A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reflections On The Al Gore Luncheon

I saw an Inconvenient Truth when it first came out in 2005. I was inspired then – but left feeling like I hadn’t heard anything new from when I was an environmental studies major at Baylor University.

At the Stewardship of the Earth luncheon today with Al Gore at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, I had a much stronger reaction – what I would term a response to the call to action, a renewing of my faith and my resolve that Creation Care is the appropriate response to the Gospel.

Gore told us that in Japanese, there are two characters for the word “crisis”: danger and opportunity. In the few years since the movie came out, the climate change has become a greater crisis.

We have the great opportunity, then, to do things better. Climate change is a moral and ethical issue. It is not a theory to debate philosophically.

I was an environmental studies major. I am an environmentalist. For two main reasons:

One) I believe that God created the heavens and the earth and said it was GOOD. And God created us to be stewards of the Creation.

Two) Stewardship of the earth, care of creation, means care of all creation: including those created in God’s OWN IMAGE.

This is what I was convicted of again through Al Gore’s presentation: Climate Change affects the poor and downtrodden the most significantly, and they are LEAST responsible for it.

If we are to love our neighbor, then we MUST be engaged in changing policies and attitudes towards the global climate. The world is waiting for us, the ONLY developed country not to join in the Kyoto Protocol, to be the world leader we claim to be. A new world compact on climate change is in the works, and the US can choose to be a partner to help reverse the impacts of global climate change. If you don’t think that policies on climate change matter, look at this picture of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. You can see the complete devastation of deforestation in Haiti (where the per capita GDP is $713 and civil unrest due to poverty is rampant) on the left. On the right is the Dominican Republic where they have chosen to use their environmental resources as an economic asset, thus preserving their forests. This is an example of exposing the fallacy that protecting the environment and economic success are at odds (another theme Gore touched on).

Al Gore presented the scientific facts (you can look them up, watch the video, watch an Inconvenient Truth). But he also presented Biblical foundations and facts about the effect of climate change on humanity. Over 70% of the world gets its water supply from the 7 rivers whose source is the Himalayan glaciers. These are melting, changing the availability of water, creating alternate drought and flood events, and significantly impacting the ability of the poor of these areas to access water.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The environment is not a singular issue that we can choose to avoid if it doesn’t fit our particular ‘mission’. Creation care affects every single other aspect of our lives and our ministries. To ignore the Creation and the effects of humanity on it (and on the rest of humanity), I believe significantly hinders the Gospel.

This is a problem that is solvable- the money, the technology, the commitment. Well, mostly on the commitment. We need the political will- as Americans we are responsible for 30% of the CO2 emissions in the world, which is more than the rest of the world except for Europe combined. Since we are part of the problem, we CERTAINLY must be part of the solution. We need to respond to this call—to be stewards of the Creation, entrusted to us by the Creator.

This guest commentary was written by Alexis Cooper, Young Adult Coordinator, Texas Baptist Young Professional Network, BGCT Christian Life Commission

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Julie Pennington-Russell @ Covenant Celebration

Tonight’s sermon at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant was given by Julie Pennington-Russell, Senior Pastor of the historic First Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia. Before coming to Decatur, Julie was my pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. Read my past posts about her here. The title of Pastor Julie’s sermon was “The Bible Speaks About Respecting Diversity.”

You can watch the Video HERE. Below are a few snippets from her sermon.

On Our Big Baptist Tent:

“Friends, that is no small accomplishment, we do have some diversity. At least this week we have racial diversity. Thank You Jesus!

We have other differences as well. Theological differences. We Baptists are People of the Book. We look to the pages of this Book, looking for guidance on every subject: War, Women in Church Leadership, Borrowing Money, Creation Care, Alcohol Consumption, Peacemaking, Speaking in Tongues, Role and authority of pastor in the church, miracles, interfaith relationships, abortion, immigration, death penalty, and human sexuality.

Some of our differences are small and some of our differences are substantial but as Baptists we agree to respect each other in our diversity.

A question jogging her mind:

Is this really the gift we came so far to give each other this week? Respecting diversity? Diversity. It’s a fine word. When we’re respectful of each other, God is in that. But truthfully, when you and I open the box and peel back the tissue, is respectfulness the gift we most wanted to find? Or is it something else?

Respect in the end has no power to change something that is fundamentally broken in you and me and between you and me. Only love can do that. Respectfulness is not a bad gift. It’s just that it runs out of steam at the 50 yard line. But love runs all the way down the field like Forest Gump – Out the Endzone and Into the Parking Lot!

The thing that gives me trouble is this. See I know, I have it in my power to be respectful of our differences and can keep you at arms length and even secretly harbor this prideful satisfaction that I am not like you. Love won’t do that. Love doesn’t give a hoot about propriety. And of course Jesus is the face of Love. And when He was here, didn’t he show us that?

It’s love y’all. Why is that so hard for us? And what they often find instead is pews full of people who seem to have figured out everything about Christianity except that it’s about Love. Above us, let’s not doubt that the love of Jesus Christ in Us and Throug Us has the power to change the world. We’re talking about real power.

Friends, there is power just as free and just as frightening running through your church and this room tonight. The power of love wants to blow a hole in our assumptions about each other. Love will uproot you. Love will dislodge you from the place you’ve been living. It’s love – that’s the gift!

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Bill Self Preaches @ New Baptist Covenant

(Bill Self and Otis Moss Jr.)

Bill Self is the Senior Pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. His message on the separation of church and state is one of the most powerful that I’ve heard in a long long long time. Check out this quote:

“When Church And State Go To Bed, They Don’t Make Love, They Don’t Create a Child, One Rapes The Other”

Click HERE to listen to Dr. Bill Self's sermon on keeping Church and State Separate.

UPDATE: If the link returns an error message, simply highlight the URL and press enter and it will work. Geocities is having a few glitches. Or try this URL:


Due to problems with Google Blog Searc, I am cross posting all of my posts here at WordPress. Please see www.thebigdaddyweave.com for full news and commentary from The New Baptist Covenant

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Otis Moss On Prophetic Preaching, Conscience & Courage

(Bill Self and Otis Moss Jr.)

Otis Moss Jr. just preached at the Prophetic Preaching Conference here at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. I've blogged about this preaching confab in the past. Read about it and the Rev. Otis Moss HERE.

Now, here's is a lengthy snippet from Moss's sermon:

Prophetic Preaching is dangerous. Prophetic preachin can get you killed. Prophetic preaching is not necessarily safe but it is saving. It will not keep you from being killed but it will keep you from being ailler. If we are to live our lives in the prophetic tradition, we must be prepared to struggle and in that struggle, we must be prepared to suffer. But when you have stood the storms of life and when you have been shaken , the ground around the roots of your life will be shaken and when the ground is shaken the roots will grow deeper and the limbs will grow wider and the top grows taller and you become warm and better than you are.

There are some testimonies that we will only make when we have been through the storm. So remember, if you have never been through the storm not to boast about it – it simply means you have no strength. No stones - no strength. No stones - deep roots. Howard Thurman said often in his teachings and preachins that God has placed not on our heads a crown for which we must spend the rest of our lives trying to grow tall enough to wear and I think that growth is enhanced by a special kind of suffering….

When we are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when we are anointed by God to preach and teach the Gospel – you don’t have to look for suffering, it will come to you in due time sometimes much sooner than we would desire. But that suffering that comes to us not because we were foolish and made some “out of joint” decisions but because we allowed God to use our lives to God’s own glory.

So, when I struggle, I grow. When I struggle, I become strong. If you would read the first paragraph of Dr. King’s major message at the Riverside Church in New York one year before his assassination when he gave that prophetic message against the war in Vietnam. In that opening paragraph, he makes the statement that often his ministry becomes a vocation of agony. And who is eager to sign up for a vocation of agony in an age of prosperity Gospel. Name it and claim it. How often have you named and claimed a vocation of agony.

Sometimes we can learn from certain traditions beyond where we stand in our own traditions. You know Gandhi talked about the great social sins, one of which was politics without principle. Another he named as wealth without work. Dr. King said on one occasion: vanity asked is it popular?, expediency asked is it safe?, politics asked is it expedient?, but conscience asked is it right? And there comes a time when we must do that which is neither popular nor expedient nor safe but that which is right.

One of the great tragedies of our nation today is found in both in Democratic and Republican parties. The Republican Party has lost its conscience. The Democratic Party has lots its courage. And there is a cry, a cry for the Church to bring back conscience and courage into our public policy and political life. But we cannot bring back conscience and courage if we are waiting for a faith based grant from those who we have followed with a certain kind of strange expectation, not an expectation for justice, but an expectation for charity and a handout and our great teacher both from Yale and Riverside who now rests in eternity said that we should never accept charity as a substitute for justice. Sometimes there is a temptation and not struggle for justice.

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Al Gore Speaks To New Baptist Covenant

Today’s luncheon with former Vice-President Al Gore began with a presentation to Gore from Robert Parham, Executive-Director of the Baptist Center for Ethics also known as EthicsDaily.com. Parham presented Gore with a GREEN BIBLE! (Watch Video HERE)

Gore thanked President Carter & Mrs. Carter for “being the spirit” behind the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. He then introduced himself:

I am Al Gore and I used to be the next President of the United States of America. That’s not funny to me. I flew on Air Force 2 for 8 years and now I have to take off my shoes to get on an airplane!

Gore on the Climate Crisis:

“Here we are the beginning of the 21st century facing a Climate Crisis, a word that conveys a sense of alarm. In every crisis, there is an opportunity for a new awakening and a reassessment and change of course and an opportunity to do things better. That’s what the Climate Crisis is all about.”

“I think there is a distinct possibility of one of the messages coming out of this gathering and this New Baptist Covenant is Creation Care - that we who are Baptists of like mind in attempting to glorify God are not going to countenance the contempt on God’s Creation.”

“This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue. It is a spiritual issue. It is about our duty to our planet and our children. What about the rest of us? Do we have what it takes to do difficult things?...We brought forth freedom in this world. If we make up our minds to do it – WE CAN DO IT!”

Don’t tell me we can’t solve this Climate Crisis. If we had just one weeks worth of the money spend on the War in Iraq, we’d be well on our way to solving it!... Come let us reason together, inconvenient it may be!"

We’ll have more on the Al Gore luncheon later with guest commentary from Alexis Cooper of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.


Marian Wright Edelman & Tony Campolo Videos

You can watch the videos of this morning's sermons with Tony Campolo and Marian Wright Edelman below:

Tony Campolo

Marian Wright Edelman

Snippets from Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News Religion blog:

Evangelist Tony Campolo gave a full-throated call for gospel-based social action this morning to several thousand Baptists gathered in Atlanta for the Celebration of New Baptist Covenant.

"We're losing this generation of young people because we've made Christianity too easy for them," he said, arguing that youth will respond to a faith that challenges them to tackle issues of poverty, insufficient health care, and peace making. "We've let them off the hook."

He also told retired people in the crowd that they should give up golf in favor of Christian service. "Rise up, you suckers, and go out and do the work of Jesus."

Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, spoke later in the morning and called on the crowd to join in the cause of providing health insurance for all children.

"God did not make two classes of children .... "We do not have a money problem ... We have a priority and values problem."

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Baptist Covenant and President Jimmy Carter

Here’s my Recap of President Carter’s speech which you should watch HERE.

Carter was introduced as the husband of the most famous Baptist deacon in the world; President Carter cracked a smile and commented on it. He looked at the crowd and said that earlier in the day he was worried when he saw the big auditorium and its empty seats but he looked out tonight and thanked the crowd for filling the seats.

Carter proclaimed that this even, the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant was the most important of his religious life. After recounting an effort to unite Southern Baptists in the early 1990s that did not work, President Carter asked the crowd to please focus on unity and not criticize others

President Carter asked a series of questions and said that they had been used to divide Baptists. He asked the crowd to refrain from answering them as he asked them. They included: do you believe that women should be given equal opportunity in the church, including opportunities to be a deacon or pastor? Do you believe that women should be submissive? Do you believe that the world was created in 4004 BC? Do you believe that the world was created 15 million years ago? Do you believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to participate in the life of the Church? Do you believe that homosexual sin is so horrible that gays and lesbians should be excluded from the church?

Then Carter asked people to answer the next question? Do you believe that we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ? The crowd said “yes.”

Carter’s point was that while he recognized that the first set of questions were important, that they were not as important as the question of our common salvation that unites us. We shouldn’t allow different interpretations of individual Scripture passages to divide us.

Carter said that the world’s picture of Christians is one of division. We need to change that and present a picture of unity around the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And now a few thoughts from my pops, Dr. Doug Weaver, Baptist Historian and professor of religion at Baylor University. BDW Sr. is the author of the upcoming book being released by Mercer University Press entitled In Search of The New Testament Church: A History of Baptists.

Each of the early speakers referred to the fact that this type Baptist wide meeting (different races, different geographical regions) had never occurred before. This is simply the most important reason for being here. To be part of a meeting that combines white and black Baptists, Baptists from the north and the south, and to see representatives from Baptist groups worldwide (Mexico, European Baptist Federation, BWA) was simply awe inspiring. To be a “child of the South” and not understand and not appreciate the significance of this kind event for the future is beyond my comprehension.

This meeting easily shows that being Baptist still has relevance in the 21st century. New types of cooperation are being developed; groundbreaking and barrier breaking progress is possible when the best of the Baptist tradition flourishes– freedom for the individual conscience, freedom for the local church to practice autonomy AND cooperation, freedom to affirm soul competency without being charged with hyper-individualism, freedom to practice community in a congregational worship setting that values the voice of each person and the corporate voice of the group as a body of Christ, freedom to advocate for religious liberty and the separation of church and state, freedom to be a Bible believing people who regard Jesus Christ as the ultimate criterion for interpreting Scripture, and freedom to accept the grace of God and receive salvation through Jesus Christ.

And All The Baptists Said? Amen.

For more commentary, see also:
New Baptist Covenant - Day 1
For God's Sakes Shut Up! - Recap
Bold Confessor - NBC, Day 1 (Check him out)
Mainstream Baptist - Strong Beginnings

Also, if you enjoy the quality of the pictures on my blog post - know that they did not come from my camera. I had the privilege of "borrowing" them from a girl taking pictures for BAPTIST PRESS!

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New Baptist Covenant & Dr. William Shaw

Dr. William Shaw, Pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA and President of the National Baptist Conventi USA, Inc. delivered a powerful message entitled "The Bible Speaks About Peace With Justice."

Watch Shaw's message HERE.

But here are a few snippets:
"Because we're Baptists, we read the Bible"

"What Jesus was about was not just bringing relief to the poor, not just shades to the blind, but sight to the blind. And each of the instances that he concretizes his mission, he expresses the work of reversal not relief - even the issue of justice is tied up to Jesus' definition of his ministry because if you read in Isaiah where he read from the Book, he says because I LOVE JUSTICE and I HATE INEQUITY. So that justice itself is ooted in the raelity of the incarnation and is rooted in the reality of creation; for when God made mankind, he made us male and female in HIS image."

"To do injustice to anybody is to do injustice to the reality of God because we are in HIS image and HIS image is not to be demeaned. You really can't embrace the mission of Jesus and not be confronted with the reality of the claims of justice and that reality is deeply challenging because when Jesus came he came not with actions of charity, he came to change"

"One of the tragedies of injustice is that it dims people's idea and visions of what's possible"

"Peace is not just the absence of disturbance. Calm without justice is an allusion to peace. It is disguised oppression. One looks at Kenya now. One sees the breakout of warfare there and the warfare was not stimulated just by contested election results but grew out of inequities between the tribes and perpetrated in the democratic governmantal set up in the country. …it might have looked like Kenya was at peace but what they had was a simmering volcano because justice had not been done. one looks in the middle east and we look for calm there but calmness will not come and will not mean justice until justice is done for those who have been displaced and for those whose lives are threatened now because of the imbalance now." One looks at our own history in America. It has been calm but no justice in it. The native population has been displaced; they have been calm on the reservation but no peace, enslaved imported into this country and for a long time there was calm but not peace and in the days of segregations there is someone who has come in to disturb the peace ofour communities, it was the denial of dignity in the name of segregation and that finally exploded; there is no peace without justice...there is no morality without justice"

"If it is right that children who are conceived should be brought to birth (and it is); then it is also right that children born should have the right to life, and if there is no right to life and if there is no right to live and the right to be born becomes a tool of injustice."

"Because God loved us enough that he didn’t stay in heaven waiting for us to get to him, hecame to earth and subjected himself to the thigns of which he is exposed."

"Baptists are people of the Book and we are people who can read the word for itself and then there is nobody who can correct my individual belief because we are directly tied to God ourselves."

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Today We Celebrate A New Baptist Covenant

The New Baptist Covenant Celebration opened up earlier tonight. According to Lance Wallace of CBF Communications, the World Congress Center seats 15,000. The place was near capacity.

Bill Underwood, President of Mercer University opened up the Celebration with a powerful message. The website of the New Baptist Covenant (www.newbaptistcovenant.com – click on Videos) will be showing the plenary sessions. Watch Underwood’s WELCOME there.

Here are a few snippets from President Underwood:
"After generations of cleaning up wrongs between us. After generations of separation. After generations of division. Divisions by geography. Divisions by theology. But most of all divisions by race. A new day has dawned. Today in this place from the North and the South, from Canada, from Mexico, from throughout the United States and around the World - Baptists who are Black and Baptists who are White, Baptists Who Are Brown, Baptists who are Conservative, Baptists who are Moderate, Baptists who are Progressive. Today we all sit down together at the table of Christian brother and sisterhood. By coming together here in Atlanta, we acknowledge that the things that have divided us should not and these thigs must not obscure what we share in common...and that is our commitment to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Today we Celebrate a New Day. We Celebrate A New Baptist Covenant. A Covenant that We Will United Together To Create An Authentic and Genuine Baptist Voice in These troubled Times. A Covenant that we will Unite In Our Commitment to Traditional Baptist Values including sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality. We will unite and honor the commandment of our Lord and Savior that we will love our neighbor as God has loved us."
Now, that's some good stuff!

After President Underwood began the Celebration by reading Luke 4, Sonny Perdue, the Republican Governor of the State of Georgia and a Southern Baptist Sunday School Teacher, addressed the crowd. Representing the “Bald Baptists” (his joke), Perdue proclaimed to the audience his “joy to stand up in front of you as a Baptist.”

Dr. David Goatley who serves as the President of the North American Baptist Fellowship of the Baptist World Alliance offered a few encouraging words. He said, “never before have Baptists...sought to explore possibilities of cooperation for missions and ministries - something that has never happened before. We're glad you're here.

Babs Baugh of the Baugh Foundation (Texas) was also recognized for her contribution of over 500,000 dollars to make the Celebration possible! So, thebigdaddyweave.com gives a big thank you to the Baugh family who is always generous especially in the arena of religious liberty!

Shirley Franklin the mayor of Atlanta also spoke. Franklin who I had the privilege of meeting a few times during my time with Congressman John Lewis is in her second term and is considered by TIME Magazine as one of the five most effective big city mayors in the United States. She was the first woman elected mayor of Atlanta and the irst African-American woman elected as mayor in any major city in the South.

The Scripture readings were:
Isaiah 9:6-7
Micah 4:3-4
Romans 14:17-19

Charles Wade, the outgoing Executive Director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, gave a stirring prayer that really excited the audience. Amens were heard from every corner of auditorium. Wade denounced "evil men and women who exploit children" and "religious leaders who suppress conscience and the soul as though they are not aware that you God are Lord of the soul."

See my next post for commentary and snippets from Dr. William Shaw and President Jimmy Carter.

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Live Bloggin @ NBC, Part 1

We're bloggin live at thebigdaddyweave.com

Bill Underwood's Welcome was absolutely inspiring, Charles Wade delivered with a stirring prayer, and the special music was fabulous. Right now, we're listening to a sermon on The Bible Speaks About Peace With Justice by Dr. William Shaw, Pastor White Rock Baptist Church in Philly and and President of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc.

Jimmy Carter is up next. Tune in to www.baptiststoday.org and watch the live feed.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Baptist Covenant in The New York Times

This past weekend over half-a-dozen articles were written in newspapers across the country on this week's Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant which is being held at the World Congress Center in the ATL from Wednesday - Friday.

Several of the articles either focused more on the Southern Baptist Convention or were riddled with factual errors. But there were at least two noteworthy articles that I'd like to point you to.....

The New York Times: A Baptist Coalition Aims For Moderate Image

For more than 150 years, Baptists in the United States have splintered along political, theological and racial lines. But this week, some of the country’s largest Baptist groups — representing about 20 million believers — will meet to try to mend the old fractures and, some leaders say, present a more diverse and moderate image of their faith than the one offered by the conservative Southern Baptist Convention.

....The meeting’s statement of shared purpose, known as its covenant, calls for Baptists to focus on their traditional values, like “sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ,” and to work together on social issues like fighting poverty. It does not create a new denomination.

“I would like to see a demonstration that Christians who have different backgrounds and different political and theological orientations and geographical locations can come together in the spirit of unity,” Mr. Carter said, “not just for Baptists, but for Christians all over the world.”

Sounds good, huh? Not so according to Richard Land, self-appointed spokesman for all things Baptist. Land declares:
“This is part of the continuing search for significance by those who lost in the struggle for control of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Mr. Land said.
Ah, Richard. Poke him in the belly and I bet Land will ooze arrogance. Without Fred Thompson in the picture to go Ga-Ga over, it seems that Mr. Land has nothing better to do than insult a group of fellow Baptists. At least Bill Harrell, chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, chose to take the higher road.

Speaking of Southern Baptists, be sure to check out Bruce Prescott's podcast interview with Rev. Ben Cole of Enid, Oklahoma. Cole, a young Southern Baptist leader and a former classmate of mine, will be attending the Celebration in Atlanta this week.

Of all the articles on the NBC that I've read, this snippet with a quote from Bill Leonard has to be my favorite.
But for it to work, many participants said, Baptists must first learn what it means to be a Baptist. Local church autonomy, freedom of conscience, the right to interpret the Bible for oneself, and the separation of church and state have historically been the hallmarks of Baptist faith, Leonard said.

"A good Baptist never expects anyone to agree with him or her completely, but should always demand that his or her voice be heard," Leonard said. A Baptist historian, he will be teaching a class on the distinctive Baptist touchstones at the conference.

Ain't that true. I know of at least a few Baptist churches that aren't quite sure of what it really means to be Baptist. Bill Leonard's class at the NBC on Baptist Distinctives would do us all some good.

See also by Big Daddy Weave:
The New Baptist Covenant Required Reading Series
Bloggin' At The New Baptist Covenant
David Gushee, Race & The New Baptist Covenant

Texas Baptist Delegation Headed to NBC Celebration
BGCT Presidents Support New Baptist Covenant
Texas Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant, Part 1
Texas Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant, Part 2
Canadian Baptists Support The New Baptist Covenant
Big Daddy Weave Makes West Coast News On NBC

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The New Baptist Covenant Required Reading Series

If you're a first time reader and have found my blog via Baptists Today, let me first say Welcome to www.thebigdaddyweave.com! I am The Big Daddy Weave. More biographical info including my e-mail address can be found to your right under my picture with fellow Baptist and Civil Rights hero, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.

Instead of re-writing a column on why I am excited about the upcoming Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant or why the NBC is an important event, I'm going to point you to a three-part series published recently in Report from the Capital, a monthly publication of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

In the October edition of RFTC, Dr. Jimmy Allen penned an article entitled The Importance and Urgency of the New Baptist Covenant. Noting that the last time a meeting of all kinds of Baptists came together to "worship, plan, and prioritize our witness in the world" was in 1814 at the Triennial Convention, Allen describes this week's Celebration as "unprecedented" and "long overdue." I agree. You can read Dr. Jimmy Allen's article here.

And in this month's issue of RFTC, Dr. Emmanuel McCall, past national moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and vice president of the Baptist World Alliance, has contributed a piece entitled WHEN ALL GOD'S CHILDREN GET TOGETHER: A Perspective On The New Baptist Covenant. McCall lists six promising reasons why the Celebration will be a success. He notes that:
While there have been other attempts to overcome the racial and social barriers among Baptists in the south, none are as promising as The New Baptist Covenant. It has the advantage of building on past attempts, learning from past mistakes, having new persons in significant leadership of the various representative bodies; the support of social, educational and political progress; and the desire to see the Church live up to divine expectations.
Finally, saving myself for last, I -The Big Daddy Weave - authored what was the second-part of this incredible three-part series. My article which was included in the November/December issue was named: Soul Freedom and the New Baptist Covenant. Here's a snippet:
Just 100 years ago, Baptist minister Walter Rauschenbusch, the father of the Social Gospel Movement, penned a series of five brief articles titled “Why I Am A Baptist.” Rauschenbusch wrote: “We may be Baptists by birth, but we must become Baptists by conviction. ...I began by being a Baptist because my father was, but today I am a Baptist, because, with my convictions I could not well be anything else.”

Like Rauschenbusch, I too am the son of a Baptist minister. And like Rauschenbusch, I was also “born” a Baptist. But even after experiencing the coercion and forced conformity of fundamentalism firsthand, I remain a Baptist because of my convictions. At the heart of those convictions is what prominent early 20th century Baptists, E.Y. Mullins and G.W. Truett, referred to as “soul competency,” and James Dunn dubbed “soul freedom.” Walter Shurden has stated that soul freedom is the “stackpole around which Baptist convictions develop.” In the words of Rauschenbusch himself, “The Christian faith, as Baptists hold it, sets spiritual experience boldly to the front as the one great thing in religion.” Indeed, if there is one tie that binds us Baptists together, it is our belief that each person has the freedom, ability, and responsibility to respond to God directly without a human mediator. No priest. No bishop. No magisterium. And definitely no spiritual masters.
If you've already read this series of articles - my apologies. I'll have more on Tuesday. And beginning on Wednesday, I'll be livebloggin the Celebration along with the Baptists Today Team. So come back often, comment in the post or send me an e-mail.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Keeping Church & State Separate: AU & Frank Page

Two interesting bits of news coming from religious liberty watchdog Americans United.

Americans United Asks the IRS to Investigate Church That Endorsed Obama
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a Nevada church whose pastor called for the election of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama from the pulpit on Sunday.

Obama spoke during services at the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ in Las Vegas on Jan. 13 in what the Las Vegas Review-Journal described as a “surprise appearance.” Before the Illinois senator arrived, Pastor Leon Smith told the congregation, “The more he (Obama) speaks, the more he wins my confidence, and ... if the polls were open today, I would cast my vote for this senator.”

Smith added, “If you can’t support your own, you’re never going to get anywhere.... I want to see this man in office.”
Americans United Cautions Frank Page & the SBC
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has cautioned the top official of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that using his denominational news agency to oppose Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani raises federal tax law issues.

In a Jan. 24 letter, Americans United advised SBC President Frank Page that the Internal Revenue Code prohibits the use of tax-exempt resources to support or oppose candidates for public office.

Americans United acted after learning of a Jan. 21 analysis distributed by Baptist Press, the SBC’s official news agency. The analysis stated in part, “Page said he agrees with James Dobson of Focus on the Family that a united front against Giuliani is needed and that ‘evangelicals can realistically defeat him.’ Even a ticket with Giuliani on top and Huckabee for vice president ‘would be problematic for Dr. Dobson and myself,’ Page said.”
In case Frank didn't know (which is hard to believe), the Internal Revenue Code bars religious leaders from using their pulpits, newsletters or other official resources to advocate or oppose candidates. With all of these high-profile ministers and organizations who have endorsed Democratic and Republican candidates this election season, I wouldn't be surprised to see the IRS make an example of someone.

And how many more pastors on the political left does Americans United have to threaten or caution before those on the Right realize that AU isn't out to get just conservatives who violate federal tax law??? History speaks for itself. And AU has a history of going after those on the Right and Left, equally.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Barack Obama and the Pro-Abortion Myth

Christianity Today has posted an interview with Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. In the interview, Obama addresses the subject of abortion. Check out the exchange below:

For many evangelicals, abortion is a key, if not the key factor in their vote. You voted against banning partial birth abortion and voted against notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. What role do you think the President should play in creating national abortion policies?

I don't know anybody who is pro-abortion. I think it's very important to start with that premise. I think people recognize what a wrenching, difficult issue it is. I do think that those who diminish the moral elements of the decision aren't expressing the full reality of it. But what I believe is that women do not make these decisions casually, and that they struggle with it fervently with their pastors, with their spouses, with their doctors.

Our goal should be to make abortion less common, that we should be discouraging unwanted pregnancies, that we should encourage adoption wherever possible. There is a range of ways that we can educate our young people about the sacredness of sex and we should not be promoting the sort of casual activities that end up resulting in so many unwanted pregnancies.

Ultimately, women are in the best position to make a decision at the end of the day about these issues. With significant constraints. For example, I think we can legitimately say — the state can legitimately say — that we are prohibiting late-term abortions as long as there's an exception for the mother's health. Those provisions that I voted against typically didn't have those exceptions, which raises profound questions where you might have a mother at great risk. Those are issues that I don't think the government can unilaterally make a decision about. I think they need to be made in consultation with doctors, they have to be prayed upon, or people have to be consulting their conscience on it. I think we have to keep that decision-making with the person themselves.

Obama is right. I don't know anybody who is pro-abortion either. The dichotomy that has been constructed that says one is either "Pro-Life" or "Pro-Abortion" is a false one. The pro-abortion label is a slur used by many conservative evangelicals to smear their fellow Christians who vote for candidates not from the Republican Party.

Have those Christians who employ such rhetoric read the former Catholic Governor Mario Cuamo on abortion and public morality? In light of Huckabee's constitutional amendment plans, Mario Cuamo is more relevant than ever. If only they could understand and absorb what the American Catholic philosopher Michael Novak once wrote: "Religious judgment and political judgment are both needed, but they are not identical."

Meanwhile, many of these same conservative evangelicals are shifting their support from Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson to John McCain who isn't your average Mr. Pro-Lifer. At a debate last year at the Ronald Reagan library, John McCain loudly voiced his support for expanding federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Though McCain did not support the repeal of Roe v. Wade back in 1999, now he believes that Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision and promises to only nominate judges to the Supreme Court that will not "legislate from the bench." However, McCain has not declared that he will nominate judges willing to overturn 35 years of settled law. There is a big difference between simply being a judge who is pro-life and being a pro-life judge with the cojones to be party to such a revolutionary decision. If you'll remember, John McCain was one of the leaders of the Gang of 14. Further, McCain has always declared that if Roe were overturned, exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother should be made by the individual states.

Folks, John McCain's pro-life positions aren't so simplistic. While clearly many pro-life evangelicals including some Southern Baptists have expressed their willingness to accept McCain's more complex pro-life position - they turn around, dumb things down, get simplistic and label Barack Obama and his supporters as being pro-abortion! I don't get it.

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Bloggin' At The New Baptist Covenant

Last month I announced that the big daddy weave will be bloggin' for Baptists Today at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration which kicks off in less than a week! Here's a snippet from that announcement found in the Baptist Studies Bulletin:
Baptists Today looks forward to being present and to providing timely reports. We have a team of four bloggers lined up to give continually updated information at www.baptiststoday.org. Online editor Bruce Gourley and guest blogger Aaron “Big Daddy” Weaver will do live blogging as events unfurl. Think of them as doing “play-by-play” reporting of the action.

Contributing editor Tony Cartledge and I will do the “color commentary,” seeking to give interpretation and analysis of the various addresses. Additionally, we will post or link to the varied news stories coming out of the meeting. So we invite you to keep up with the historical gathering of Baptists Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 at www.baptiststoday.org. We’ll be there whether you can make it or not.

For complete coverage of the New Baptist Covenant, www.baptiststoday.org is the site to bookmark. Baptists Today will have links to our updated blogs, exclusive photos from the Celebration, easy access to the Live Video Stream, detailed Program Schedule and a link to the Online Discussion forum being hosted by BaptistLife.com

If you're planning on bloggin' at the Celebration, let me know here in the comment thread or via e-mail at aaron_weaver@baylor.edu - I'd like to know so that I can point readers in your direction as well. I have been told that the always insightful Don Byrd of the Baptist Joint Committee will be bloggin' during the Celebration over at Blog from the Capital. So make sure to check out Don too. I'm rather certain that Bruce Prescott of Mainstream Baptist and proprietor of the New Baptist Covenant blog along with church-state expert Melissa Rogers will provide their daily thoughts and analysis too.

Any thoughts, comments and/or suggestions from my readers and veteran live bloggers are more than welcome!!


Monday, January 21, 2008

Wall Street Journal: Baptists and Church Discipline

The Wall Street Journal offers a fascinating look at the growing movement among very conservative Protestant pastors to bring back church discipline. The article is entitled Banned From Church. Check it out.

On a quiet Sunday morning in June, as worshippers settled into the pews at Allen Baptist Church in southwestern Michigan, Pastor Jason Burrick grabbed his cellphone and dialed 911. When a dispatcher answered, the preacher said a former congregant was in the sanctuary. "And we need to, um, have her out A.S.A.P."


Half an hour later, 71-year-old Karolyn Caskey, a church member for nearly 50 years who had taught Sunday school and regularly donated 10% of her pension, was led out by a state trooper and a county sheriff's officer. One held her purse and Bible. The other put her in handcuffs. (Listen to the 911 call)

The charge was trespassing, but Mrs. Caskey's real offense, in her pastor's view, was spiritual. Several months earlier, when she had questioned his authority, he'd charged her with spreading "a spirit of cancer and discord" and expelled her from the congregation. "I've been shunned," she says.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Barack Obama Preaches @ Ebenezer Baptist Church

Below is a snippet from Barack Obama's inspiring sermon delivered today at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia where Daddy King Sr. and the late great Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. served.

What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.

We have an empathy deficit when we’re still sending our children down corridors of shame – schools in the forgotten corners of America where the color of your skin still affects the content of your education.

We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can’t afford a doctor when their children get sick.

We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.

We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.

And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion; when it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed; the sick He calls on us to care for; the least of these He commands that we treat as our own.

So we have a deficit to close. We have walls – barriers to justice and equality – that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of this hour.

HT: Levellers


Friday, January 18, 2008

Mike Huckabee, Roy Barnes & That Racist Flag

Enjoying Georgia? Thank a Democrat!

Back in early high school, I had a bumper sticker that said just that on my guitar case.

There used to be a time when such a statement wasn't laughable. Dems controlled the House. Dems controlled the Senate. And a Democrat had resided in the Governor's Mansion since Reconstruction. Bill Clinton even carried Georgia in 1992. However, the fate of Georgia was sealed with Dole's Georgia victory in 1996 and Governor Sonny Perdue's big win in 2002.

Back to me. My personal decision to identify as a Democrat had little to do with Bill Clinton and absolutely nothing to do with my fellow Baptist, President Jimmy Carter.

I understood WHY I was and had always been a Democrat because of this man - former Governor Roy Barnes of Georgia. My fascination as a young boy with the Civil Rights Movement and freedom-fighters like Dr. King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth helped me understand the importance of fairness and equality. Roy Barnes helped me to see that fairness and equality was and is best embodied in the Democratic Party.

But back in 2001, Roy Barnes had the courage to remove the Confederate Emblem from its prominence on the state flag. Barnes understood that the racist Confederate Emblem was a symbol of hate. His decision to change the state flag was protested by thousands and ultimately cost him his job. For his courage, Gov. Barnes was selected by a bi-partisan committed named by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation to receive the Profile in Courage Award.

Roy Barnes is an American Hero.

Unfortunately, Mike Huckabee is not.

Here's what Huckabee said just yesterday in South Carolina:
"You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag," Huckabee said at a Myrtle Beach campaign event. "In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do."

Later, in Florence, he repeated the remarks. "I know what would happen if somebody comes to my state in Arkansas and tells us what to do, it doesn't matter what it is, tell us how to run our schools, tell us how to raise our kids, tell us what to do with our flag — you want to come tell us what to do with the flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole."

Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan dubbed Huckabee's comments - "repulsive pandering."

Unfortunately, pandering to racists is still cool in the Grand Old Party. I hope and actually don't think that yesterday's statements represent the real Mike Huckabee. In 1997, Huckabee spoke at the 40th anniversary ceremony commemorating the integration of Little Rock Central High. Here's a snippet from that speech:
Some have asked: how long are we going to deal with this Central crisis situation? Are we going to have to relive it every few years? And I know there were some who were frankly made to feel very uncomfortable about all of these activities because some felt that it would just resurrect feelings and anxieties.

Well, let me tell you how long we will deal with it -- until justice is the same for every human being whether he or she is black or white, we will deal with it. Until the same rules apply to get a bank loan for every person regardless of who he or she is, we will deal with it. As long as there are whites who turn around and see a black person coming and bring fear to their hearts, we will deal with it. And as long as there are blacks who look and see and have resentment toward a white person, we will deal with it. We will deal with it until the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King lives in all of our hearts, and that is that we will judge people by the character of their hearts and not by the color of their skin.

Huckabee should have either spoke out against the flag or at least kept his mouth shut. His pandering to flag-waving racists who try to pull the wool over our eyes with their Heritage Not Hate bullcrap is quite unbecoming of a man who professes to be a "Christian Leader" and hopes to be President of the entire United States of America.

When I was a little boy growing up on the campus of Brewton-Parker College in Mt. Vernon, Georgia - I used to believe that "Republicans" were racists and "Democrats" were not. Why? The few Democrats that I knew were educated professors and professionals who talked sophisticated and had a clean mouth. They didn't own a Confederate Flag. The "Republicans" that I knew were the folks who spoke ill of "blacks", used the N-word and had that Confederate emblem plastered on their truck or a hanging from a wall in their home. As someone who was in church each time the doors swung open - unfortunately most of the "Republicans" that I knew were my fellow church members.

Of course I was wrong. After all, I was only 9 or 10. A racist is a racist. And I know both Republicans and Democrats who are stone cold racists. Many do not have a racist bone in their body.

But Mike Huckabee doesn't help fix the perception that Republicans are racists - a perception that many little boys like myself clung tightly to. I know that I wasn't alone. My feelings and perceptions were not unique especially in south Georgia.

On Monday, many of us will officially celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Meanwhile we have a Presidential candidate who many consider to be a frontrunner gallivanting across the state of South Carolina pandering to racists. Sad. Just sad.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Al Mohler's Rightly Ordered Family

According to Reason magazine, by 2017 women college graduates will outnumber male college graduates by a ratio of 3-to-2. Female students already outnumber male students on college and university campuses across America.

But Al Mohler is not happy. Instead of applauding women who have made a decision to get that diploma, Al asks: Is Matriarchy the Shape of the Future?

Read the article here
. Below is a snippet:
Christians committed to a biblical model of marriage and gender relations must look to this social revolution with a deeper level of concern. The most significant concern must be the long-term consequences of a new matriarchal world order. While Christians support the cause of higher education, the biblical worldview puts a higher priority upon the rightly ordered family and church. This dramatic social change will only serve to subvert that purpose.
This paragraph says it all. Not only is Al opposed to women-in-ministry but he's essentially opposed to women in the workplace. Rightly ordered family? What does that mean? Keeping the women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen? And to think, Time Magazine considers Al to be the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S."

For those who still claim the tag Southern Baptist - Al Mohler represents the future of the Southern Baptist Convention. And in less than 6 months, Al Mohler will be the new face of the Southern Baptist Convention....


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mike Huckabee's Faith-Based Constitution

According to MSNBC, presidential Mike Huckabee has called for amendments to the Constitution for the explicit purpose of making it more acceptable to God.

with a hat tip to BJC's Blog from the Capital:
"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than trying to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family." - Mike Huckabee, January 14, 2008

This is quite scary. Huck wants to start making changes to the United States Constitution, a secular document that serves as the foundation for our system of government, based on what he believes to be God's standards. Whatever happened to pluralism? We do live in a pluralistic society. Whatever happened to serving the common good? I'm a little amazed Huck was actually that open and honest with his intentions. Wow.

It seems the former Southern Baptist pastor has forgotten his pledge on Meet the Press:

“The key issue of real faith is that it never can be forced on someone. And never would I want to use the government institutions to impose mine or anybody else’s faith or to restrict.”

So, Huck won't use government institutions to impose his faith on his fellow Americans. Yet, he's calling for a renovation of the Constitution to reflect God's standards?

Greg Boyd, a popular theologian, author and pastor, has a few questions for Huck. Here he is:
Now, I can't help but wonder what this sincere man means when he says he wants to "Amend the constitution to fit God's standards." The crowd apparently knew, for they cheered wildly. But I'm just not that bright. Does it mean Huckabee wants to jettison the whole "inalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" deal -- because that certainly is nowhere to be found in the book of "God's Standards" (the Bible). Quite the opposite actually.

Maybe it means that Huckabee wants to lose the whole "all men are created equal" clause, since that's not in the book of "God's Standards" either. Conversely, acceptance of slavery and women being treated like property runs pretty much throughout the whole book of "God's standards." Is this what Huckabee means in calling for us to amend the constitution?


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mike Huckabee - A Hypocritical Southern Baptist?

From Fox News South Carolina Debate Transcript:
CAMERON: Governor Huckabee, to change the subject a little bit and focus a moment on electability. Back in 1998, you were one of about 100 people who affirmed, in a full-page ad in the "New York Times," the Southern Baptist Convention's declaration that, quote, "A wife us to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband." Women voters in both parties harshly criticized that. Is that position politically viable in the general election of 2008, sir?

HUCKABEE: You know, it's interesting, everybody says religion is off limits, except we always can ask me the religious questions. So let me try to do my best to answer it. (APPLAUSE) And since -- if we're really going to have a religious service, I'd really feel more comfortable if I could pass the plates, because our campaign could use the money tonight, Carl.

First of all, if anybody knows my wife, I don't think they for one minute think that she's going to just sit by and let me do whatever I want to. That would be an absolute total misunderstanding of Janet Huckabee. The whole context of that passage -- and, by the way, it really was spoken to believers, to Christian believers. I'm not the least bit ashamed of my faith or the doctrines of it. I don't try to impose that as a governor and I wouldn't impose it as a president. But I certainly am going to practice it unashamedly, whether I'm a president or whether I'm not a president. But the point...... the point, and it comes from a passage of scripture in the New Testament Book of Ephesians is that as wives submit themselves to the husbands, the husbands also submit themselves, and it's not a matter of one being somehow superior over the other. It's both mutually showing their affection and submission as unto the Lord.

So with all due respect, it has nothing to do with presidency. I just wanted to clear up that little doctrinal quirk there so that there's nobody who misunderstands that it's really about doing what a marriage ought to do and that's marriage is not a 50/50 deal, where each partner gives 50 percent. Biblically, marriage is 100/100 deal. Each partner gives 100 percent of their devotion to the other and that's why marriage is an important institution, because it teaches us how to love. (APPLAUSE)

Based on the transcript, I agree 100% with Bruce Prescott who wrote that Mike Huckabee "deliberately lied about the interpretation of the SBC's Family Statement" at the debate last night in South Carolina.

As Prescott points out, the Southern Baptist Convention's 1998 Family Statement calls for a one-sided submission by the wife to the rule of her husband. Urging wives to "graciously submit" to their husbands, the Family Statement endorsed by Huckabee back in 1998 conveniently omits Ephesians 5:21 which begins with the statement "Submit yourselves to one another." Yet at last night's debate, Mike Huckabee clearly embraced Ephesians 5:21 and the concept of mutual submission - an egalitarian view completely out of step with those who embrace The Family Statement of Southern Baptist creed known as the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. The view of mutual submission was not embraced by the drafting committee of the Family Statement which Huckabee signed his name to. Committee member Dorothy Patterson declared that "When it comes to submitting to my husband even when he's wrong, I just do it. He is accountable to God." Another Southern Baptist, Reba Cobb of Louisville, noted that the language about wives submitting sends women "a terrible mixed message about what to do when a husband batters them" and leads some women to think they have no choice but to submit.

Just a few years ago, Russell Moore, theology dean and academic vice president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary denounced the practice of "mutual submission." Touting "Biblical Patriarchy," Moore argued that evangelicals who practice "mutual submission" in marriage have been influenced by a "thoroughly feminized grassroots theology" which he says is "bubbling up" in academic and denominational life.

So, what's up Huck? Has your theology changed since 98? Or have you become another lying politician? Why did you purposefully misrepresent the Family Statement of the BFM2000? Perhaps it's because you realized that Patriarchy, eh complimentarianism, doesn't sell in the 21st century - even among Republicans in South Carolina?


Sex Abuse & Paige Patterson's Blind Eye & Deaf Ear

The Baptist world has heard very little from Paige Patterson in recent months. Maybe that's because of the 10 million dollar sex discrimination lawsuit filed against him in federal court by former professor, Sheri Klouda. Or perhaps Patterson was overwhelmed with all of the national attention Southwestern Seminary received upon the unveiling of his plan to keep women in the kitchen with the Mrs. Homemaker Degree.

Whatever the case, Paige Patterson has broken his silence and responded to allegations that he ignored allegations of sexual misconduct by a preacher friend now accused of sending lewd Mark Foley-esque text messages to minors.

The story goes like this:

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (aka SNAP) recently called on Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to suspend its president, Paige Patterson and investigate newspaper reports from 1991 that indicate that Patterson turned a blind eye 17 years ago to allegations of sexual misconduct against Darrell Gilyard. Gilyard has been described as a one-time Patterson protege who is now accused of being a serial predator. Read about that here.

Here's a few snippets from Patterson's response:
Nearly two decades ago, I was neither an investigator nor a judge but the president of a small Bible college. I certainly did not have resources available to me to pursue the case, yet I did all that I could within my means to discover the truth when allegations concerning Mr. Gilyard were brought to my attention. Until such time as I could ascertain that Darrell Gilyard was in fact guilty as alleged, I could not make any charge against him...

Once I had investigated the matter and was able to substantiate that Mr. Gilyard was guilty, I got him to confess that guilt publicly; I expelled him from the Criswell College so that he was never allowed to complete his degree there; and I moderated the business meeting at Victory Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas, the night he, in response to my insistence, resigned his position as pastor.
According to SNAP, despite what Patterson says, media accounts indicate that in 1991 Patterson "knew of reports that a high-profile African-American pastor had sexually assaulted and exploited female college students and church members, but that he kept quiet about it and instructed the students 'to refrain from speaking' about it."

A quick look at 6 pertinent articles from The Dallas Morning News in 1991 reveals this very public information much of which is taken verbatim from the articles:

A significant number of women at Victory Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas accused their pastor Darrell Gilyard of sexual abuse. One said Gilyard had sex with her in the pastor's study. Another said she received lewd phone calls and another said Gilyard raped her. One woman who said she had had a long-term affair with Gilyard said her phone calls requesting a meeting with Patterson were not returned. Patterson's secretary told the woman that unless she had proof, he wouldn't see her. Other women abused by Gilyard recalled meeting with church officials at both Victory Baptist and First Baptist churches who drilled them with questions about their emotional stability and their relationships with other men. Officials at First Baptist knew of the allegations of sexual misconduct four years before Gilyard's resignation yet they did not believe those allegations and continued to recommend Gilyard.

Gilyard was Patterson's prize student who he described as one of the "most brilliant men in the pulpit." Patterson told a DMN reporter that "we were dealing with a man of special gifts and talents. I was unwilling to call anyone guilty until I had demonstrable evidence these allegations were true. Patterson demanded that the women provide real proof such as photographs, videotapes or lab tests despite the fact that Gilyard had been removed from his previous church, Concord Missionary Baptist Church, in 1987 amid allegations of sexual improprieties. An administrator at Concord stated that "around 25" members of the 1,500 member church made sexual allegations against Gilyard.

After being fired from Concord, Gilyard gained employment as assistant pastor for Hilltop Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma. He stayed only a year but soon after leaving allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced at Hilltop. Two women told church officials that Gilyard had made sexual advances toward them and a third woman confessed to an affair with Gilyard. The senior pastor took this information to Patterson. Patterson did nothing.

In 1989, Gilyard pastored Shiloh Baptist in Garland, Texas where allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced again. Patterson met with the women. According to one observer, the discussion did not focus on details of the allegations but instead delved into the women's pasts.

More from Gilyard's time at VBC in Texas: One woman set up a meeting with Patterson. Upon arriving at his office, she was confronted by Gilyard and Gilyard's wife and attorney. Patterson told the woman to refrain from speaking to anyone about the situation. He told her that unless she came back with two witnesses or proof that something had happened, not to come back. Another woman called Paige Patterson and recounted a story about having sex with Gilyard in the sanctuary. After Gilyard's forced resignation, Don Simpkins, a pastoral counselor who had been involved in several discussions with women abused by Gilyard, stated to the Dallas Morning News that he believes allegations against Gilyard were covered up by Victory Baptist, First Baptist and Paige Patterson.

This is a rather simple story. Check out the past media accounts from 1991. While Patterson claims to not have had the resources to investigate, he took the time to discredit the abused and paint Gilyard as the victim. The facts show that Gilyard couldn't keep his mouth shut and his zipper zipped at each and every church that he pastored. The man may have sexually abused up to 25 women at one church alone. Patterson knew of the allegations all along. Did he turn a blind eye? Yes. Did he turn a deaf ear? Absolutely.

Patterson had the opportunity to bring down Gilyard up to 4 years before he was fired. Everyone knew. Where there's alot of smoke, there has to be a little fire. For Patterson to believe that all these accusations were false is akin to the loony toon who still believes OJ didn't do it and the King of Pop has never "touched" a little boy.

Too bad it has taken 17 years for someone to call Paige Patterson to task.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Barack Obama and The Bradley Effect

The folks on MSNBC and out in the blogosphere have cited the Bradley Effect as a possible explanation for the big gap between the final polls which had Obama cruising to an easy victory and up approximately 7% and the end result, Hillary's 39%-36% victory.

Wikipedia explains the Bradley Effect also known as the Wilder Effect below:
The term Bradley effect or Wilder effect refers to a phenomenon which has led to inaccurate voter opinion polls in some American political campaigns between a white candidate and a non-white candidate. Specifically, there have been instances in which statistically significant numbers of white voters tell pollsters in advance of an election that they are either genuinely undecided, or likely to vote for the non-white candidate, but those voters exhibit a different behavior when actually casting their ballots. White voters who said that they were undecided break in statistically large numbers toward the white candidate, and many of the white voters who said that they were likely to vote for the black candidate ultimately cast their ballot for the white candidate. This reluctance to give accurate polling answers has sometimes extended to post-election exit polls as well.

Researchers who have studied the issue theorize that some white voters give inaccurate responses to polling questions because of a fear that they might appear to others to be racially prejudiced. Some research has suggested that the race of the pollster conducting the interview may factor into that concern. At least one prominent researcher has suggested that with regard to pre-election polls, the discrepancy can be traced in part by the polls' failure to account for general conservative political leanings among late-deciding voters.

This phenomenon was first noticed in the 1982 race for governor of California, where Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a black Democrat, narrowly lost to Republican George Deukmejian, despite polls showing him with a lead ranging from 9 to 22 points. The next year, African American Democrat Harold Washington barely won his race for mayor of Chicago against Republican Bernard Epton. Pre-election polls taken within the last two weeks of the campaign showed Washington with a 14-point lead.
Times like these remind us all that even white liberals from New England are not completely free from the racist tendencies that still plague much of the South. And if the Bradley Effect is indeed real in this instance and Obama is able to secure the nomination - what will happen in a General Election when more moderate Democrats and Independents and actual Republicans participate? America needs Barack Obama. I guess a potential Bradley Effect just signals to Authentic Progressives that an Obama Presidency could be a tougher task than expected. However, I HOPE there is another explanation for tonight's gap between the polls and results. While my experiences lead me to probably believe otherwise, I'll remember Obama's wise quip to Senator Clinton that "there's no such thing as false hopes." Hopes aren't false.

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The New Baptist Covenant Preaching Sessions

With the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant right around the corner, I've decided to begin a series of posts that introduces the speakers at the various special interest sessions. Months ago I wrote introductions to a few of the plenary speakers including the Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell and the Rev. Dr. Charles G. Adams.

A miniature preaching festival is scheduled to take place during the special interest session times of the Celebration. The celebration of preaching will feature eight pulpiteers. Below, I have highlighted the four scheduled to preach on Thursday, January 31, from 2pm-5pm. These include Otis Moss, pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio; Ellis Orozco, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, Texas; Bill Self, pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia and Gina Stewart, pastor of Christ Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee.

So, who is the Rev. Otis Moss Jr.?

The Rev. Otis Moss is the pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. As a theologian, pastor, author and civic leader, Otis Moss is considered to be one of America's most influential religious leaders. A native of the state of Georgia and Morehouse alum, Moss once served as co-pastor with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Since 1975 Moss has faithfully served Olivet and the Cleveland community. Olivet and its leaders, past and present, have been at the forefront of the struggle for civil rights both locally and nationally. Before Moss's tenure, Olivet stood as the Cleveland headquarters for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. According to their website, "the strong foundation in the civil rights movement at Olivet continues to manifest itself in the programs and services church leaders support and provide to the community." Olivet is a strong advocate for social justice as well as spiritual renewal in the Cleveland area. Rev. Moss notes:
"The role of the church is salvation, liberation, and reconciliation. The three cannot be separated. Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is fundamental. But salvation without liberation is not salvation at all. It is a feel-good religion that does not impact a person's economic, social, political and civic standing. You cannot preach the gospel without getting involved with social policy. The church has the ability and responsibility to be the conscience of a community."
Learn more about Olivet Baptist here and the Rev. Otis Moss here.

Now, meet the Rev. Ellis Orozco.

Rev. Orozco has served as senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, Texas, since 1999. He is a native of Texas and has been active in the life of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. His congregation is a historically Anglo church located in the overwhelmingly Latino Texas-Mexico border area. Orozco earned his Master o Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas and his Doctor of Ministry from The George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University here in Waco. Before accepting the call to pastor Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, Orozco pastored Corpus Christi Baptist Church from 1993-1999. Rev. Orozco also has a blog which you can read here. Also check out his sermon entitled Be The Presence of Christ delivered before the BGCT or see his audio archive of sermons here.

Next up is Rev. Dr. Gina Stewart, pastor of Christ Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The Rev. Stewart became the first African-American female elected to serve a black Baptist congregation in the Memphis area and only the second woman elected to lead one of more than 500 Baptist churches in Shelby County, Tennessee. Under Stewart's leadership, Christ Missionary's membership has increased from 500 to 2500 in just a ten year span. One website describes Stewart as "a model for many of women's leadership in the Church, {she} combines a passion for the Gospel with deep sympathy or people. Her gifted and spirited preaching makes people want to jump up and praise the Lord." Read more about Stewart here and listen/read her sermons here.

And finally, let's meet the Rev. Dr. Bill Self, pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. Self was the founding pastor of Johns Creek in 1993 which has grown from less than 400 in average Sunday attendance to around 2,000. A longtime pastor (26 years) of Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta, Self has served as president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention as well as vice-president of the denomination and president of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Self is now a leader in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Read more about Self and his ministry at Johns Creek here and watch/listen to his sermons here.

This Prophetic Preaching mini-conference looks to be an exciting and loud time!


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