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

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Portrait of Inconsistency: Cal Thomas on Obama

Baptist Press - the PR arm of the Southern Baptist Convention - in a not so surprising move decided to run Cal Thomas's much talked about op-ed titled Obama is no Joshua. Baptist Press reprinted this Thomas op-ed with permission from Tribune Media Services.

The gist of Thomas's article is this: Obama ain't a real Christian. He is a false prophet.

Cal concludes that Obama don't know Christ because, during a 2004 interview, Obama stated:
"I'm rooted in the Christian tradition." "I believe there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people."
Here's a snippet from Brother Cal:
Obama can call himself anything he likes, but there is a clear requirement for one to qualify as a Christian and Obama doesn't meet that requirement. One cannot deny central tenets of the Christian faith, including the deity and uniqueness of Christ as the sole mediator between God and Man and be a Christian. Such people do have a label applied to them in Scripture. They are called "false prophets."
Now, let's go back nearly four years ago. President Bush is being interviewed by Charlie Gibson of ABC. Here's the dialogue (video here):
Charlie Gibson: Do we all worship the same God, Christians and Muslims?

President Bush: I think we do. We have different routes of getting to the Almighty.

Charlie Gibson: Do Christians and non-Christians, do Muslims go to heaven in your mind?

President Bush: Yes, they do. We have different routes of getting there.
So what exactly is the difference between Obama and Dubya's view of salvation?

I don't see one.

It's doubtful that President Bush has ditched his pluralism in the past few years. On October 4, 2007, Bush made this comment:
I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God.
Despite Bush's "different routes" view of salvation, Cal Thomas continues to describe George W. as the "most openly evangelical Christian and faithful churchgoer since Jimmy Carter" to hold the office of President of the United States. In responding to Bush's pluralism, Cal Thomas handled Bush with kid gloves. Thomas concludes:

President Bush is wrong - dangerously wrong - in proclaiming that all religions worship the same God.

Thomas doesn't call Bush a "false prophet."

Thomas doesn't declare that Bush is not a Christian.

Instead, Thomas glowingly describes Bush 43 as America's "most openly evangelical Christian" since Jimmy Carter.

Ah, the inconsistencies of fundamentalists.

I guess Cal is still Blinded by Might. Poor fella.

As a PR organization for the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., Baptist Press is always trying to push an agenda. With so many recent articles on Obama's theology, it's quite clear what agenda is being pushed. Where was this type of coverage back in 2004? Why has Baptist Press never highlighted Bush's universalism? Stupid question. We know the answer.

After Bush espoused a little universalism in 2003, Richard Land - the SBC's political guru - gently reminded readers that President Bush is "commander in chief not theologian in chief."

No such reminder from Baptist Press or Richard Land in 2008.

For the sake of consistency (and much more), both BP and Land would do themselves a favor and take a look at the blog of Mainstream Baptist leader Bruce Prescott who wisely observed that "Obama's running for President, not pastor or prophet."

This entire post serves well to buttress the thesis of my Guest Commentary in the July 2008 issue of Baptists Today titled The Consummated Marriage

You get the picture.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

"Young" CBFers Issue Open Letter to Cecil Sherman

Here is the full text version of the Open Letter written about in the ABP article by Vicki Brown titled "Young CBFers, responding to Sherman, call for end to bitter anti-SBC rhetoric." Thus far, I believe I am the only person to post the full text of this document called an Open Letter. It's short and sweet. A few assertions are made but few facts are provided. I don't think a "misguided" analogy qualifies as a "conversation" that is "center stage" much less the focus of who [CBF is ] or what they do."

A group of young leaders within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship movement has issued the following statement regarding remarks by former CBF Coordinator Cecil Sherman at the 2008 General Assembly:

Open Letter to Dr. Cecil Sherman

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dear Dr. Sherman,

For your work and ministry, we are sincerely grateful. You helped harness the energy of those who chose to leave the Southern Baptist Convention when certain leaders were ousted through manipulative and unethical means. You helped to create a new family of faith, a new movement now known as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. We are grateful for your risk-taking and your leadership.

After receiving recognition for your recently published book last Thursday at the CBF General Assembly in Memphis, Tennessee, you juxtaposed our relatively small amount of pain – where no one was injured or killed – to the six million killed in the Holocaust. In our opinion and the opinions of many others, your analogy was misguided. These words are old rhetoric that we will no longer accept in our midst. The SBC has chosen one path and the CBF another. We no longer have energy to focus on this separation, but rather turn our attention to a suffering world.

Though the wounds of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC are nothing in comparison to the Holocaust, we recognize those wounds are real. They are also wounds that need healing, and for some the grieving process is not over yet. We respect that and want to allow a place for conversations about our past. Of course remembering what happened will help us avoid repeating mistakes. But we will no longer wish for this conversation to have center stage – nor be the focus of who we are and what we do.

Young Baptist leaders are ready to embrace new opportunities for ministry and discipleship. Remembering the past but not dwelling on it, many Baptist are excited and enthusiastic about ministering with the most neglected people around the world. Some of these most neglected include descendants of those people-groups who were targeted for extermination in the Holocaust.

So with deep respect for your work and sacrifice for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, we invite you to lay down the pain of the past and join us as we focus on a future, bright with possibility.

Respectfully submitted,

David Burroughs, President, Passport, Inc.

Rev. R. Scott Ford, Associate Coordinator for Missions, CBF of Georgia

Rev. Nikki Hardeman, Associate Coordinator for Congregational Life, CBF of Georgia

Jeremy Lewis, Together for Hope Manager, CBF

Rev. Brent McDougal, Coordinator of Alabama CBF

Rev. Christina Whitehouse-Suggs, Associate Coordinator for Congregational Life, CBF South Carolina

Mike Young, Associate Coordinator for Missions, Tennessee CBF

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nancy Pelosi Says: Chet Edwards for VP!

During a recent and brief interview with Newsweek?, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that United States Representative Chet Edwards (D-TX) of Waco would be an excellent choice as Sen. Barack Obama's running mate. Here's Pelosi:
“Anyone that Barack Obama wants is my choice for vice president,” Pelosi told the interviewer, who appeared to be from Newsweek. “But I do think in the list of considerations there should be somebody from the House of Representatives and Chet Edwards is a person that many of us think would be a good person to be in the mix.”
And the video interview:

I've had the privilege of voting for Chet in the past two elections. Chet is an ardent supporter of church-state separation and one of the strongest supporters of religious liberty in Congress over the past 10+ years. Just a handful of months ago, Chet received the Abner McCall Religious Liberty Award presented by the Baylor University Alumni Association. Also, last year Chet read part of G.W. Truett's "Baptists and Religious Liberty" speech as part of the historic Baptist Unity rally from the steps of the United States Capitol. Chet attends Calvary Baptist Church in Waco.

Texas in Africa offers a few upsides and downsides to Chet as Veep. Check 'em out.

Here's a few of her upsides:
The military LOVES him. Fort Hood re-elected him over and over until Tom DeLay redistricted Edwards away from the base.

He knows defense policy.

He supported the Iraq war, which could help with winning moderates. Extreme anti-war rhetoric won't work in the general election, and Obama knows it, even if the DailyKos crazies don't.

Unlike certain governors of other states whose names keep getting tossed around, there aren't any skeletons in his closet. Edwards is a solid guy.

He's figured out how to beat the Republicans in what should be a solidly Republican district.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Baptist Press and Fred Shuttlesworth

Last year, I wrote about the atrocious "reporting" of Baptist Press reporter David Roach. His reporting of the New Baptist Covenant in January was almost as horrific. Back in July, Roach made the trek to Washington D.C. to cover the CBF/ABC-USA joint gathering. One of his columns was titled "Why Care about the CBF?" Roach concluded:
With all of the responsibilities I have in life as a husband, pastor, student and employee, it seems like I have enough to occupy my time without worrying about a group of moderate Baptists with which I am not even affiliated. And with all of your responsibilities in life, it may seem at first glance like reading about such a group of moderate Baptists is not the best use of your time.
Apparently his duties as husband/pastor/student weren't too much to keep him from attending and "reporting" on yet another CBF General Assembly.

Instead of providing a thorough overview of the dozens and dozens of workshops held at the General Assembly and trying to present a fair and accurate picture of the CBF, Roach followed around liberal theologian John Killinger on both Thursday and Friday. I have no intention of linking to Roach's drivel. But I must say - after closely reading his coverage of moderate Baptists for the past two years - I've concluded that David Roach is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed version of Roger Moran. Are there any available "research positions" with the Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association these days?

Roger, you've found your successor.

What's most humorous (pathetic?) about Roach's "reporting" are his attempts to get into the heads of those in attendance at the various workshops. During one of the workshops led by Killinger, Roach writes that the audience "seemed fully convinced of his claims." His nickname over at BaptistLife.com is RoachBoy. That may explain things a bit.

I am curious though as to why Baptist Press gave more coverage to some gender-neutral hymn than to keynote speaker Lauran Bethell who is a well known human rights advocate and minister to vitims of sex trafficking?

One of the most influential civil rights leaders of the 20th century was presented an award during the General Assembly. Instead of reporting on Alabama Baptist minister and civil rights icon Fred Shuttlesworth, Roach was busy trying to paint the CBF in a negative light.

I'm not Roachboy and I can't read his mind. Maybe the subjects of racism, civil rights, the need for racial reconciliation and all that jazz just does not interest Roach. Such subjects have definitely not received a plethora of attention from Southern Baptists in recent years.

And some might think what I'm about to say is crossing the line.

Fortunately, this is my blog and not yours.

But, honestly, I'm left wondering - to echo Kanye West post-Katrina - whether Baptist Press Cares About Black People.

Perhaps if they did, they would have recognized Fred Shuttlesworth as an American Hero. They would have recognized Shuttlesworth's achievements in their extensive coverage of the CBF General Assembly. Heck, they covered everything from all uses of inclusive language to a pamphlet on homosexuality at the Baptist Peace Fellowship booth. But no Shuttlesworth.

How does a ceremony honoring one of the most famous and influential Baptist ministers go unnoticed by Baptist Press? I'm sure at least the African-American readers of Baptist Press would have appreciated the coverage. Meanwhile, EthicsDaily.com, Johnny Pierce of Baptists Today, and Marv Knox for the Associated Baptist Press covered Shuttlesworth.

Typical. Shameful.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

CBF Keynote Speaker: Jesus is our bridge to Eternal Life

Last year, Lauran Bethell received the Whitsitt Society's Courage Award. This year Bethell was the keynote speaker at the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

If you're not familiar with Bethell, here is her bio:
Lauran Bethell is an American Baptist Churches USA global ministry consultant based in Prague, Czech Republic, where she helps mentor and facilitate ministry among exploited and abused women and children around the world.

In the late 1980s in Thailand, she helped to launch the New Life Center, which ministered among victims of human trafficking. For 14 years, she directed the center, which gave shelter to as many as 200 women and children at a time. The center became internationally recognized, and in 1995, Bethell was honored by the prime minister of Thailand for her efforts with the center. The center now has two locations and continues to aid at-risk children and women, as well as former prostitutes.

In 2000, Bethell moved to Prague to begin working as a ministry consultant. She has directed two international conferences about ministry with women in prostitution. In 2005, she received the Baptist World Alliance’s Human Rights Award.
And the video of her keynote address:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Meeting in Memphis, Tenn., for the first time in its history, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship focused on the theme of “Embrace the World: Building Bridges” during the 18th annual General Assembly. Randy Hyde, chair of the Assembly steering committee and pastor of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., welcomed about 2,000 attendees to the first full day of events June 19.
“There is hope springing from the silt of these Delta lands, and people who call themselves ‘Baptists’ are a vital part of that hope,” Hyde said. “Sharing the gospel means breaking barriers, and here on the banks of this great river we have more than our share ... which is why we have built bridges.”
American Baptist human rights advocate Lauran Bethell, who serves in the Netherlands, talked about bridging gaps in relationships as Jesus did with the Samaritan woman at the well. She challenged the Assembly to not become imprisoned by fear of crossing the bridges of culture, morality and gender.

“There are many Christians and … churches who … suffer from the fear,” she said. “It’s a fear of falling and a fear of failing … [or] a fear of the unknown of the other side.”
Bethell spoke specifically about ministry among prostitution and human trafficking victims, asking Fellowship Baptists to pray for victims, learn more about the problem and cross a bridge.
“This is God’s moment. Let’s cross the bridge of fear … risk … devastation … pain,” she said.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

CBF General Assembly Pictures and Book Signing

An unfinished thesis kept me from booking a flight to Memphis. I've actually been finished with the thesis for a couple of weeks now but that didn't allow me enough time to get a flight for cheaper than the cost of three-months rent. So, I've been browsing the pictures online of the General Assembly here. Nothing too exciting. But I did enjoy this t-shirt:

This picture was taken at the Resource fair where BDW Sr. will be signing his new book:

In Search of the New Testament Church: The Baptist Story by C. Douglas Weaver

Dr. Jim West, I believe, is the first to review it. He wrote:
The last substantive history of Baptists was written by Bill Leonard and was titled Baptist Ways: A History. It was a decidedly useful volume, though at points a bit dense and a bit less readable than it otherwise might have been. C. Douglas Weaver's newly published volume definitely does not suffer that shortcoming. It is not only exceptionally well written, it is exceptionally readable. .....

Weaver, in sum, has done simply a brilliant job of reminding us all that Baptists have - in the past - been people of conscience. Whether we remain such, or bow to the pressures of a world which ever more summons us to conformity, is up to us. Get Weaver's book and read it diligently. It will reward you magnificently.

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Vestal: CBF Exists to Further Mission of God

The General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship officially kicked off today at the Memphis/Cook County Convention Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

The annual assembly began by commissioning 18 people to global missions service. You can read more about that event here.

Daniel Vestal, Coordinator of the CBF, delivered a message titled "Discerning Together." Here's the text and audio from that address.

And here are a few paragraphs from that keynote:
Discerning the Past: The Providence and Presence of God
1. Perhaps a good place to start would be to remember, rehearse and recite what we have experienced and reflect on the providence and presence of God in our shared story.
  • This morning Harriet did a remarkable job in reminding us of the past 17 years in CBF
  • There are times when I can hardly believe what has happened and how God has blessed us.
  • But let me suggest that discerning needs to reach beyond those 17 years.
2. The reason Cecil Sherman’s book is so important is not that it is just a personal memoir but it is an historical record that chronicles our beginning.
  • It is, I believe, important for us to acknowledge our roots in order to give thanks to God that, “through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come.” Some would like to ignore our heritage, others reject it, and still others would like to re-interpret or revise it to fit their own prejudices.
  • I suggest we embrace it for what it was and is, a mixture of good and bad and then thank God for his providence and presence in it.
3. Why is this important?
  • Because we cannot discern the present and future without reflecting on the past.
  • There are some among us who would like to “reproduce the past, i.e. to make CBF into the image of a reorganized SBC.”
  • There are others among us who would like to forget the past, i.e. to make CBF “exnihilo” as if it had no connection to history or heritage.
  • There are some who would like CBF to have little or no organizational structure and simply collect and distribute money to institutions with no connectionalism.
  • There are some who would like for CBF to become an all encompassing denomination giving identity to individuals and congregations.
  • There are others whose vision for CBF is simply to be a missionary-sending society or to be subsumed into some other Baptist organization.
4. Whatever CBF becomes will be determined by Providence. But my understanding of Providence is that we are asked to make decisions that have real consequences.

*picture courtesy of CBF (www.thefellowship.info)

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fred Shuttlesworth To Be Honored At CBF

Last week, EthicsDaily.com ran an article of mine about Alabama Baptist minister and civil rights icon Rev. Shuttlesworth who is being presented with the Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society's Courage Award on Thursday, June 19 at 9am in Ballroom E, Memphis/Cook County Convention Center. Here's a snippet from my article:
While not as well known as Martin Luther King Jr., Fred L. Shuttlesworth was the Baptist pastor most responsible for the success of the civil rights movement in the Alabama city known as "Bombingham." Fifty racially motivated bombings between 1947 and 1955 epitomized southern resistance to integration.

Shuttlesworth's biographer, Andrew Manis, recognized the Birmingham minister as the "unsung hero" of the civil rights movement and a "prophet of social justice." Shuttlesworth became an ordained Baptist minister in 1948 and was subsequently the pastor of several Baptist churches in Alabama and Ohio....

As the leader of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Shuttlesworth was the uncompromising confrontational prophet against the evils of segregation. Even some African-Americans questioned his style, but in the end, they admitted that he was a man of "raw courage" who instigated the "public acts that lit the fire in Birmingham."
This event which is being held during the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is free and open to any and all - Baptist and non-Baptist alike. I've personally extended an invitation to 25 or so Baptist congregations from the Memphis area, African-American and Anglo. So, here is your invitation:
The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, one of the great heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, is being honored on June 19th at the Memphis/Cook County Convention Center (9 a.m., Ballroom E) by the William H. Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society. Each year, the society gives a Courage Award to a Baptist who has made a difference for Christ because of his or her courageous faith.

Past recipients include President Jimmy Carter, Rev. John Porter of Birmingham, Molly Marshall of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and Cecil Sherman, one of the "founders" of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

We are extremely excited to be presenting our Courage Award to Rev. Shuttlesworth this year and we would like to invite you and the members of your congregation to attend.

Our meeting is free of charge; all our welcome. Our meeting is taking place at the site of the annual meeting of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

I personally think the hour with Rev. Shuttlesworth (who will be introduced by Andrew Manis, who has written the definitive biography of him) will be a great experience.

The leaders of our society thought our meeting would be even better if we invited members of Memphis Baptist churches to share this occasion with us.

Please contact me at Doug_Weaver@Baylor.edu if you have any questions. We would love for you and any and everyone from your church to help us honor Rev. Shuttlesworth!!


Doug Weaver, Editor
The Whitsitt Journal

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Professor of Religion
Department of Religion
Baylor University
Spread the word. Thursday, June 19, 9am, Ballroom E, Memphis/Cook County Convention Center. Remember, it's free. Too often in the past folks see this annual event of the "Whitsitt SOCIETY" advertised and think a membership or ticket is required. Not so.

I'm looking at the list of scheduled CBF workshops that conflict with this one-hour celebration to honor the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. There are some pretty decent workshops scheduled. There are workshops scheduled on all things missional, poverty, mental health, Islam, Film/Discussion on relationships with Jews, Baptist media, and buildinging a distinctively Baptist church.

All great workshops but none compares with a chance to hear one of our nation's most influential civil rights leaders who like my other two heroes, Dr. King and Congressman John Lewis, is a Baptist minister.

Be part of this historic occasion.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

"Dr." John Hunt's Diploma Mill Doctorate, Take 2

Since EthicsDaily.com's revealing article on "Dr." Johnny Hunt's academic credentials hit the internets yesterday there has been much response. Now, the Washington Post/Newsweek has picked up the story on their "On Faith" website. Here that is:

New SBC Leader's Dubious Credentials

The story has made it's way over to the Daily Kos as well.

An amateur Christian rapper came to Hunt's rescue and put his thoughts in the form of a rap song in the comment thread of my original post - quite funny. Here's a snippet from Crayzee Joe's rap in honor of his pastor:

You can strip away the titles
Just take 'em if you want
Get back to just callin' him
plain old Johnny Hunt

That's some pretty decent advice from one Southern Baptist.

Another blogger has argued that Hunt and other pastors tempted to describe themselves as "Dr." after receiving a diploma mill doctorate should remember the words of Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, who after the Flockhart scandal offered these wise words in an article entitled Integrity in Ministry:
  1. Guard your integrity by always being completely honest. Do not pad your resume or reputation with false or inflated accomplishments. The Bible says God hates a proud look and lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17). Be a truth-teller in every area of your life, both in the big things and the little things.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Baptist Women In Ministry (BWIM) Celebrates 25 Years

In its 25th year, Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) will be celebrating its historic anniversary during the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship which is meeting in Memphis. BWIM’s Annual Gathering and 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner will be held on Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 5pm with music from Kate Campbell. For information about this event and tickets, click here.

Here’s a snippet from BWIM’s “The State of Women in Baptist Life – 2007.” If you’re interested in a brief history of BWIM and the plight of ordained women in Baptist life from the time of Addie Davis’s ordination in 1964 to 2007, be sure to read this new report (here).

Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) in 2008 celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. Since the 1983 founding of BWIM, the status of women in Baptist life has been through many changes. In some seasons, it has flourished. In other seasons, women’s status in Baptist life has seemed to languish on the vine. In the past twenty-five years, Baptist women have made modest gains in leadership and contributed to the renewal of Baptist life in many sectors. Most notably, Baptist women (and men) committed to the equality of all God’s people have helped reshape and reenvision the church generally, and Baptist churches in particular, as more inclusive, more creative places of worship, spiritual formation, and service.

Baptist women have not made these contributions without struggle. In the last quarter century, they have face opposition, difficulties, and challenges, both from detractors who do not share their vision for ministry and church, and at times, from within their own ranks. Challenges have been numerous and sometimes overwhelming to the organization and to individual women in ministry.

And here are a few notable statistics from that report:

  • Following the 1964 ordination of Addie Davis, no other woman was ordained until 1971
  • Between 1971 and 1978 an estimated 59 women were ordained by Southern Baptist churches
  • By 1986, 232 ordained Southern Baptist women had been identified
  • By 1993, it was estimated that over 1,000 women had been ordained
  • According to the BWIM Registry, around 2000 Baptist women in the South have been ordained since 1964.
  • 85 women were ordained in 2005, 49 ordained in 2006 and this past year 73 women were ordained.
  • The largest number of ordinations took place in Georgia (18), North Carolina (15), Tennessee (13), and Virginia (4). Oh yea, 11 women were ordained in Texas.
  • In most years over the past two decades, ordinations in North Carolina. North Carolina is home to three moderate Baptist seminaries. Because of Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology, Georgia has been at the top of this list in recent years.
  • In 1982, women accounted for 10.8% of elected boards of SBC Agencies.
  • In 2007, that number was 10.5%.
  • # of Women on Governing Boards: Alliance of Baptists (45%), BGCT Exec. Board (24%), CBF Coordinating Council (38.5%), SBC Executive Committee (8%).
  • # of women endorsed as Chaplains & Counselors: AB (77 or 52%), BGCT (66 or 15%), CBF (178 or 30%), SBC (215 or 8%)
  • By 1993 (ten years after founding of BWIM), 51 women were serving as pastors or co-pastors
  • In 2007 that number had increased to 113 – 75 as pastors and 38 as co-pastors.
  • As of 2007, Virginia led the way with 18 women pastors or co-pastors. North Carolina was second with 17, Georgia has 13, Texas has 11 and Tennessee with 6 women pastors or co-pastors.
  • Of the 5,600 churches that affiliate with the BGCT only .196% are have a female pastor or co-pastor and only 5.9% of CBF churches have a female pastor.
  • In 2005, women accounted for around 21.7% of the student bodies as SBC seminaries (virtually no increase between 1979-2005). 4 of these seminaries have programs designed especially for women. Despite these programs, the numbers of women students enrolled in and graduating from SBC seminaries has dropped in the past 25 years.
  • With 2,145 students in 14 seminaries, theology schools and Baptist studies programs affiliated with CBF, 825 or 38.5% were women. 40.4% of Spring 2007 graduates at these schools were women.
  • Among the CBF affiliated schools with the highest percentage of female students: Emory (53%), McAfee (52%), BTSR (52%) and Wake Forest (50 %).
  • The most female students can be found at Mercer’s McAfee (124) and Baylor’s Truett (118).
  • Women make up 25.5% of the total faculty teaching in these schools.

In the next couple of days, www.thebigdaddyweave.com will be hosting a few reflections from a young Baptist woman (read: Alexis) who attended both of the BGCT’s inaugural conferences on Baptist Women in Ministry.


SBC President Johnny Hunt's Diploma Mill Doctorate

Robert Parham, Executive-Director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, says newly elected SBC President Johnny Hunt has a "credibility problem."

Parham writes:
Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., identifies himself with the title "Dr." and lists two accredited educational institutions on his personal Web site from which he did not receive a doctorate. Yet he is often identified publicly as having degrees—degrees that come from two diploma mills.

On his personal Web site, It's A New Day Ministries, the "internet home of the preaching ministry of Dr. Johnny Hunt," his educational credentials are Gardner-Webb College and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. No reference is made to the terminal or honorary degree which affords him the prestigious title of "Dr. Johnny Hunt."
You really gotta read the entire article here.

When Hunt speaks at evangelism conferences (including the 2008 Pastor's Conference) across the nation, he is introduced as having received a "Doctorate of Divinity from Immanuel Baptist Theological Seminary" and a "Doctorate of Sacred Laws and Letters from Covington Theological Seminary." But Hunt does not mention these schools on his websites. Why??

Both Covington and Immanuel are both diploma mills.

Parham continues:
One of Hunt's own "sons in the ministry" was forced to resign from the prominent First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, Fla., in part because of his diploma mill degrees.

Highly recommended to the church by Hunt, Steven Flockhart was forced out "over a controversy involving fabricated education credentials," reported Baptist Press, which noted that the Palm Beach Post had discovered that Flockhart had obtained correspondence degrees from Covington Theological Seminary, "a Georgia school not accredited by any recognized accrediting agency."
I guess FBC Woodstock doesn't care. Even after the Flockhart debacle, Hunt continues to list himself as "Dr. Johnny Hunt" on both FBC Woodstock's website and his own personal website.

Parham concludes:
Two dubious institutions gave the new SBC president a title that he proudly bears. By identifying himself with the "Dr." title, Hunt legitimizes these diploma mills and encourages by example other ministers to take educational shortcuts—shortcuts which deceive churches about the real quality of the academic training of their clergy.

That places the question mark of integrity over the SBC.
Maybe at least a few Southern Baptists out there will take notice of Parham's fine reporting. Instead of attacking the messenger, perhaps those in the SBC and in the Southern Baptist blogosphere (especially the bloggers with real doctorates) will begin to refer to their President as simply Rev. Hunt or Pastor Hunt. With Hunt in the spotlight as President, integrity would demand that Southern Baptists not intentionally deceive the world concerning Hunt's academic credentials. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. And those shortcuts tend to have consequences. See what happened to Flockhart.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

VP Candidate Bobby Jindal: Catholic or Baptist??

If you don't know Bobby Jindal, he's the young, Indian-American, Republican Governor of Louisiana who has been touted as being on John McCain's VP short list. For several months now there has been much speculation that Jindal will be John McCain's choice for the Republican vice presidential nomination. This speculation was given a bit of fuel when Jindal met with McCain at his Arizona home on May 23.

Now here's the story:

According to outgoing SBC President Frank Page, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was "baptized and led to Christ by Tommy French," a well-known Southern Baptist who pastors Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This is an extremely interesting tidbit considering that based on numerous accounts Jindal remains a rather conservative Catholic.

Jindal is a Catholic convert from Hinduism. When Jindal was elected Governor of Louisiana in 2007 Catholic Online ran an article that described Jindal as a "pro-life Catholic" who became an active Catholic during his time as a student at Oxford University. Jindal has also been very outspoken about his Catholic faith. In a 1996 article on his Catholic faith, Jindal wrote:
"The same Catholic Church which infallibly determined the canon of the Bible must be trusted to interpret her handiwork; the alternative is to trust individual Christians, burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their 'utterly depraved' minds, to overcome their tendency to rationalize, their selfish desires, and other effects of original sin...The choice is between Catholicism's authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy."
During Jindal's campaign to be Governor, the Democratic Party attacked Jindal and his theology in a tv ad. Here is a description of that ad from the Washington Post:
According to a recent television ad run by the Louisiana Democratic Party, the leading Republican candidate for governor, Bobby Jindal, has "insulted thousands of Louisiana Protestants" by describing their beliefs as "scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical." Jindal, the attack goes on, "doubts the morals and questions the beliefs of Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals and other Protestant religions."
So, is Bobby Jindal still a practicing Catholic? A Protestant? If Protestant, is he now attending a Baptist church? If we are to believe outgoing SBC President Frank Page, can we now assume that Gov. Jindal is now a member of Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge? If Jindal has left Rome for life as a Southern Baptist, that's a big news story that has yet to be covered.

Jindal's writings indicate that he was a believer. So, praytell, how was Jindal "led to Christ" by Jindal? So many questions...

With Jindal's name being seriously thrown around as John McCain's possible running mate, it seems that some religion reporter somewhere needs to follow up on this story.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Southern Baptists Called On To Reach Homosexuals

During the report of the Richard Land's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Bob Stith, the national strategist for gender issues for the Southern Baptist Convention called on Southern Baptist pastors to "reach out to homosexuals."

Follow the Jesus pattern and show 'em some love, says Stith

Here's what Bob Stith actually said:

“We must become known as people of redemption and people who hold out hope and people who offer change...I want us to be driven [by] a passion to reach homosexuals for Christ and not merely driven by a passion to defeat the homosexual agenda...We’re not communicating to our people how they can walk alongside homosexuals and lead them to Christ...Our silence will be a death sentence for many people.”

And how did the ERLC of the Southern Baptist Convention "reach out to homosexuals" in the year 2008?

Well, the ERLC was one of the first religious organizations to vehemently oppose a bill that would have protected homosexuals under current hate crimes law.

If the Southern Baptist Convention was really interested in "reaching out to homosexuals," you'd think their own ERLC wouldn't be so quick to loudly oppose a piece of legislation designed persons who are often victimized by criminals on the basis of their sexuality or "lifestyle" as most SBCers say.

The folks at the ERLC consistently hide behind the argument that hate crimes legislation is a violation of the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law by creating a special protected status for a group of people. It seems consistency would demand that the ERLC should also argue that the protection of African-Americans under current hate crimes law is also a violation of the 14th amendment. But the ERLC won't make that argument. It's abundantly clear to any reasonable observer that the ERLC's issue is not with the 14th Amendment but instead with the fact that a piece of goverment legislation wants to protect a group of people dubbed as "sinners" - who rank near the top of the Southern Baptist hierarchy of "sinners."

If Southern Baptists like Bob Stith and the ERLC are actually interested in "reaching out to homosexuals," they would be well-served to first listen to the wise words of Baptist ethicist David Gushee (a former collaborator with Richard Land & the ERLC) and follow the Christian Commitments listed below:

-- The complete rejection of still-common forms of speech in which anti-homosexual slurs (�queer,� �fag�) are employed either in jest or in all seriousness

-- The complete rejection of a heart attitude of hatred, loathing, and fear toward homosexuals

-- The complete rejection of any form of bullying directed against homosexuals or those thought to be homosexuals

-- The complete rejection of political demagoguery in which homosexuals are scapegoated for our nation�s social ills and used as tools for partisan politics

-- The complete rejection of casual, imprecise and erroneous factual claims about homosexuality in preaching, teaching or private speech, such as, �All homosexuals choose to be that way.�

-- The complete recognition of the full dignity and humanity of the homosexual as a person made in God�s image and sacred in God�s sight

-- The complete recognition that in any faith community of any size one will find persons wrestling with homosexuality, either in their own lives or the lives of people that they love

-- The complete recognition that when Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, that includes especially our homosexual neighbors, because the more a group is hated, the more they need Christ�s love through us

There is more to be said. But this is at least a place to start.

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Richard Land & Frank Page Do Numa Numa Dance

Remember Numa Numa, the You-Tube phenomenon from 2005, which mostly notably featured the pudgy Gary Brolsma of New Jersey doing an odd yet hilarious dance to an obscure Romanian song?

Here is the original Numa Numa Dance below which has been viewed by millions:

Now, apparently Sir Richard Land has decided to join in on the Numa Numa fun along with his pal Frank Page. Dick's rendition of the Numa Numa Dance is below:

HT: Tony Kummer of SBC Voices

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Motion Made To Boot Broadway Baptist from SBC

The Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention held in Indianapolis is underway this afternoon and a couple more "conservative" motions were made.

Bill Sanderson from North Carolina moved that Broadway Baptist Church of Ft. Worth would not be in friendly cooperation with the SBC.


A motion was made to require educational institutions receiving Cooperative Program funds to teach creation science as the correct understanding of the origin of life.

In other news, Johnny Hunt of FBC Woodstock, Georgia was elected President of the SBC on the first ballot with 52.94.

FBC Woodstock was named the 30th most influential church in America by the Church Report in 2007. According to one blog, Hunt endorsed Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee from the pulpit of FBC Woodstock on the Sunday before the Georgia Presidential Primary. You can read about that here.

UPDATED: The motion to boot Broadway was approved for consideration for report back to the 2009 annual meeting. See Baptist Press.

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SBC Motion To Oust Churches w/ Female Pastors

The Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention held in Indianapolis kicked off this morning.

Thus far, two interesting motions have been presented.

On the one hand, a messenger moved to change the SBC Constitution "to state that churches which have female senior pastors are not in friendly cooperation with the convention."

And on the other hand, a messenger moved that the Executive Committee re-evaluate the SBC's relationship with the Baptist World Alliance

More Later.


Monday, June 09, 2008

John McCain On America as a Christian Nation

John McCain sez:

The Constitution Established the United States as a Christian Nation.

And this man wants to be our next President?

Apparently McCain is not familiar with the religion clauses of the First Amendment....
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
If I were John McCain, I'd steer clear of any religion-related questions. In addition to being a first class doufas on what the Constitution says and doesn't say, McCain seems very uncomfortable talking about his own faith. Too bad he's trying desperately to woo the constituencies of the Religious Right. Not sure if he can succeed on that front.

HT: Mainstream Baptist & Levellers


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

James Dunn & Soul Freedom: A Thesis

My thesis is finally complete, all 159 pages! I'm scheduled to defend it at the end of this month.

Here's my short abstract:

James M. Dunn and Soul Freedom:

A Paradigm for Baptist Political Engagement in the Public Arena

In the last half of the twentieth century, James Dunn has been the most aggressive Baptist proponent for religious liberty in the United States. As the leader of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Dunn’s understanding of church-state separation was a battleground in the Southern Baptist Controversy of the 1980s. “Conservative Resurgence” leaders opposed Dunn and the Southern Baptist Convention eventually withdrew from the BJC.

This thesis analyzes the public career of James Dunn, especially his views on religious liberty. Dunn embodied and articulated a paradigm for Baptist political engagement in the public arena which was based upon the concept of soul freedom: voluntary uncoerced faith and an unfettered individual conscience before God. Dunn defended soul freedom as the historic Baptist basis of religious liberty against critics whom he believed had forfeited their Baptist identity by aligning with the Religious Right and its rejection of church-state separation.


Monday, June 02, 2008

The Spiritual Samurai Exits The Baptist Blogosphere

David Montoya, a Texas Baptist blogger, who goes by the name Spiritual Samurai has officially made his exit from the blogosphere. You can read his terse goodbye here.

On behalf of those who also think the blog world is no place for lies and libel - I say Good Riddance.


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