MEMO FROM MIDDLE AMERICA: Woke Southern Baptist Bureaucrats Move To Crush Local Church Rebels. Rebels Fight Back.
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It’s not news that bureaucrats like Russell Moore and the Soros Evangelicals who now control the Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, have adopted one Leftist PC agenda item after another, not least on immigration and “diversity.” But now patriots in local churches are fighting back—and the bureaucrats and allies in local churches are moving to crush them.

The First Baptist Church in Naples FL [Twitter] recently began hiring a new pastor. Eventually, the congregation’s leaders and search committee put black pastor Marcus Hayes up for a vote. According to Naples First Baptist’s rules, an applicant must receive 85 percent. Hayes received only 81 percent, 1,552 yes, 365 no. So he didn’t get the job.

Hardly surprising. An email circulating among dissidents before the vote expressed concern that Hayes supports Kamala Harris, reparations, intersectionality, Critical Race theory and Eric Mason’s  “woke church” concept [Leaked Emails Show That FBC Naples’ Members Had Serious Concerns About Marcus Hayes’ Biblical Qualifications, by Jeff Maples, Reformation Charlotte, November 2, 2019]. He was simply too Leftist for a significant group in the FBCN congregation.

But rather than move on, Naples congregational leaders made a moral issue of it, accusing congregants of racism and, remarkably, moving to purge them.

From a letter from the First Baptist “Pastoral Staff” posted to the Baptist Blogger Twitter account on October 28:

Certainly, it is one thing to disagree, but it is a whole other thing to use unscrupulous, divisive, and false accusations to achieve one’s goals. It that were not bad enough, part of the minority “no” vote did something that, quite honestly, should never ever have its place in society, much less the Lord’s Church. Last week, through social media, texting, phone calls, and emails, racial prejudice was introduced into our voting process.

Please know that specifically your Pastoral Staff is deeply, deeply grieved. We are grieved for Marcus and Mandy [the applicant’s white wife] that they had to endure such vileness. We are deeply grieved that the wonderful name of our Lord and the reputation of First Baptist Church Naples was affected by this campaign against Marcus Hayes.

[Senior Pastor Voting Results, Posted by First Baptist Church of Naples Pastoral Staff]

The Baptist Blogger himself added this helpful commentary:

What happened at @FBCNaples is disgusting, and most likely fueled by resurgent racism in SBC life.

The “Pastoral Staff” offered no concrete evidence to prove racism, as opposed to principled political disagreement, on the part of No voters.

If the “Pastoral Staff” hadn’t posted this public note, of course, the church’s reputation wouldn’t have suffered, but that apparently didn’t matter to them.

Next, the threats began:

Your Pastoral Staff, as the spiritual leadership of FBCN, will not stand for these kinds of attitudes and actions. We are calling anyone who took part in such divisive and sinful actions to immediately confess and repent.

Left unsaid, of course, is precisely why anyone should “confess and repent.”

On October 31, another public letter followed, this one addressed to the membership of SBC.

We also ask for forgiveness from our fellow brothers and sisters in the Southern Baptist Convention. … We would also apologize and ask for forgiveness for any other person who has been offended, hurt, or damaged by the outcome of our church vote.

[Fla. church signals discipline over 'racial prejudices', by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press, November 1, 2019]

Needless to say, SBC President J.D. Greear tweeted support for the FBC Naples leadership and exhorted readers to “be united in lament that any vestige of this kind of sinful prejudice remains in our churches.”

One might ask how this fits in with the Baptist practice of “local church autonomy.”

Back in Naples, FBCN “Pastoral Staff” began purging the “racists.” About 50 members were targeted for expulsion [An Open Letter to Members of FBC Naples, PulpitandPen, November, 6, 2019].

At its Twitter feed, Reformation Charlotte posted a screenshot of a letter to an expelled former FBCN deacon. “I am no longer one of your pastors,” Kevin Taylor [Email him] wrote. “You have been removed from our membership because of church discipline by our Pastoral Staff and deacons. Please stop harassing us. I am no longer your Shepherd watching over your soul.”

“I am no longer one of your pastors.You have been removed from our membership because of church discipline by our Pastoral Staff and deacons. Please stop harassing us. I am no longer your Shepherd watching over your soul.”

And the punishment didn’t stop there. First , Capstone Report divulged, “has hired a high-priced law firm to bully church members and former members, according to sources close to the church who are familiar with the legal maneuvers” [BREAKING: FBC Naples sics lawyers on dissenting church members, November 6, 2019].

Another source identified the law firm as Holland & Knight, and provided an example of a cease and desist letter sent to already-expelled members [FBC Naples’ Sics Pro-Gay Law Firm on Former Church Members by Seth Dunn, Pulpit and Pen, November 8, 2019].

Holland and Knight, by the way, rated a 100 percent on the 2019 Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index [Holland & Knight Earns Perfect Score on Human Rights Campaign’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index, Holland and Knight, March 29, 2019]. The Human Rights Campaign is a notorious homosexual rights group.

On the face of it, the lawfare would seem to be inconsistent with St. Paul’s admonition to Christians to not sue fellow Christians [1 Corinthians 6:1-6]. But hey, this is “racism” that church leaders are dealing with!

Remarkably, the Naples News Daily published an even-handed article that tellingly noted FBCN leaders wouldn’t reveal what exactly the “racists” did [Racism allegations rock First Baptist Church Naples after failed vote to affirm black pastor, by Patrick Riley, November 8, 2019].

Naples New Daily’s Riley reported that “Church leaders have alleged that race played a role in the failed vote to affirm Hayes,” and yet “have been largely mum on the details of the alleged campaign and racism.”

Why don’t they offer proof? Communications Pastor Kenneth Bonnett [Email him] reportedly said “it would not be proper for us to share that content openly.”

But it’s OK to publicly smear fellow Christians and hound them out of the church?

FBCN member William Erickson told Riley that Hayes was inexperienced and too far Left. “It has nothing to do with race,” Erickson said.

Said Gretchen Church, “it had to do with biblical principles that many questioned.”

Nevertheless, church leaders expelled those who criticized Hayes’s views. They could presumably have refuted them and tried to get the votes to put him over the top. But they chose to crush all opposition.

Dissident websites within SBC—Pulpit and Pen, Capstone Report and Reformation Charlotte (file here)have published good coverage about the fight, and about PC infiltration of the SBC in general. Such is the dissatisfaction with SBC’s official organ, Baptist Press, that Capstone Report has more readers: Alexa rank 34,869 vs. 54,108 [‘Capstone Report’ Surpasses Baptist Press in Readership as People Hunger for Real News Pulpit and Pen, November 11, 2019].

In other words, grassroots Southern Baptists are fighting back against the PC agenda of the SBC elite.

One solution for a congregation still under conservative leadership: just withdraw from SBC. SBC churches are autonomous and own their property (unlike Episcopalians). As Capstone Report has observed, the Baptist hoi polloi are indeed jumping ship: “More churches are leaving the Southern Baptist Convention citing Russell Moore and the rise of Identity Politics” [Stay and Fight or Leave the Southern Baptist Convention?, Oct. 4, 2019].

One example: the Euclatubba Baptist Church in Saltillo, Mississippi, founded in 1859. As Pastor Scott Witcher put it: “when J.D. Greear was elected president of the SBC and Russell Moore was over the ERLC, I began to notice a shift in what the SBC was pushing.”

The straw that broke the camel’s back was Resolution 9, adopted at the SBC’s June 2019 annual meeting. [On Critical Race Theory And Intersectionality, Southern Baptist Resolutions]. Originally drafted to condemn Intersectionality and Critical Race Theory, it was rewritten to say that “critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture” [In Last-Minute Move, Southern Baptist Convention Supports Anti-Christian Racial Identity Politics, by Matthew Garnett, The Federalist, June 18, 2019]

Reported Capstone:

“It just baked the cake with us,” Witcher said of the Intersectionality and Critical Race Theory Resolution. “I called a meeting during our July business meeting, presented all the facts as I had found them, comparing what they were standing for and preaching to the Word of God, and stated that we had a decision to make, whether or not we could stand with these who had drifted so far from the truth. I asked them to pray for 30 days. We came back in our August business meeting and voted 100% to withdraw.”

Bethel Baptist Church in Berea, Kentucky, also left SBC.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Pastor Kenny Davis told Capstone. “[W]e prayed and sought God’s will and we realized it was time for us to invest God’s money in other avenues.”

That’s the state of today’s SBC: The “Woke” bureaucrats and local allies won’t tolerate dissent.

But the Baptists in the pews are awakening, too.

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.

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