"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seeking Censure

Readers - read Wade Burleson's latest blog post about a man from Jacksonville who contacted Wade's local baptist association seeking CENSURE of Wade Burleson for his blog posts that the man claims were harmful to First Baptist Church of Jacksonville.


We have no idea who the man was, or if he was even a member of FBC Jax. But as Wade points out:

"...It seems a few churchmen have a knack for trying to intimidate others into silence. In the end, it never works."

So Wade Burleson has posted several articles about the situation in FBC Jax that the person from Jacksonville doesn't like. But maybe this person will post here with their name telling us what his beef is with Wade Burleson, and maybe explain why he hasn't contacted Wade himself instead of going to his local baptist association.

Here are Wade's post regarding FBC Jax:






56 comments:

Thy Peace said...

What is harmful is only to the image of fbc jax. If one is not concerned with appearances and willing to address the truth, then all this was not necessary.

I sincerely pray for healing for fbc jax, Watchdog and his family and others. We can learn much from our mistakes.

Thy Peace said...

Wow! WD you took comment moderation off.

Bravo!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if it was the Watchdog himself who called the director of missions! Was it you watchdog just trying to stir stuff up? Trying to make people think that FBC Jax is trying to shut down other blogs? Could be... You do have a track record of doing things annonymously!

Home Skillet

Anonymous said...

While there was some justification for anonymous postings while WD was anonymoun, what is the excuse now?

Bennett Willis
Lake Jackson, TX

Lydia said...

Actually, if you read the post at Wade's blog carefully, it is not clear the caller was anonymous. He just did not catch the name the person gave.

Chances are this person really believes such tactics always work. This has been the way of the SBC leadership for over 20 years now. And it worked great until the internet came along and outed them.

This stuff has been going on for years. Here is a story from now deceased Jerry Grace about another unknown victim of their power grabs:

Paul Debusman was reference librarian at Southern Seminary for 35 years.

He was terminated 10 months prior to his retirement for the "harm" he supposedly did to the Seminary in writing a personal letter to SBC President Tom Elliff. The letter advised Elliff that he erred in proclaiming that before the takeover Fundamentalists were not invited to speak at the Seminary Chapel. Debusman wrote: "Chapel as I remembered it from the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s was a time when we heard everyone. There was a deliberate strategy to bring in different points of view. That is no longer true." Eliff, then president of the Southern Baptist Convention, registered a complaint with Southern Seminary President Al Mohler that resulted in the dismissal of Debusman.

The fundamentalist leaders of the SBC have had very thin skin for a long time.

Whatever became of Paul Debusman?

Jerry Grace has an answer. He wrote about the effect that termination had on Debusman in the e-mail that he sent to me. Here's what he says,

He is a man who is regularly on my heart and about whom I have done a lot of research.

If there is any situation in our history where someone more innocent was assassinated without any reason other than pure power politics, I do not know who or when. I cannot allow the passage of time to dim the brutal nature of what happened to this gentle and innocent man. Friends of his have told me that if you were in a room of people including ten clones of him, you would never notice one of them. I grieve for him and his family and I grieve for a seminary board who could have condoned this. Were the three high officials involved in this sad act, Mohler, Eliff, and Akin on my payroll, I would have fired all three of them. All of them have gone on to bigger and better things but have left this situation ignored and unrepented. Paul Debusman however has suffered enormously.

Al Mohler this past week called for a circling of the wagons in the SBC leadership for the character assassinations going so far to say that none of them will tolerate an individual attack on any of them. If that doesn't sound like someone drunk with power, and fearful of personal exposure I don't know what does.

My question to Al as he decries the criticism and character assassination of SBC leaders this question. What about the assassination of Paul Debusman? Who stood to defend him as you humiliated him and took his career away with only months to go?

What about Paul Debusman? For me he is the embodiment of the millions of humble men and women who have served God, their churches, and their denomination without need of recognition or any aspect of vainglory so evident in the good Dr. Mohler and those who assisted him. He is the man or woman who brings life to our churches in thousands of unnoticed ways. He's the guy who comes down to light the heater, or fill the baptistery, or mow the lawn, or paint the ceiling in the nursery. The one who is always there to serve as a greeter, always taking out the garbage at a social event without being asked, the one who brings his pressure cleaner down to clean the portico just because it was dirty. He's the lady who faithfully says yes everytime she is asked to fix something for a funeral, or decorate the sanctuary, or clean the kitchen, the toilets, scrub the floors till they shine, and never expect anyone to notice. Paul Debusman is my beginner teacher, my sword drill leader, my VBS superintendent, the man who cried for me when my father died and said he wished it had been him and meant it. he's my mother, my grandmother, my father, my aunts, my uncles and countless pastors just getting by. That's who Paul Debusman is and in allowing that decision to happen and stand is just as much an attack on every last one of the terrific, ordinary, invisible, unselfish, loyal, and committed men and women that breathe life and meaning into what the word Baptist means as it was to him. If we can't stand against what happened to Paul Debusman then we have a hard time standing for anything.

. . . Mohler, Eliff, and Akin need to make this right with a public apology to Debusman, an apology to the people of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the payment personally of sufficient damages to in some way acknowledge this very bad act. Until they do, the criticism Mohler says the leaders won't tolerate, will not end. And until they do their integrity deserves the questions that they have brought on themselves.

New BBC Open Forum said...

If I were a betting person, my money would be on Hiram Smith. Seeing as I'm not a betting person and have no money... I'll just say it sounds like Hiram Smith's m.o.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Hiram Smith's previous tactics.

Anonymous said...

My vote is that it was Thomas Rich (AKA the Watchdog).

"an older sounding man"

"from Florida"

"His purpose in calling was for me to report you to an "ethics committee" in the association to get you censored"

I mean obviously no one really believes they could get Wade's blog censored. Honestly if they can't get the WD shut down, how would they expect to get Wade shut down.

It is all to fishy. The watchdog called or had someone call. It makes perfect sense.

I mean look at his blog lately. He is running out of material! He had to stir something new up so he could keep getting readers!

Home Skillet

New BBC Open Forum said...

Troll...

New BBC Open Forum said...

Definition of "home skillet" from urbandictionary.com.

Home Skillet is a proper noun used to describe a caucasian male from rural areas who thinks he posses the same street cred as an afro-american from the "hood". This individual may be seen wearing a wave cap and a flat billed hat. The subject may also be witnessed wearing Urban apparel, gold chains, and talking in Eubonics..

'Nuff said.

Lydia said...

From Wade's blog:

"The Director of Missions at Cherokee Strip Baptist Association, Don Rogers, sent me an email today that I found very interesting. Emmanuel Baptist Church is a cooperating member of CSBA."

So, it had to be someone familiar enough with state associations and know which ones Emmanuel is associated. My guess is that some friends of Brunson put someone up to this. We do know that 'Honey' had some problems with Wade in the past when she was on the IMB.

From a post on Wade's blog:

His fears of retribution may well be justified. In 2006, when I blogged about my disagreements with doctrinal policy changes at the International Mission Board, changes pushed by trustee leaders behind closed doors, and doctrinal changes that exceeded the convention wide approved Baptist Faith and Message, I put my name to what I wrote from the very beginnnig and sought to only write about issues - leaving out all names. According to a former staff member at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Debbie Brunson, an IMB trustee herself at the time, told the staff at FBC Jacksonville that I was promoting the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and was a liberal. Debbie was herself an IMB trustee leader at the time, but never approached me personally about any of her concerns. Yet, she felt comfortable talking to members of her own staff about me in order to seek to make the issue about me personally and not the questions I was asking. The tired tactic of conservatives in authority is to call "liberal" anyone who questions them about what they are doing.

http://kerussocharis.blogspot.com/2009/03/untouchabes-spiritually-elite-leaders.html

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I think it was Home Skillet.

He called, knowing Wade would get wind of it, that it would get on Wade's blog, and then on my blog, and then Home Skillet knew he could falsely accuse me of being the caller to make me look bad.

:)

Wade Burleson said...

Lydia,

Email me with your phone number if you do not mind. I would like to visit with you, at your convenience, about Paul Debusman. I have visited with Paul personally, and he was hesitant to tell me his story, but I was moved by what I discovered.

I am considering beginning an annual "Paul Debusman Award" and would like to visit with you about it.

You make an excellent point in your comment above. Where were these men when Paul was attacked and dismissed? Where were these men when Sheri Klouda was attacked and dismissed? Where were these men when the IMB missionaries were attacked and dismissed? Where were these men . . .

Well, you get the picture.

In His Grace,

Wade

New BBC Open Forum said...

Well, my vote is still Hiram Smith. That had "Hiram Smith" written all over it. If I were Wade, I'd ask Mr. Rogers if the name could have been Hiram Smith. It wouldn't take someone intimately familiar with the state associations to find out with which one Wade's church is associated. Hiram Smith has been trying to get Wade "censored" (or "censured") or removed from his appointment(s) for years. It seems to be somewhat of an obsession with him.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Chances are, if Mr. Rogers has Caller I.D., the number would be on there and could be easily traced. I really don't think this is as mysterious as people are making it out to be.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Also, if Mr. Rogers didn't understand the man's name the first time, all he had to do was say, "Excuse me, I didn't understand you. What did you say your name is?"

Tiffany Thigpen Croft said...

This is in response to a hateful poem being passed around by a Deacon regarding a "hellfire tongue", apparently referring to Tom Rich. I am not posting his poem, but my response to it:

(I am using James chapter's 3,4 &5 as reference)

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers
because you know that he who teaches will be judged more strictly. (Pastors and Leaders)
If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. (James 3:1-2) (we all have fault in this; none of us are acting Godly)

Who is wise and understanding among you? (3:13) (who is now displaying this?)
Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from (Godly) wisdom. (Turning the other cheek, extending love and grace, not condemnation)
Who harbors bitterness and selfish ambition in your heart? (3:14) (in anger speaking out)
Do not deny the truth. (Be honest with ourselves, God knows our hearts)
This type of wisdom does not come from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. …there you find disorder and every evil practice. (3:15-16) (exactly what the enemy wants; what a testimony to the world this is - not just publicly but even behind closed doors where only Christ is aware)

What causes fights and quarrels among you?
Don’t they come from the desires that battle within you? (We are supposed to be submitted to Christ, not the flesh, even reacting to a blog we don’t like)
You pray, but with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (4:1-3) (greed and selfishness)
Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers this should not be. (3:10-11) (Leaders, especially preachers, should not curse a man from the pulpit, or in the newspaper while at the same time proclaiming the love of Christ; no exceptions, no excuses)
No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil (sin), full of deadly poison. (Deadly to the cause of Christ, abusive to the person receiving it)
With the tongue we praise God our Father and with it we curse men. (3:8-9)

Take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. (3:4) (Leaders that you follow should be leading a Godly example, even in a storm; you shouldn’t join in or excuse that behavior just because he is reacting to the storm)
Can both salt water and fresh water flow from the same spring?
Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (It’s all contaminated, sinful; no justification)

Scriptures say that the Spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely, but He gives us more grace. (Grace to rise above; if this were a small disagreement how would you handle it, would you hold onto it in your heart?)

That is why the scriptures say:
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (4:5-6) (Humility brings honor to Christ; a soft answer turns away wrath; pride/justification comes before the fall)
Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Come near to God and He will come near to you. (Especially in a storm such as this)
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded. (Clean out this anger, hatred within our hearts; repent; reach out in love, even to disagree or chastise, love is the first position)
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (4:7-10) (ask the father, with the right motive of heart, what He would have you do; He will deliver and uphold)

Brothers, do not slander one another. (This goes both ways)
Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. (No exceptions, no justification; even within our hearts and among each other)
When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge… (4:11-12) (God does not need us to be judge and jury; He calls us to hold each other accountable and to keep each other from stumbling. But once again, in love and Christ like humility; not anger, bitterness, hate, and judgment by public and private name calling)

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. (remember the things said about the prophets, they were talked about, made fun of, slandered, persecuted – they rose above; we are told here to use them as an example of patience (not retaliation or justification) in the face of suffering/trials)
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (5:10-11) (to each and every one of us, one is no better than the other; sin is sin)

Is any one of you in trouble?
He should pray. (For ourselves and our actions, and also for the other people involved)
If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. (If he repents; both sides, not just the one)
Therefore, confess your sins one to another so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (5:13-16)

Imagine what would happen if we all just prayed about this instead of talking and spewing hate; I believe God, through the Holy Spirit, would convict us all to act in love and humility and to forgive and extend grace; this means that Pastor Brunson needs to apologize for the name calling, publicly (humbly) and privately with Mr. Rich and family. I mean word for word repentance, “I should not have acted out as a man by calling this man names. I apologize and know that God calls me to more than this in the face of distractions and persecution, I am asking forgiveness and I wish to repair my human error.”
That is a real apology and it would extend the world a great lesson and give God true glory. Despite the actions of the blogger or any repentance thereof, there are no exceptions Biblically, meaning he is not required to repent first nor at all in order for any of us to do the right thing. God requires it of us individually, no matter what, 70 times 7

These are just my thoughts, my convictions, taken from the scriptures. I am certainly not any better than any of you; we are ALL sinners, saved by grace. But God is merciful and I am so thankful, aren’t you? (Note: all scripture above are referenced in James, chapters 3,4 and 5)

Thy Peace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

GO Wade!!

Let me tell you something, evil EVIL men like Mohler, Patterson, Brunson et. al. are imploding the SBC. They are the reason people are dropping that mess for other denominations or non-denominations. These men are SICK, SICK, SICK and they are no different than worldly businessmen with no conscience.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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New BBC Open Forum said...
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New BBC Open Forum said...
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x prays mill member said...
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FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Comment moderation back on.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Comment moderation back on.".

Welcome back to my world. :-(

Thy Peace said...

Google Blog Search is a good tool.

Google Blog Search -- jacksonville blogger outed.

Google Blog Search -- fbc jax blogger.

Google Blog Search -- first baptist church jacksonville blogger.

Thy Peace said...

let's stop pastor darrell gilyard together > JSO Explains Subpoena.

I have been assured and also believe that Detective Hinson only looked at my blog from the perspective of ownership and to verify that I was not the watchdog or an alias, that we were not conspiring together in some way - thus he looked at the information on my profile and my IP address and then verified that information with Google/Comcast. Once that was confirmed, I was set aside and no further information was requested or gained. He also promptly closed the investigation into the watchdog after realizing there was nothing criminal or any direct threat to the church. This is what I have been assured of and I have asked some tough questions and also made some accusations regarding my fears and concerns. I have asked extensive questions over the course of this last week and all questions have been answered and some more than once, as I re-questioned some things to clarify. I have not felt they withheld anything and I am shocked that they were as open as they have been, they certainly could have told me they "couldn't comment" and I would have just had to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

What one has to realize is that some mega pastors want total control. Its all about them..what they have, what they want, how and when they want it. Also of importance is how they are treated. They are not concerned about others (except their buddies) as that requires time and energy. For them, this is just wasted motion. Sorry, but these are the real facts of ego driven people in any area of life. Nothing even close to Mother Theresa who was a totally unselfish saint. These men also hate to be exposed for their real personalities as they are usually in denial themselves. Some try to hide it behind a multitude of underlings who do their bidding.

Johnny D. said...

Wow. The more I learn about Christians, the happier I am I left. A deacon spreading around a "hateful poem"? Nice. I assume this deacon goes to FBCJ? So, they have at least one deacon doing that, and a preacher berating people for not giving enough - all while calling one of his former "sheep" a sociopath. Wow. Just wow. I know, I know, you're not perfect - you're just forgiven.

No wonder Jimmy P. Brown and Deliverance wrote "What a Joke."

No One Special said...

From Ms. Croft's blog:

JSO Explains Subpoena

...I have requested a meeting with Pastor Brunson and those involved (didn't happen)...http://tiffanycroft.blogspot.com/2009/04/jso-explains-subpoena.html

Hmmmm, so, Tiffany even tired to talk to the mighty one and was ignored. Just sad.

Anonymous said...

And why would Tiffany and/or Wade Burleson be entitled to a meeting/explanation from Mac if he doesn't want to do it? They are irrelevant as far as FBC, Jax is concerned; however, Tom Rich is not and is getting his just rewards.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Your comment wondering why this man hasn't contacted Wade Burleson personally is the greatest joke of all time coming from you. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Anonymous said...

Maurilio Amorim is paid what is probably really good dollars for his advice to FBC in "marketing" the church.

What a revealing quote from him:

http://www.maurilioamorim.com/2008/12/are-you-ready-to-quit-church.html

"I'm not sure about wanting to be entertained, but I, for one, think that boring people with the Good News of the Gospel is a sin."

I thought Christianity had the gospel at its core, guess we needed to spend a lot of money to be corrected on that.

fw

Anonymous said...

Mr. 7:53...You obviously fail to see what has happened or don't yet grasp the problem in not answering valid questions...it just leads to more questions. The right thing to do is to meet with anyone and everyone and be transparent so that such controversy never occurs. The body of Christ is all members not just those who think they own it. The air of arrogance has been the problem from the beginning. Get real.

Thy Peace said...

Theology Today > Anonymous Blogger Gets Outed then Booted From His Church!.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments over at tiffanycroft.blogspot.com:

ANON says: I say "under oath" because they face the penalties of perjury when they are caught. These kinds of guys are used to conning and sweet talking people and skirting the issues. When hard questions are pressed to each one for a couple of hours, and the stories don't add up, they cannot back pedal and change what they said. For example: Detective Hinson's only defense is that he was acting on solid leads or allegations of mail stealing and stalking. Where are the police reports? Where is the evidence? He MUST rely on the Brunsons, personally, to back up his only defense. Yet if the Brunson's themselves can't or won't back up what they told him, then he is caught defenseless. The question will ultimately be which one goes down? Hinson or Brunson? You figure it out. The problem is that now it is not just Hinson. It is John Rutherford, Angela Corey and the General Counsel's office who all claimed no wrongdoing by Hinson. They are assuming he acted on credible criminal leads. There were none! And even if their were, how in the world would they be related to some guy's blog IP address?

The more these public officials and church leaders make statements trying to cover for themselves, the more they paint themselves into a corner. The truth will come out in depositions and the truth is the church wanted to find out who the blogger was for a long time. They used the JSO and SAO to out him, and then they used that information to slander him and kick him out of the church. Shameful.

Anonymous said...

Why don't those of you who think you know everything about everyone and everything go to Tiffany's blog and actually read some FACTS for a change.

Her finding sure shoot a hole in your howling and rantings.

Anonymous said...

For all of you "legal experts" you will notice that Tiffany Croft did find out that FBC, Jax did indeed file a criminal complaint. I'm sure you won't be able to see it since its none of your business.

How what will you complain about???

No One Special said...

And why would Tiffany and/or Wade Burleson be entitled to a meeting/explanation from Mac if he doesn't want to do it? They are irrelevant as far as FBC, Jax is concerned; however, Tom Rich is not and is getting his just rewards.

April 23, 2009 7:53 AM
I never mentioned anything about Wade, however when you have your personal security force investigate someone that has nothing more than a post or two on this blog, I would think that it might deserve a face to face to apologize.

However, when you feel you are above everyone else, I guess there is no need to apologize. I wouldn't be surprised if they toss out her family as well.

No One Special said...

Also, if one or two of the deacons find a spine or buy one, it's going to hard for them to stick to the prepared story. Typically someone conscience finally comes to the surface an tells the truth.

Thy Peace said...

Wade's blog > We Are As Healthy As The Secrets We Keep.

Anyone who has been in pastoral ministry for any length of time knows the the title of this post is an axiomatic statement. An unhealthy marriage is measured by the number of secrets spouses keep from one other. An unheathy church is manifested when members are kept in the dark about business matters 'for their own good.' An unhealthy convention will have leaders do everything behind closed doors, keeping secrets from the members at large, believing that only those in power have the true ability to handle all the truth.

On the other hand, a healthy marriage is measured by the full and open transparency between husband and wife. A church is in good health when leadership has no desire to "keep" secrets from the congregation. That's not to say everything must be shared with everyone, but simply that leadership takes no effort to keep information from members. The same can be said of a healthy convention.

Why are secrets being kept? Why do we wish to keep people in the dark? What is the purpose of leaders hiding behind a veiled curtain? I would be interested in your opinions, but allow me to offer a couple of possible reasons through the form of two memorable quotes on transparency.

"One man's transparency is another's humiliation." Gerry Adams

What I'm thinking about more and more these days is simply the importance of transparency, and Jefferson's saying that he'd rather have a free press without a government than a government without a free press." Esther Dyson

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for that Transparency Manufesto that FBC should adopt as policy! It is very unclear the specific list of transparencies all on this blog are demanding. Thanks for the list.

Thy Peace said...

This is a comment John left on Tiffany's blog:
-----------------------------------
John said...
I just started following this issue a couple of weeks ago. I was in the youth group at FBC around the same time Tiffany was and still have several friends who attend that church. The following posting that I left on the Times-Union website sums up what I feel about the situation. Oh, and for the record, my name is John F.

"Some things to consider....

1) Abuse of power is wrong regardless of what creed, be it scriptural or legal, that is used to justify it. It's sickening when anyone justifies immoral actions based on what they consider to be holy "words of God". This is just as true for something that seems as insignificant as using the local law enforcement to discover the identity of someone who is speaking against you as it is for justifying mass murder through jihad.

2) I'm afraid that the JSO mentality of "get the bad guy before he might do something wrong" is a by-product of a fundamental shift in American thinking over the past 8 years. It's only logical to expect that the same ideals that would allow the Freedom Act to exist would trickle down to local law enforcement and even in personal relationships with one another. Since when is it OK to hold people accountable for what they MIGHT do? This is a scary trend.

3) As for the detective who revealed the information to the church after no wrongdoing or illegality was discovered, his actions reveal one of the fundamental flaws with the megachurch system. I attended FBC when I lived in Jacksonville and have been part of many different churches (big and small) in the years since. One thing that I have found is that regardless of the church size, members long to make personal connections both with each other and with the leaders of the church. Why is this? Quite simply, no one wants to feel insignificant or unknown. In a small church, this might not be as big an issue as it is much easier to create a sense of close-knit community. In a large church, you have to do something extraordinary to be noticed, especially by a pastor who for obvious reasons is unable to get to know every parishioner on a personal level. People want to feel a "pat on the back" by those they look up to for leadership and guidance and I imagine this is what caused the detective to have a lapse in judgment: the desire to please the man he works for and protects.

4) Several posters have attacked Rich for his anonymous dissent. While an argument can be made that things might have progressed differently had there been more deliberate and open communication between both parties, it is easy to understand why he chose to remain anonymous. It's not always easy or prudent to go up against a powerful entity (church, government, etc.) as a lone voice crying in the wilderness when you feel there is an injustice being carried out. It's especially true in this particular case where you have dogmatic, unbending church leaders and their passionately loyal church members who are either too afraid or ignorant to question the status quo. FBC has always had a massive web of influence in every aspect of Jacksonville and it's very likely that right or wrong, Rich feared the backlash that would come from openly speaking out. After all, isn't it true that the Gestapo tactics used by FBC and the JSO have justified those fears?

5) The saddest part of this entire saga is the blatant lack of humility, forgiveness, and unmistakable desire for restoration that could have prevented this travesty. For the leadership and members of FBC, why is dissent something that you should fear? After all, if your policies and beliefs are beyond reproach and infallible, how could dissent be a threat to you? Why can't you be humble enough to even entertain any of the criticisms in terms of possible validity? Are you so arrogant to think that you have it all figured out and therefore are beyond reproach? What might have been if instead of using intimidating tactics such as discipline councils and trespass warnings, you had listened thoughtfully to the dissent? I encourage you to not fear dissent but to allow it to sharpen you and your beliefs. Not from a dogmatic insistence on maintaining your convictions but to truthfully test the validity of the dissent. After all, if what you believe really is truth, questioning those beliefs won't cause you to conclude otherwise.

For Mr. Rich, I applaud your courage to stand up against perceived injustice. Our human history is marked with stories of those who did the same: our Revolutionary ancestors, Oskar Schindler (who incidentally was also very secretive in his opposition to Nazi Germany....do you think any of the hundreds of Jews he saved think he is less of a hero because of that?), and even Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, our history is also marked by those who remained silent and allowed travesties to go unchecked. My advice to you would be to walk away from this saga with dignity, humility, and grace. What better way to show dissent than by modeling the kind of behavior that you have longed for in those who have stood against you?"
April 24, 2009 9:27 AM
-----------------------------------

Contented Man said...

Reading through this blog and the numerous comments left by members/supporters of FBCJ one thing really stands out prominently to this outsider who has no dog in the hunt...

Christians can be really nasty toward one another when they feel threatened by dissenting opinions.

Wow!

Provender said...

Just read Exodus 5 and thought there was a slight similarity. Moses asks Pharoah to let the people go and Pharoah tightens things up for the Hebrew slaves. When the people cry out, they blame Moses, not Pharoah for the harsh conditions. If only you didn't "stir stuff up" Moses, we'd be fine. Why don't you just be quiet and not cause waves?
Though all the trouble is limited to this particular church and denomination, the pattern is a familiar one. All the signs of spiritual abuse are here: authoritarianism, manipulation through shaming, power-posturing, dichotymous thinking, etc. This is not unique to your situation. Sometimes it helps to have a broader perspective. Look at other abusive church situations. See how this one fits the pattern. To an outsider who knows what abusive churches look like, this one waves a big, red flag.

Anonymous said...

Transparency that I like to see:
1. The phone log of the pastor goes on the Internet the next day. This was the practice of Griffin Bell when he was investigating some national scandal. His phone log was published the following day. If there are counseling issues, the business manager (or preferably a non staff person) could be authorized to label the phone calls as this and take them off the public list--but the call would still be listed as a call.
2. The church must keep detailed records of all the various projects and activities that produce and spend revenue. This material should be photo copied and placed on the Internet on a monthly or quarterly basis--or when the books close on an activity.
3. The same information that the IRS needs for the staff expenses should be published and the IRS forms for each member of management should be published. If the president of the US does this, it should be doable for church management. I worked for a large company and there were pay scales available for the various titles. I set out to see if I could "figure out what I made" and got it within less than 10%--and I was labor, not management. It is always interesting to know if the housing allowance is counted as income for the purpose of church employee's tithe. I know that mine is but then I'm not on a church staff--my "housing allowance" is just income.
4. All church rules/bylaws/policies should be placed on the Internet. This way everyone knows the rules and can decide to abide by them (or not).

If this is the church policy and practice then people who are part of management can take this into account when they discuss employment. I think that if this is done that most of the issues would go away. Additionally, your books are being continually audited for problems by people who are actually interested and acquainted with the activity.

This was not intended to be inclusive and complete, but as a start of thoughts on what constitutes transparency. And if you would not be willing to be transparent, then just hush about it.

Bennett Willis

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts, Bennett.

Now you see the reason so many pastors have separate para church organizations. Several things you will not see with this sort of "church" transparancy when it comes to pastors:

Book royalties, speaking fees, conferences, free trips, gifts, etc.

Matt

Anonymous said...

I hate to disappoint so many of you but what a pastor receives in gifts, trips, speaking fees, etc. are none of your business. And their IRS records are certainly none of your business.

But then again, it might be great fun to exchange tax records among church members. Especially that show the amount of your giving to the church.

Thy Peace said...

From my understanding, for a Civil Subpoena, Google or Comcast have to inform the target about the subpoena so it can be challenged in court if necessary. For a Criminal Subpoena, they do not have to inform the target or the defendant. I am unable to find references to corroborate this for Florida. Maybe one of the readers can do this.

Time line:

11/13/08 - Det. Hinson Closes investigation.

2/11/09 - Blount informs WD, that this matter will be disclosed to the deacons.

Number of days between 11/13/08 to 2/11/09 (91 days) [Inclusive count].

Det. Hinson destroys his investigation gathered material after 90 days.

I am guessing that WD found out about these subpoenas by end of March 2009, as a result of a tipoff by one of the deacons who attended the meeting(s) with Blount and others in Church Leadership.

Former FBC Insider said...

God tends to disagree with you... it is our business... for the pastor of the people is to live above reproach... this would be a good place to start that.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Here is the latest news article.

Woman Accepts Her Blog's Role in Church Investigation

Anonymous said...

Anon April 25, 2009 7:52 AM You said: "I hate to disappoint so many of you but what a pastor receives in gifts, trips, speaking fees, etc. are none of your business. And their IRS records are certainly none of your business.

But then again, it might be great fun to exchange tax records among church members. Especially that show the amount of your giving to the church."

I say: Spoken like a true pharisee...

Anonymous said...

"I hate to disappoint so many of you but what a pastor receives in gifts, trips, speaking fees, etc. are none of your business. And their IRS records are certainly none of your business."

What a strange remark to make when this information turned up on the front page of your daily newspaper.

Do you feel the same way about Timothy Geithner? If not, why?

I would think the pastor is either an employee of the church or an indepedent businessman with his own 501c3 para church organization. What you are basically saying is that the pastor is not accountable either way. And I do not mean accountable to a few yes men and his own family who are also paid employees.

Anonymous said...

A pastor's income is strictly the pastor's business only if the church agrees to that. If it is a condition of employment (as it is for certain jobs in the government) that this information be made public, then that is what it is--or he stays somewhere else.

The church I belong to has a policy of accountability and transparency on financial things--including salaries of church employees. When we have gotten careless with this, it has not worked out well for us.

Based on what Bro. Brunson's family income appears to be, he could easily make a "subliminal case" for the "prosperity gospel."

Bennett Willis

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes - all in Jesus name. Isn't there more important things we should be focused on? FBC owns Jacksonville, give it up. Churches are business' - they are run just like any other business. And yes, the end result for all churches are just like any other business - show me the benjamins... Good luck