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

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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Anonymous WCS said...


I appreciate your post bringing attention to the recognition of Fred Shuttlesworth's witness throughout his life as well as bringing attention to some of the press around this. I also admit that I do find that David Roach unfortunately mischaracterizes CBF-related events, which seems to stem from the orientation by which he looks at issues of faith.

However, I think the example of Roach points out that those who identify with moderate Baptists need to be careful of not making similar attacks based on their religious outlook. I am especially focusing upon the articles recently published regarding Johnny Hunt's degrees from diploma mills, first issued by Robert Parnham of the Baptist Center for Ethics (a group that identifies as a CBF partner). If an article regarding Hunt came from another source not so closely identified with Baptist life it might take on a different sense. However, coming from Parnham it seems like moderates trying to throw grenades back at fundamentalists (similar to what Roach is doing in the other direction). Those of us who identify with CBF need to be more aware of what our published statements might do and find a way to look forward rather than trying to find areas to criticize Southern Baptists.


12:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Good response WCS!
Charles D.

2:08 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

You have a rather odd take on Baptist journalism. Your take would essentially prevent Baptist ethicists and journalists like Parham from reporting ON Southern Baptists and attempting to hold ALL Baptist leaders to a higher ethical standard (note his criticism of both Hunt and Sherman in a two week period).

You see this as a grenade while I and others see this as a much needed response. We'll have to agree to disagree in this instance.

10:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back when Roach misrepresented the NBC, I did a little search in the BP archives. It turns out that Roach pretty much only covers two things. First, he likes to write about his favorite Fundamentalist leaders. Here's a hint, he doesn't live in TX. And secondly, he writes a lot of hit pieces against the CBF.

I can only guess that he realizes who pays his checks. As long as he praises the Fundys and slanders the CBF (and related groups), he gets his pay check. Otherwise, he's doing it strictly out of spite.

Which would be more sinful?

Tim Dahl

5:44 AM

Anonymous WCS said...

We likely will disagree. My hope is for us to respond through the virtue of charity with all, including the SBC. My point is that someone like Parnham, raises the criticism that the CBF (and partner groups) are too concerned about SBC life when he reports about issues in SBC life. Depending on the number and type of issues raised, one can lose credibility (look at Roach for that example). Its not a complete disengagement I am suggesting, but to be mindful of how and what journalists and ethicists respond to.

Unrealted to my posts, but related to your blog topic is another note--this past week, Larry Lanford, Birmingham's mayor proposed renaming the Birmingham Airport in honor of Shuttlesworth. This move, endorsed by the city council, is a good way for Birmingham to honor the legacy of Shuttlesworth.


1:01 PM

Blogger Brandon said...

After reading the Roach editorial that you linked to and quoted, it seems that you have taken that quote completely out of context. Roach seems to conclude the opposite of what you are trying to make him say. The line that you quoted is found at the beginning of his column and is obviously a rhetorical device meant to generate interest. Aren't these kinds of mischaracterizations what you are writing against?

11:46 AM


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