Russell Moore and ERLC still have not apologized to Will McRaney for the harm it caused him
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Thomas More Society asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals how it should correct falsehoods contained in its amicus brief filed in the case of Will McRaney vs. the North American Mission Board. As previously reported, the brief was false in a key assertion of fact and that lie drew strong rebuke from Southern Baptist leaders and became a question probed in the Executive Committee’s ERLC investigation.
In a filing dated December 14, 2020, both the ERLC and Thomas More Society lawyers seek to amend the brief—though blame for the lie about the Southern Baptist Convention can hardly be placed on the non-Southern Baptist Thomas More Society and its lawyers.
According to the filing, “It has come to the attention of the Amici that the Brief Amici Curiae includes certain factual statements that inaccurately describe the Southern Baptist Convention’s polity and theology of cooperative ministry.”
The ERLC filing outlines what it now admits are “three factual errors” in its brief. “First, it refers to the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware as a ‘state convention member of the Southern Baptist Convention.’ Brief, p.3. Second, it suggests the state conventions govern Southern Baptist churches. Id at 4. Third, it refers to the Southern Baptist Convention as the ‘umbrella Southern Baptist governing body of Southern Baptist Churches” and suggests a ‘hierarchy’ between Baptist Conventions. Id at 10.”
Feel free to laugh now. This was the purpose and point of the ERLC brief and it has now publicly repudiated its very obvious lie because it was forced by public outcry. State convention executives noted the problems in the ERLC’s false claims.
Naturally, the ERLC filing claims its falsehood was not material—however, it is in fact very much so since these are independent corporations and individuals alleged to have committed torts. Without a “hierarchy” then it would clearly be a justiciable matter. The First Amendment does not give one the ability to slander by invoking the Great Commission as a defense. There is no religious liberty issue here.
Without question: This is not a religious matter inside a church or the government limiting the free exercise of religion. Rather, this is a matter of evil conduct by Kevin Ezell. And your tithes and offerings are being used by the North American Mission Board to defend itself in this case. The ERLC lied in its brief and that lie helped to protect and give cover to Russell Moore’s good friend Kevin Ezell.
The filing attempts to clarify the Southern Baptist Convention’s polity. According to the new filing, “All Southern Baptist churches are autonomous, self-determining, and subject only to the Lordship of Christ—no local, state or national entity may exercise control or authority over any Southern Baptist church. Baptists reject the idea of a religious “hierarchy” or “umbrella” superior to the local church, or that any Baptist Convention is in a hierarchy or governing relationship over another Convention.”
In other words, NAMB is not over the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCMD) and it has no “absolute rights” or “absolute privileges” over the BCMD where Dr. Will McRaney served as the Executive Director.
Also, this exposes the nonsense of NAMB’s claim that it is a “Supporting Organization” with rights over the BCMD or any State Convention or any Baptist Association or local Baptist Church.
Again, a question that remains unanswered is that: If hierarchy and umbrella are not involved between NAMB and the BCMD, why did Moore submit a brief other than to deceive the court? It is Russell Moore and the ERLC’s responsibility to know the Southern Baptist Convention and not the Thomas More Society lawyers.
The filing concludes asking direction from the court. According to the filing, “As this Court has already denied the Petition for Rehearing En Banc and the case has been remanded to the District Court, Amici request direction from the Court on the filing of a corrected brier or other remedial action.”
Also, “Amici regret the above-referenced errors and await the direction of the Court.”
Despite its now very public admission of filing a false brief with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the ERLC and its leaders have not apologized or made any attempt at restitution to Will McRaney.
No doubt, this follows the example of Jesus in dealing with harming other Christians.