, a former missionary in the Philippines. “I’m not sure what the value is of trying to go back in time when women were held in subservience.”

This bit of time traveling is by in effect expelling a church whose innovation has been extraordinary. The church Web site explains:

Druid Hills Baptist Church (DHBC) was established in 1914 and since its inception has been a church oriented towards innovation and growth. DHBC enjoyed many firsts among Baptist churches in the south including the first vacation Bible School, the first church day camp and the first co-ed adult class. Through the years DHBC has continued to evolve to meet the needs of the community. It is now the last Baptist church in downtown Atlanta and is located in a very diverse neighborhood at the corner of Ponce and Highlands.

Inflexibility has a price.

Not just for the Georgia Baptist Convention. The SBC’s Batholic/Cathist inflexibility has led independent demographic analysis to forecast not only frustration of evangelism goals like those pursued by the Great Commission Resurgence , but also steady decline.

November 17, 2010 Posted by | SBC, Women | , , | Comments Off on George Baptist Convention faithfully follows the SBC path toward decline

Oops? Again? In the case of FBC Jax Watchdog

Oops is in a way how FBC Jax Watchdog was robbed of his anonymity.

Formerly anonymous blogger Thomas A. Rich’s identity was made public after an unnecessary investigation whose details are still being unearthed in court.

Although some evidence pertaining to the involvement of State Attorney Angela Corey was somehow inadvertently destroyed.

Really, and that destruction is cited as part of an argument against deposing Corey as part of the proceedings.

Oops!” indeed.

Another injustice.

June 26, 2010 Posted by | Law, SBC, WWW | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Oops? Again? In the case of FBC Jax Watchdog

Court allows FBC Jax Watchdog case against Assistant State Attorney to proceed

A Florida federal district court refused this week to dismiss the claim by blogger Tom Rich (FBC Jax Watchdog) that Assistant Fla. State Attorney Stephen Siegel violated Rich’s right to speak anonymously, and trampled on the Establishment Clause because defendants had no secular purpose for their actions.

The lawsuit alleges Siegel issued subpoenas that helped Jacksonville police officer Robert Hinson — who was a member of First Baptist Church of Jacksonvilla, Fla. — identify Rich when there was no evidence of criminal activity.

Dismissed in the same action were civil claims against State Attorney Angela Corey for her office’s role.

Rich’s claims against the police officer and against First Baptist were unaffected because they weren’t involved in this motion to dismiss.

Emerging standards for unmasking anonymous bloggers were certainly not met in Rich’s case.

To prevail in this instance, Rich must now prove the violations he alleges. But even at this juncture, the case is a caution for those who would twist legal authority to unmask an anonymous blogger without compelling legal justification. Abuse of power has a price.

[H/T: Religion Clause]

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Law, WWW | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Retro-innovative Georgia Baptist Convention time travelers

Seeking to disfellowship Atlanta’s Druid Hills Baptist Church, the Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) is fleeing present reality. The GBC executive committee recommended that change at its March 16 meeting and Shelia M. Poole of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote today:

“It seems sad that they decided to go backwards in time,” said the 52-year-old Mimi Walker, a former missionary in the Philippines. “I’m not sure what the value is of trying to go back in time when women were held in subservience.”

The overarching result, not value, is a steadily smaller, more strictly Batholic and of course less diverse Southern Baptist Convention.

March 29, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , | Comments Off on Retro-innovative Georgia Baptist Convention time travelers

Southern Baptist autonomy (not for women in the pulpit: for predators)

Put a woman in the pulpit and the ax of Southern Baptist discipline falls. The Georgia Baptist Convention is preparing to disfellowship Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta because the Reverend Mimi Walker is a co-pastor there. While critics write the South Carolina Baptist Courier to abjure Eau Claire Baptist Church for calling Kelly Dickerson Strum to be co-pastor, one suggesting that church discipline is in order.

Yet amid the recurrent revelations of Southern Baptist pastoral sexual abuse, again documented by Christa Brown, no equivalent scripture-laced outpourings about applying the force of denominational discipline to the protection of the young from sexual wolves in Baptist clerical cloth. Or disfellowship of churches which ship predators of the cloth along to other congregations without a word of warning.

Oh no. Policy is clear: Women in the pulpit are a danger to the entire denomination. As are homosexuals welcomed into the pews. For the proliferation of predators, however, Southern Baptist Churches are autonomous. No denominational consequence for negligence.

March 19, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , , , | Comments Off on Southern Baptist autonomy (not for women in the pulpit: for predators)

Deja vu: BGCT takes a step back from Royal Lane Baptist Church

Officials of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) on Wednesday asked 500-member Royal Lane Baptist Church of North Dallas “to remove the partnership with the BGCT from any of its church’s publications” until questions regarding the church’s apparent tolerance for homosexual members are resolved. BGCT officials also said they would hold in escrow any funds received from the church while the issue is being resolved.

As of this writing, the church Web site does not link to BGCT as a ministry partner.

Their About Us section does still conclude:

Royal Lane is an ecumenical Baptist congregation affiliated with The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and The Baptist General Convention of Texas.


Royal Lane’s membership “includes BGCT employees and a BGCT executive board member. BGCT employees must belong to an affiliated church, so a split with Royal Lane could force some to choose between workplace and worship place,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

The issue was raised recently when the church’s diaconate voted to rewrite the About Us section of its Web site to include:

Royal Lane Baptist Church is an inclusive, multi-generational congregation joined in Christian community. We are a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds.

The church is considering its response.

University Baptist Church in Austin was disfellowshipped by the BGCT in 1994 “for ordaining a gay man as deacon and for failing to regard homosexuality as sinful.” The church was expelled by the Austin Baptist Association in 1943 for accepting black members, and later readmitted. In the 1970s, University was the first in the Southern Baptist Convention to ordain women as deacons, the church history shows. It left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1997 “because of ramifications of the fundamentalist takeover of that organization.”

Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas, postponed a similar confrontation last year when it chose not to send messengers to the BGCT annual convention. Broadway was nonetheless found not to be in friendly cooperation by the Southern Baptist Convention last year because it was deemed to “approve and endorse homosexual behavior” as a result of a confrontation provoked when it published photographs of same-sex couples in the church directory.

Broadway’s expulsion by the SBC was an assertion of the kind of Cathist inflexibility that independent demographic analysis predicts will frustrate achievement of expansive evangelism goals like those pursued by the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

March 18, 2010 Posted by | Religion, SBC | , , , | Comments Off on Deja vu: BGCT takes a step back from Royal Lane Baptist Church

Scientology fights back toward decline

Guy Fawkes mask (anonymous)

Hiring veteran journalists to counter-investigate the St. Petersburg Times was a strategy with something of a reverse twist. Scientology is under scrutiny in Australia [1,2,3], headed for the silver screen in Germany and still on the pages of U.S. news publications [1,2,3].

Just for example, you understand.

All of the well-known Scientology strategies keep applying, as makers of the film “Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt” (Until Nothing Remains) illustrated when they reported via the Guardian:

The film team said it had been “bombarded” with phone calls and emails from the organisation during production. The head of the Southwest German broadcasting organisation, Carl Bergengruen who was involved in the project, said Scientology had “tried via various means to discover details about the film” and that the film crew was even tailed by a Scientology representative.

“We are fearful that the organisation will try to use all legal means to try to stop the film being shown,” he said.

The film itself sounds like a classical Scientology exit story with an especially tragic conclusion:

According to the makers of Until Nothing Remains, the €2.5m (£2.3 m) drama, which is due to air in a prime-time slot at the end of March, is based on the true story of Heiner von Rönns, who left Scientology and suffered the subsequent break-up of his family.

Scientology calls the film false and intolerant, and distributed flyers at a Hamburg preview, accusing the filmmakers of aiming to “create a mood of intolerance and discrimination against a religious community.”

All of that effort to defeat critics while building attractive homes for the church. Yet as PZ Meyers pointed out from his reading of the NY Times investigation, they’re apparently shrinking:

The church is vague about its membership numbers. In 11 hours with a reporter over two days, Mr. Davis, the church’s spokesman, gave the numbers of Sea Org members (8,000), of Scientologists in the Tampa-Clearwater area (12,000) and of L. Ron Hubbard’s books printed in the last two and a half years (67 million). But asked about the church’s membership, Mr. Davis said, “I couldn’t tell you an exact figure, but it’s certainly, it’s most definitely in the millions in the U.S. and millions abroad.”

He said he did not know how to account for the findings in the American Religious Identification Survey that the number of Scientologists in the United States fell from 55,000 in 2001 to 25,000 in 2008.

If you make projections from those numbers, as Meyers did, Scientology appears to have done some magnificent architectural restoration without building a future.

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Cults, WWW | , , , , | Comments Off on Scientology fights back toward decline

Implicit SBC clerical sexual predator policy [Neglect?]

The inflexibility with which the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) disfellowships member churches which affirm homosexual behavior may surpass Roman Catholic application of excommunication to other issues. The Catholic Church is more tolerant of homosexuality, but like the SBC, faces unrelenting problems with clerical sexual abuse.

The 500-member Royal Lane Baptist Church of North Dallas, Texas, recently placed itself in peril of ejection from the Baptist General Convention of Texas and from the SBC when the diaconate voted to rewrite the About Us section of its Web site to include:

Royal Lane Baptist Church is an inclusive, multi-generational congregation joined in Christian community. We are a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds.

That did not represent a change of heart by the church, as Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News reported:

“In effect, this is a collective coming out about who we are and have been for a long time,” said Ruth May, vice chair of the deacons.

. . .

[The Rev. David] Matthews, who became Royal Lane’s pastor last year, said the Bible “understood through the prism of Jesus” calls for full acceptance of gays and lesbians.

Debate over the issue immediately related BGCT/SBC action against local churches with regard to homosexuality and their failure to apply similar force to sexual predators. Nathan Barnes wrote:

The leadership of the SBC and apparently the BGCT are not willing to sacrifice church autonomy to catalog and track sex offending clergy but are willing to sacrifice it to keep GLBT folks from serving the Lord.

In rejoinder, another commenter said, “If aberrant behavior is to be accepted as normal and within God’s provision for human sexual expression, why not pedophilia, or bestiality, or??” and Barnes responded:

BUT pedophila is already accepted. No church has been disassociated from the SBC or BGCT for passing on sex offending clergy to other churches.

It’s not a double standard. It’s the standard.

Christa Brown said at Stop Baptist Predators:

Mr. Barnes got it exactly right. Baptist leaders have so twisted the doctrine of local church autonomy as to make it little more than an easily manipulated excuse to serve their own ends. It’s pure contrivance for Baptist leaders to say they can’t do anything about clergy predators because of local church autonomy. After all, look at how quick they are to interfere with churches that admit to having gay members.

Like the Roman Catholic Church, the SBC is attempting to assert ethical/spiritual authority in the midst of a long public parade of evidence of its failure to protect young Christians from predatory members of its own clergy.

Both have other priorities.

Like hiding what they can behind confidentiality agreements. To protect the church’s reputation and authority, of course.

As the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse wrote in 2009 that the Catholic Church pre-occupation”in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse” was “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets.” Not the protection of the children.

Suffering little children are a lower priority for the SBC than keeping women pastors out of the pulpit, keeping homosexuals out of the pews and barring otherwise somehow insufficiently fundamentalist churches from affiliation.

Realistic minds in both denominations must foresee, absent restoration of their reputation as safe places for the young, a future of empty pews.

[H/T: StopBaptistPredators]

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, SBC | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Using the attacker’s words to blame the victim

Abused by Baylor University when she had to courage to report being assaulted by “murdering ministerMatt Baker when he was a student there, Lora Wilson is still a target of reflexive abuse.

Blame the victim is a hideous American practice, not exclusively a Southern Baptist sin — one at which Christa Brown fired back when Lora Wilson was maligned with Baker’s words in a recent blog comment.

The smear continues in part because the Southern Baptist institutions which are at fault have failed to acknowledge their responsibility. Christa writes:

To this day, no Baylor official has made any public expression of remorse. No one at First Baptist of Waco, a church that had two reports of Baker’s abuse, has expressed any sorrow about letting the man move on without consequence. No one at the Baptist General Convention of Texas has offered any explanation for how someone with so many abuse and assault reports could move so easily through its affiliated churches and organizations. And no one in Baptistland has made even the feeblest of effort to reach out to the many more who were likely wounded by “murdering minister” Matt Baker — the many who are probably still silent.

February 9, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Using the attacker’s words to blame the victim