New NAMB filing with Supreme Court of the United States contains more lies as NAMB claims employer privileges & rights over employees of state conventions.
SCOTUS filing echoes false claims of repudiated ERLC amicus brief to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
SBC Presidential candidate Randy Adams demands the SBC Executive Committee Act. Says the NAMB claims puts ‘every SBC pastor at risk.’
Will McRaney: ‘The SBC is risking everything for one guilty man.’
In an appeal to the Supreme Court, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) asked the court to recognize it as an employer with rights over state and local conventions. This is a lie, according to the Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention and its bylaws. However, the idea the national SBC entities have jurisdiction over state and local conventions was a lie spread by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) in a now repudiated amicus brief to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The ERLC admitted it filed the false claims in its brief and is now seeking how it might correct the record with the Fifth Circuit.
The NAMB petition to SCOTUS drew swift reaction.
Randy Adams, a candidate for SBC President in 2021 and the executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention, said, “Huge! NAMB & ERLC admitted falsehood of claim in Federal Court that SBC is hierarchy in McRaney lawsuit. Now NAMB argues to U.S. Supreme Court for employer/employee protection regarding McRaney, putting every SBC pastor at risk! #Tranparency #Accountability #Participlation #SBC21… @SBCExecComm must act immediately & intervene to stop NAMB & ERLC. McRaney was not NAMB employee. Neither are pastors. First they deceive the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, lose anyway, and now this. After first deception, did they think this would work? Accountability please.”
“The SBC is risking everything for one guilty man,” McRaney said. “They have fooled a bunch of people—First Liberty should be ashamed of themselves for falling for this.”
McRaney put the consequences of NAMB’s legal claims before the Supreme Court as creating a SCOTUS precedent that the SBC is indeed a hierarchical body with rights and privileges over local and state associations.
“If I lose, thousands of churches will leave the Southern Baptist Convention,” McRaney said. His wife Sandy said it is not because of them personally but “because of what this case represents.”
Specifically, the McRaneys pointed out claims in the NAMB legal filing such as NAMB asserting about the case that “all relevant facts occurred within the confines of the Southern Baptist Church.”
Three legal teams contacted Will McRaney to file an amicus brief on his behalf.
Some key points in the NAMB filing
Here is the key point of the NAMB rhetoric spread by First Liberty in its SCOTUS filing, “It is undisputed that Reverend McRaney is a ‘minister’ and that the SBC Mission Board is a religious organization, and Reverend McRaney alleged a causal connection between the allegedly tortious conduct and the termination of his ministerial employment. The applicability of the church autonomy doctrine to state law tort claims in these circumstances is a frequently recurring question of enormous significance to churches and other religious organizations, and the erroneous decision below endorses a state law evasion of this Court’s holding in Hosanna-Tabor. To prevent such constitutionally impermissible intrusion into church affairs by secular courts, this Court should grant review and reverse.”
McRaney was serving as executive of a religious organization. He was at one point a minister but not of the “SBC,” but of a local, autonomous church. NAMB is a religious organization. However, McRaney was not and has never been an employee of the North American Mission Board. NAMB’s claim here is nonsense. If SCOTUS adopted this view, then the any religious organization could slander someone who happened to be a minister and get away with it by claiming religious immunity.
This is idiocy.
It is also dangerous.
First Liberty and NAMB are intentionally trying to mislead the court regarding McRaney. He was a minister up until 1996.
Further, if NAMB is an employer over the state and local convention employees, then that would likewise open up a huge area of legal liability for what local and state conventions do. Further, it would potentially open up the SBC to liability for what happens in local churches—something that the SBC claims are completely autonomous.
Other claims in the document should alarm those worried about abuses in the church. For example, “An ecclesiastical dispute is no less so simply because it involves multiple incorporated religious agencies interacting with regard to a staffing issue that implicates how the two, in partnership, advance gospel work.” If adopted, this claim would allow NAMB to slander anyone and commit other allegedly illegal acts and claim it was a “Gospel Issue.”
This is dangerous. Everyone can see it. This has the potential to harm the SBC no matter how the SCOTUS rules.
If SCOTUS adopts the NAMB lie, then it would open the SBC to significant legal danger. If McRaney wins, it sets a clear boundary on the limits of these types of disputes between independent religious bodies.
Why not settle the case and eliminate the risk to the SBC? Is protecting Ezell worth the risk of a bad precedent?
Property Line Dispute
I’ve used this analogy before, but I think it is helpful to show how dangerous the NAMB claim is. It would prohibit the government and courts from enforcing laws whenever a church or corporation could cloak its action as quasi-religious. Here is one analogy.
Think about it this way, two different churches have a property dispute. They cannot resolve it. One decides to build over what the other believes to be the property line. Is this dispute justiciable or not? Does the First Amendment protect Church A building over the property line and on the property of Church B?
In other words, can one church steal the property of another church while hiding behind the First Amendment?
It would seem this is an issue of Caesar as something of this world and not a truly religious matter.
CONCLUSION: The SBC must act
The Southern Baptist Convention must act. Someone must get control of NAMB’s Kevin Ezell. His trustees are unwilling or unable to do it as proven by the women pastors and beer-guzzling church plants funded by Ezell.
If Christians bring false statements into court like the ERLC and even this NAMB filing, then legitimate First Amendment claims will suffer.
The Executive Committee of the SBC must intervene. Here are three ways the Executive Committee must act and act now:
It should file with the SCOTUS a statement that it rejects NAMB’s claims and believes the SCOTUS filing is false.
It should demand NAMB settle the lawsuit in a public statement.
It should demand and begin a forensic audit of all expenditures at NAMB since Kevin Ezell took the helm.