From the moment the EC announced their report, there has been outrage. Battle lines were being drawn between what some have called “the old guard” and another group as one twitter user called them, “the adults in the room.”
The truth is, when it comes to handling abuse in the SBC, no one in SBC leadership can claim to be the “Adult in the room.
Why? Well let’s take a look at the events leading up to the EC Bylaws committee debacle, those involved, and actions by other leaders in the SBC that were not a part of it.
What Led to this Mess.
JD Greear Publicly Announcing an Investigation into 10 Churches
IT IS GOOD HE IS WILLING TO CALL OUT CHURCHES PUBLICLY. That cannot be stressed enough. Too many times in the SBC, issues are hidden behind closed doors and it does take guts to stand up and speak. HOWEVER, it seems that in his fever to call out churches publicly, that he may not have done enough research to know that one of the churches was not an SBC church. That only heightened concerns by those who thought that publicly announcing an investigation into those churches without a plan might not be the right way and angered people who were called out.
At the end of the day, we need to do the right thing in the right way. We need to make sure we are hearing victims and addressing issues quickly. However, we also do not want to cause damage to innocent individuals and churches (which again are made up of people). This means we may need to speak slower than we want to. We can and must do rightly towards everyone, even if it is not always expedient. It would have been better to have a good plan in place before addressing it publicly.
Since I said it cannot be stressed enough: IT IS GOOD JD IS WILLING TO CALL OUT CHURCHES PUBLICLY.
The EC’s Investigation – The True Debacle
Haste rarely makes good policies. Whether the EC may have felt pressured to get something done quickly because it was publicly announced, or whether it was for nefarious reasons, What they suggested was not enough and created a backlash. Three changes, of the many needed, that should have happened are these.
If the EC wanted to get quick wins publicly, they should have focused on fixing themselves before others. There are plenty of SBC organization policies that need changed. Two of those being the removal of NDAs and non-disparagement clauses from current and past SBC employees. SBC Employees should not have to fear for their retirement if they expose the truth.
They should have invited others to help them craft how to do the investigation and policies for investigating churches. None of these men are likely equipped to handle this challenge. There are plenty of Southern Baptists who have experience that the EC could (should) have asked for help.
They should have invited a 3rd party to do the investigation. This prevents people like Danny Akin from trying to interfere and clear 2nd Baptist Houston before a thorough investigation has taken place, or from any of them protecting their own interests or friendships from honest investigation.
And many many more
3. Danny Akin – a real life example of why 3rd party investigators are needed.
JD Greear had just announced his list of 10 churches, one of which included Ed Young’s Church, Second Baptist of Houston. Ed Young was a mentor to Akin. S What did Akin do? The very next day, Akin sent an email to the Houston Chronicle, JD Greear, Russel Moore, and Second Baptist to try to influence leaders to get Second Baptist off the list instead of allowing an investigation. When the EC concluded their report, Second Baptist Houston was classified as needing no further inquiry…
What about the other SBC leaders? People Claim Mohler and Ezell are the way, but are they?
Out of all of the people on this list, Albert Mohler and Kevin Ezell are the most thankful for this whole debacle, because the spotlight was getting a little hot for them. Unlike the others on this list, both have actively tried to suppress information from getting out to the public.
Albert Mohler – It came out recently that not only had Albert Mohler ignored over a thousand pages of evidence against SGM sent to him by Brent Detwiler, but that he actually tried to have Janet Mefferd disinvite Brent Detwiler from her radio show. Luckily for us all, Janet held firm and continued to interview Detwiler. Mohler did apologize to victims, but not to Janet Mefferd or Brent Detwiler for trying to silence people trying to speak out on abuse.
Kevin Ezell – Just this past month it was revealed that an SBC journalist received a threatening text message from NAMB’s Executive Director of Public Relations, Mike Ebert. When this was sent via email by Dr. McRaney to some members in the SBC, Kevin Ezell had Mike Ebert send out an email to SBC members attacking McRaney and completely disregarding the main point of the email: Mike Ebert sending a threatening message to a Journalist. By Kevin Ezell having Mike Ebert send out the message, he was standing in solidarity with Mike Ebert’s attempt to intimidate Joni Hannigan by sending her a threatening message.
Another reason Kevin Ezell has not modeled how to handle abuse is for the same reason Ed Young of 2nd Baptist, who Danny Akin attempted to get off of Greear’s list, has recently come under fire: Not being willing to testify in a case of sexual abuse. Ed’s reason for saying that he would not like to give his testimony in a case because it could hurt his ministry as SBC president and televangelist as shown in this document. Kevin Ezell ACTUALLY claimed clergy-penitent privilege to keep from testifying when one of his members and volunteers at his church was accused of molesting two boys (later admitted to 7). Will Kevin Ezell be held accountable too? Or Just Ed Young?
Continue to Fight: Fight for the truth. Fight to expose sin and corruption. Fight for those who don’t have a voice.
Be cautious of people who only attack one group of leaders while praising and ignoring the sins of others. They are fighting for power.
We need to focus on implementing policies that will force the SBC to be transparent, no matter who is in power, and we need to bring in 3rd parties to help us craft effective policies for handling abuse and for investigating matters.