Someone must speak for Southern Baptists to refute ERLC lies in latest amicus brief
One dangerous thing coming from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) latest amicus brief and its misleading claims about the Southern Baptist Convention is that it is taken as speaking for every single Southern Baptist. One person on Facebook claimed, “More sober heads, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Lutheran Church, the Christian Legal Society, and the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty have all joined to write an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States.”
However, this brief is not from the Southern Baptist Convention but exclusively from the ERLC. Oh, and Muslims and Mormons too! FLASHBACK: Russell Moore said he disliked working with Catholic lawyers on amicus brief (but apparently, Mormons and Muslims are OK!).
Randy Adams, a candidate for SBC President in 2021, made a public comment on this new ERLC deception. Adams said in a Facebook Q&A, “The NAMB and ERLC argument is dangerous and wrong. It doesn’t lead us back to historical SBC polity, because McRaney was not an SBC employee. Neither are pastors. NAMB cannot interfere with pastors, associations, or state convention employees. Furthermore, the McRaney lawsuit also includes interference with his employment after he was fired from the state convention. The lawsuit claims Ezell tried to prevent him from speaking in a Florida State Convention meeting.”
The brief repeatedly insists Kevin Ezell’s alleged slander of Will McRaney is an “ecclesiastical matter.” However, how can one claim slander is protected by the First Amendment? Has any court ever held that? If the SCOTUS grants immunity to Ezell in this matter, it would be carte blanche for slander as long as it masquerades as quasi-religious in nature.
The truth here is that Russell Moore’s ERLC is once again trying to mislead the federal courts—this time the Supreme Court!
Notice this line from the complaint that muddles what it means to be Southern Baptist. The brief says, “McRaney admits that the case originated as ‘a battle of power and authority between two religious organizations’––both of them Southern Baptist––over ministry strategy.”
However, this isn’t true. This isn’t even a dispute between churches but a dispute between leaders and whether or not Kevin Ezell can slander someone. Ezell wanted power and he has been charged with lying, threatening, bribing, and pay off the BCMD when McRaney would not agree to give up controls that rightly belonged to the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Other State Execs and other NAMB representatives have made similar claims against Ezell.
Back to the ERLC brief claim that both Maryland-Delaware and NAMB are Southern Baptist. This is false.
According to an affidavit filed February 12, 2020, with the Chesterfield Circuit Court in Virginia, William Townes, CFO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, explained how the SBC operates.
He said, “SBC is a religious organization. It has no members. No church, association, or state convention is a member of the SBC. SBC declares itself to be ‘independent and sovereign in its own sphere.’ It simultaneously insists, ‘the Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, associations, or convention.’ (SBC Constitution, Article IV.) It is constituted and controlled by messengers from churches who voluntarily choose to, and who are deemed by the SBC to, cooperate with the SBC. Article III of the SBC Constitution (its highest governing document) provides: ‘The Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of Baptists churches in cooperation with the Convention.’ The messenger concept is a mechanism born of the Southern Baptist religious beliefs which insist on the autonomy of the local church. This mechanism serves as an insulator which enables two autonomous bodies, an autonomous church and an autonomous SBC, to relate.”
In other words, there is only one Southern Baptist organization and that exists only for a few days a year. In no way can a state convention be called Southern Baptist. Instead, the state convention is Alabama Baptists or Georgia Baptists or Maryland-Delaware Baptists.
This type of manipulative approach in the amicus brief by a lawyer from Salt Lake City shows how deceitful Russell Moore is.
Since many take the ERLC brief as speaking for all Southern Baptists, someone must speak up! Someone must file a brief to repudiate the lies Russell Moore and Kevin Ezell spin in an attempt to deceive the Supreme Court of the United States.