"...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

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Caner/Liberty Aftermath: What They're Saying

It looks like the first news/blog cycle on the Liberty University/Ergun Caner scandal has run its course.

All reporters and bloggers, with the exception of the SBC Today Bunch and Tim Guthrie, are viewing the Liberty action as punishment against Caner for being untruthful. Some agree with the LU decision, many think it didn't go far enough.

But no where, anywhere on the Internet will you find a claim of "exoneration" except at the SBC Today Bunch website and Tim Guthrie's blog. "Delusional" is how Chantry characterizes Guthrie's position. Not surprising, the Baptist Press has been silent so far (Correction: Baptist Press did have an article on Monday 6/28 here), as has Peter Lumpkins. In fact we're all eagerly awaiting Peter's next "vlog" - donning his cap and sleeveless shirt - to tell us of Caner's victory, just as much as we are anticipating the fake Ergun Caner's next episode at YouTube - both with be very entertaining I'm sure.

Tim Guthrie's blog posts are embarrassingly painful to read as he first declares total exoneration for Caner, then posts a total of four blog posts in three days, with the last one yesterday backtracking a bit in a confusing post in which he is so flustered he wasn't able to number his points correctly (1, 2, 4, 5).

When sampling the various news accounts and blog writings of the Caner scandal, I think we see very pointedly the value of Christian blogging. Sadly Liberty was only interested in the truthfulness of their seminary president if the secular media was interested. The secular media acknowledges that it was the Christian bloggers who kept the pressure on this story, posting video and audio evidence of Caner's deception which finally resulted in the media paying attention and then LU was suddenly concerned. Do real universities behave in that manner concerning their presidents - they're concerned only when the media is concerned?

Gone are the days when lay people get spoon fed from their pastors or from "Baptist Press" what is going on in their convention. Information and insightful and controversial analysis abounds, and this is a good thing as we have seen here.


--------------------

On a side note: one quote that caught my attention was in the Associated Press article that I don't think had been confirmed before: AP reported: "...[Caner] asked friendly organizations to remove damning clips from their websites." We all suspected that he did, but the AP confirmed it.

I know the Ohio Free Will Baptists eventually did remove from their website the four very damning sermons from a 2007 men's retreat where Caner was in absolute rare form, prior to the completion of the LU investigation, but they told me they were not asked by Caner or Liberty to do it. I archived copies of the four sermons before their removal, and provided copies to one of the LU committee members during the investigation. After I blogged about those Caner sermons in April, an Ohio Free Will Baptist staff member contacted me and demanded I remove the audio excerpts I posted, and that I remove their logo from my blog post. I did remove their logo, but kept the audio excerpt clip which is still here, claiming it was allowable under the Fair Use doctrine.

A compilation of news and blogger accounts in the past few days that are worth reading:

Associated Baptist Press: Liberty Demotes Caner

Associated Press: Muslim-Turned Preacher Out as Dean

BeliefNet: Caner Sacked as Dean

Examiner: Liberty Removes Caner as Dean

Christianity Today: Liberty Cuts Caner as Dean

News and Advance: LU Won't Renew Caner Contract

NEW: Christian Post: LU Demotes Caner

[Lots of "demotes", "cuts", "sacked", but I couldn't find any news reports stating Caner is "exonerated", but I'm still looking!]

Some of the best blogs giving analysis of what the Caner decision means to evangelicalism:

Tom Chantry: Declaration from Liberty (most insightful and balanced, a must read)

Wade Burleson: Caner and the Liberty Honor Code (pointing out LU hypocrisy in Caner decision)

Wade Burleson: Celebrity = Integrity in SBC

Wade Burleson: SBC Today = "Bagdad Bob" (painfully hilarious)

James White: The Full Liberty Statement (White not impressed with LU statement)

Gene Clyatt: Lynchburg, We Have a Problem (Most hard-hitting, critical analysis of LU's actions)

R.A. McGough: A Christian University? Liberty is Neither (Just as hard-hitting as Clyatt)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ergun Caner Removed as Head of Liberty University Seminary

Ray Reed of the Lynchburg "News & Advance" has just reported the following:

"Liberty University announced today that Ergun Caner will no longer be dean of the university’s Baptist Theological Seminary.

After an investigation conducted by four members of Liberty’s Board of Trustees, the university said it found that Caner has made “factual statements that are self-contradictory” concerning “dates, names and places of residence.“ The statements included his description of being raised as a Muslim in Turkey, when documents indicate he moved to the United States at the age of 4.

His contract as dean of the seminary expires on June 30 and will not be renewed, according to a statement from LU. Caner will continue to serve on the seminary’s faculty, as a professor."

This is sad news, but it is about what I expected, and the best that could have been hoped for by Caner in this circumstance. Although Reed doesn't report on this, my hunch is that Caner may have expressed remorse and actually repented over his decade of deceit, and thus they justified keeping him on as a professor, but determined that his exaggerations and other statements made during his speaking tours prevented him from being able to remain as president of the seminary.

This is exactly what I had predicted would happen when I wrote the following on my blog May 18th, when I gave a Christian defense of Ergun Caner. It was then that I said:

"I don't see how at this point he can stay as president of the Liberty seminary even if he truly repents, if for no other reason than for the academic credibility of the university. But if he truly repents for the decade of deceit as the "Preaching-Circuit Ergun" and seeks forgiveness, my hope is that he will stay as a professor at Liberty, and even as a preacher at the Campus Church, and continue his ministry to students. So that is my hope for Ergun.

I will pray for him, that he will do the right thing."

Perhaps he did do the right thing, and repented, and this allowed him to stay on staff at Liberty University.

All in all I am pleased that Liberty has taken this action. It will help to salvage their reputation, and it shows the world that a high-profile preacher who speaks lies from the pulpit will eventually be held accountable by his peers. As one that was present at FBC Jacksonville in November 2001 when Caner first came on the scene claiming to be a Jihadist trained in 9/11 style terrorism, I am pleased that my blog nine years later in 2010 contributed to the gathering of the evidence needed to confront Caner with his deception.

Sadly, the University will never be able to erase the disgrace that it took Internet bloggers like myself and a host of others, including Mohammad Khan, to finally get action out of Liberty University on this important issue.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Caner Not Only Ex-Muslim With Dubious Past: An "Industry" To Make Money on Christians?

There is an interesting article by Omar Sacirbey at the website BeliefNet, entitled "Critics Say Caner Isn't Only Ex-Muslim with Dubious Past".

Perhaps there are other supposed self-proclaimed "ex-terrorist Mulsims" who have written books about Islam and been on the speaking cirucuit, seeking a market for their testimony and books amongst the vast sea of gullible Christians.

Sacirbey points out that Ergun Caner himself claims to have a terrorist past - he provides a quote from Caner's November 2001 sermon at FBC Jax where Caner claimed to have been in "Islamic Youth Jihad", and "trained to do that which was done on 11 September." As I have maintained since releasing the Caner FBC Jax 2001 sermon on this blog earlier this year, these quotes are the most damning for Caner - showing him, in my opinion, to be an opportunist going so far as to falsely portray himself as an ex-terrorist right after 9/11 as his mentor Jerry Vines sat right behind him.

But he might not be the only one, as Sacirbey points out. The other supposed ex-terrorists are:

- Walid Shoebat - author of "Why We Want to Kill You", claims he was recruited by the PLO as a teenager. According to Sacirbey, Shoebat describes a bomb-throwing incident he was involved in, but turns out there is no proof of it according to Sacirbey's article. Here is a link to Shoebat's website.

- Kamal Saleem - claims to have carried out terrorist attacks in Israel, and to have moved to America to wage Jihad against America (sound familiar?). Here is a link to his website with his story.

Says Sacirbey in his article:
"Skeptics point out that Shoebat and Saleem claim to have carried out their terrorist activities in the 1960s and 1970s, long before modern Islamic radicalism emerged in the 1980s. They also question why, if their terror claims are true, they've been able to retain their U.S. citizenship."

Exactly. If Ergun Caner was "trained to do that which was done on 11 September" did the U.S. government fully investigate his supposed terrorist background after he made these remarks in November 2001 at FBC Jax? Was he really trained in terrorism? Is he an expert in Jihad? If not, why was he invited to speak to the U.S. troops on such a topic? Are Shoebat and Saleem really ex-terrorists? If Shoebat and Saleem and Caner are trained ex-terrorists, why are they U.S. citizens? Can any ex-terrorist "accept Jesus" and then they are deemed non-threats?

Read this quote from Sacirbey's article:

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Caner, Shoebat, Saleem and others like them belong to an "industry" that is often perpetuated by fundamentalist Christians. "The people that are doing this do it to make money, or get converts, or to get some personal benefit," Hooper said.

And then this quote:

"Despite the evidence against them, Hooper believes these people will continue to be welcomed by some institutions because they preach what some audiences want to hear. 'As long as you attack Islam and demonize Muslims, you're going to get a platform,' he said. 'It doesn't matter if your facts and background are wrong.' "

Oh how true. While I don't agree with much of what Ibrahim Hooper has ever said, he certainly knows us Christians well. With all that has been revealed on Caner, it is amazing his speeches are still in high demand in the Southern Baptist churches and in bible conferences attended by pastors. How sad.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Times Union Headline: "Oops! State Attorney's Office inadvertently destroys subpoenas related to First Baptist blogger"

I don't normally comment here on my blog about the ongoing litigation and discovery process in the First Amendment lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville, but in today's Florida Time's Union there is an article about a tiny portion of what has been determined through the discovery process that I thought I'd share with my readers, especially those who might not read the Times Union.

As a part of the discovery process in this lawsuit, my lawyer has deposed State Attorney Angela Corey, scheduled for next week, and apparently a motion was filed on her behalf recently in an attempt to keep her from having to give her testimony. The information about the "inadvertant destruction" of documents in this case was revealed when Stephen Seigel was deposed in May, and apparently this information was revealed in my lawyer's response to Corey's motion. Thus, it's in the paper this morning.

Here's the article:

Headline and link: "OOPS!! State Attorney's Office inadvertently destroys subpoenas related to First Baptist blogger."

The article from the newspaper:

"The State Attorney's Office disclosed it inadvertently destroyed investigative subpoena requests and copies of subpoenas related to a formerly anonymous blogger who was critical of leadership at Jacksonville's First Baptist Church.

According to a federal court motion filed on behalf of State Attorney Angela Corey, the files were inadvertently destroyed during an office relocation, along with similar documents in other cases from October to December 2008.

The motion, seeking to keep Corey from being deposed, was filed in a lawsuit filed by Tom Rich, who sued authorities and the church after an investigation revealed his identity. A Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective who attends First Baptist used subpoenas signed by an assistant state attorney to discern Rich's identity in 2008.

The documents were destroyed when Corey, who took office in 2009, moved the special prosecution division from the Eddie Farah Building on Adams Street into the State Attorney's Office on Bay Street as a cost-saving measure.

Corey was unavailable for comment this afternoon, and Chief Assistant State Attorney Dan McCarthy said he was unaware of the inadvertent destruction. He said he hasn't been directly involved in the Rich litigation.

"There's been no issue that I'm aware of that's arisen out of inadequate files being transferred over from special prosecution," McCarthy said.

Rich's attorney, Mike Roberts, noted in a response filed this afternoon that Assistant State Attorney Stephen Siegel told jacksonville.com after Rich's lawsuit was filed last year that the supoena requests had been destroyed after 90 days according to office policy. Siegel was the prosecutor who signed the supoena requests. Roberts said the detective's files also have been destroyed.

"These are central documents that just don't exist anymore," Roberts said. He said he is contemplating a motion for sanctions for intentional destruction of evidence.

Robert said he was told the filed were being moved and were inadvertently placed in a group of documents that were to be destroyed. "
I have sat in on every deposition given thus far in the case over the past 2 months (over 20), and there are more scheduled. The discovery process is still on-going, and probably will continue through July.

I am assuming the judge in this case will very soon issue a ruling on the motion to keep Corey from testifying, as Corey's deposition is scheduled for next week. I'll update with any additional news that is put in the newspaper.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mac Brunson Sermon: Setting the Record Straight on Youth at FBC Jax


At the 2010 SBC Annual Meeting in Orlando, the FBC Jax combined youth choirs and orchestra did a magnificent job at the convention. They sung and played very well - the music was top notch, not overly contemporary like some of the music at the convention. Jonathan Welch and the new guy did great in leading the youth.

After they sang and played, their pastor Mac Brunson made the following statement about the youth at the beginning of his sermon, complimenting them on their ability to share their faith:

"That high school group is going to be in Argentina - about 150 of 'em - middle school is going to be in the inner-city of Atlanta working with a church plant we have going there - I just love them - and I want to tell you something - that group of young people there, they know how to witness. Now listen, they can tell you about Jesus Christ, and I'll tell you how they do that.

Because of the leadership of Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines - not because of Mac Brunson - but pastors before me, the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. And because those pastors saw to it, we have a generation of young people that will knock on doors and tell people about Jesus."

Well, I understand the desire to drop names like Jerry Vines and Homer Lindsay at the convention, but really, I think the credit for the training of those young people doesn't go to Vines or Lindsay.

No way. It to goes to an entirely different set of folks, folks that Mac might have given credit to if he had more time to speak - so I'll take the opportunity here.

If anyone is going to be commended for helping to produce the quality of youth at FBC Jax, it goes to the youth ministers at FBC Jax: starting with Bob Barton and Calvin Carr whose service started way back in the 80s. These two guys poured their lives into the youth at FBC Jax for several decades, and established a youth ministry of excellence - emphasizing personal evangelism, teaching the kids how to share their testimony and the gospel. The successors of Barton and Carr - Dan Elkins and Chris Eppling seem to have done a solid job as well carring on their work.

It also goes to the hundreds of dedicated lay leaders and workers who work tirelessly with the youth. They teach Sunday School, go on camps, work in the youth music ministry Sunday and Wednesday nights - not getting a paycheck or wanting a paycheck and taking vacation time to serve - but doing it out of love for the kids and the Lord.

I'll never forget the two people at FBC Jax who I admire the most and served under for 7 years: Walt and Maggie Bowden, who have been 6th grade Sunday School directors for close to four decades. While the mega church pastors get the big pay checks and all the accolades and standing ovations, people like the Bowdens and others at FBC Jax will be the ones getting the applause of heaven when they arrive for their steadfast service and sacrifice all these years. Sure, no wealthy FBCJ donors are lining up to give them a land gift or free beach condo rent, and maybe they didn't get to sail down the Danube or go on any Holy Land trips...but they took different trips: their trips to Lake Yale and Hilliard ministering to youth the past 40 years surpass anything that a FBC Jax mega church pastor has done or will do for the kingdom.

Credit also goes to the hard-working parents who saw to it to get their kids in a top-notch ministry. Anyone who knows what it is to attend a downtown mega church, knows it is a committment to haul everyone down there 2 or 3 times a week, sometimes more, for all the special ministries the kids are involved in.

So I just wanted to set the record straight...and I think Jerry Vines would agree, and Homer would too if here were still here...don't pat them on the back for what the youth have accomplished or will accomplish for the Lord in Argentina...thank the unsung heros, the past and current youth ministers and dedicated lay workers and parents who have toiled for years in the youth ministry at FBC Jax.

Mega church pastors might not notice, but Jesus sure does.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And Now a Word from an Ergun Caner Defender, Liberty Grad

A few days ago, a poster by the name of "Craig" posted the comment below back on my "Ergun Caner is Coming to Jacksonville" post. It was such a good defense of Caner, I thought it a shame to have it buried in the comments. This Craig made an appearance on Debbie Kaufman's blog a few weeks back with his "vitriol".

I am deeply offended by Craig's words. Not because he used words to describe me like: vain, stooge, oozing, sowing discord, vicious, needing "friggin help", Kool-Aid drinker, pathetic loser, and breaking Christ's heart...I can take that, and I've been called worse on the blog and in depositions...but to call the Watchdog a FEMALE CAT-IN-THE HAT...them's is fighting words Craiger! I am deeply offended.

Besides, is not the Cat-in-the-Hat male? This is a slam on the integrity of the beloved character we all have grown up with.

So it is not FBC Jax Cat-in-the-Hat to you sir, it is FBC Jax Watchdog.

I have now registered http://www.fbcjaxcatinthehat.blogspot.com/ just in case you get any funny ideas, Craig.

Anyway, here is our message from "Craig" (which I did break up into paragraphs for easier reading, but the message is intact, in its entirety, unedited):

Hmmmm I wonder what the bible and the early church patriarchs would have to say about The Cat in the Hat here posting Caner's speaking schedule and then bullying the people in those church's...and those pastors...into "voicing their displeasure"? Could it be Mrs. Cat in the Hat, that you do not, in fact, know EVERY DAMN THING? Could it be that your opinion really doesn't matter to everyone in the world? I would ask you who the hell you think you are...but the answer would likely take endless paragraphs and I ain't got all day.

Face the facts...your vain attempt at derailing a man, his family, and his ministry have failed. You have been exposed as a stooge for a third rate nobody like James White who goes to bed each night with a mouthguard in place because he grinds his teeth at the mere thoughts of Ergun Caner being liked and accepted. What does it say about someone who virtually oozes her desire for approval from a man as clearly unbalanced as White?

You speak of Godliness and post parodies or an ordained minister. Like it or not, Ergun Caner is one of God's men and you MOCK him. You went beyond a call for "repentance" a long time ago. You want him gone so the object of your affection can rise to fill the void. The fact is James White is considered such a loon that no matter what happens to Caner or anyone else James White will NEVER EVER step into the mainstream. he is a fringe dweller. PERIOD. His followers are all just as fringe oriented.

Sowing discord within other churches is a sin against the Holy Spirit, Mrs. Cat in the Hat. Repent! I call on you to repent. And for God's sake will you please vacuum around that James' pulpit some more...or doesn't the cord reach all the way down the stairs into his mom's basement? I shall now enjoy the fact that you will pull random segments of this response out of context and stitch together a threat...you will send me vicious emails demanding my repentance...(which will make me laugh)...and tighty Whitey will probably blog about it in endless paragraphs...maybe even a small book.

You all need friggin help. Have a nice day on the compound mixing the kool aid...bunch of pathetic losers. Keep breaking Christ's heart...that'll win the lost.

Regards...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Trinity Rape Update: Fuller Continues To Do the Right Thing

I wanted to give an update on the Trinity Baptist Church (Concorde, NH) rape case involving a church member raping a then 15-year old babysitter. I have written several articles on this case previously, the most recent one here.

Today the alleged rapist, Ernie Willis, was arraigned in court, charged with two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault. The judge refused to grant him a public defender, so he will have to spend his own dough and hire an attorney.

But the more interesting aspect of this story to me is how the current pastor, Reverend Brian Fuller, is doing the right thing and NOT remaining silent about what occured at his church years before he arrived. As events unfold, he appears NOT to be interested in covering in any way for the previous pastor's actions, or remaining a tomb and not speaking out about what happened at his church 13 years ago.

WMUR News in New Hampshire ran a story today on Willis' arraignment (video report is included at that hyperlink), and the reporter was granted an interview with Pastor Brian Fuller (seen below). This is amazing to me, as most pastors dealing with a sex scandal in their church are in damage control mode and will NOT speak to reporters. Fuller has already said more publicly about this scandal in one month than, say, another well known independent Baptist minister whose church was involved in a much deeper sex scandal over the past 15 years.

Fuller so far is taking a different tact. HE is speaking to the media. He isn't sending his lawyers to speak, or his trustees or deacons, or having his PR firm release a written statement.

And he is telling it like it is, going on the camera. He expressed alarm how the alleged perpetrator was allowed to stay a member of the church "for years" after the rape was reported. According to the reporter, Fuller acknowledges that the rape "was kept under wraps", and the survivor was forced to "apologize" to the congregation for getting pregnant, and was then flown to Colorado.

The news reporter says the rape survivor sent her a copy of the written statement she provided to the police. A direct quote from the survivor's statement:

"[previous Pastor Chuck Phelps] told me that I should be happy that I didn't live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned because I didn't cry out and tell people sooner."

Church discipline from a caring pastor: Just be glad you got raped NOW and not THEN, else we would have killed you. Sick. The only thing she didn't get was a trespass order filed with the Concorde police for "church misconduct".

Well, as I blogged several weeks ago, I remain hopeful that Fuller will continue to be open and forthright about what occured at the church, and that he will be honest and transparent about what changes he is going to make at his church in their governance and discipline process to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. He promised he would do this in his May 30, 2010 sermon.

Speaking out about this is one way that Fuller can communicate to those people in his community he seeks to minister to, that he and his church are interested in loving people as Christ commanded them and will stand with those who are wronged and will call for justice when the weak are abused by the powerful. Silence might help lawyers minimize your financial damages, but the community gets the message that you're more about your precious church's reputation and financial resources than you are about standing for what is right.

And hey, who knows...if Fuller determines that Chuck Phelps acted inappropriately in exercising his pastoral duties, perhaps he will call on Phelps' current church to exercise church discipline on HIM, and force HIM to stand in front of his congregation to apologize.

And thank goodness for the "bloggers"...as the WMUR reporter says at the end of her piece, it was a blogger who got the investigation started again after 13 years.

10 Reasons Why I Like Bryant Wright

Tuesday June 15th was quite in interesting day at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. There were fireworks, arguments, passion, a few ugly name callings - and even a claim of "bullying" against the leadership. It was fun to tune in over the Internet while working yesterday.

But today I want to express why I am very pleased to have Bryant Wright elected as the new president of the SBC. I don't know much about Wright yet, but my first look tells me that he is a good selection, maybe the best of all four.

I realize these are not all the best reasons, but they are the after-the-fact reasons from my recalicitrant blogging heart as to why I think I like Wright:

1. He is NOT a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. From what I can tell Wright seems to have no strong connection or allegiance to Paige Patterson or the CR bunch. He did attend Southern Seminary, and earned an MDiv. I haven't heard of him - so apparently he is not a regular on the SBC preaching circuit. As I understand it, he was not the choice of Hunt, Brunson, Patterson, or the other SBC heavies, after all he is not a "Dawctor". Praise the Lord for that. Let's have a clean break from this Pattersonite bunch for a while.

2. He is not a PhD. He has an MDiv, according to his bio. He is not the grand and glorious "Doctor Bryant Wright". Let's get real. Can we drop the "Doctor" crap from these haughty pastors' titles? (Did I just say that? You better believe I did). I'm sick of mega church pastors who think they're intellectual heavy weights and demand to be called "Doctor". I'll take a pastor who goes by "Brother Roy" or "Brother Keith" over some "Doctor Bigwig". If I get sick, I'll go see my "Doctor". If I need my pastor, I'll call "Brother Bill" or "Brother Bob". By the way, I liked how Kevin Ezell and Jimmy Scroggins did not use the "Doctor" titles when referring to men on the platform of the Pastor's Conference this year. Come on, why can't Dr. Ergun Caner be "Brother Mike"? Is he REALLY the intellectual heavyweight that he portrays himself as?

3. He has an honory doctorate, but doesn't call himself "Doctor" . Bryant did not rush out and get a diploma mill doctorate so he could call himself Doctor, either. I think one of the silliest things I've seen is people at the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference calling Junior Hill "Doctor Hill". Are you kidding me? "Doctor Hill"? The guy is "Junior Hill". I'm happy he got an honorary doctorate from somewhere, but to change "Junior Hill" to "Doctor Hill" is absolutely ridiculous, and I'm quite sure Junior prefers to be called "Junior" and not "Dawctor". Give me good 'ole "Junior" over "Doctor".

4. He graduated from an SEC school. He's a Gamecock, graduated from University of South Carolina. Probably likes Steve Spurrier. OK, this has no spiritual significance whatsoever. But I'm an SEC fan, and I like Spurrier. :)

5. He's been at his church for almost 30 years. He didn't get promoted up the chain, wasn't fast-tracked to be a new mega church pastor - therefore he doesn't take orders from Patterson or Hunt. And I have great respect for guys with lots of tenure at one church, who became a mega church pastor through pastoring and not appointment.

6. He didn't start out seeking a position as a "Pastor". He graduated from USC and worked for a chemical company for a few years, then felt a call to go to full time ministry. I like that. And he doesn't have a bio "handle" - it's not "From the Chemical House to the Church House". No apparent embellishments. Just a guy with a regular bio who has served as pastor at one location for three decades.

7. He doesn't seem to be the favorite of Tim Rogers and the SBC Today Bunch. Jimmy Jackson was their choice, so I like Wright just a little more now. I have to believe Ted Traylor was the choice of the Johnny Hunt crowd. Nothing against Traylor or Jackson.

8. Peter Lumpkins wanted Jimmy Jackson. Now I know I REALLY like Wright. The trifecta would be to know Joe Blackmon didn't vote for Wright; then we're really getting somewhere....but Blackmon is not a Southern Baptist, is he? Could it be that Brother Mike (Ergun Caner) didn't vote for Brother Bryant?

9. Has plenty of women on staff, some have title of "Ministers" . Doubt they ordain women, but he has several women on staff that have the title of "Minister". Is there anyone else out there besides me who is a recovering SBC mega church fundy who is beginning to see through the "men only can be leaders" doctrine? I think our churches will be served very well to start allowing women to serve in positions of leadership and ordained ministry. Hey, it was a woman who called out Hunt and Floyd yesterday on the GCR verbiage change to make sure it was what the body wanted, and not what Floyd wanted. More women leaders, please.

10. His church doesn't seem to be caught up in the church marketing craze. Look at his website and their latest video blast. Pretty regular stuff, nothing fancy.

Good to have "Brother Bryant" as the president.

And oh yeah: there won't be any controversy over where he was born and raised. He was "raised in Georgia" - the state, not the country. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two Bloggers Don't Appreciate Mac Brunson's GCR Prayer

No, the picture at left doesn't mean Johnny Hunt lost a contact lens on the platform. Rather, I suppose these men are falling "prostrate" as Mac Brunson prays.

Mac Brunson had a good day, sort of, at the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor's Conference Day 1.

His nominee for the 2011 SBC Pastor's Conference President position was elected by the messengers - good for Mac. The Florida Baptist Witness said Mac gave a "rousing" nomination speech. It was "rousing" maybe a bit "angry", but his guy won! Go Mac!

And then he gave a passionate prayer for the passage of the Great Commission Resurrgence (GCR) in the evening - but not so good for Mac.

Below is the prayer, or at least part of it.

Two bloggers didn't appreciate the prayer, and even criticized and mocked his prayer on the Internet. Imagine that, other pastors criticizing another pastor's prayer!! How cruel!

One pastor, named "Steve", even accused Mac of faking his crying during the prayer - EGADs! A person claiming Mac is crying on cue.

Says "Steve" at his blog "A Fish Called Grace":

"Now, for the disappointing aspects of the evening. Again with the GCR. Lord, have mercy. These people are going to drive me bonkers. And shame on Mac Brunson for the fake crying. I mean, really. Dude. "

Then he goes on to mock Mac's prayer as though it was a shameless attempt to persuade people to vote for the GCR. The audacity of this guy!

Another blogger, Dave Miller at the more popular "SBC Voices" blog expressed similar thoughts about Mac's prayer, saying it was "unseemly" (my emphases below):

"I hate emotional manipulation and pressure tactics. They should not be necessary to anyone who is doing the work of God. If God is in something, if it is his will, the Spirit will move hearts to come in line. If the GCR is God’s will (as [Ronnie] Floyd clearly believes) he does not need to emotionally manipulate and pressure the messengers. Put the truth forward and trust the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts.

I was especially taken aback at something Mac Brunson said. He told us that the Task Force are the leaders of the convention on this issue. I inferred (and I do not think I am being unfair here) that he was saying that we should submit to the will of the Task Force and stop questioning the Report. I found it unseemly.

I have argued strongly for the the GCR, but Floyd and Brunson’s pressure tactics and manipulation could have turned me off to the report if it went on much longer."

Seems the day of pastors licking the boots of the big boys is over, as with the Internet comes instant analysis and criticism from these bloggers.

You'll hear Mac beg God to forgive the pastors for "saying those things we should not have said."

Gee, whatever did he mean by that?


Brunson GCR Prayer from FBCJax Watchdog on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"You Do Know that This is Grounds for Divorce, Right?"

The past 3 years I have received some pretty crazy emails, and heard some remarkably stupid comments directed my way, but the remark that takes the cake is this remark made to my wife by her former Sunday School teacher at FBC Jax shortly after the April 2009 news article was published of the outting of the FBC Jax Watchdog:

"You do know that this is grounds for you to divorce Tom, don't you?"

This statement was made after they had discussed my authorship of the blog, and this person claiming I have sinned grievously, and that if we were so disatisfied at FBC Jax we should have moved our family elsewhere and I should not have taken to blogging.

Then this spiritual mentor of sorts for my wife of many years, put the idea to my wife:

You can divorce your husband over this. Yes, take your kids and leave the house and drop the louse. Split the family, get a lawyer, your husband is a blogger. Your husband has authored many articles very critical of our church and our pastor and staff and members, so:

Divorce him if you want.

I thought my wife receiving a trespass paper signed by six prominent FBC Jax men for the listed offense of "associating with a member committing church misconduct" couldn't be beat, but the "divorce" comment sure knocked it out the park.

My wife was absolutely flabbergasted and shocked to hear this from the woman that she had looked up to for so long at First Baptist. It took my wife several weeks to break the news to me that this is what a prominent woman at First Baptist told her. And I wouldn't be surprised that there are others there who feel the same way: leave the loser, he's a blogger, a scoundrel and maybe worse. He dared harshly criticize the "man of God", and the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, so there's no telling what he is capable of.

I could rant and rave how this mindset is so incredibly cultish, as is the experience of how friends we had for years at FBC Jax don't call, and some that see us around our side of town refuse to make eye contact at restaurants and stores.

But I'll stop there.

I am happy to report that my wife loves me and supports me and is proud of me. And she has shown the strength and grace to endure it all without being bitter or resentful or hateful to those who have wronged her. She doesn't lash out and accuse and express hatred toward her husband's detractors, instead she understands, and with God's grace she carries out her role of caring for her family and loving her husband.

Yes, SHE is the godliest woman I know, FBC Jax. It's your loss that she is no longer able to serve at her church home of over 15 years.

Friday, June 11, 2010

If Ankerberg Were a Clinton Democrat

How sad to read John Ankerberg's statement of support for Ergun Caner, with absolutely no caveats, no acknowledgment whatsoever of lies or embellishments on the part of Caner.

Read Ankerberg's last two sentences of his statement:

"For someone to attack Ergun's selfless sacrifice, especially since they malign his character without any substantiation, is both unchristian and unbiblical. Count me among the many who will stand with Ergun Caner, knowing he stands for the Lord Jesus Christ."

No one is attacking his "selfless sacrifice", and there is plenty of "substantiation".

But this just goes to show you the depths we have sunk to in this day of celebrity-driven evangelicalism - the celebrity status of Ergun Caner must be protected, even at the sacrifice of truth and right.

I used to wonder how in the world Democrats could defend Bill Clinton during the days of the Lewinsky scandal. I thought that the big difference between liberals and conservatives was that conservatives stood on principle, and the principles of truth and justice and right took priority over the personalities espousing those principles.

If Ankerberg worked for the Democratic Party around the time of the Lewinsky scandal and the stained blue dress proving Clinton's infidelity, he could have written this:

"I have known Bill Clinton for nearly a decade. I am disheartened by the recent attacks upon his integrity and character as a philanderer. I have interviewed Bill for more than a dozen television shows and believe him to be faithfully married and monogomous with his wife Hillary Clinton. Otherwise, I would not have lent my credibility to him by associating with him. Bill Clinton, and his wife Hillary, are wonderful Americans who have taken a valiant stand for the poor and downtrodden, even costing them and their families their own comfort. For someone to attack Bill's selfless sacrifice, by maligning his fidelity without any substantiation except a stained blue dress, is both unAmerican and unlawful. Count me among the many who will stand with Bill Clinton, knowing he stands for all that is American."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ergun Caner Coming to Jacksonville!!

Just learned today that North Jacksonville Baptist Church, pastored by Dr. Herb Reavis is scheduled to have Dr. Ergun Caner preach at NJBC on August 29th, 2010.

I know that some NJBC members read this blog, and I have to ask you: how do you feel that your church is having Caner come in, knowing of his many embellishments of his testimony over the past 9 1/2 years that have been reported in many media outlets? Are you happy that your church leadership has decided that CANER of all preachers is the right guy to bring in?

Guess with all the brouhaha over Caner's troubles at Liberty and the ongoing LU investigation into Caner's embellishments, ole Ergun is still landing the speaking gigs - at least this one and also a conference with Jerry Vines Ministries. I hope Caner is getting paid well for his upcoming talks, as he will have to put in double time to come up with an all new schtick since he's been called out on all the racial stereotypes, and any descriptions of his jihadist upbringing and "camel jockey" and "sand nigger" descriptions of himself will go over like a led zepellin now.

But he is very entertaining, quite the performer, and I'm sure he will have the NJBC folks rolling in the aisles.

Or wait a minute - there is another possibility...maybe when they say "Erun Caner" is coming they mean "fake Ergun Caner" from YouTube at www.youtube.com/drerguncaner.
Now THAT would be hilarious!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Some Reflections on the 400th Post by the Watchdog

This blog post marks the 406th posting by the Watchdog over the past 3 years. The 400 post mark is not a particularly important milestone (I intended to make THIS the 400th post but events at Trinity in NH put this off), but I thought I would reflect on the importance that I think blogs and the Internet now play in American evangelical Christianity. I'm sure my thoughts here will make the blood boil of my detractors, but I'm used to that by now. And as some pastors like to say about their sharp words troubling the pew sitters: it just tickles ME pink to know that my words get under pastors' skins! Amen? Amen!

My blogging experience over the past 3 years has been one I might characterize as a spiritual journey of sorts.

As I became concerned over events at my church starting in 2006 under new leadership, I thought that issues troubling me at my church were more local, or isolated to my particular church and its leadership, but soon found out they were just a glimpse of the larger problem within evangelical Christianity. I was a member at FBC Jax for many years, and I saw things that I thought I would never, ever see in my church - that I have blogged about here over the past several years.

So I started a blog. A place where I could raise the consciousness of my fellow church members, to get them to think more deeply about abuses at the church that I thought needed to be answered by the leadership - and a place where people could discuss these issues anonymously if they desired, without fear of reprisal from church leaders.

And my oh my, how my church leaders didn't like my blog and others' blogs. Mega church leaders generally have a fear of any blog that is critical of preachers. Critical blogs are viewed as sin, evil, attacks. Perhaps it is because pastors can't control the messages on blogs - blog posts don't have to be approved by the preacher and his marketing team before being published; and pastors can't keep their donors, er, I mean their sheep - from reading the blogs. So many have sought to shut down, influence, intimidate - even pass resolutions - to get blogs shut down or bloggers discredited - and it has only served to create more blog writers and more blog readers.

As much as celebrity preachers say they love the First Amendment, and want their religious speech protected - their own actions and resolutions show that they want it for themselves, but not so much for the lay person in their church. Preachers love to criticize culture, other faiths, even blast other preachers and denominations with which they disagree - but a lay person analyzing and criticizing THEM - well, that is "sin" in their eyes. And must be stopped.

For a good portion of my three years I blogged anonymously. Yes, the "coward" anonymous blogger, "the coward that he is" as I was affectionately called by one of my dearest fans. I am amazed in this day and time that people still take issue with people's desires to blog anonymously. History tells us how harshly critics of church leadership have been treated. Those who speak about unpopular ideas, or who criticize, especially harshly criticize powerful, religious people, are treated worse than infidels or criminals by church leaders. Even those who seek to expose sexually abusive pastors - they are told their blog is sin because it casts a negative light on the church and on "God's man".

But as I continued to blog about matters at my church, now not anonymously but still under the WD pseudonym, and as I read other blogs and participated in other discussion forums, I realized that the concerns I had at my church, were not just local issues that arrived with the new pastor and leadership team: rather they were more symptoms of larger problems in the Southern Baptist Convention and even evangelicalism as a whole. My blog posts sometimes dealt with what was happening at FBC Jax in the context of what was happening or had already happened at other SBC churches.

God is using these blogs, I believe, for many purposes, one of which is a cleansing of sorts of His church, as the abuses and lies of religious leaders are being exposed, and the laity is being educated as to what really is going on in their church - just as was done in the days of Martin Luther.

God used Luther and the printing press to accomplish His will.

Today, blogs and discussion forums are today's new "printing presses" that are allowing for a Reformation of sorts to take place. [the gnashing you hear are the pastors' teeth as they read this]. Lay people who are no longer just sitting and soaking and forking over 10% so their church can do what they want with the dough with no accountability to the sheep. They want transparency and openness and won't settle for pastors taking over their churches and running them like the CEO of a profit-making enterprise with parishioners and converts viewed as a market to be tapped.

Lay people can examine documents and video and audio of celebrity pastors to see if they are liars in the pulpit - if they make up grand stories, or if they lie about their detractors.

Celebrity preachers can no longer embellish their testimonies or outright lie to their congregations for fear that they will be exposed.

Church leaders who try to cover abusers in their midst, protecting their pastors and their church reputation by accusing the victims or sweeping allegations under the rug - have a much harder time these days as they know their story can be put up on the Internet for all to see.

A prime example of the power of blogs - and why pastors have passed resolutions condemning blogging - is seen in the current Ergun Caner scandal. As much as very powerful men in the SBC who were behind his rocket-launch to instant SBC stardom wanted this issue to just go away and be swept under the rug, bloggers wouldn't allow it to happen. I personally was disgusted to go back and hear Caner's FBC Jax sermon from November 2001 and compare his statements to public documents showing some of his claims to the FBC Jax faithful about himself to be false. I was glad that this blog was used to expose the contents of that sermon - within hours of me realizing what I heard, the excerpts from that sermon were published for all to hear.

So where am I at in this journey of religious blogging? I will continue on. I am a Christian, I love the Lord and I still committed to the Southern Baptist Convention and all they have theologically stood for over the years. I will continue on as a Christian blogger. But I am sad to see what is happening to the SBC at the hands of the new breed of mega church pastor - and I therefore will continue to blog about these issues in evangelical Christianity every chance I get.

I also in due time will have more to say about my past year and a half and the coming year in the legal battles I have fought and am continuing to fight. It will be an interesting tale for sure, and there will be likely many more twists and turns and setbacks - and hopefully some victories - but whatever the outcome I fully intend to tell this part of my story when this long legal process runs its course.

Meanwhile, I'll blog about issues of interest to me, about issues that I am very passionate about in evangelical Christianity, and my journey into blogging will continue.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Glimmer of Hope: So Far Trinity's Fuller is Saying the Right Things

Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope in this Trinity Baptist Church scandal.

After listening to the May 30, 2010 sermon of Trinity's young pastor, Brian Fuller - who now must clean up the mess left by previous pastor Chuck Phelps - just maybe these younger pastors are looking at the deplorable way scandals are usually handled at Baptist churches, and they are learning how NOT to respond to scandal in their church. Fuller's 38-minute sermon is devoted mostly to explaining the need for the church to face the harsh criticism from this scandal without lashing back, take a hard look at themselves and what was done in 1997 and what it says about them now, and see what restitution needs to be made and what change needs to occur at their church.

So maybe the light that has been shone on Baptist scandals by bloggers over the past 5 years is providing results - younger pastors like Fuller realize the tired old cover, sweep-under-the- rug, never-admit-any-wrong-doing, attack and defend tactics are wrong.

You'll notice in his sermon Fuller is not lashing out at church critics or even his personal critics. In fact he tells his church to avoid this temptation, as there may be truth in what is negatively being said about the church. He acknowledges wrong may have been done, that perhaps the church treated the victim wrongly, did not do enough to see justice done to a criminal, and that significant change to their church polity may be required.

When is the last time you heard THAT from a Baptist immediately following the scandal hitting the newspaper about their church?

When you listen to Fuller's sermon, what he did NOT say is just as striking as what he did say.

He did not say "touch not thine annointed".

He is not telling us what a wonderful godly pastor and "man of God" Chuck Phelps was or is.

He is not minimizing the crimes of the perpetrator.

He is not doing as some SBC pastor/bloggers do and lash out and belittle and attack those who are calling for an investigation into a scandal.

He is not blaming the liberal media for attacking his church.

No deacons resolutions about unjust criticism.

He isn't calling his personal critics or his church's critics "the haters".

He hasn't called anyone involved a "sociopath", and the president of the trustees of Trinity is throwing around "coward" accusations.

He didn't fly in two pastor friends to say how wonderful everything is at his church and what a great family he has and that their policies and procedures are hunky dory and that we all need to pray for the reporters salvation.

He didn't hold a Wednesday night prayer meeting and mischaracterize the sins of the criminal as being "non sexual" and nothing "immoral".

He didn't say Phelps' actions were a mistake of the head and not of the heart.

He didn't say that what Phelps did he did because he was charged by God to protect the flock, and then read a scripture and shed a tear while getting a standing ovation. He didn't call their mistakes "stumbles" and make himself out to be the victim of a reporter.

It doesn't sound like he's going to pursue a state baptist resolution demanding bloggers to repent of their divisive words, and I don't think any trespass warnings are coming forth for any critical bloggers or their wives.

None of that. He is contrite, serious, very concerned over what his church may have done - and seems genuinely committed to finding the truth and then making necessary apologies to victims and/or the community.

I know that some WD readers will understandably be skeptical of Fuller. I am too. It's very early. We will wait and see what his actions are now. But the man has already shown that he has more integrity than just about every other mega church pastor in the past 5 years that has faced scandal at his church, because Fuller is focusing INWARD and not OUTWARD. He acknowledges that his church needs to step back and examine themselves and listen to their critics, instead of attacking those who are asking questions.

In fact, he acknowledges their church has lots of questions that need to be answered, and is committed to answering them.

Imagine that: a Baptist pastor who faces a scandal at his church, and right off the bat acknowledges the possiblity his church may have done wrong, and is committed to answering questions and being held accountable and making restitution if necessary.

The following statement appears on their website, with a hyperlink to his 5/30/10 sermon:

"In reviewing the events of October 1997, the present leadership is seeking answers for the victim, our congregation, as well as our entire Concord community. The prayers of our entire church are for justice to be served to the alleged perpetrator, and that mercy and care will be extended to the victim.

To listen to Pastor Fuller's Message to the congregation
click here."

And we all pray that Pastor Fuller will be an example for other Baptist pastors to follow when faced with scandal and wrong-doing in their church.

"I've Never Heard Him Pronouncing Any Arabic Word"



Above is James White's video discussion with a man raised in Syria and whose native language is Arabic. Sorry, Caner defenders, the man is not Muslim, but is Christian, so you can't attack him on that basis. Or shall you say all Syrians are liars?

After they watch and listen to numerous clips of Ergun Caner's supposed Arabic recitations in his sermons, James White asks the man near the end of the video:

"Just from what you've seen here...do you have any reason to believe from what you've seen that Ergun Caner is a native Arabic speaker?"

To which the man replies, in a thick Arabic accent:

"Actually, from what I heard so far, I don't think he knows Arabic. I never heard him pronouncing any Arabic word."

The man did not hear one Arabic word. Translation: Caner is either speaking "jibberish", or he is impersonating someone on TBN speaking in tongues - or both.

We Christians are so gullible. How could this have taken 10 years to expose?

What else are the likes of Caner selling to us and preaching to us that is fake? What other nonsense has been coming forth from conservative Baptist pulpits from our rock star preachers that is false and fake, but hasn't been exposed yet because we worship preachers' great oratory skills and story-telling abilities, and believe everything they say?

Thank you James White for taking the time to provide evidence of Caner's fakery, with nothing to be gained for yourself but getting more ridicule and scorn heaped on you by the likes of Peter "I AM" Lumpkins.

With THAT, Peter,

I am embarrassed for gullible Christians

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Trinity Baptist Victim's Brother Speaks Out On Pastor Chuck Phelps



Local Indianapolis Fox affiliate WXIN ran a story today about Chuck Phelps, the current pastor at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianpolis - and who is one of the central figures in the story of a raped 15-year old at his previous church, Trinity Baptist in Concorde, NH.

This latest news story by reporter Kim King contains excerpts from a phone interview with the victim's brother who says in no uncertain terms people in Indianapolis "should stay as far away as you can" from the church where Phelps is pastor.

I hope the local news folks stay on the case there in Indianapolis and in Concorde, New Hampshire. Here in Jacksonville, Jeannie Blaylock and other local reporters thoroughly covered the Bob Gray scandal and subsequent cover-up in depth at Trinity Baptist Church here in Jacksonville back in 2006 and 2007.

Here is a link to another story running today from ABC News on the Trinity Baptist (NH) scandal.

Thank God for freedom of the press. No Baptist resolutions will stop this "criticism". I suppose the news reporters, and the man quoted in this story, aren't getting the memo that to critize "elected leaders" in Baptist churches is sinful and should be ceased immediately.

Latest Caner Clip: "I Was Held Back a Year" as I Learned English as an Adult

Above is the latest installment of the "Dr. Ergun Caner" YouTube channel. The video image is of our friend, the Ergun Caner impersonator, who is lip-synching words spoken by Ergun Caner at the 2009 "Xtreme Winter Festival" in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. He does a great impersonation of Caner, but the protruding gut is a little on the small side.

While the video impersonation is humorous, the actual words of Ergun Caner are not. He calls illegal immigrants "illegal criminals", but as he has done so many times while out on the preaching circuit he mischaracterizes his own upbringing and experience to give him the platform from which to harshly criticize minorities.

"Let me be very clear. They are not undocumented aliens. They are illegal criminals. I came into this country legally. I stood in the line. And so I say to all the immigrants who come in - I get a lot of immigrant who are, who are uh, students in the seminary, I go "God bless you." I just want to tell you three things: pay ya taxes, learn English, and shut up and quit whining - because - everytime you come here - everytime you come to this country and you say [mocking a foreign accent] "Um, we like America we want to come to this country, let us speak our language" - you are ruining it for the rest of us!

I had to stay out of school for one year, to learn English. I got held back a year, because my English was so poor. I could learn it, and I'm an adult, anybody can learn it."

So Ergun was held back a year, and learned English as an adult, and therefore these lousy no-good immigrants who aren't speaking the language should do what Ergun the Immigrant did as an adult: learn English, and don't "complain" - and immigrants whatever you do, do NOT criticize mega church pastors or you'll be on the first boat back to wherever you came from. Amen? Amen!

But what year was Ergun held back in school? Was it nursery school, or maybe pre-K? All documents we've seen indicate he "stood in line" to get into this country when he was 3 or 4.

I think there is a cowardice element to Caner's words: if Caner truly feels this strongly about illegal immigration, just say it. Why the need to create a cover for himself as having justification for his strong views because he supposedly walked the path of an immigrant not speaking the language who himself overcame these challenges? Man up and say it, don't hide behind a false personna of having walked that same path. In fact, anyone who has truly walked the path of an immigrant to this country who doesn't know the English language would not be so judgmental toward other immigrants as Caner seems to be. I know that for a fact.

This need of Caner's to embellish his own experiences in front of strangers to give him more credibility reminds me of the character "Penelope" played by Kristen Wiig on Saturday Night Live who is obsessed with continually trying to one-up whoever she meets. Enjoy.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Thou Shalt Not Blog"

Here Ye, Here Ye! Thou Bloggers Shall Cease Your Criticism, and Thou Shalt Repent!!

"[we] call upon bloggers to cease the critical second-guessing of these elected leaders, and be it further resolved that all Georgia Baptists respectfully request and expect that individuals who disrupt the felllowship through blogging repent and immediately cease the activity and no longer cause disharmony...." from the Georgia Baptist Convention resolution on blogging, passed November 2007.

"The [blogger] went down to Georgia, he was lookin' for a soul to steal, he was in a bind, 'cause he was way behind, and he was willin' to make a deal"...Charlie Daniels, 1979.

------

As the Ergun Caner scandal has unfolded over the past year, there is no question religious blogs played a pivitol role in getting the word out about the Caner deceptions. The blogs presented evidence, and allowed analysis and commentary by all on their blogs. Through video and audio clips, through parody and satire - by a Muslim in Europe, a female blogger in Oklahoma, a trespassed blogger in Jacksonville, and even a Calvinist professor and debater from California, and many others - the word got out about Caner.

But you have to at least give the Baptist leaders credit for having foresight: they saw the danger blogs presented to their grasp of power and their money faucet back in 2007 - even before that with Wade Burleson's blog, and they came out with this resolution. They realized blogs would be a source of information and an avenue of public discourse and debate amongst the brethren they couldn't control.

And that has created a mammoth problem - e.g., Ergun Caner.

This weekend I re-read the resolution against blogging that the Georgia Baptist State Convention passed in November 2007. I've printed the Georgia resolution at the bottom of this post. At the time of it's passage, the resolution got only scant mention in baptist news outlets (here and here). I gather they don't like critical blogs very much in Georgia - maybe Charlie Daniels' song should be changed: "The blogger went down to Georgia, he was lookin' for a soul to steal..."

Yep, SBC leaders - in Georgia and elsewhere - don't like critical bloggers. They refer to critical blogs as slander, personal attacks, divisive, destructive, and other such adjectives. And there is no question, they would love to exercise their power and influence to shut 'em down if they could, we have hard evidence of such.

So take a look at the Georgia Baptist resolution below, now 2 1/2 years later. I'll post some analysis and commentary on this resolution later. Would love to hear your thoughts on this resolution, and other attempts over the past 5 years in dealing with this problem of recalcitrant bloggers.

This resolution was so successful in stopping blogging, maybe one like it should be introduced at the SBC Annual Meeting this year!

---------------

RESOLUTION ON BLOGGING
submitted by Wayne Bray, pastor
Beulah Baptist Church, Douglasville
and William Harrell, pastor
Abilene Baptist Church, Martinez

WHEREAS the American people have the distinct privilege of freedom of speech as provided by our United States Constitution, and this resolution is not intended to limit that freedom of speech we all value so much; and

WHEREAS responsible blogging can be a means of encouragement of our people, but certain people use this tool for divisive and destructive rhetoric at the expense of peace among the Brethren; and

WHEREAS blogging is also being used by some as a tool for personal attacks among other Christian Brothers and Sisters, and this critical and divisive use promotes a negative view of the Southern Baptist Convention in the eyes of the society we are striving to reach with the Gospel (James 3:6, 14),

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the messengers of this convention oppose blogging when it is used to cause division and disharmony among the members of our Southern Baptist Family (Proverbs 6:16-19; 1 Cor 1:10); and since personal differences should not be dealt with in public view,

BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that all personal attacks should cease immediately (Proverbs 17:27-28; John 17:21-24); and

BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that we affirm the historical method of administering our agencies and institutions through elected boards of trustees, and we call upon bloggers to cease the critical second-guessing of these elected leaders; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all Georgia Baptists respectfully request and expect that individuals that disrupt the fellowship through blogging repent and immediately cease this activity and no longer cause disharmony for the advancement of their own personal opinions and agendas; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we set our eyes once again on the fields to which we are called to labor, refusing to dishonor God with activities that militate against harmony and good will.